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DualShockers: Bloodlines 2 Hands Off Demo: A True RPG Descendant

  • 30 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 187
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First we have a new article from the site DualShockers, and they talk a bit more about the mechanics, here is a snip and the Cliff Notes of the article;
 

The main questline will follow the mystery of who it was that turned you, as well as seven others, and why. An early phone call brings in another mystery, a woman who appears to help you, though exactly who she is and why she is helping will have to be solved over the course of the campaign. Like many of its ilk, the perspective in Bloodlines 2 is always first person, save for a few climbing animations where a third person camera is used briefly to show you ascending a wall or special combat animations.

Before you are free to roam the world you have to undergo some exposition on the rules of the masquerade, essentially keeping the existence of vampires secret. Once that is done you are able to freely explore and interact with the world and watch it react to you. A mugging can be stopped and you’re allowed to consume or spare the victim. Feed on someone in the open and cops will rapidly descend on you. Frequently breaking the masquerade will gain the attention of higher vampires who will see you as a liability and take the necessary steps to put you down, so tread lightly when not in back alleys or enclosed spaces.

Much has changed in the fifteen years since Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines released. Just as the game acknowledges that everyone is carrying an internet-connected camera nowadays, making it harder than ever to stay hidden, developer Hardsuit also acknowledges the decline of expensive immersive sim RPGs. Prey, Dishonored, Dues Ex, and Underworld Ascendant aren’t exactly topping the sales charts.

That doesn’t matter to Hardsuit, whose love of RPGs as well as Bloodlines meant they approached Paradox with a pitch that was make or break for them, as they had invested a lot into the project. “We had not actually asked for submissions, we had not asked for pitches,” stressed Florian Schwarzer, a Senior Product Manager at Paradox Interactive, “It is very rare that a studio, independent studio, takes a risk going to a publisher with a pitch that hasn’t been requested that can only be pitched to one publisher.”


 

PC Gamer: Bloodlines 2 pitch was a 'tremendous risk'

  • 29 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 148
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PC Gamer interviews folks from Hardsuit Labs about the risk they took investing in and pitching of a game they went in blind to and meeting with the property owner. Here is a snip;
 

When Paradox Interactive acquired White Wolf, hope of a Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines sequel surged again, including at Hardsuit Labs. The studio that was last week revealed to be developing Bloodlines 2 wasn't approached by Paradox, however, and the publisher already had its own plans. 

"When we got wind of Paradox acquiring the World of Darkness IP, within about ten minutes I had my creative director Ka'ai Cluney come into my office and say 'We need to contact Paradox. Do you know anyone there, because we need to pitch them a game?',"Andy Kipling, CEO of Hardsuit Labs, tells us. "We spent November and December and January putting together a pitch that we could show them at DICE. My assumption, for what it's worth, was Paradox had a clear plan in place and that we would be coming in from out of the fold to try and make a hail-Mary pass."

A meeting was arranged, but Paradox wasn't expecting this to be the start of a new game. It was hesitant to give away the keys to White Wolf's supernatural universe too easily. 

"I went into that first Skype meeting with them expecting to watch a burial," says Florian Schwarzer, product manager at Paradox Interactive. But it wasn't a burial. "This was very much Hardsuit Labs taking a tremendous risk and getting us to the point were we made a decision for them. Nothing more, nothing less."


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VentureBeat: Interviews Hardsuit Labs

  • 27 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 102
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GamesBeat: Can you make friends with humans who willingly give you their blood and feed off the emotions of altruism and friendship that way? Or is that just too lovey-dovey for this game?

Mitsoda: I will say, you’ll definitely build some relationships in the game. I can’t go into specifics right now. But I mean, you—part of your core as a vampire is to make connections, to fool people, to get close to them in a way that you can use to get blood from them. Generally, vampires can be romantic, they can be nice, but at the end of the day they’re parasitic. They need blood, and they’ll do whatever it takes.

Kipling: The question itself is somewhat insidious, because it suggests that the motivation to become friends is to be able to drink their blood, which then questions the motivation for that relationship. It’s not the case that you meet somebody, you just happen to like them and become friends, and then consequently you also might be able to get blood from them. There’s definitely a motivation in blood for the player. That drives a lot of their actions and choices.

Above: Bloody bars sound like a treat for vampires.

Schlütter: We do have characters that are very close to the player who, time and again, remind him of his own humanity. Do you really want to sacrifice this part of your humanity for power? We question that a bit.

Kipling: I will say that one of the core pillars for us in development is that we do want you to be a vampire. You’re playing a vampire fantasy. We’re not setting you up to play as—we want the player to play how they want to play, but ultimately you are a vampire. It’s balancing that duality between the monster and the human.

GameBeat: What’s the hardest thing about writing a vampire character?

Mitsoda: I have some experience now, so it does come a bit naturally. [Laughs]

I will say, the difficult thing in any character is just trying to figure out their voice and who they are, what they want. As far as vampires go, the way that I approach vampires is that, ultimately, they are locked in at death. There’s this idea for them that they can change, that they can become better, that they can retain their humanity, but ultimately, their biggest weakness is that they can’t really change when they’re a vampire. They’re whoever they were when they died. That’s how I approach vampires. But there are so many places that can be taken as far as where characters go. Vampires themselves, and especially in the Masquerade—there are so many different archetypes of vampires. You have the Anne Rice seductive type of inspiration. You have the corporate vampire, the one that latches on to a business and uses money because money is power. You have vampires that are on the street getting involved in organized crime, because they can hide there. No one talks in that world anyway. It’s always just figuring out how vampires would infiltrate various parts of society, and then what is their experience like when they’re there?

GamesBeat: Did you include any other World of Darkness monsters in this

IGN: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 Looks Great Backwards and Forwards

  • 25 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 81
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IGN has a new hands on preview of BL2,you can find the whole article at this link here but you can find the bullet points and a snip of it below;

  • Seattle has a Gothic aesthetic but struggling to find it's identity in the face of change as it is in the real world
  • Reiterated the background you choose for your character will make certain NPCs react to you differently
  • Combat mostly locked in 1st person
  • Camera will pull out to 3rd person for select moves like scaling a wall
  • As you stalk potential prey you can sense/see their aura, the color indicates their mood/emotional state which will have different effects when you drink from them
  • Over time you build acquired tastes for certain emotional states called Merits, they become perm bonuses.

 

For my money, though, the coolest (or, at least the most interesting) aspect that I saw of Bloodlines 2 was what it called Resonance. As a vampire, you'll have to feed to keep your vitality up. While there is a "bagged" option, according to our early-game vampire guide Dale, the obvious choice is to hunt for fresh blood. This is, as you may have expected, a massively important component to Bloodline's narrative. If you choose to survive off rats alone, so be it - but mortal humans will always offer the most bang for your buck. The only issue is that if you give in to your newfound bestial vampiric nature and feed too deeply, killing your victim (as opposed, I guess, to simply scarring them for life), you lose a part of your Humanity. It's your Humanity level that keeps you from going mad, giving in to The Beast, and turning everyone around you into human Capri-Sun pouches.

All that out of the way, Resonance makes the act of choosing your victims more diverse, and feeds back into the all-important progression loop. While stalking mortals from the shadows, you can use your Heightened Senses (think vampire Detective Mode) to focus on the blood in potential nearby targets. Each person will have a certain aura, a color wrapping around them (and their delicious blood) to indicate what their current emotional state is - red for anger, violet for fear, yellow for desire and so on. This is the resonance their blood contains. When you feed on someone in a particular emotional state, you'll earn temporary buffs for abilities that correspond to that feeling. If you feed on someone who's angry, you may see a boost to your melee damage or intimidation skill. Drain someone who's feeling amorous and you'll likely find it easier to seduce or persuade people in conversation.

VG247: Bloodlines 2: “It’s definitely taking political stances on what we think are right and wrong”

  • 23 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 415
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Florian Schwarzer, senior product manager at Paradox Interactive promises that the choices in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 will go deeper than offering basic binary options.

“This is a grown up, sophisticated game. Yes you have an impact and you have power if you want to use it, but you don’t flip a switch and everything changes. It’s just not that kind of game,” he says.

“One of the things we wanted from the beginning was that choice is represented temporally throughout the game,” adds Clooney. “You have choices that you make in the beginning that are going to affect the end. You don’t just play the game, pick a door and then go back to the last save and pick a different door. Those choices are inextricable over the course of the game. If you want everything to change you have to go back to the first 15 minutes. You can see that the thing you did back there affects where you’re at and what you’re doing.”

In my demo the main character was very much trying to survive in a world of more experienced vampires. You may play a reluctant vampire but you still need to stay alive. And that requires feeding. But whether that’s off criminals or more innocent humans, its up to you. Although you might not always have the luxury of choice.

In my demo the main character was very much trying to survive in a world of more experienced vampires. You may play a reluctant vampire but you still need to stay alive. And that requires feeding. But whether that’s off criminals or more innocent humans, its up to you. Although you might not always have the luxury of choice.

“In Vampire the Masquerade you definitely play a monster, the big question is are you beyond redemption?” says Schwarzer. “There is combat in the game, you won’t not hurt somebody. That’s not what the world allows you to do. There are lots of quests that are very dependent on dialogue choices, sure.

GamesRadar: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is a modern vampire RPG built on a cult classic

  • 23 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 86
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Bloodlines 2 will take the series to a new city, Seattle, and expand upon the vampire society that made the first game great. You play as a young vampire who was forcibly turned as part of a taboo "Mass Embrace," and who must now learn to navigate a bloody political landscape. 

"As one of the few free agents in town, you will choose a side and play an important role in the factional war to control the blood trade," the game's official website reads. "But can your allies answer why you were made, who’s pulling the strings, and who your real enemies are? Or will you be more concerned with what you can do to get ahead among the vampire elite? The choice is yours." 

"Seattle has always been run by vampires," Bloodlines 2's newly minted Steam page adds. "Hunt your prey across Seattle locations faithfully reimagined in the World of Darkness. Meet the old blood founders present since the city’s birth and the new blood steering the tech money redefining the city. Everyone has hidden agendas - so choose your allies wisely." 

Kotaku: Vampire: the Masquerade– Bloodlines Is Getting A Sequel, And It Looks Pretty Good

  • 22 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 99
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Cult classic Vampire: the Masquerade– Bloodlines is getting a sequel. The 2004 roleplaying game left a lasting impression on roleplaying fans despite some clumsy gameplay. I spent time with the folks at Paradox Interactive and developer Hardsuit Labs to ask questions and see the game in action. It captures much of the original’s mysterious mood, with some modern flourishes.

Publisher Paradox Interactive purchased White Wolf Publishing’s assets in 2015, including the World of Darkness setting which Vampire the Masquerade is set in. The team at Hardsuit Labs has been working on a proper sequel (or, as they call it a “true descendant”) of the cult classic. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is awash with vampiric intrigue and blood and appears to live up to its pedigree.

Set in Seattle, Bloodlines 2 focuses on an event called the “Mass Embrace,” a bloody night where countless fledgling vampires were created. The player character is among the new vampires born from this event. Siring a new vampire without approval is a big no-no in the World of Darkness setting, and the player—like in the first game— is brought before a court of prominent vampires to recount what they remember of the Mass Embrace before being executed. Luckily, the court is firebombed before that can happen and the player is thrust into Seattle to find out who is responsible while also learning the ropes as a fresh-faced vampire.

Polygon: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 has the original’s lead writer and vibe

  • 22 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 378
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The Masquerade - Bloodlines never had a chance. Released in 2004 in the same window as Halo 2, Half-Life 2, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, it sold fewer than 100,000 copies at launch. Most of its development team was laid off shortly afterward. But over the past 15 years, the PC role-playing game based on the popular White Wolf tabletop franchise has become something of a cult classic. Fans and critics hold up its ambitious story and emphasis on player freedom as evidence that Bloodlines arrived ahead of its time.

Now, under a new publisher and developer, Bloodlines is getting a second chance with an official sequel, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2. Judging from a meaty demo showing during the 2019 Game Developers Conference, the original’s many fans have reason to be hopeful.

Paradox Interactive acquired White Wolf and the rights to the Vampire universe from CCP in 2015. Now the publisher and developer, best known for its collection of high-concept strategy games, has tapped a relatively new Seattle-based studio to build a sequel. Called Hardsuit Labs, the team is best known for its free-to-play shooter Blacklight: Retribution. It has brought on Bloodline’s lead writer, Brian Mitsoda, along with game writer and critic Cara Ellison.

Gamespot: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 Brings The Cult RPG Series To The Modern Age

  • 22 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 61
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After many teases on social media, Paradox Interactive and Hardsuit Labs have finally revealed Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, the sequel to the original 2004 RPG. With Bloodlines 2, releasing in 2020 for PC and consoles, several key members from the former studio Troika Games, along with some new blood at Hardsuit Labs, are looking to pick up where the bleak yet off-the-wall original left off. Just before its reveal, we had the chance to get an early look, while also speaking with Bloodlines 2 lead narrative designer Brian Mitsoda and senior writer Cara Ellison about the making of the sequel.

As an adaptation of the table-top game series from White Wolf Publishing, the first Bloodlines focused on the shadowy underworld of Vampire society in modern-day Los Angeles. Starting out as a newly converted vampire, you were drawn into centuries-long quarrels amongst elite vampires, all the while coming to grips with your new and unusual circumstances. While much of the first game hasn't aged too well, its in-depth role-playing and social gameplay are enduring achievements. Showing shades of immersive-sims like Deus Ex and System Shock, it possessed an impressive amount of complexity with how you could use your vampiric abilities to navigate the complex web of conspiracies within the secret society.

The game's original developers, Troika Games, drafted up concepts for a follow-up, however, low sales and a lack of projects after Bloodlines' launch forced the closure of the studio. In the years since its release, a dedicated online community has kept the game active, slowly turning the obscure PC RPG into an underground hit.

PC Gamer: Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 revives and expands the long-lost cult RPG series

  • 22 March 2019
  • Author: Harlequin
  • Number of views: 336
  • 0 Comments

November of 2004 was a monumental month for games. Half-Life 2, Halo 2, and Metal Gear Solid 3 were all released to critical acclaim and massive commercial success. And crushed in among those blockbusters was Troika's RPG Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines. Due to a contract with Valve involving use of the Source Engine, Bloodlines couldn't be released ahead of Half-Life 2, and publisher Activision was unwilling to push the release date into 2005. And so, Bloodlines came out that same month, forced to compete with those three huge November releases.

While Bloodlines was mostly reviewed positively and gained cult hit status among fans of the deep and engrossing RPG, commercially it just didn't stand up, and technically the game wasn't even fully finished. Most of the staff who had labored over Bloodlines for years were quickly laid off, and the rest would follow a few months later. Troika closed in early 2005, and fans have waited for over a decade with fading hopes of a sequel.

But when it comes to both games and vampires, dead doesn't mean done. Bloodlines is returning, at last, 16 years later. Announced at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 will arrive in 2020, developed by Hardsuit Labs and published by Paradox Interactive. This week I met with members of Paradox and the development team as they showed me a demo that walked (and skulked, and climbed, and flew) through the opening minutes of Bloodlines 2. 

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