World of Darkness
Posted by SERIAL GANKER [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 July 2010, 1:44 pm
I was just saying on Heartless_'s blog yesterday that if I were a game dev, I would have to strongly consider Vampire & Werewolves as the backdrop for an MMO. Vampires, in particular, is a subject matter that draws a lot of attention. Most recently, we have seen the Trueblood and Twilight craze but this has always been a very popular genre. Dracula, Underworld, Blade, The Lost Boys, Salem’s Lot, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Interview with a Vampire.

The great thing about that genre is that it’s not exclusive to Vampires and can include all things that live in the dark. Poltergeists, Ghouls, Zombies, Necromancers, Warlocks, Witches, Demons, Ghosts, Banshees, and basically anything else used to scare the bejeezuz out of people by movie producers. People just eat this topic up and it has a bigger fanbase than even the strongest IPs like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.

The other interesting thing about the IP is that the Lore is mostly based on the creatures and critters than inhabit it. It’s not specific to an area or even a point in history. You could just as easily have a Vampire / Werewolf story set in ancient Rome as you could in modern day London or New York. In addition, the creatures themselves are mostly immune to modern weaponry. So, from a lore perspective, attacking a mythical creature with a holy dagger instead of a gun is entirely plausible.

World of Darkness MMO
The impetus for this entry is that I just learned about the World of Darkness MMO. Credits to Tobold for pointing out the upcoming MMO list.

World of Darkness is a pen-and-paper RPG with the exact supernatural horror setting that I just described. One of my major concerns with many MMO titles is that the IP just doesn’t work or fit very well with game mechanics required of an MMO. However, when the IP is already based on an established RPG, the rules already exist and have been tweaked and tested through years of “on-paper” testing.

I stopped playing pen-and-paper RPGs around 1993-94, so I only knew the World of Darkness RPG under its original title of Vampire: The Masquerade. As far as pen-and-paper RPGs go, Vampire: The Masquerade seemed to be well liked by the people I played with regularly (one of which wrote several published D&D modules). And according to Wikipedia, it won an award for “Best Roleplaying Rules” in 1991.

In my mind, it’s a huge point in WoD MMOs favor that it uses a well-established and tested ruleset. The underlying game mechanics are important to the pen-and-paper crowd. These things still exist in MMOs so it’s big plus to know that the foundation is well thought out and tested over time. But more than that, the specifics of the Lore were designed with an RPG system in mind.

Developed by CCP
But perhaps more importantly, it's also being developed by CCP. The same CCP who is currently publishing the second most successful MMO on the market in EVE Online. There are several very important things we know about CCP:
  • They have the financial backing of another successful MMO. We know the lights aren’t going to get turned off anytime soon.
  • They execute well. You don’t attract the players that EVE has with shoddy craftsmanship.
  • They stay committed. CCP will stay the course and continually work to improve their products over time.
  • They have a proven track record of doing things that are different from World of Warcraft.
  • The graphics are going to blow your mind. (see Cloth and Hair demo)
If I’m being blunt, the mere fact that CCP is attached to this MMO guarantees it some measure of success. If, for no other reason, because we know that CCP will stay the course and put forth the work necessary to continually improve it into a quality MMO.

Tobold asks us today, Which upcoming MMO will break the million subscribers mark? If I was a betting man, I would place my money on World of Darkness.

First of all, it has World of in the name. Perhaps if Funcom had released World of Conan instead of Age Of Conan more people would have understood that it was an MMO set in the world of Conan. Clearly, Warhammer made the same mistake by not naming themselves World of Warhammer. Oh sure, this would have abbreviated to WoW but one could argue that such confusion would cause an increase in subscription numbers when my best friend’s brother-in-law signed up for the wrong WoW!

OK. OK. On a more serious note, blogger pundits like to write lots of theories about why no MMO has seriously offered Blizzard real competition over the years. There are several recurring themes in these theories and World of Darkness would appear to avoid most of them. It’s not fantasy based. It’s being produced by a proven developer. It’s in a popular genre with a strong IP. It’s based on an existing RPG with tested game mechanics. The developer has a history of executing well, supporting the game long-term and listening to the community enough but not too much. And finally, the developer is best known for creating a unique game that is markedly very different than WoW.

On the surface of it all, I have to say that WoD appears to be very well positioned as a major up-and-coming MMO. The only irony is that I don’t really like Vampire movies or books. Oh well.. :)

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