Bloodlines 2 Devs Discuss Adapting a Tabletop RPG
Last time we saw the upcoming Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2, it was getting a look at some pre-alpha gameplay at E3. Since then, the developers have been updating the main website with a series of interesting insights behind the scenes. The first two Bloodlines 2 dev diaries went into detail regarding the development studio behind the new title, Hardsuit Labs, and the second into the design philosophy they’re approaching Bloodlines 2 with. The newest one, TABLETOP TO DESKTOP, discusses the difficulties and adjustments that had to be made to bring The Masquerade‘s V5 core book to life. From the dev diary:
When we first began work on Bloodlines 2, Vampire: the Masquerade Edition 5th (V5), the latest tabletop version of the game, was also in development. We were able to work closely with the V5 team to co-develop a lot of the systems you see in both games. The process was very interesting from a developer perspective because we wanted to maintain the tone and freeform nature of the TTRPG (tabletop RPG), but there were many challenges to get it to work on a digital platform.
The first Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines was a very true and accurate representation of the pen and paper version at that time. Many of the systems and designs were direct translations pulled from the core rulebook. For Bloodlines 2 we were less interested in a one-to-one implementation of systems in the tabletop version and more interested in what lies at the core of those mechanics – Being a Vampire.
Ka’ai outlined it perfectly in his previous post about the design pillars – there should always be a sense of supernatural power. How this is expressed mechanically is up for interpretation. We worked on really getting down to the nitty gritty of what that means and then set out to build it in a digital format.
The diary goes on to discuss examples, such as Bloodlines 2‘s new Resonance system, which is from the tabletop version (but altered to better fit with the video game without losing what made it important).
There are more things in common between V5 and Bloodlines 2 than we can talk about here, but perhaps the biggest component we wanted to maintain throughout development was players’ choice. In tabletop games, freeform gameplay is the secret sauce to making it work. Anything can happen, any choice is valid, and the players are in full control of their actions. In Bloodlines 2, you make choices, and the game reacts to reflect those choices. Whether you choose to end a conversation violently, break the Masquerade by feeding in a public space, kill everyone on sight or attempt to not kill anyone, you get to decide what kind of monster you want to be, and the game will react accordingly.
For Vampire: the Masquerade tabletop fans, Bloodlines 2 offers a new story, a new setting, and the same Vampire shenanigans. The things they enjoy about the tabletop version are present in the video game – choice, reactivity, consequences – brought to life by an amazing voice cast. The core of Vampire: The Masquerade is also about allowing players to explore the World of Darkness and themselves in profound and interesting ways, and Bloodlines 2 keeps that legacy going.
Making games isn’t easy. Especially interpreting a beloved IP from an analog platform to a digital platform. With new expressions of an experience come challenges but focusing on the core components – what is at the heart (beating or otherwise) of the system will help keep it familiar and fun for players. Whether it’s tabletop or digital or anything in between, creating something that is meaningful to players is often difficult, but always extremely rewarding.
It’s really comforting to see just how seriously the developers are taking this game. VTM has never been on the same level as Dungeons & Dragons or Warhammer 40k in terms of sheer popularity, but it has a very dedicated fanbase that will be incredibly judgemental with this new game. Treating this with the utmost care as both an adaption of the RPG as well as a sequel to the original 2004 game seems to be their goal, so I don’t think we have anything to worry about. You can read the full dev diary here.
The game itself is still a little ways off, releasing March of next year. I suspect may end up being pushed back, (it would end up going up against Final Fantasy 7 Remake, WatchDogs 3, and Animal Crossing) but I guess we’ll see. Vampire – The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 will be available across Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.