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V:tm - Bloodlines; Leonard Boyarsky interviewed
Interview - posted by Whipporowill on Wed 30 June 2004, 18:20:01Tags: Leonard Boyarsky; Troika Games; Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
1 We know that the Hacking feat is a derivative of the Computer ability and probably one of the mental attributes, but what impact do abilities like Finances and Occult have in Bloodlines, and what are those feats used for?
Finances is used for haggling, which automatically gives you better prices when you buy and sell items in the game. Occult was removed as a feat, as we wanted everyone to have access to using the occult items. Another feat that may seem obscure is Research, which enables players to â€œuseâ€ Research manuals to raise certain abilities.
2 There was mention of climbing sheer surfaces in an early developer quote. As there isn't any sort of climbing skill to be seen, how will the z-axis be used in Bloodlines? Many games seem to go 3D just for the hell of it and then not actually do anything with the new dimension.
Damn. That must have been a really old quote. Old interviews really do come back to haunt you. I donâ€™t recall mentioning climbing sheer surfaces, and such a concept hasnâ€™t been around for a really long time, if ever. Weâ€™ve used the Z axis for different heights to make combat more interesting, for one. I donâ€™t think how you utilize the Z axis is the only reason for going to 3d, you get a lot more fluid animations and much more freedom in the world itself by going full 3d.
3 How will melee combat work (considering it probably can't be worked out like the firearm solution)? Damage depending on skill instead of different sized crosshairs as for the ranged feat?
At higher skill levels of Melee (and Brawl), youâ€™ll be doing more damage. To make the Melee/Brawl experience more visceral, weâ€™ve also added combos that are accessed by the direction keys. A higher Brawl also makes it easier to aggressively feed in combat.
To be more specific about the unarmed combat system, hits, misses, and damage are all keyed off of the interaction between the melee feat and the defenderâ€™s defense feat (and soak, if applicable). The results of that interaction will determine whether the NPC will dodge, block, get staggered, or any other number of possible outcomes. Itâ€™s not entirely data driven, however, as the player has to decide in real time which attacks or combos to use and on which enemies (as you are often fighting multiple attackers). The attacks and combos are keyed off the different direction buttons. Holding down â€œWâ€ (moving forward) will key off a different set of attacks than holding down â€Aâ€ (left strafe) will.
4 Bloodlines features Half-Life 2's physics engine, which I'm sure most of us have seen in action through previews and such, but we're curious on what use it actually has. How much of the terrain is destructible, and how often does environment interactivity have a point in the game, apart from being cool?
No terrain destruction, certain items are destructible, and you can move specific items to reveal secrets, and throw items to distract guards, etc. Also, certain creatures use the physics engine to throw objects at you, break through objects you may be hiding behind, etc.
5 Considering fire is one of the only things than can seriously hurt and/or kill a Vampire in the World of Darkness, it's pretty serious stuff. Will there be Flamethrowers or Molotov Cocktails, and if so, how does fire psychics work? Will it spread through the area and take hold or just flicker and die as in most games it's been used?
Weâ€™re currently at work implementing the flamethrower, but there are no Molotov cocktails. Fire isnâ€™t affected by physics, so it doesnâ€™t spread on its own. It does cause aggravated damage to vampires, as it should, but a lot of other damage types affect and are dangerous to vampires in the White Wolf system.
6 Aggravated damage (such as fire, sunlight and holy) is only healed over time (weeks) according to the P&P rule set, and thus can't be healed by spending blood. How has this been solved for the computer version, considering the game is set during a few nights?
All of our healing has been changed to healing over time (game time, not real time), and aggravated damage takes longer to heal. You can heal more quickly by feeding, as well.
7 Will our vampire protagonist gain more disciplines during the game, or are we stuck with the set 3 we get from our vampire's clan? And do all clans get the disciplines as per the P&P rulebook?
You do not get more Disciplines in the game, you only have the three specific to your clan. Even though weâ€™ve modified the Disciplines to be more effective and fun in the computer setting, all the clans still get the same basic ones they are given in the PnP rulebook.
8 Did you pay any attention to Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption to learn how the license had been used before? There was quite some criticism that Redemption didn't adhere to the P&P rules whatsoever, but was there anything that Redemption did do that inspired you? What would be the biggest difference between Redemption and Bloodlines?
We did look at Redemption before we started this game, and we started this project with the goal of implementing as much of the feel of the PnP game, if not the specifics, as possible, only changing what needed to be changed to make the game fun/work in a computer version. Itâ€™s been so long since we played Redemption, and weâ€™ve been so enmeshed in our system, that Iâ€™m not sure I remember all of the mechanics from Redemption. I do remember having fun playing it...
I think the biggest difference is that we let you create your own character and give you access to playing any of the Camarilla clans.
9 What features would you have like to have included in Bloodlines, if money, time and manpower wasn't an issue?
I think that if you asked any developer that question, theyâ€™d say theyâ€™d like to implement every last detail that they originally envisioned for the game, but was just not feasible due to money/time constraints.
For us specifically, we would have loved to have given the player the opportunity to play one of the independent clans, or even go over to the sabbat side, but that would have necessitated making at least three different games in one. And donâ€™t get me started on Diablerie...
10 In earlier Troika games dialogue checked for things like gender, race and skills. Can we expect the same for Bloodlines? For instance, will a Malkavian with a higher level of computers get other dialogue options when talking to a computer expert, than a Malkavian lacking the ability?
Bloodlines dialogs check for gender, clan, feats, disciplines, and humanity level. In some instances things like computer ability may add more options/different branches into the dialogs, but for the most part weâ€™ve concentrated on the above mentioned traits to determine dialog branching.
<3 to Troika's Leonard Boyarsky for answering our questions as well as thanks to Activion's Bloodlines Communities Manager Shane Defreest for setting us up with this interview.