CCP might be best known for EVE Online, but they’ve had another project burbling away in their developmental cauldron since basically the dawn of time. World of Darkness, based on White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade setting, is technically existent, though CCP has become quite adept at keeping it shrouded in, er, darkness. But every once in a while some news slips out, and not all of it is good. For instance, the World of Darkness team recently laid off 15 members of its rather small (for an MMO) force. So then, what’s going on behind-the-scenes? Should we be worried? And how is the game evolving? I asked CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson, and here’s what he told me.
The World of Darkness family table is missing a few fanged faces, but Pétursson was adamant that it’s not a signal of dark (light?) times ahead. Instead, it was a structural team. The game is still evolving rapidly, and a larger team size was simply causing too many bottlenecks.
“What we’ve seen is, increasing focus for teams also comes from the size of the team,” he explained to RPS. “And when you’re still innovating and figuring out how you’re game’s going to work, a bigger team takes longer to do that. So again, the layoffs were more about focus and creating an environment where teams can be successful with their priorities. That’s something we’ve had to work a lot on as we’ve grown. We’ve grown very fast. We were not very well structured for the complicated strategy we’ve been executing. We’ve been working a lot on that.”
As for the game itself, CCP is keeping an open mind. Nothing’s set in stone just yet (yes, still), which means the sandbox MMO maven can observe the successes and failures of others before committing. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, sandbox survival games like DayZ and Rust are seeing an awful lot of success right now.
“The core dynamics of being human or vampire haven’t changed, but we’ve certainly been taking inspiration from a lot of recent things,” said Pétursson. “For example, DayZ and Rust, which have shown us the power of a sandbox when you bring it into a more recognizable context.”
“The creators of those experiences often reference EVE Online as an inspiration for their things. We’re now cross-inspired by what we’re seeing there. How the absence of all these structured game mechanics – by just allowing these natural interactions to happen – that is something we’re definitely incorporating into how we think about World of Darkness.”
When I asked if World of Darkness was heading in a more survival-oriented direction, Pétursson was hesitant to make any promises. But his point was clear: CCP is watching DayZ, Rust, and their ilk, and World of Darkness is changing with the times.
So then, when will we see the fruits of all this shadowy labor? While CCP is very much sticking to its “when it’s done” stance for release, Pétursson suggested that we can probably expect to see something at EVE Fanfest in May. It’s a Fanfest tradition, after all. For now, though, there’s precious little info available. Well, at least we know it’ll have vampires.
Unless they’ve been replaced with zombies.