When Paradox Interactive made the remarkable decision to take Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 away from its original developers, Hardsuit Labs, the company considered outright cancelling the game. That's according to returning CEO Fredrik Wester in a recent interview. Paradox still aren't saying who's making the World Of Darkness RPG now nor when it will be done, but apparently it's still happening?
The interview was with a Swedish news agency in Swedish, as seen on Placera. You can get the broad meaning from machine translation but the technology is imperfect, so I reached out to Paradox for a more accurate version of key parts.
"When we removed the game from the original developer we took a long look at whether we should cancel it or continue development," Wester said in the translation Paradox provided. "We were prepared to stop production completely, but we received a pitch that was persuasive enough for us to continue with. We have high hopes that this will be a good game that meets our players' desires."
Paradox still haven't said who has taken over making Bloodlines 2. Wester passed on answering a question about that in this interview, but did say they're "a very reputable and talented developer" who've made several games before. It's also unknown how much the new Bloodlines 2 resembles the old Bloodlines 2, though Wester seemingly said in this interview [currently going off Google Translate for this part, soz] that they can still use much of the work. For all anyone knows, that could mean anything from re-using art assets to picking up where Hardsuit left off. Hard to say when what happened is such a secret.
In July 2020, Paradox fired Brian Mitsoda, who was the sequel's narrative lead as well as a writer and designer on the original. Creative director Ka'ai Cluney was out too. Seemed bad; got worse. In February 2021, Paradox announced an even bigger change: they were taking Hardsuit off the game and handing development to another studio. It's astonishingly rare for that to happen once a game has hit the stage of previews and pre-orders. Hardsuit suffered layoffs after that.
I had always expected Bloodlines 2 to be a little cursed, given what happened with the first game. I did not expect that on the scale of curses, it would be around the level of "You, your kids, your grandkids, your great-grandkids, and your great-great-grandkids will be spitting teeth every time you sniff or sneeze, and not your own teeth, other teeth, mystery teeth, just teeth, surprise, it's teeth, here they come." But I still want to see what comes out when that game/those teeth arrives. I gotta see.
I also asked Paradox if they had anything new to share publicly about the game's development. They do not.
Paradox seemingly have trouble of their own. In recent months, several media reports and a leaked survey of union employees have made allegations of workplace problems for women in particular. Amidst this, Wester admitted "inappropriate behaviour" towards an employee at a company event in 2018. "Accountability starts from the top," he said.Disclosure: Cara Ellison, a former RPS columnist and my former flatmate, was narrative designer on Bloodlines 2 at Hardsuit Labs. I still have her candlesticks, though I have finally started burning the candles.