Something major is building; you may have heard some excited gamers declaring “White Wolf is coming!” This is not in reference to Aesop’s Fables, but instead to several intellectual properties (IP) that are once again going to have computer games made about them.
With the majority of games I am quite happy to wait until the product is released before taking more than even a cursory look at it. Too many times in the past games have failed to live up to even a basic standard, let alone the hype. Worse still is that several games I’ve really looked forward to were cancelled; all the work done is abandoned, not even a new version is attempted. However, any mention of a potential computer game based upon one of the White Wolf role-playing IPs grabs, and keeps, my attention.
Years ago some speculated that the White Wolf company was cursed. Despite how successful they were in the role-playing community (tabletop and live-action), it struggled with computer games. I suspect a lot of gamers will have heard of Vampire Bloodlines, a 2004 CRPG by Troika Games utilising the Half-Life 2 engine. Initially it was plagued by bugs and did not sell well, but over time this game became a big seller. It is fair to say that it is now considered to be an acclaimed game, and some gamers, like myself, rate it as one of their favourites. Crucially the Bloodlines commercial and artistic improvement is because members of the community continued to work on the product, helping it to become what it should have been at release.
Several White Wolf games were started but ended up cancelled. There were four other released computer games: Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, and the Hunter: The Reckoning trilogy. Although those games never received the same mass praise, nor sales, they were at least released. The Hunter trilogy developers, High Voltage Software, are quite the anomaly with regards to White Wolf since they not only avoided the curse, and even managed to make not one but three games!
So based upon the changing role-playing industry in the 2000s and the problems they’d had with getting computer games completed, White Wolf merged with CCP (Eve Online) in 2006. For years CCP worked on an MMO based upon the World of Darkness, but unfortunately this was never finished, and eventually abandoned.
In October 2015 Paradox Interactive, (Crusader Kings, Stellaris, Europa, etc.) purchased the White Wolf IPs from CCP. To quote Paradox: “White Wolf is a self-operating subsidiary to Paradox Interactive with its own management and goals.”
For over a year the new IP owners have been working on creating their vision of the games. Given the sheer amount of previously published information, they must have had a lot of decisions to make to create their setting bibles; crucially a developer wanting to start making a computer game needs to know the parameters they can work with. We don’t yet have any detailed explanation about how things will work, but at least we do have some info. The previous two versions of the World of Darkness were both made up of several games, Vampire: The Masquerade being the most famous. The new version will be mostly based on the original/old World of Darkness (oWoD), with possibly some aspects from the second version that was generally referred to as the new World of Darkness (nWoD). This new version is called: One World of Darkness. White Wolf Publishing has several other great IP’s, such as Exalted and the Trinity Universe, but we have no news about any plans for them yet.
I think it is important to emphasise that although the new White Wolf Publishing shares the name White Wolf, and some of the old White Wolf creators are also involved, that this new company is quite a different beast. For a start, since this is a subsidiary of Paradox Interactive, as well as including other game design veterans, they already know how to design and publish computer games. They have also taken previously existing IP, Europa Universalis, and made a successful game out of it. This change is a continuation of the old White Wolf vision; to have a strong computer game basis to help their IP prosper. For me, Paradox being interviewed by AngryJoe is a great example of demonstrating some openness, and shows Paradox is willing to get grilled on camera; something that other companies seem to avoid at all costs. I would like to think the curse can be broken, I have confidence that this new company plans to do so.
On January 19th 2017 a partnership with the publisher Focus Home Interactive for a licence to make a Werewolf: the Apocalypse (a part of the World of Darkness) PC and console game was announced. It will be developed by Cyanide (Styx: Master of Shadows, Blood Bowl, and forthcoming Call of Cthulhu). The curse curious may be interested to know, years ago two Werewolf computer games were attempted: Werewolf: the Apocalypse and Heart of Gaia, but of course both were cancelled; some videos are online demonstrating what work had been done. Information about the new game will be announced next week, the game site. Will this new game by blessed by Gaia, or will we be sold a corporate Wyrm-infested mess? Will White Wolf pass its Rite of Passage by breaking the curse, or will we have to Rage?
Given the depth and variety of these IPs, what are your thoughts and hopes?