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GameSpy developer chat log (06/03/04)
by Dan Van Crone

Well the GameSpy/Troika dev chat just wrapped up. Present were Leonard Boyarsky & TJ Perillo from Troika and Glenn Ige & Shane DeFreest (Hollywood) from Activision. Jason Anderson of Troika was also present in the room with Leonard but he didn't directly contribute to the chat (apart from perhaps whispering sweet nothings into Leon's ear). WolfBlade from GameSpy handled the interrogation.

Leon and TJ answered questions for a bit over an hour and there was a pretty good turn out - around 100 or so people were in the lobby at the time for the chat. I'm told there were people arriving in the lobby up to 2 hours before the chat started but unfortunately I slept in so I missed all the shenanigans.

I've prepared a full log of the chat for those of you who couldn't make it and for those who were there and just want something to cherish and hold close to their hearts. Click on Read More below to check it out.

Thanks to Troika and Activision for taking the time to have a tet-a-tet with the fans and also to GameSpy for playing host.

GameSpy: Ok, sorry for the delay
GameSpy: Hello everyone, and welcome to GameSpy Arcade's featured event for the day...
GameSpy: A live developer Chat event with the Troika Games Development Team about the upcoming game Vampires: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
GameSpy: Questions can be directed through me, the chat's moderator. Just type /msg WolfBlade and your question to submit - Please do not page our guests as they will be unable to answer you.
GameSpy: And now, without any further delays, I'd like to introduce our guests!
GameSpy: Please Welcome Leonard "leonx2" Boyarsky - Joint CEO/Art Director/Producer
Leonard Boyarsky: Yay
GameSpy: TJ "TJPerillo" Perillo - Designer
TJ Perillo: hey hey
GameSpy: Shane "Hollywoodvamp" Defreest - Vampire Communities Manager for Activision
Hollywood: Howdy
GameSpy: Glenn "atvi_iggy" Ige - Associate Producer
Glenn Ige: hi all
GameSpy: Also in the background we have Jason Anderson - Joint CEO! Hi Jason
GameSpy: Welcome folks!
Leonard Boyarsky: jason says hi
GameSpy: Now with all that said - let's get those questions going.

GameSpy: *Tuonela-gs* Why have you chosen to predetermine the prioritization of attributes and abilities by which clan you choose? The P&P V:tM doesn't.
Leonard Boyarsky: We wanted to reinforce the stereotypes of the clans...
Leonard Boyarsky: We followed the "recommendations" of what each clan represented from the manuals and White Wolf themselves.

GameSpy: *Shoelip-gs* Will it be possible far players o embrace NPCs, maybe as part of a quest or something?
TJ Perillo: We're sitting here trying to come up with the most vague answer possible, I'll be honest :)
TJ Perillo: I'd rather not say at this time
TJ Perillo: C'monnn surprises are fun right?

GameSpy: *[702th]--Xeltek---gs* Cloak of the Gathering is of the fifth level in Obfuscate, how will this discipline be important in Bloodlines, a game that is mostly played out with a lone character?
Leonard Boyarsky: We've redefined what the different levels of Obfuscate (and some of the other disciplines) do to better fit our gameplay experience...
TJ Perillo: It's been retooled for the game. No Mask of a Thousand Faces either.
TJ Perillo: ( " ) It does, however, kick ***. It's definitely a favorite of devs and testers.

GameSpy: *Vampire_WarCry_Com-gs* Will there be any Werewolves in this release or Garou?
Leonard Boyarsky: Yep
Leonard Boyarsky: They are extremely hostile, as you might expect
TJ Perillo: One of my favorite interactions in the game. :)

GameSpy: *=1Div=LCpl.Serce-gs* What can we expect, from this Half-life 2 engine?
TJ Perillo: We tried to focus on the aspects that could enhance the RPG experience... The tremendous facial animation tools, the physics...
TJ Perillo: Gorgeous graphics capabilites...
TJ Perillo: It the engine really facilitates the immediacy that an immersive RPG live V;tM demands
TJ Perillo: great sentence, Teej
Leonard Boyarsky: it's snazzy

GameSpy: *ChristofTheCrusader-gs* I would like to know about the weather system that will be in the game?
Leonard Boyarsky: There is rain and fog, but it's more ambient, and it doesn't have an affect on gameplay - is that what you were asking?

GameSpy: *{dm}deadman-gs* did you use any of the white wolf core books at all during the prosses of makeing the game?
TJ Perillo: All of em
TJ Perillo: Seriously, we got a library here
Leonard Boyarsky: we have all of them, and we refer to them all the time
Leonard Boyarsky: TJ types faster than I do

GameSpy: *Calypso13200-gs* what was ur main motivation in making this game?
Leonard Boyarsky: I thought it would help me score with goth chicks
TJ Perillo: It's a tremendously exciting opportunity: Troika getting to work with Valve on a White Wolf game? It's a no brainer.
Leonard Boyarsky: Yeah, what he said.

GameSpy: *.:H[A]S:.MG.Ninja-gs* What would you say is the best part of this game?
TJ Perillo: That's a big one.
Leonard Boyarsky: Everyone has their own favorite, I'm particfularly partial to the character interactions.
Leonard Boyarsky: I'm all about story
Leonard Boyarsky: But then again, I love blood boiling npcs...
Leonard Boyarsky: or invoking spectral wolves...
Leonard Boyarsky: or dominating an enemy into killing their own allies
TJ Perillo: Well, on a personal level, it's the Clan Nosferatu game I always wanted :)
TJ Perillo: Which is cool, cuz it's the Toreador game Leonard has always dreamed of... tight outfits and all :P
Leonard Boyarsky: I love those silk toreador shirts

GameSpy: *Vampdepo-gs* which part of the game excites you the dev team the most and that you think will make others want to play the game more?
TJ Perillo: The coolest thing is everyone find something they love to do, and have fun pursuing it throughout the game... and that thing differs player to player.
TJ Perillo: I was still on the previous q, sorry
Leonard Boyarsky: really, I thought it was a good answer for this question
TJ Perillo: hehe
GameSpy: lol
Leonard Boyarsky: we'll stop while we're ahead
TJ Perillo: There too, we have so many passionate people dedicated to making their corners of the game shine... it's a great thing.

GameSpy: *PercosetRules-gs* Can you play as weak bloods like Dhampirs?
Leonard Boyarsky: No, but thin bloods do make an appearance in the game
TJ Perillo: My Nos diablerizes your Dhampir for a midnight snack.
Leonard Boyarsky: what fun is it to be a dhampir anyway, right? :P

GameSpy: *Shoelip-gs* Will it ever be day-time in the game? How is that handled?
Leonard Boyarsky: We've decided for the sake of fun, that you don't need to deal with daylight
TJ Perillo: We tried the day-night cycle, and it was never more than an annoyance. People hated it.
Leonard Boyarsky: we've found that people don't like timed quests, and that's what it would amount to.

GameSpy: *=1Div=LCpl.Serce-gs* How many polygons, will we expect to see onscreen, and how will the cinematics compare?
Leonard Boyarsky: The cinematics are all in engine, so they'll be exactly like the gameplay...
Leonard Boyarsky: I don't know the overall poly count off hand, but our characters are around 5000 polygons by themselves...
Leonard Boyarsky: And we can have alot of characters walking around a detailed world, of thousands of more polygons.

GameSpy: *{dm}deadman-gs* will you be bringing this to xbox,ps2,gamecube?
Leonard Boyarsky: No plans are in place for consoles at this time

GameSpy: *Vampire_WarCry_Com-gs* I am sure this is asked alot, will player skins be possible and will we be able to "SEE" our own player from a 3rd person POV?
Leonard Boyarsky: In the state it will be shipping in, character skin swapping will not be possible, because of all the different armors...
Leonard Boyarsky: and variations we're already employing. But I wouldn't be surprised if someone out there makes it possible...
Leonard Boyarsky: You will be able to see your character in third person, on the character sheet and in melee mode (and some cinematics)
TJ Perillo: melee mode = 3rd person

GameSpy: *Grimwolfmachia-gs* are there abominations in vamp 2?
TJ Perillo: In V:tM Bloodlines, you mean :)
TJ Perillo: There will be Tzimisce creations
Leonard Boyarsky: We love those Tzimisce
TJ Perillo: How can you not?

GameSpy: *Gen.Smirnoff46-gs* How long did it take you guys to create this game, and were there any problems you guys ran across?
Leonard Boyarsky: We've been working on this game for 2 and a half years. The number of characters and all the voice recording has been overwhelming...
Leonard Boyarsky: We have over 125 NPCs you can interact with...
TJ Perillo: We've suffered for trying to stay true to the PnP, that's for sure. We agonized over changing things from the PnP. Ultimately though, we kept it true wherever possible, and made the proper concessions... I'm real happy with where it's at.

GameSpy: *InfectiousSpector-gs* Will vampires of differnt clans look different from each other ? well the nossie are pretty obvious, but lets say a venture vampire and a gangrel vampire?
Leonard Boyarsky: Yes, definitely. Each clan has their own models and textures, and armor sets.
TJ Perillo: The Malk armors are favorite for sure.

GameSpy: *Quest2001-gs* Is this more of an action genre? And also will it have the same stats gaining in the original masqurade?
TJ Perillo: It's an RPG.
TJ Perillo: The character development is the PnP model: you spend xp to buy up att, abilities, and disciplines.
Leonard Boyarsky: If you're talking about redemption, I don't know if I remember which stats/disciplines they used.

GameSpy: *OMEGA-GOG-gs* do u believe vampires really exist?
TJ Perillo: We're under NDA
TJ Perillo: We know NOTHING!
GameSpy: hehe

GameSpy: *DaNb0_SmItTy4-gs* will there be any vehicles in the game?
Leonard Boyarsky: No vehicles that the PC can use. We didn't feel it really felt right...
Leonard Boyarsky: for the game we were making.
TJ Perillo: Only the bigwheel for the dirt track level.

GameSpy: *Dizzy13-gs* can you explain if/how clan advantages and disadvantages will impact the game?
Leonard Boyarsky: Well, the malkavians have the disadvantage of being crazy (and talking that way), but they have insight...
TJ Perillo: We've rolled adv/disadv into a background system. You may opt to choose a background during character creation.
Leonard Boyarsky: which shows them things other players might not see. And they hear voices that can reveal things to them...
Leonard Boyarsky: and the nosferatu arer fairly obvious...
Leonard Boyarsky: TJ and I are answering two different questions...
TJ Perillo: hehe
Leonard Boyarsky: Tj has scolded me
TJ Perillo: tsk tsk tsk
Leonard Boyarsky: I'm going to crawl off now...

GameSpy: *InfectiousSpector-gs* Will vampires of differnt clans look different from each other ? well the nossie are pretty obvious, but lets say a venture vampire and a gangrel vampire ?
TJ Perillo: See above :)

GameSpy: *DarkangaelBrokenwing-gs* will there be a chance to customize characters like in everquest?
Leonard Boyarsky: No, we haven't supported that, as it's possible (likely, even) that you'll be spending alot of the game in first person...
Leonard Boyarsky: each clan has their own set of armors, as I said before.

GameSpy: *[702th]--Xeltek---gs* How will the different disciplines of Auspex be handled?
Leonard Boyarsky: tj's furiously typing
TJ Perillo: We've rolled many of the level's effects into Auspex. Advancing through the different levels of Auspex enhances the benefits- greater bonuses, greater radius of effect... No Psychic Projection though...
TJ Perillo: levels' rather
TJ Perillo: Aura reading we have, you can see through walls, and you gain a bonus to percpetion.

GameSpy: *Vampdepo-gs* well there be a demo released for the public to play before the release this fall?
Leonard Boyarsky: We don't know, that's an Activision question

GameSpy: *=1Div=LCpl.Serce-gs* What will set this RPG from other games?
Leonard Boyarsky: we're incorporating alot of the excitement of a first person game into it...
Leonard Boyarsky: the quality of the engine...
Leonard Boyarsky: the facial animations/reactions...
TJ Perillo: and it's pretty unique experience: you play a modern-day vampire in urban Los Angeles on the eve of Gehenna. What could be cooler?
Leonard Boyarsky: word

GameSpy: *INsideOUT-gs* Is this game mainly for the people into Vampires or will people who are not in the whole vampire craze enjoy it?
Leonard Boyarsky: mmmmm gehenna
Leonard Boyarsky: well, if you hate vampires, I don't think it's for you...
Leonard Boyarsky: but I think people who are into great role playing games will love it...
TJ Perillo: I mean, naturally, we expect anyone to be able to pick it up and enjoy it. Vamp fans and goth chicks though- get ready for your Godfather.
Leonard Boyarsky: you don't need to be a total vampire head to enjoy it, basically.

GameSpy: *Vampire78-gs* Being a FPS fan, I'm curious as to how many weapons there will be in the game, and if there will be 'over the top' blood?
TJ Perillo: Too many weapons, by many accounts :)
Leonard Boyarsky: well, if you consider blood boiling a person until they explode over the top, then we're there, baby!...
TJ Perillo: and blood- yeah, as a vampire, naturally you'll be awash in blood. We avoid making it cartoony, but we have some pretty spectacular blood effects.
Leonard Boyarsky: we've included as much as is allowed by the food and drug administration.

GameSpy: *[TT]Ragnarok-gs* how many hours of play can we expect?
Leonard Boyarsky: That's a good question. Alot of the answer to that will depend on balancing and testing, to make sure the game flows well...
Leonard Boyarsky: and basically we don't know yet. We have some guesses, but let's just say alot for now.

GameSpy: *|)eadly~Veno]v[-gs* does your character level up?
TJ Perillo: If you listen to every line of spoken dialog, which you should, dammit, add another 20 hours.
TJ Perillo: (20 hours = TJ's personal guestimation)
Leonard Boyarsky: your character gets xp to spend, but the Vampire system isn't level based

GameSpy: *Quest2001-gs* Will there be voice chat in the game?
Leonard Boyarsky: No

GameSpy: *OMEGA-GOG-gs* where did u get inspiration 4 all the character types?
Leonard Boyarsky: uhmmmm, that's a hard one...
TJ Perillo: Player character types or our NPC characters?
TJ Perillo: I assume NPCs
TJ Perillo: the PCs are all White Wolf.
Leonard Boyarsky: assuming you're talking about the npcs in the game, we've created them based on the story...
Leonard Boyarsky: and the setting. We like to draw from all different areas of vampire and popular culture.
TJ Perillo: In order to find a voice for our characters, we try to pattern them off of known characters- literary characters, real people, characters from film- this creates a frame of reference we can hand to the animators, the voice actors, etc.

GameSpy: *skyra_to_hollow-gs* How does the Humanity system work? Will we get Conscience and Self-Control after all?
TJ Perillo: Humanity will factor into dialog responses, as well as the player's struggle against the Beast.
TJ Perillo: Wanton violence and destruction brings out the beast, and makes you more likely to frenzy.
Leonard Boyarsky: and you lose humanity for killing innocents or doing particularly nasty stuff...
TJ Perillo: (Humanity is a tangible stat btw.)
Leonard Boyarsky: to solve quests, among other things.

GameSpy: *[eF]YoE-1-gs* "how will the HL2 engine do the Kindred Disciplines? and will it do them justice like the original VTM game?
Leonard Boyarsky: We have made a few modifications to the engine, to be sure...we think our effects are spectacular, of course...
TJ Perillo: Yeah the Discipline effects are pretty spectacular. Justin Cherry is a particle wizard.
TJ Perillo: Nivbed for the enlightened.
Leonard Boyarsky: damn straight

GameSpy: *Quest2001-gs* is it possible if you can transform into a beast? If so. What can you do as a beast?
Leonard Boyarsky: Gangrel have the protean discipline, which allows the pc to take on the beast form at higher levels...
TJ Perillo: You can kick much ***... and break the Masquerade :) so, you know, use it with discretion.
Leonard Boyarsky: I can't believe they censor ***

GameSpy: *OMEGA-GOG-gs* what point in time is the game set?
Leonard Boyarsky: it's present day
Leonard Boyarsky: in an alternate, gothic Los Angeles
Leonard Boyarsky: right on the eve of Gehenna
Leonard Boyarsky: or is it?
TJ Perillo: no, it is
TJ Perillo: lol

GameSpy: *Dizzy13-gs* in one of the video's the player is facing a door to a bloodbank, will players be able to use the bloodbank as an alternative to feeding off of NPCs, if so, will that be a Masquerade violation?
Leonard Boyarsky: The blood bank you're referring to is run by a ghoul, so you can load up on blood whenever you don't want to feed...
Leonard Boyarsky: for moral or religious reasons, of course.
Leonard Boyarsky: Just bring your money.
TJ Perillo: TMI!
TJ Perillo: bloodpacks don't quite pack the punch of feeding, of course.

GameSpy: *[702th]--Xeltek---gs* What made you decide to not include Mist Form and what will replace it?
TJ Perillo: For level 5 we have an enhanced Shape of the Beast.
TJ Perillo: Mist Form, tbh, wasn't that fun.
TJ Perillo: You can mist form then beeline to your goal... not all that interesting in a CRPG.
Leonard Boyarsky: and it broke alot of stuff :P

GameSpy: Well folks, last question of the night :(
GameSpy: *Tuonela-gs* Can we have a ghoul memory of Dogmeat?
TJ Perillo: There is a dog!
Leonard Boyarsky: That would be too cool
TJ Perillo: shhhhhhhhh!
Leonard Boyarsky: our next game is the adventures of dogmeat
TJ Perillo: Dammit len, we don't have the domain name yet. It's gonna be camped now.
Leonard Boyarsky: we'll leave you guessing on this one, because we're mean...
Leonard Boyarsky: you can ask another question since we copped out on that one

GameSpy: *|)eadly~Veno]v[-gs* are the worlds/maps small or large?
Leonard Boyarsky: They vary in size - we have some pretty big maps...
Leonard Boyarsky: we wanted to convey the feeling of being in a big city

GameSpy: Well folks... Any last advice, tips or info that you'd like to share with the fans? or are we all finished?
Leonard Boyarsky: I think everyone owes it to themselves to buy V:Tm Bloodlines.
TJ Perillo: Don't sell the Toreador short- they kick *** :P
Leonard Boyarsky: And buy it for your friends, too
Leonard Boyarsky: I'm just a corporate shill
Leonard Boyarsky: blood boil, blood boil, blood boil
GameSpy: hehe, excellent!

GameSpy: A HUGE thanks to the Troika Games developers for dropping by. Great to have you!
GameSpy: Another BIG thanks goes out to everyone who came by to participate. Great questions, folks.
Leonard Boyarsky: Thanks everyone for putting up with us
TJ Perillo: Thank you GS, thank you everyone.
GameSpy: anytime :)
GameSpy: We'll have a chat log of tonights event posted for everyone real soon!
Leonard Boyarsky: it was great

TJ Perillo has gone to Later!.

Leonard Boyarsky: bye

Leonard Boyarsky has gone to Later!.

GameSpy: Night all!