The Real Bloody World of Darkness MMO Politics
CCP might be the only people who can do a proper World of Darkness MMO.
When Crowd Control Productions (CCP) Games “merged” with White Wolf Game Studios (WWGS) it seemed like an odd marriage. An Icelandic MMO company known for sci-fi single-universe game was taking over a company that almost toppled Dungeons & Dragons in basement tables around the world. WWGS’ bread and butter was the World of Darkness, a tabletop RPG that took the Universal monsters and gave them the Anne Rice treatment. Vampire: the Masquerade, the first game set in the World of Darkness, was dubbed personal horror. It was about the pathos of being a monster, but still human enough to know you were a monster.
From the tabletop sprang Live Action Role Playing. Men and women pretending to be vampires and werewolves while scheming and plotting to support or subvert the Prince of the city, who was another player. A strange mix of impromptu theater and the geek favourite Diplomacy all while dressed up like it was Halloween… adult rock’n’roll bondage Halloween.
CCP’s claim to fame was its very different MMO, Eve Online. Rather than an extension of role-playing games where you control a guy in a particular server, Eve was more an open economy and trading game like old BBS games (Tradewars). Eve showed that users could create their own story not dependent on people in ivory towers pointing you to dungeons to raid. When a coup was triggered that had been years in the making, many print newspapers ran stories as if the fictional worlds events were truly newsworthy. (It’s estimated that the coup actually stole $16000USD worth of in game assets, all legal in the game.) CCP understood that economics and politics are just two sides to the same coin. If you wanted to make a virtual buck the virtual politics couldn’t be ignored.
At CCP’s recent Eve fanfest more info was given about the WoD MMO that was thought to be in torpor. It will start with vampires and their currency will be human blood. The Prince of the city will control the blood supply and they will be a player character. If the Prince angers the other players they may face a revolt and even permanent death. Yes, the biggest dude in the MMO will be someone paying monthly fees to login. If anyone who upsets the higher up characters can face permadeath. This ain’t WoW kids, this is politics with fangs where your actions can actually affect the game.
And this is why the match between CCP and WoD in hindsight is so great. CCP understands that at the heart of Vampire the Masquerade or Werewolf the Apocalypse is a political struggle for resources, an entertaining supernatural mirror of our own world. And they already know how to make a resource savvy, socio-political game. Now they are just swapping out rocket ships for fangs.