Dev Diary #2: Narrative Atmosphere and Themes
I'm Sarah Longthorne, Senior Narrative Designer and Writer. Today, we're discussing the narrative in Bloodlines 2 from a sky-high perspective. What are the conflicts and challenges in Seattle's Court and, how will they affect you?
Samson In Chains
The story of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 is, at its cold, unbeating heart, about control: the amount and kind of control you have over others, the control they exert over you in turn, and the control you lose—and slowly regain—over yourself… and your fate.
You wake trapped in Seattle, the full extent of your power artificially suppressed—diminished to a mere pawn, to be used and exploited. After all, what are others if not our most disposable assets?
And what better asset than a leashed and muzzled Elder?
Our main NPC characters like Lou, Ryong, and Tolly all have their own agenda that your involvement could greatly advance.
It might not be in your best interest to bite every hand that seeks to bring you to heel, but to pick and choose, to play along—to bide your time. Or not. That much, darling, is down to you.
Neo-Noir blurs the lines of morality and explores themes like revenge, paranoia, alienation. All of which perfectly encapsulate a Kindred’s existence, especially when you consider that neo-noir stories are often driven by nihilistic, morally gray antiheroes. Hello, Kindred!
We love Tolly. There is nothing sinister about this man.
We focus on character, who knows what and who has the power in any given situation, and how the player can use that to their advantage. No one in Bloodlines 2 knows everything about everything, as much as they might pretend. So, how the player navigates these alliances and goes about learning new information makes the player feel like they are investigating a complex web of lies. We try to ensure that the player feels in control of the information that they know, who they share those secrets with, and why.
What happens to an Elder?
One of our early design decisions was to make the player character into an Elder Kindred. This was interesting to us because it means that we can play with how this established vampire knows things about being a Kindred already and how we can create gaps to let the player learn this type of information firsthand. Balancing the opportunity and the history it entails with the desire to allow players to still roleplay and make the character their own. It was extremely challenging but fun!
Kindred do not relate to each other the way that we do, especially extremely old Kindred, like our protagonist. They don’t have ‘friends’, for instance – everything is about power and possession, which are the antithesis of any genuine connection. It’s a challenge to try and disconnect from how we might view a thing and step into that mindset in order to properly represent it. You have to lean first on making that character interesting to learn about and spend time with – you cannot expect players to initially identify with them, or maybe even like them. It takes finesse to balance that, to zoom out and find the broader, more universal entry points that might encourage players to feel like they can identify with that character.
Humanity is something distant, so what does that make humans to you? Centuries of existence can be tough on a person who can only feed on others. Are they just something to be consumed, or is it possible to have trust and kinship? Is everyone just a chess piece or a trophy?
All these questions and more are what we’re asking about your character and the NPCs that star in Bloodlines 2.
We’ll see you back in two weeks for our next Dev Diary when we’ll explore the Neo-Noir art style.