Eve Online developer CCP recently announced it had cancelled its World of Darkness vampire MMO that it had been working on, to varying degrees, since 2007. Over the years we'd caught glimpses of it but never understood how it would work as an actual game. Until now.
Now the entire handbook from a confidential, and very recent playtest, dated March 2014, has been leaked on Reddit, spilling 33 pages of details and screenshots in the process.
Did World of Darkness have the hallmarks of Eve Online? It had permanent death, which was triggered when you'd lost all Humanity (for being generally naughty) and were then killed and Diablerized - your soul sent to respawn back at your Haven/house. If you had Humanity, you'd respawn, but without it you'd need to delete your character and start again.
Diablerizing someone cost Humanity, but it also meant you could loot their stuff. Other things that lowered Humanity, which ranged from 1-10, were attacking other players, sucking someone dry and not observing the vampire's code of conduct: the masquerade. But Humanity did regenerate over time.
There were safe areas, such as back at your Haven and in Elysium areas near churches, but elsewhere it sounded like you could be attacked.
There were player broods - guilds - to join and four clans to choose from, which governed the kind of vampire you'd be. A ranged damage dealer? Pick the blood witch Tremere clan. An in-your-face melee attacker? Go Brujah. A sneaky type? Pick Toreador. An in-between tank/support hybrid? Go Ventrue.
Each clan had different available disciplines - skills/abilities - that players could power up by going into a torpor sleep state in their Haven (you could insta-travel there using the Shroud ability). You could customise further by equipping Aspect buffs, a kind of equipment, and one other players could loot from you.
You could get Aspects from NPC mortals, "exceptional" ones, and to find them you'd need to go into hunting mode, which was an ability you could improve.
There were more options when feeding on a mortal than simply draining them, incidentally the only way of replenishing health. You could sire them, making them a member of your brood/guild, or you could turn them into your ghoul pop them in an Establishment from which they'd do your bidding.
Stick at it for long enough and you could own an Establishment, then turn it into a Hunting Ground that would earn you good XP currency, Vitae. But your ghouls there could also be attacked by other players, triggering Sabotage events. During these, Blood Dolls would be spawned that would need protecting by the defenders and attacking by the, err, attackers.
Oh, and there were guns.
When CCP announced it had cancelled World of Darkness it explained that its efforts had fallen "regretfully short" of its dreams for the game. Exactly what wasn't measuring up is unclear, but the game's prolonged development was a costly burden, particularly given the $20 million CCP reported losing last year.
Nevertheless, it will be celebrations this week as CCP hosts another Eve FanFest event in its homeland of Iceland. I'll be going, so I'll try and dig more up there.