Creative forces now in charge of venerated role-playing franchise beginning to chart new course.
White Wolf Publishing has provided new information on the future of World of Darkness. Speaking in a presentation and a Q&A session at Tenebrae Noctis, a World of Darkness fan event held last weekend in Germany, CEO Tobias Sjogren and Lead Storyteller Martin Ericsson of the newly reborn White Wolf (following its acquisition in late October by Paradox Interactive) discussed the current state of the company and some of their plans going forward.
As previously mentioned in our interview with Sjogren, White Wolf will be licensing the properties within World of Darkness to creative partners in a broad range of media (including those traditionally associated with the brand, such as pen and paper roleplaying products and videogames), while developing a single metaplot to run through and bring together all products under the banner. Ericsson revealed that this plot will specifically tell modern stories set in the 21st century on a global scale, saying that the focus will, "gradually shift from the United States to Europe, Russia, and the Middle East."
Some content will be rendered non-canon as a result of this metaplot direction, which will provide a new history for the World of Darkness reflecting current real-world events as they relate to the various "end times" prophecies established in the game world. Ericsson estimated the start of this historical revision would begin around 2003, and delivered through products in bits and pieces over a period of years.
An effort is also being made to allow for more cohesion between product lines within World of Darkness. "While they will be separate in their thematics," said Ericsson, "we are looking to unify the look and the feel and the emotional overarching tone of the World of Darkness to make sure that when (and/or if) crossovers happen, they will work."
No specific product announcements were made, noting that discussions with partners were ongoing, but the pair did address several popular requests from fans as being under consideration. Sjogren specifically expressed a desire to pursue collectible card game lines, citing a growing interest in Vampire: The Eternal Struggle.
One likely project is a sequel to the 2004 videogame Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, for which there is a clear interest. "One of my favorite call-ups from a previously engaged partner," Ericsson related, "was Activision calling us, like, 'You're White Wolf, can you please tell us why Bloodlines sells so well?'"
Hunter: The Reckoning was also mentioned as a possible candidate for a future sequel, with Ericsson noting it as (along with Vampire) one of the two White Wolf properties that has found success as a videogame. He also teased a bit that the gameplay of prior Hunter titles, which centered four-player cooperative play, was something one of their partners already had experience with in Magicka, which was published by White Wolf's parent company, Paradox.
Conversations are also occurring with developers of unofficial works. Sjogren stated there has been discussion with the developers of Project Vaulderie (a fan-created remake of Bloodlines in the Unity engine shut down by CCP through a cease and desist letter last year) and expressed that the company is open to talking to other community creators about projects that could infringe on their properties. "Our way of looking at this," said Sjogren, "is that it's more fun to talk to creative people than to have the lawyers talk to them."
Live-action roleplaying will also be an area of focus for the company again, according to Ericsson, who has an extensive career background in developing live interactive experiences. In addition to continued support for the Mind's Eye Theater line of live-action products, it was announced that White Wolf itself will produce official LARP events.
The pair were more ambiguous about the cancelled MMO that had been in development at CCP. While noting that White Wolf has all of the content developed for the game, Sjogren stated it would be beyond the capacity of the company to launch it as a product, "over a holiday," as if to leave open the possibility that the MMO could launch at a far later date. But before Sjogren was able to clarify further, Ericsson stepped in to praise the work the team at CCP had done, stating that some of the material would be folded into future setting material, "because there were a lot of people who sweated and bled for a lot of years, and that will not be in vain."
The new White Wolf doesn't seem to be ruling anything out as a possible avenue for World of Darkness, and eager to expand its presence as a major horror property.
"We jokingly say that if we don't have a show on Netflix or HBO around 2021, we have failed," said Ericsson. "Our ambitions are huge because we think this IP belongs up there with Star Wars and Game of Thrones and all the other greats. And this is the opportunity to do it. That's the scope of our ambition, nothing less is worthwhile."