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GameSpot Presents: Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption Interview

By: Geoff Keighley
Designed By: Kevin Wu

Many computer games feel like nothing more than an endless series of mouse clicks, keyboard taps, and load screens. But every year there are a handful of games that break this threshold and offer something more. This week, we will see if Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption is one such game. It is a rich role-playing game due out later this week from nascent Marin County, California, developer Nihilistic Software.

screenshot
Project lead Ray Gresko
Early on there's a point in Vampire when you feel as if the game has engaged you in a world all its own. When you saunter down the damp moonlit cobblestone paths in Prague as Christof Romuland, a 12th century knight, there's a cathartic moment when you feel at ease with the game. It's as if the mere experience of walking through the world becomes your journey, not that of some computer-rendered model depicted on the screen. Such an event is rare in gaming, but the games that do manage to transcend the boundaries between technology and emotion always resonate with the player. These games make liberal use of a very simple precept: Everyone likes a good story.

screenshot
Lead programmer Rob Huebner
So, on the eve of this stirring new RPG going gold, we had a chance to sit down with Ray Gresko, the project leader and designer of Vampire, so he could tell us the story of what it was like for the team to create this engaging game. Our wide-ranging discussion touches not only on the game, but also on the nature of game development, interactive storytelling, and how Nihilistic, a 12-person company, was able to build a massive RPG in just over two years.

GameSpot: Judging from your company's moniker, it's clear the team wanted to throw out the conventional wisdom about how to develop a successful game and create a new infrastructure for development. What didn't you like about the traditional game development situation, and what did you hope to change about it with Nihilistic?

Ray Gresko: We really just wanted to try a situation involving a small, concentrated group of developers who had a large amount of drive and experience shipping hit titles. Our guess was that we could cut out a lot of things that unnecessarily clutter the development environment by breaking away and setting up a shop of our own. Without the distraction of the corporate psychodrama, unnecessary strata of bureaucracy, and no "weak-link" resources, we could give more focus to making a great game. We knew what it actually took to put a product in the box - our goal was to slim down and take full charge of the process.
 
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