Posted by Rampant Coyote on June 17, 2014
Man. I must be getting old. I remember when White Wolf Publishing was the hot new concept in the dice & paper gaming community. I had friends who playtested an early version of Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Vampire: The Masquerade was the hot new trend in gaming. The rules were clever but imbalanced, the rulebook was so poorly organized you needed to memorize it to remember where everything was. But the text was full of flavory goodness. They sold a setting and a vibe. It was good.
Except for a bit of RPG snobbishness, at least. Which is kinda weird. I mean, seriously? We’re all RPG fans, but you are going to act like you are superior because you play a particularly trendy RPG? No thank you. (I kinda remember a story by Clark Peterson about how they were at GenCon one year playing a good ol’ fashioned D&D game, but it was so crowded they were in one of the halls. A bunch of people dressed goth-y walked by and made disparaging remarks about the kinds of gamers who were still playing Dungeons & Dragons. What said pretentious douches didn’t know is that the people playing D&D were largely White Wolf authors, the people who DESIGNED the game they were acting superior about).
I had high hopes for ‘em when CCP bought them out. The potential of a World of Darkness MMO just sounded so frickin’ cool. When it was canceled, and White Wolf Publishing has pretty much ceased to exist as a functioning entity within CCP. I was really disappointed by the news, and wondered what had happened.
We may never know all the details. Having been in that situation myself a few times, I’d guess that no one employee knows all the details. But at least some of the mystery has been revealed:
It sounds like… in spite of years (and many complete rewrites) and some actual playability in some builds… they really weren’t that far along. Ever. So we didn’t miss out on much.
I’ve also noticed two behaviors that game companies tend to exhibit when they’ve managed to knock one out of the park (especially when they do so on their first major “try”): Hubris, or impostor syndrome. In the former case, the company assumes that if they pulled it off and managed the impossible, they must be specially gifted (with more than luck). They believe they can do no wrong, entitled to success, and can get away with poor practices because it will certainly be worth it in the end. In the latter case, the company management is haunted by the realization that they got lucky once, and that it will be very hard to top their mega-hit, and get paralyzed into never completing anything. Both behaviors can be extremely self-destructive.
Hopefully I’ll stay level when I finally hit the big time. How’s that for optimism?
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