My name is Michael Brower and I am a journalist student at Indiana University. I'm sitting here today with my personal friend Zer0Morph; the founder and lead project designer for The Final Nights expansion to Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. I would like to thank him for taking the time to talk to us for this interview.
Michael: Thanks for talking to us Zer0. Word has it your team is releasing patch 1.3 for The Final Nights in the next few weeks.
Zer0: That's right, we've been working on some brand new additions over the past few months and we're excited to show the community what we've come up with.
Michael: What are some of the new features introduced in 1.3?
Zer0: Quite a few things really. We've made the female Assamite character playable finally, something we've wanted to do for some time now. Our biggest feature is the Background History System which gives the player a chance to decide what their character did before their embrace, and the skills they learned as a human carry over to their role as a Vampire.
Michael: Let's talk about that for a moment. What makes this Background History System different than the normal histories we find in the Unofficial Patches?
Zer0: Well, prior to your embrace, your character was a living breathing person just acting out their life. They learned some skills during that time that they can use in their unlife. These "rewards" come in the form of Feat bonuses and will really determine how your character plays the rest of the game. They will naturally be good at these feats and will be able to level them up easier than other feats. The drawback is that you start out with 1 less point to distribute for your Attributes and Abilities. So essentially your starting character won't be very good at much except what they learned in life. We did this to enhance the "role" playing aspect of TFN and it has worked out wonderfully!
Michael: Because the character's history is so important now, how many will the player get to choose from?
Zer0: We wrote a total of 48 new histories complete with a fully detailed back story.
Michael: Very cool! Is it true that the team figured out a way to stop the blood loss timer during dialogue?
Zer0: Yes, our lead scripting developer; Childe of Malkav figured it out and so the blood loss timer will stop when you're in dialogue. This is something we wanted to do for a while because people were complaining that they felt rushed to get through dialogue because the timer kept running. This is definitely a fan favorite!
Michael: Tell us about the new Online Bank Hacking System. What is it and how will it affect TFN?
Zer0: The goal is and always has been, that every feat is useful all the way up to level 10. This wasn't the case for the Hacking feat. Most computers topped out around 6 or 7 so you really didn't need to maximize Hacking. The Online Bank Hacking System changes that. Like Haggle, which was useless in vanilla Bloodlines, Hacking is now a viable option all the way up to 10. There are 17 computers in the game that you can hack and steal money which also nets you experience. The money then gets delivered to your haven mailbox where you can pick it up. Doing this however is pretty evil so you will lose a Humanity point for every account you hack if your current Humanity level is 6 or higher.
Michael: And you did something similar with the Lockpicking feat as well?
Zer0: Yes we did, like Hacking, Lockpicking wasn't useful past 6 or 7 either so we setup a similar system. There are now 18 chests, safes, and fridges that you can lockpick and take the contents inside. You can steal anything from money, blood bags, or even body armor in Carson's apartment safe. You don't earn experience from picking these locks, however most of the safes aren't owned by innocent kine so you won't incur a Humanity loss like you would from Hacking, so it balances out.
Michael: It sounds like getting your Hacking or Lockpicking feats up to 10 is a great idea to earn cash and/or experience.
Zer0: Yes it is. We had some complaints that Haggle was overpowered in TFN and you were pretty much forced to get Haggle up pretty high if you wanted to earn any kind of money at all. We like our players to have options so Hacking or Lockpicking is a great way to do just that, without being forced to specialize in Haggle.
Michael: You mentioned a Humanity loss for stealing with this new Hacking/Lockpicking System?
Zer0: You will lose 1 point of Humanity if you steal or hack an innocent kine's property, and only if your current Humanity is level 6 or higher. If your Humanity is already level 5 or lower, you won't lose anything. We did this to keep the system balanced; Penalty vs. Reward. Stealing from kindred or from evil kine is fine, and so is the case with stealing the charity box at the Santa Monica Gallery.
Michael: You also reduced the price of purchasing a Masquerade Redemption from Silvia Black?
Zer0: Yes, Silvia Black is a new NPC we introduced in TFN 1.1. She's found in the Tattoo Parlor and can hide evidence and clean up masquerade violations, for a price. Originally, she would redeem you for $1000 and this price could be reduced with a high Haggle score. If you had a Haggle of 10, she would redeem your violation for $500. Now, for every point of Haggle will reduce the price by $100, effectively charging you only $100 if you have a Haggle of 10. We also reduced the Persuasion required to get her to open up about her past which gives you an experience point.
Michael: What's the new Hardcore Mode about?
Zer0: For those fans who like a REAL challenge, they can choose to start the game with a blank slate meaning they only have 1 point in each Discipline and 1 point in each of their Attributes, but nothing else.
Michael: You also fixed additional bugs in this patch?
Zer0: Yes, we found several bugs and fixed them. The biggest one was taking the Ming Xiao ending, the temple doors wouldn't unlock preventing you from completing the game. Obviously that was detrimental so we immediately fixed it.
Michael: Do you see further patches happening in the future or will this be the last one for TFN?
Zer0: Most likely you'll see at least 1 more patch. We still haven't addressed the Intimidation and Seduction feats being under-powered. We would like to get both of those feats into something that a player can specialize in so we're looking into allowing the player to mug or seduce NPCs on the streets for money or blood. This is something we'll talk more about later though and won't be included in 1.3.
Michael: Do you have a release date set?
Zer0: Not exactly but Beta Testing begins on Saturday, January 24th and we typically release the final product about 2-3 weeks after testing begins. We're thinking a mid-February release date.
Michael: That's all the questions we have for you today and once again, thank you for taking the time to speak to us and your fellow fans of TFN. Keep up the good work and we look forward to the release of TFN 1.3.
Zer0: Thank you, take care.