I am playing internet detective again so apologies in advance for the long post. There have been some interesting happens going on with Paradox Interactive, namely there are signs that they might be about to enter the MMO market. Now for those of you who don't know about Paradox Interactive they are the company that has traditionally been a developer and publisher of grand strategy titles like Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, Hearts of Iron, Stellaris as well as being involved in the development of single-player RPGs such as Tyranny and Mount and Blade. Now there are signs that this company might be starting to develop projects in the MMO genre.
Today it was announced that Rod Humble will head up a new California-based studio for Paradox Interactive called Paradox Tectonic. Humble is the former CEO of Second Life studio Linden Labs and, prior to that, an executive vice president and head of The Sims label at EA and prior to that he was the head of the Everquest Studio at Sony Online Entertainment. When announcing this Humble stated that "Our aim with Paradox Tectonic is to create open, fun, beautiful games which respect the players' intelligence and enables their creativity, freedom, emotion, and sharing." This follows an earlier article detailing how Paradox Interactive was getting interested in free-to-play multiplayer games. Now many people upon reading these announcements immediately assumed that Paradox might be attempting to develop a competitor for the Sims games or Second Life. But there is another possibility, that Paradox might be intending to resurrect the World of Darkness MMO.
For those of you who do not know about this, back in 2006 CCP Games (Eve Online) acquired White Wolf Studios and immediately began setting their sights on transforming White Wolf's various pen-and-paper RPG games such as Vampire the Masquerade and Werewolf the Apocalypse into an MMORPG simply titled World of Darkness. CCP shutdown development in 2014 and sold White Wolf Studios and the MMO assets to Paradox Interactive in 2015. Paradox announced they were interested in continuing development work on the MMO as well as expressing an interest in a Bloodlines (previous single-player RPG in the series) multiplayer mod Project Vaulderie (
). They specifically said that the "efforts of the people who sweated and bled for years on developing the World Darkness MMO would not be in vein."
Now 2018 is where things start to get interesting. MMORPG.com reported in February last year that Paradox Interactive had apparently renewed interest in the unfinished game it had acquired from CCP. Then in late 2018 /early 2019 Tender shows up. This alternate reality game is part of a Paradox marketing campaign and includes a bunch of coded messages offering cryptic details about Paradox Interactive's new White Wolf game. Some are quite interesting:
Well sit down and we’ll fill you in on who we are and why we are doing this. Let’s take a step back in time to two thousand fourteen. Picture a small, two bedroom apartment converted from a three stall garage in New York. Our founders met up as a group of people who had encountered every false start, broken heart, and stereotypical pitfall of online matchmaking. Through much caffeine and dry-erase board scribbling, they began the concepts that would take social media and internet dating and make it their own.
Coincidentally 2014 is the year CCP killed development of the World of Darkness MMO. Some other messages:
hundreds and thousands of group escapes, so I assume they plan to see how the Tender algorithm can match people into perfect groups. Imagine the good this tech could do for the world. I guarantee you Tender has no such benevolent goals.
In fact, a lot of these ARG posts and quests put a heavy emphasis on matchmaking and group-content which makes me suspect that whatever this new game is, it puts a heavy emphasis party match-making and multiplayer gameplay.
Now according to some people on the Paradox forums Hardsuit Labs has been working on this game. Hardsuit, formerly known as Zombie Studios, previously ran an arena PVP game called Blacklight: Retribution. Many of its developers also worked on games like the Killing Floor 1/2 and State of Decay. Paradox acquired the company last year and announced the shutdown of the servers for Blacklight earlier this year, intending to transfer all company assets to this new project.
So to recap:
- We have Paradox launching a new studio lead by a guy who specializes in virtual world games while at the same time the company is expressing an interest in free-to-play multiplayer games.
- We have reports that last year Paradox Interactive started taking a renewed interest in the unfinished game it had acquired from CCP Games.
- A co-op multiplayer game development studio partially owned by Paradox shutting down all online assets and transferring resources to a new game project which people on the Paradox forums suspect is this new Vampire game.
- An alternate reality game and marketing tool by Paradox that appears to reference the 2014 cancellation of the World of Darkness MMO in addition to having a theme heavily focused around online matchmaking and group content in addition to a story about a company acquiring said matchmaking software and making it their own.
So I see a couple of possibilities here. One it is either the World of Darkness MMO being finished by Paradox Interactive or it is a hub-instance game built upon the assets acquired from CCP. There is also a possibility it could be a single-player RPG but I am struggling to square that with the references to the CCP project, the co-op multiplayer developers involvement and all the marketing references to match making and group content. Whatever this new game is, it is scheduled to be unveiled at the GDC in San Francisco in a couple of weeks. Your thoughts?
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