Project Vaulderie…

Project Vaulderie… after the break…

Project Vaulderie…

Quite honestly, the litmus test for fan devotion to a game franchise is, at least for me, the classic Thief (Thief 1 & 2) franchise developed by Looking Glass Technologies. That is not to say that there aren’t other very devoted, very dedicated fan bases for other games; On the contrary, there are several other games communities that immediately spring to mind. However, the fanbase for Thief had to fight to keep their franchise alive; They fought to simply get a level editor and when they received a very basic, very non-intuitive level editor, they worked the heck out of it to produce some amazing fan levels that rivaled the retail levels. They fought for a third game in the franchise after the main company closed and, when that game failed to live up to the standards of the first two, they went far out of their way to make a modern version of the game (The Dark Mod) and they made it free and it is open-source and, by the way, has it’s own level editor. Other games go to bed at night wishing they had half the devoted fan base that the classic Thief franchise has. Did I mention that, in all likelihood, the source code leaked and dedicated Thief fans have since been creating their own unofficial patches to the game based off of it? Yeah, they’re that devoted.

The fans of “Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines” are equally fanatical and if you need any sort of proof, I dare you to count all of the unofficial fan-based patches that have come out for this game ever since the developer, Troika, closed up shop. Here’s a hint: Be prepared to count on your fingers and toes. And maybe keep another person around to count on their fingers and toes, too.

Yet there are only so many unofficial patches one can produce for a game whose engine is still proprietary and by no means recent. At some point, you either get the source code so that you can modify the game at the source code level or you merely move on. “Project Vaulderie” is the VtMB equivalent of “OpenMW,” in other words, they are redesigning Bloodlines in a new engine. A player will still need the original data files for VtMB in order for it to function (much like OpenMW will require you to have the original files for Morrowind).

Troika, the game developer who made VtMB, had a reputation of aiming high, getting kind of close to that mark but missing and, by missing, also producing a lot of bugs in the process. The development history of VtMB is like much of the rest of the industry: Rushed schedules, paltry funds and a lot of content that was cut close to the deadline in order to make the deadline. “Project Vaulderie” appears to have the ambition to be the one-stop solution to what has held back greater accessibility to the game: Fluent modability, modern graphics, playability on modern operating systems and the inclusion of a lot of missing content that was cut in order to make deadlines.

I certainly hope that Project Vaulderie succeeds in being able to port VtMB to the Unity engine. As games age and operating systems move forward without much forethought to backward compatibility, fan communities are making more and more attempts to keep their favorite games playable on current systems. This is not a bad trend; I encourage it greatly. Not every game gets such treatment like Morrowind, Thief and now VtMB, but every game should. The alternative is simple; A game fades into history, is eventually forgotten and when that happens, we are all the worse for it.

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