Today, Paradox Interactive, and Hardsuit Labs have elaborated on the organization changes that were announced be coming last week to Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 in a new announcement. The first, and perhaps most notable of these changes is that Lead Narrative Designer Brian Mitsoda, who worked on the original Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, is no longer part of the team at Hardsuit Labs.
This comes after last week they announced Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 delay, and fills in what they said they would discuss. Nor is Mitsoda the only presence leaving the team. Further shaking things up Creative Director Ka'ai Cluney is also no longer part of the team at Hardsuit Labs. Both decisions were made as a joint decision "by the leadership of Hardsuit Labs and Paradox Interactive". In their statement they wish both of them well, and say that they 'appreciate' and 'value' their contributions and that they were instrumental in establishing the game's story and dark tone.
To help fill the creative void, the team announced Alexandre Mandryka will be coming onboard as a Creative Consultant, filling the role of Creative Director and helping them finish the final stages of development. The plan is to follow the vision that is in place, and finish it. Mandryka runs the game design consulting firm Game Whispering, and previously has served as studio design director at Relic Entertainment, and before that was the Creative Director at Ubisoft among other positions when there between 2005 and 2010. He has worked on games in the Assassin's Creed franchise, as well as Far Cry and with the Warhammer 40,000 IP.
This will apparently be a shift in general work that he has done for a while, often with action-adventure, RTS, or FPS games, but he has in the past worked as a world and quest designer on Saga of Ryzom, meaning that he does have some experience in RPGs.
Update: Brian Mitsoda has given a statement to RPS about his departure:
“Until recently, I was the Narrative Lead on a videogame called Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 for Hardsuit Labs, Inc being published by Paradox Interactive (which owns 30% of Hardsuit Labs). After almost five years involvement with the studio, I was suddenly terminated on 7/16/20.
That this came as a shock to me is underselling it. I’ve worked on Bloodlines 2 for almost five years. The story and main cast was initially conceived in my living room. I helped develop the pitch for Hardsuit Labs and helped pitch the project to Paradox in Las Vegas. I’ve been in charge of the narrative since the beginning, working long days and sometimes weekends to deliver a successor to Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, and I’ve never been led to believe that I hadn’t succeeded. Very obviously, I have also been involved in the PR and marketing side of things, even though it was one of the most difficult parts for me. I’m a pretty private person – press and crowds tend to heavily trigger my social anxiety (which, if you’ve ever wondered about the gloves, they are “armor” that make me feel less exposed in situations that trigger my anxiety).
Bloodlines and the fandom of the game mean the world to me. So I lent my legacy with the franchise, my name, and my participation in marketing efforts for the game, even when it was intensely difficult and took a mental and physical toll. This is all because I wanted to do what was best for the game and the team.
The pride in the work, the fan expectations, and the support from co-workers who started out as fans kept me going through this long five years. And I’m incredibly disappointed and frustrated to say that this is where it ends for me on the project.
I was not part of the conversations that led to the decision to delay production, and to my knowledge, there were no delays caused by the Bloodlines 2 narrative development. I am confident and proud of the work that I and my team put forward. When that work will be seen and what form it will take is unknown to me.
It was a pleasure to work on this game and with many people at Hardsuit Labs and Paradox and I’m sorry I won’t be able to see it to the end. I spent years on some of the best characters and dialogue that I ever wrote. It’s meant a lot to hear from the Bloodlines community and I do hope that what’s finally delivered is as satisfying as I intended it to be. Thanks to all of you who supported me throughout the project.”
This appears to be about finishing the project. Mitsoda has had issues at times getting projects running towards a good state of completion (VTMB 1 - though there are extenuating circumstances, and Alpha Protocol both come to mind), and with the status of the game, apparently they decided to bring in someone who has experience shipping large games to finish the project. Based on the lines of 'follow the vision' it doesn't seem that Alexandre is being brought in to overhaul the direction in any way.
It doesn't come without cost. Both Mitsoda and Ka'ai have been prominent faces for the project, presenting works and Mitsoda in particular was discussed when they announced the project. The hope with this anouncement is presumably that they are able to finish the project without further delays and in a good state.
What do you think of this announcement? Does the departure of Mitsoda concern you about it being true to Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines? Let us know in the comments below