World of Darkness creative director talks design and the MMO mainstream

World of Darkness - Masquerade rose

A new interview at Gamasutra posits that CCP is gunning for mainstream success with its upcoming World of Darkness MMO. The EVE Online developer has cornered what's left of the hardcore sandbox market, so now it's looking to marry EVE's emergent gameplay with more familiar MMO staples. "The way to drag people in will be traditional themepark-style PvE play. Once players get into the setting, they'll see the appeal of the sandbox play," says WoD creative director Reynir Hardarson.

Despite the concessions to mainstream accessibility, EVE's influence on World of Darkness will be more than superficial. "The live-action roleplayers of the Vampire the Masquerade tabletop game play this way," Hardarson explains. "It's really about politics and power plays."

Why don't more MMO developers try their hand at sandbox mechanics? Hardarson says designing for emergent play is difficult because you can't test it. It's worth it, though, because MMOs that hand-hold and limit players to a linear path miss the point. "I'm not a five-year-old. If I want to go in the cave and I want to die, that's my problem," Hardarson says.