Playing Vampire

Vampire: Bloodlines, the swan song of Troika Games, is a pretty amazing game, what with a wide cast of characters, sweet vampire powers, tangled politics of the undead and eternal night. The game comes highly recommended, especially with the fan-patch which continues to get updates (as of today, the last unofficial patch is 9.6-beta-3, released in June 2016). No one has since created a vampire game of this scope.

In the nineties when I still had the ambition to make computer games (an ambition I keep threatening to rekindle, but not yet), I came to the same realization that Troika developers did (or at least I’m pretty sure they did). I discovered Chicago By Night (Published in 1993) a Vampire, the Masquerade sourcebook for the the city of Chicago and surrounding Cook County which featured an exquisite batch of over a hundred encounters. These little mini-adventures, alone, make a meaty vampire story, even before larger plot arcs were added, and as a small project I was going to make an erotica-featured text-adventure game based almost entirely on those encounter ideas.

But I got distracted by life things and Magic, The Gathering. I’m glad that Troika didn’t suffer the same fate. To the contrary, many many of the CBN encounters are represented, at least partially, or in variation, in Bloodlines

That’s when I noticed one of the many aspects of (modern) vampiring-about that wasn’t included in Bloodlines at all. Specifically that whole Sun problem. Chicago By Night features sun-related encounters. For instance once a week, Chicago newspapers would mistakenly post the dawn time an hour late. It was part of a campaign to dissuade outsiders of the night, and player newcomers to the Chicago area might find the sun up a little early when hunting and errands ran long.

Dracula was fine by daylight, but many of his important powers only worked at nighttime. Later vampires didn’t like the sun but could tolerate it. The bit about bursting into flames upon contact with direct sunlight (as per Lost Boys) is a modern addition to the Vampire paradigm. Even then, higher-order vampires still found the sunlight annoying but tolerable. The Masquerade and Blade both got scientific and it was decided that it was specifically high-intensity UV light, and artificial sources (say from tanning black lights or sunlamps) would bake vamps much like an oven.

Heliophobia — aversion to sunlight — is a thing I experience to a lesser degree to vampires. (That is, I don’t instantly burst into flames.) Less than an hour of direct sunlight will make me ill. I can stand indirect sunlight for a few hours before I start feeling the woozey. Given how much I enjoyed sailing as a young adult, this turned out to be a real bummer. It’s never been diagnosed, but I suspect that the reaction was triggered by overexposure during extended voyages.

Still, it means that when I’m out and about on a sunny day, I hug the shade like a vampire. It’s prominent in my day-to-day life now, since the paths and duration of daytime dog-walks are governed by where the shade is falling, and how much of it there is to hide in. I avoid times from noon to 4pm, and at 6pm the shadows are long enough to allow for lengthier walks again. I play vampire the way Riley Anderson plays hot lava in the 2015 movie Inside Out.

So after playing Bloodlines, I imagined someone should make another vampire game. I imagined an open world with cycling times of day, much like the GTA series. And as a vampire, you’d have to find shelter before the dawn, or end up running from shadow to shadow to find someplace to hide before noon, the shadows rapidly retreating into their respective structures…

Wait too long, and even a dumpster starts looking good.

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