If you've ever looked at the mess that is Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 (opens in new tab) and thought to yourself, "I could do better than that," here's your big chance to prove it. Paradox Interactive has launched a new indie publishing program called Unbound (opens in new tab) that allows independent developers to create games set in the Vampire: The Masquerade universe, and to make money on them if they want.
The program arose from the success of Vampire Jam (opens in new tab), a game jam that drew in more than 80 submissions—six of which will launch alongside the Unbound program.
"Following the Vampire Jam last year, we realized how passionate our community is about creating Vampire: The Masquerade games," World of Darkness community developer Martyna Zych said.
"While we could only award one grand prize to Heartless Lullaby, we knew we had to create a platform that empowered our community to work on the projects they love while giving them the support they need to be successful. As long as World of Darkness fans continue making great games, there will be more titles coming through Unbound."
Naturally, the Unbound program is not an open-ended free-for-all. Unbound games can only be offered on Itch.io (there's an Unbound page (opens in new tab) there already) and developers cannot raise funds through crowdfunding or personal pages, although funding through methods allowed by the Dark Pack agreement (opens in new tab), including Patreon, YouTube, and Twitch, are okay. Games must be set in the Vampire: The Masquerade 5th edition story world, but won't be considered officially canon in the World of Darkness universe and in fact cannot have either Vampire: The Masquerade or World of Darkness in the title. They can be historical or contemporary, but have to take place in the "real world" either way—no sci-fi, high fantasy, or steampunk, for instance.
Paradox will also keep 33% of any revenues earned on Unbound games. That's a big cut—more than Steam takes—although arguably fair, given the free access to the Vampire license. Developers, on the other hand, will retain ownership of all game assets that don't use World of Darkness property, and are free to sell them in art books, soundtracks, or whatever.
"You don’t have to be an experienced developer, or a game dev studio to join—we allow everyone in, from the creators of their first game to more experienced teams," Paradox said.
These are the first six games from the Vampire Jam launching under the Unbound program:
- DESCENT (opens in new tab): Survival horror adventure set in an old cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Find out who the inhabitants are and stay safe while uncovering the terrifying story. You can check out a trailer for DESCENT here (opens in new tab).
- THE CHANTRY TRIALS (opens in new tab): A puzzle game with horror elements where the protagonist undergoes various “tests” to prove worthy as a Vampire of clan Tremere.
- THE GAME OF ELDERS (opens in new tab): A strategic card game with plenty of options to experiment. Play as an Elder Vampire who uses all assets available to survive.
- THE AUTUMN PEOPLE (opens in new tab): First Person Shooter that encourages exploration to uncover its story, set in modern night Phoenix, AZ.
- PRAXIS (opens in new tab): A mix of 4X strategy and roleplaying where you climb to the top of the Vampire hierarchy in Portland, Oregon. Build up a coterie of like-minded Kindred, gather intel and influence, and claim Praxis!
- PRODIGAL (opens in new tab): Delve into a rotting mansion and your twisted psyche to uncover the truth of your memories in a Vampire: The Masquerade point-and-click adventure.
Interestingly, the grand prize winner, Heartless Lullaby (opens in new tab), is not part of the program: It's currently available on Steam, where it carries the official Vampire: The Masquerade title. Other Vampire Jam entries may appear in the Unbound lineup later, though, if their developers opt to submit them for consideration.
If you're curious about submitting your own work for consideration, or just want to see what it's all about, all the relevant info including the application form and detailed licensing agreement are available at worldofdarkness.com (opens in new tab).