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Dev Diary #1: Who is Hardsuit Labs? By Liz Starr from HSL

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Hello, my name is Liz Starr, I am one of the Producers at Hardsuit Labs, and I have the dream job of working on Bloodlines 2. I am very happy to bring you this dev diary about Hardsuit Labs and the story behind our fantastic team.

Hardsuit Labs began in 2015 with Andy Kipling, Russell Nelson, and a team of about 20 people. We had all worked at another studio together before. When that place went out of business, Andy and Russ – then a Production Director and Tech Director – decided to ask a few of their former teammates to help start something new. Back then, we thought that it’d take maybe five years of bringing older games to newer formats for this band of veterans to gain enough reputation to pitch a full game production.

Two years later, Ka’ai Cluney, our Creative Director, burst into Andy’s office with an idea he and his friend Brian Mitsoda had come up with. Ka’ai is one of those people who seems to have been everywhere and done everything; from design at id Software and Monolith to building roofs in Alaska. He had worked with Brian (of Troika and Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines fame) before. Together, they came up with a concept that lured Brian out of his own indie studio, into our team.

More importantly, it convinced Andy and Russ to go all in and to start pitching that full game project three years earlier than we’d have guessed.

When I discovered that what we were pitching was Bloodlines 2, I was beyond excited. Not only because Paradox has released some games that I give much of my free time to, but also because I am a huge World of Darkness fan. I wish I could tell my LARPing younger Ventrue self that she would one day be working on this game.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one: One of the wonderful things about World of Darkness and Hardsuit Labs is that we have a lot of fans in the team. There’ve been off-hours Vampire tabletop games in the conference room since before the project properly started. Those who were new to the IP were gently introduced to the fandom and have also embraced it.

Nowadays, Hardsuit Labs is a good mix of seasoned veterans and recently bloodied developers of many different backgrounds. One example of strengthening this mix is Cara Ellison, who joined us early last year. Cara's known to some for her work as a journalist (at Rock Paper Shotgun et. al), to others for her work on Dishonored 2... and to even fewer for her testing on GTA4. We value our diversity of experience and the diversity of us as individuals; we know this brings more perspective to our work and company culture, and ultimately creates better games.

For Bloodlines 2, this team is putting all its passion and motivation behind the narrative of Brian and Cara. We can’t wait for you to sink your teeth into it!
 
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DebbieElla

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High five from one larping Ventrue girl to another! SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS GAME.
 

Pyoro

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It's a bit of a cliché thing to say, but with some of the modern AAA products you just think as a gamer that the devs had no fun making it; that it's a passionless chore they aren't invested in, that they couldn't care less about the endproduct as long as it ticks certain marketable checkboxes ... and you might feel that it plays like the soulless product it inevitable will be, too.

So hopefully everyone's enthusiasm here isn't just words (let's face it, every dev is according to their public opinions always working on their super-exciting childhood-dream game, even if it's a cosmetic horse armor DLC ^^) and will lead to a fun game. o7
 

$ilent_$trider

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Greetings from a Noddist Malkavian. Really excited for this game, and already allocating money to upgrade my computer when it's finally released.
 

$ilent_$trider

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So hopefully everyone's enthusiasm here isn't just words (let's face it, every dev is according to their public opinions always working on their super-exciting childhood-dream game, even if it's a cosmetic horse armor DLC ^^) and will lead to a fun game. o7

What do you mean there's no excitement on a cosmetic horse armor DLC?
How can I make sure Glitterhoof gets all the bling that she needs? If there's one thing missing is more cosmetic stuff for all our Glitterhoofs, like diamond crusted golden horseshoes and AAA grade hay.
:D
 

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I've been in a perpetual state of fangirl frenzy (truly the worst kind) since you big evil teases announced it! I can't wait to sink my fangs into more diaries! @o@
 
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PlacidDragon

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It's a bit of a cliché thing to say, but with some of the modern AAA products you just think as a gamer that the devs had no fun making it; that it's a passionless chore they aren't invested in, that they couldn't care less about the endproduct as long as it ticks certain marketable checkboxes ... and you might feel that it plays like the soulless product it inevitable will be, too.

So hopefully everyone's enthusiasm here isn't just words (let's face it, every dev is according to their public opinions always working on their super-exciting childhood-dream game, even if it's a cosmetic horse armor DLC ^^) and will lead to a fun game. o7
Well, if one wants to be the party pooper here, there is nothing to even remotely suggest that Hardsuit Labs is a triple A company. Their tagline of "we make great games".. no they dont. They haven't made a great game yet. Or indeed any game, much less games, plural. They were born out of the defunct Zombie Studios, which made indie games for 20 years before its owners retired and shut down the company. Games that were at best mediocre, and at worst, downright awful.

So the question isn't really their passion or dedication, etc.. but their ability to make a "great game" at all. They've never done it, and their pedigree is at best, very questionable.

Now, i realize that a post like this is likely to set a "world record" in dislikes, but i've been taken by the hype train too many times in the past, and im getting too old for that :)

I *really* want this to be a worthy successor to Bloodlines. Until i see the game in action, all i can do is hope really :)
 

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Oh dear. We were just starting to like you, and you too @DebbieElla but then it turns you're both Ventrue. Where will the madness start end, definitely meant end. :D
 

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Well, if one wants to be the party pooper here, there is nothing to even remotely suggest that Hardsuit Labs is a triple A company.
No, I'm with you on that. My point is more along the lines that this is not a bad thing. The games I've lately played were stuff like Cliff Empire, Rise to Ruins, Star Traders, and so on; I'm not into the current crop of AAA titles at all. And, Troika was hardly an AAA studio as well.

I expect that Bloodlines 2 won't have the size of a RDR or possibly the polish of ... some ... Mass Effects. I just feel that there's a reasonable chance other aspects will make up for that ;)
 

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I wonder will the player have a choice between first and third person view, personally i prefer third person view and that may decide rather i purchase the game. I just don`t like to play in first person view. I know a lot of people love first person view, i am only stating my preference and have no problem with others who like first person view.

Edit: I see it will be first person.
 
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PlacidDragon

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No, I'm with you on that. My point is more along the lines that this is not a bad thing. The games I've lately played were stuff like Cliff Empire, Rise to Ruins, Star Traders, and so on; I'm not into the current crop of AAA titles at all.
I'll happily agree with that :)
And, Troika was hardly an AAA studio as well.
They were a triple A studio in their field (RPG's). And somewhat... lacking in other departments :)
I expect that Bloodlines 2 won't have the size of a RDR or possibly the polish of ... some ... Mass Effects. I just feel that there's a reasonable chance other aspects will make up for that ;)
I am also hopeful.. maybe carefully optimistic. I expect the writing to be excellent, which will help quite a lot. Regarding bugs, etc, i am not sure that is going to be such a problem. Its a very familiar environment for Hardsuit Labs (Unreal engine, first person, etc). But therein also lies the problem. If you've been making mediocre games for 5+ years, and you get told "make it just like you are used to, with the same tools you've always used.. just.. uuuh.. make it better". That is not likely to produce the desired result :)
 

PlacidDragon

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I wonder will the player have a choice between first and third person view, personally i prefer third person view and that may decide rather i purchase the game. I just don`t like to play in first person view. I know a lot of people love first person view, i am only stating my preference and have no problem with others who like first person view.
I believe the game is shipping with 1st person only (there is some 3rd person, but thats special moves and the like, and will be all cinematic).
There is a forum thread for third person discussion, you can find that here. :)