Friday, January 13, 2023

BloodNet: Won! (with Summary and Rating)

A nice summation of the game's two major themes.
United States
MicroProse (developer and publisher)
Released in 1993 for DOS, 1994 for Amiga
Date Started: 30 October 2022
Date Ended: 6 January 2023
Total Hours: 28
Difficulty: Moderate (3.0/5)
Final Rating: 42
Ranking at Time of Posting: 420/483 (87%)
An adventure/RPG hybrid from the old Paragon Software team, BloodNet offers an original cyberpunk/horror setting and plot and some deliciously weird visuals and NPCs. But it suffers from many of the problems that plagued the developers' previous efforts (e.g., MegaTraveller, Space: 1889), including very limited character development, useless skills, confusing combat, and unnecessary plot twists. The environments look interesting but are mostly non-interactive, and plot progression mostly involves going from one place to another instead of any real puzzles. As with most Paragon games, an interesting misfire.
Well, I managed to blunt-force my way through the endgame by trying it several times a day. The key problem was that you have to face seven enemies in a row with no opportunity to rest in between. Melissa Van Helsing is the only hard one, but even fairly low probabilities of dying at the hands of the others accumulated. I think I ended up trying about 15 times, dying to Melissa in almost 10 of them. In the end, I made it. The enemies I had to defeat one-on-one were:
  • Lash Givens. I don't remember what he was armed with. I think I beat him every time with a shotgun and Kevlar armor.
  • Melissa Van Helsing, armed with a White Noise Blaster. I found that a Force Field worked best against it, and a Blessed Soul Blade worked best against her.
  • Nimrod 7, armed with a laser rifle. I barely remember him from the game. I beat him with an EMP Focalizer and a Reflection Shield.
This guy went on to be the villain in Season 4 of Buffy.
  • Sir Anais, armed with a Blessed Soul Blade. Again, I defaulted to a shotgun and Kevlar armor, and most times killed him with one blast.
  • An unnamed Security Officer, armed with an Electrical Storm. I tried a lot of defensive items, but none seemed better than the other. I killed him a few times with a shotgun, a few times with an assault rifle.
  • Sabaccatus St. Aubuens, armed with a flamethrower. Again, several types of armor seemed to work well against it and an assault rifle took him down.
After these six, Dracula appeared again and attacked me himself.
Hey, Gene Simmons was looking for you.
Oddly, he was far easier than Melissa Van Helsing. I killed him on my first try with a Blessed Soul Blade.
But is he?
An image showed me piercing Dracula's heart:
Or, at least, his clavicle.
Somehow, somewhere, I freed Deirdre Tackett, and a cut scene showed her and Mother Mary curing my vampirism with some combination of the Incubus program and a good old-fashioned Catholic exorcism.
But Incubus had one final twist up its sleeve. "Your friend Tackett underestimated her talents, Stark. My artificial intelligence has evolved. I've learned to learn. And I'm about to teach New York a lesson. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Incubus. And cyberspace will be mine."
Transition to credits.
I can't help but think this would have been a stupid sequel, and I'm glad the team never followed up.
If BloodNet were this team's first game, I'd say it was a bit rough around the edges, but I looked forward to what they developed next. But by now, we're getting towards double digits, and it's clear that the old Paragon Software crew simply never understood RPGs. It is likely that their experience developing GDW titles did them more harm than good, as even the tabletop versions of the GDW properties lacked hard rules for character development.
I note, for instance, that Ransom Stark gained an impressive 38 points of strength throughout the game (66 to 104) but never budged in any of his other "Physical" statistics. He didn't gain a point in any of his "Cyberskills" despite all the decking, nor a point in any of his "Combat" skills despite all the fighting. He did increase 10 in "Leadership" and 38 in "Will," but he lost all but 1 "Faith" point. None of his "Mental" statistics went anywhere. Despite all the time I put into it, BloodNet doesn't really pass my definition of a CRPG.
My ending skills, not much different from my beginning skills.
Even worse, so many of the skills turned out to be useless. Combat skills were the only clear exceptions, and even here, I'm not sure the skills governed the weapons they were supposed to. ("Blades" isn't even mentioned in the manual.) As for the rest, I didn't find a single place in the game to use "Stealth" or "Pickpocket" (there aren't even mechanisms for these). Others, like "Observation" and "Jury-Rig," had clear uses, but having six party members with the PAL system meant that it was trivial to find someone who could pass the skill checks. Some of the skills are the subject of outright lies in the manual. "Fast-Talk" is supposed to help you persuade NPCs, but there aren't even any dialogue options where that would come in handy. "Leadership" is supposed to determine what side places its combatants first, but in practice, the player always goes second and would always want to go second. "Courage" is supposed to force enemies to retreat from combat, but they never do. The manual also says that, "Whenever characters in your party successfully perform a given task, the skills related to the task will increase," which as we've already seen doesn't happen.
The game's setting is definitely a plus. I'll never be much of a cyberpunk fan, but I think I kept an open mind throughout the game. While the visuals, NPCs, and various plot points made good use of the sub-genre, there were some key areas of disappointment. While the game offered a few role-playing opportunities in the quests taken and completed and the choice between violent and nonviolent solutions to problems, I would have liked to see some dialogue options. The game reminded me of some modern quasi-RPG action games like Red Dead Redemption, where you can "role-play" in small ways but never have any control over what the character says or how he handles main plot developments.
Killing people was a little too easy. How did I "dispose of the body" in the middle of a club?
More important, I think the developers squandered the opportunity to introduce some highly-original role-playing elements relating to Stark's vampirism. The template is there: Stark's a vampire; he needs blood; every time he takes a life, it reduces his humanity. This setup could have offered a role-playing bonanza as the player has to decide exactly which of the many NPCs must fall to Stark's bloodlust. Instead, it's almost a non-issue. Even ignoring the alternate sources of blood that the game provides, a player would have to be spectacularly inept to take so long that he honestly risks losing Stark's humanity before the end of the game.
Incidentally, you're probably wondering what happens if you are so inept. First, if you let Stark's "Bloodlust" get too high without slaking it, he loses control and feeds on a party member.
So some of them aren't?
If you feed so many times on people that you get your "Humanity" down to 0, the game ends as Stark turns into a feral vampire:
Gained some hair, though.
I got caught up on Will's coverage over at The Adventurers Guild, and I was surprised to find him enjoying it more as an adventure game than I would have expected. My problem with BloodNet as an adventure game is that it only has a couple of honest puzzles, and those are pretty silly. Plot and quest progression is almost entirely about going to places, speaking to people, and finding items in a particular order. And what bothers me about the locations is that they're almost entirely non-interactive. They're just pictures accompanying text. I don't know why the authors bothered to put an avatar for Stark on the screen; there are only two places in the game where it even matters where Stark stands. Talking to NPCs, searching for items, picking up and dropping items, connecting to the Internet, and other tasks can be done from anywhere.
Oh, I have a lot of other complaints, but I'll save it for the GIMLET categories:
1. Game World. Memorable, evocative, and original for its year, although I wish the authors hadn't included so many names from Brahm Stoker. The game never seems to decide whether it's just making an homage or whether it's meant to serve as an actual sequel to Dracula. There are a few places in which the player's actions effect permanent changes to the world, and the main quest is generally clear. The whole cyberspace part of the "world" didn't really work for me, but I'm allowing some points for originality. I really enjoyed the uses of Manhattan, partly because I'm familiar with the city and have been to many of the places depicted in future squalor. It's always fun to see what game authors do with a real location. Score: 7.
I just wish I'd ever learned what this enormous thing in the middle of East Harlem was.
2. Character Creation and Development. I like the creation system, in which you answer various hypothetical scenarios to establish your skills, but as discussed above, the whole thing turns out to be a sham. "Development," if you can even call it that, is sporadic and does not follow any consistent rules. Score: 2.

3. NPC Interaction. A strong element of the game except for the lack of dialogue options. I enjoyed the different NPC names and personalities. Some of them were goofy, sure, but in general they went with the setting. There is so much NPC text in the game that it could have used an export or search feature. There is a "Dialog Replay" option that I kept forgetting to highlight. Score: 5.
The useful "dialog replay" option.
4. Encounters and Foes. Enemies in the game are basically humans or vampires; other than that, there's not much to distinguish them. There are only a few encounters other than what I already awarded in "NPC Interaction," and as noted before, the puzzles are mostly either unchallenging or illogical. Score: 3.

5. Combat. The interface fails what is otherwise a relatively solid combat system. It has the types of tactics that I generally enjoy. There are a lot of options; positioning plays an important role; damage is specific to individual body parts; there's an autocombat function if you don't feel like micromanaging. The problem is that too many of the options don't work, particularly switching weapons, and too much of the result seems random. Score: 4.

6. Equipment. Usually, I fault games for having too little to offer in this category. BloodNet is the rare game that offers too much. Even though the manual spells most of it out for you, I couldn't begin to keep track of what most of the stuff was for. There was a whole drug/pharmacology mechanic that I never explored, and I gave up on the "implant" and "jury rig" systems after getting lackluster results. Despite all the detail, the game lacks information on what you really need, such as the relative damage done by different weapons. And why are so many inventory slots unused? Score: 4.
It would have been nice if grenades had offered some actual function.
7. Economy. On the plus side, there are a lot of ways to make money. On the negative side, there aren't nearly as many ways to spend it. I like that you can just buy some of the major plot items (e.g., InstaPigment, the TransTech security badge), but otherwise most of your money is spent on ammunition, hiring NPCs, and a few plot choices, and I think Stark's starting bank account is enough to get through the entire game. This is all too bad because it hurts the otherwise-admirable side quest system. Score: 3.
8. Quests. While lacking an understanding about many other RPG elements, the Paragon team is among the few developers of the era that at least understood the importance of side quests. The MegaTraveller games and Challenge of the Five Realms are particularly full of them, and that tradition continues here. I completed some, abandoned some, and didn't even find some, which is the way I prefer it. I also see from Will's Adventurers Guild coverage that there are alternate ways to solve a few of them. I would venture that some of the side quests are more interesting than the main quest, which has no options or alternate endings. Score: 6.
9. Graphics, Sound, and Interface. I loved the scene graphics. Since realism isn't important to navigating the environments, I don't mind that the artists took such an avant-garde approach. Throughout the game, we saw interesting uses of color, lighting, and proportions, grotesque imagery, and unique perspectives. It almost ruins it to have such uninspired figures for Stark and various NPCs hanging around these scenes. But on the negative side, sound is so uninspiring that I just had to check to verify that it has any. The "hidden menu" interface works okay, but I would have liked to see more keyboard backups. For pity's sake, I won't rate the quality of the voice acting in the CD version, which would almost certainly give a net negative score to this category. Score: 4
The "camera" on this scene seems to be inside a plant.
10. Gameplay. We finish relatively strong. BloodNet offers some modest nonlinearity, modest replayability, modest difficulty (until the end), and good pacing. The overall time is just about perfect for a game of this amount of content. Score: 6.
I have to subtract 2 points from the subtotal of 44 for so many things that are just broken, particularly the ability to change weapons in combat, which gives us a final score of 42. That's exactly 1 point higher than I rated Challenge of the Five Realms and MegaTraveller II. I went into this GIMLET thinking that it should rate at about the same level as those two games, so I'm satisfied with the result. I "recommend" them all, but boy are they choppy.
This guy looks like a vampire telemarketer.
My views line up with those of Douglas Seacat, who reviewed the game in the February 1994 Computer Gaming World. He praises the successful fusion of Gothic horror and cyberpunk, the nonlinearity, the colorful NPCs, and the evocative graphics. He notes some story elements that I overlooked, or at least didn't think about, such as the parallel between blood-sucking vampires and "blood-sucking" corporations. Like me, he was underwhelmed by cyberspace ("vast and empty"), "confused and frustrated" by combat, and occasionally lost in the game's nonlinearity. He has nothing to say about character development, but Seacat was never much of an RPG reviewer. "A dark and wonderful gem of an idea, but a gem without polish," he concludes. The same year, the magazine nominated BloodNet for "RPG of the year" but gave it to Betrayal at Krondor.
Sandy Petersen gave it 3/5 stars in the April 1994 Dragon. His review doesn't cover anything that we haven't already discussed except that "drug use, implied sex, theft, and violent murder is the name of the game in BloodNet," which I feel is overstating it a little. But he has a point that the game offers darker themes and more moral grayness than the typical RPG of the era, another point in its favor. MobyGames's round-up of reviews shows a median score in the high 70s, with most reviews making the point that the mechanics fail an interesting plot and setting.
The old Paragon team was just getting started with its fusion of cyberpunk and horror, but they mercifully gave up on trying to make any of their games RPGs. Over the next few years, after wrestling back their studio from MicroProse and starting Take Two Interactive, they'd produce Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller (1994) and Ripper (1996), with Black Dahlia (1998) featuring some of the same elements. The developers certainly learned their lesson on voice acting; Hell has a cast led by Dennis Hopper and Grace Jones, and Ripper features--wow--Christopher Walken, Burgess Meredith, Karen Allen, Ossie Davis, John Rhys-Davies, and Paul Giamatti. That must have cost a fortune. I am not aware that Take Two ever produced an RPG, so we're seeing this team for the final time. I'm not that sad, but I do wonder what would have happened if the company had ever hired a developer who had heard of "experience points."


  1. Reading your last paragraph, I really wonder how Paragon’s games did financially.

    It seems that they were constantly bankrolled to develop more and more ambitious and bigger budget games, while they really never had a big hit (critically, at least) and all their titles ended up consistently maybe above mediocrity but far from greatness.

    Black Dahlia and Ripper are probably their best known and they still have an interesting setting, premise and good production values but also overly cryptic puzzles that are slapped in the player’s face without rhyme or reason, and questionable or under-developed mechanics.

    They remind a bit of Cryo, another studio mostly focused on adventure games that managed to release dozens of seemingly high-budget titles over the years, all with the similar strengths (style) and weaknesses (gameplay/execution).

    1. I will pendantly and nerdly disagree here. Black Dahlia is similar to Ripper, yes, of course, actually almost the same, but the puzzle design in there is so unfair that I could not believe it. The worst part of Ripper, apart from the coins puzzle, was the huge backtracking with the slow video showing you how you walked, and that was increased to absurd levels in Black Dahlia, which is a game where the narrative is what I wish LA Noire should have gone.

      Cryo however. What Cryo had is an engine they knew how to take advantage of, and people who were comfortable on their artistic output, and this is how you find hundreds of games with incredible music and graphics, but games that, unlike the Take 2 ones, must have been easy and cheap to make. I was talking about adventure games with someone from work and it is funny how it is so difficult to find an accessible framework to make them, and probably the most accesible were the first person ones (quicktime and macromedia above them all) while a Lucasarts kind of them is a headache. But yeah, my pedantic note is that you cannot compare the 2 or 3 adventures from take 2 to the literally dozens from Cryo.

      I really believe the Cryo output is severely underrated just because of the amount of games they released (from different development houses as well that they took as their brand). I will die on this hill defending their Atlantis, their Egypt, their Aztecs or that fun oddball called Zero Zone, and even when their resurrection as Kheops released adventures that were a bit dry I still love them to pieces as if they were children of mine.

    2. I would add that one of the first (or the first) Cryo's game, "Dune", was a pretty solid mix of strategy of adventure with wonderful art, and that game served them as an excellent starting point.

    3. Yeah Cryo games were janky and weird and very french, but there were certainly gems when you acclimatized to them. I relaly liked the Atlantis games. Paragon and Cryo are both good representatives of 90's development teams with very idiosyncratic output. Today it feel like mid size studios have to conform and be anonymous, publishers don't trust that these sort of guys just know what they're doing anymore.

    4. Cryo's problem from a modern perspective is that its really hard to run some of their games. IIRC, you can only play the first Atlantis, you need a VM for the sequels; And the same is true for a lot of their other post-DOS releases.
      (and of course, people don't really play abandonware titles anymore, which I think most of their games are)

    5. Yes, I really liked "Dune" when I first played it back in the days and even replayed it not too long ago. Might partly depend on how much you like the source material (in this case the Lynch movie), though.

    6. @morpheuskitami what? Atlantis II and iii and all the rest have been in the gog store for ages. The ones that are hard to run nowadays are the Arxel Tribe ones but there are dll wrappers around. And... no one plays abandonaré anymore?

    7. Being on GOG doesn't exactly mean anything, there are more games than the two Atlantis titles that won't run on modern OSes. You'll note that both pages are full of people saying they can't run it.

    8. again, that is not true. If you filter by the most recent comments there are no complaints of the kind as there are for other games and when a game is proven difficult to run in general gog discontinued it as they did with the D. I. F18. Can you answer with something that I can agree on at least half way because there are facts around it? Your abandonaré affirmation still baffles me and I don't want to give examples here

    9. Fair enough...except you're ignoring that it was an issue for a long time. Since you want other examples, Chaos Overlords and Bloodwych.
      abandonaré affirmation
      If you're going to insult me, please do so in English.

    10. Yeah, I was disappointed to learn that GOG’s Chaos Overlords doesn’t work ‘out of the box’ on modern windows. I think you can apply a fix to make it mostly work but I haven’t tried it yet.

  2. I won't read this for now as I'm still struggling with the endgame but congratulations! And thanks again for agreeing to play this side by side: it's been fun!

  3. Heh-heh, Mr Walken's performance in Ripper is considered to be one of the the *worst ever* performance in gaming's history. A clear proof that even a great actor is useless without a good director -- and sadly, these multimedia game companies lack this particular skill.

    This might me a common Paragon trait though: great ideas marred with idealism, mishandled talent and incompetence resulting in schizophrenic games.

    Ah, that wild, whatever-it-takes approach for chasing the "multimedia-extravaganza" dream in 90's gaming scene... cheesy for sure, but boy, I miss it so much.

    Nowadays we have game designers desperately trying to be Hollywood directors, with much more money to burn and much less enthusiasm for pioneering stuff. Not good.

    1. Sorry, Blogspot's login is weird at best - didn't want to break blogging rules.

      Mr Anonymous is me.

    2. Ripper is so weird in its acting. Walken is awful, Karen Allen is distracted, but Scott Cohen gives everything he has for such a weird experiment with blue screens. He is the heart of the game and it works most of the time because of him.

    3. They hired John Rhys Davies, then screwed up the audio so you can't make-out 2/3rds of his lines, then spelled his name wrong in the credits.

      Having the budget to hire a bunch of big-name actors just implies... you had the budget to hire a bunch of big-name actors. Not that you're any good at directing or producing them.

      Personally I think Jimmy Walker did the best job, he was obviously having the most fun with his role and didn't take it too seriously at all. (He even does a few side-eye camera glances with the dumber lines the director either didn't notice or noticed but decided to keep in.)

    4. Oh and I have to add a comment on Scott Cohen: it's clear he was trying hard, but some of the scenes that were so emotional just came out as funny. (The first interaction with his girlfriend for example where he's just shouting obscenities to the heavens for some reason.)

      Also if you're doing an acting role where you play a newspaper reporter, please spend at least a couple hours learning how to pretend to type. Because typing involves more than 2 fingers.

      Anyway. Ripper. It sure is... a game.

    5. I'll take it. In a game where everything is a green screen filled with pre rendered 90s goodness and the puzzles are as annoying as the horoscope one, it takes more than typing with two fingers or being over dramatic to push me off the uncanny vally. Like Walken's performance, for example, a tour de force in cringe.

    6. Both Dennis Hopper and Chrsitopher Walken are/were very idiosyncratic actors and left to their own devices they have tended to overact and munch the scenery a lot. Hopper could be terrifying in Blue Velvet but just downright silly in Waterworld or SMB. As for Walken, everybody seemed happy to just let him "do the Walken" for the later part of his career.

  4. Congrats to AlphabeticalAnonymous for correctly guessing the Gimlet on this one!

    1. I completely forgot about that. What reward does the Adventurer's Guild give? AlphabeticalAnonymous gets to choose the next game?

    2. I knew he was gonna be right. Congrats.
      (I find it funny that the score I ended up guessing since he took 42 was the pre deduction score)
      The Adventurer's Guild gives out CAPs, which is primarily used for paying for new games at the beginning of a chronological year. I don't really think that works here.

    3. AlphabeticalAnonymousJanuary 13, 2023 at 4:49 PM

      Thanks for the good wishes -- I didn't forget and only came down here to read the comments before asking about my prize ;) And despite the (non-)humor value of picking "42," the number really did result from a very simply and silly sort of multi-game weighted linear regression

      I wouldn't demand the right to choose the next game, since I'm something of an RPG-naif. There are so many 1993 options to choose from, and "Ambermoon" is the only one I've fully played through. So that one would be my recommendation - feel free to follow or disregard, as you choose.

    4. 41 is still the closest I've ever gotten on a mock gimlet. With the last post I thought I would be more than ten points off.

    5. @AA: Congratulations! Looks like you got your wish. Together with the familiar interspersed territory of U7/2 and Warlords II that might help Chet to gain more momentum again over the coming weeks.

  5. I´m glad to see the back of this one. Horror themes are not the true essence of rpg´s in my opinion. That said, the game does have some merits

    1. 12oclock (reposting)January 13, 2023 at 4:40 AM

      I´m glad to see the back of this one. Horror themes are not the true essence of rpg´s in my opinion. That said, the game does have some merits

    2. I feel like dark fantasy's horror vibe lends itself to RPGs almost as well as high fantasy. Torment, Diablo, and The Witcher all make good use of their unsettling, grim worlds.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. "Random Stark broke Dracula's grip due to Ransom Stark's faith skill."

    Faith: 1

    So not that compelling then. (Or maybe low faith...)

    1. Ha. I completely overlooked that. So either I got an extremely lucky roll or the "Faith" skill doesn't even govern the one thing it's supposed to govern.

    2. Or Stark's faith is so low even the fallen Dracula is shocked and appalled :-)

  8. "An image showed me piercing Dracula's heart"

    That is one superb illustration, frankly at odds with the rest of the presentation of this game.

  9. "The same year, the magazine nominated BloodNet for "RPG of the year" but gave it to Betrayal at Krondor."

    Which was the only sane thing to do ;)

  10. It always makes me unreasonably angry when games implement skills that are never used. Especially when they are cool-sounding skills that seem like they could be alternate ways of getting past obstacles, like "fast-talk". If they're not used then why even include them in the first place?

    Of course, I know the answer to my own question: lack of professionalism. Well, they started the project with such dreams! And then failed to plan their time adequately, they couldn't find the willpower to resist adding "sick" features, and ran out of time and had to shove the game out the door, completely neglecting to give all those skills any use. In their place? Combat, combat and more combat.

  11. Every time I look at Paragon's games I have a hard time squaring the circle of how the staff of this well-intentioned company managed to bumble their way into helming the extremely successful Take Two Interactive. Is it just a case of a good run of falling forward?

    1. I suggest that adding a single competent manager or game designer to the team makes all the difference. They appear to be pretty skilled at graphics, and animation, programming, and even dialogue.

  12. > "which I feel is overstating it a little"

    You managed to miss most of the sex stuff in the game, which ranges from just gross to morally questionable. Not something I'd recommend going back for, but maybe the Adventurer's Guild will stumble across it.

    The GIMLET is the GIMLET but I'm going to defend my lower estimate (34? 36?) by saying that I would have penalized both combat and equipment more for being interesting-looking but ultimately shallow due to nothing really working right. I also think I'd be dinging Gameplay and/or Game World more for the degree to which the game is essentially a big menu town. But I think a score on par with the other Paragon games is reasonable.

  13. "My problem with BloodNet as an adventure game is that it only has a couple of honest puzzles, and those are pretty silly. Plot and quest progression is almost entirely about going to places, speaking to people, and finding items in a particular order."

    I feel like this actually strengthens its standing as an adventure game, there are certainly enough of them that like to lead you around on an item chain!

  14. Take-Two's subsidiary 2K did publish some RPGs (or RPG-adjacents), though the blog won't hit them anytime remotely soon; the Borderlands games, while RPG/FPS hybrids that lean pretty hard towards the FPS side, might qualify, for instance, but you won't see the first of those until 2009. There's also Marvel's Midnight Suns, which Wikipedia regards as a tactical RPG, but that literally came out six weeks ago.

  15. As you perhaps suggest, "actual sequel to Dracula" is a vastly more interesting premise than a muddle of references, which is the most common way to riff on Dracula.

    I'm a big fan of TTRPG supplement "The Dracula Dossier", and Elizabeth Kostova's novel "The Historian", which are both sort of metafictional sequels to Dracula, each quite faithful in their own way. Surprisingly, I can't think of a single videogame which manages it.

    1. This reminds of Castlevania Bloodlines, which literally acts as a sequel to Dracula, while most of the rest of the series just uses Dracula as a character, with maybe minor references to other aspects of the historical figure.

    2. The FMV detective adventure game Dracula Unleashed is a sequel where you play Quincey Morris' brother. It's not a very good game (nor a very good story) but they at least give it a go.

    3. Hey, Joe is currently playing Dracula Unleashed for this blog

    4. Sorry, he is playing it for The Adventurers Guild (my mistake cause i am swapping between boths blogs catching up on Bloodnet)

  16. I'm glad I didn't have an Amiga 1200. Otherwise I'd have bought this game and been disappointed.

    1. The quality of the game itself aside, I can't imagine this running very well at all on the A1200.

  17. > This guy went on to be the villain in Season 4 of Buffy.

    A criminally underused villain, unfortunately. But season four was still great fun.

  18. And so ends a game that at the time I so desperately wanted to love. The setting seemed so unique and different and really interested me but I just couldn't manage the game at all.

    Turns out it really wasn't me. It just wasn't that good an RPG afterall and is firmly down there well below the Gold Box Games from a few years previous.

    Oh well.... next time I comment will probably be Realms of Arkania, which IS a good game.......

  19. There is an interview (audio and written transcript) with Laura Kampo and John Antinori, who both were game designers and writers for this game, on the German retro gaming podcast 'Stay Forever' (named, of course, after the legendary audio bit from the C64 'Impossible Mission'):

    They speak about different aspects of 'Bloodnet' and its development. Some bits:

    - Theme: MicroProse producer Lawrence Schick came up with the idea of doing a cyberpunk vampire game. The Anne Rice novels were big, Coppola's 'Dracula' came out and cyberpunk and hackers was another 'en vogue' subject (though when they agreed to do it they did not know much about the latter).

    - Inspiration: They watched and read all they could find and then mish-mashed, changed and added stuff, though Antinori says he stayed away from anything about Dracula or anything by William Gibson, because he didn’t want to inadvertently steal stuff from them.

    - Character portraits: Ransom Stark is a photoshopped version of a picture of Antinori from his first wedding, Kampo is also in there (some big hair hacker?) and the others were people from the office, family members or other pictures they had.
    The picture on the original box is a rip-off of a photograph of Eric Clapton from the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

    - RPG deficits: Neither of them was a big RPG player and there was no one else as dedicated RPG designer or combat designer. They wanted to create an adventure / RPG mix, but it was an ambitious game covering new concepts like cyberspace, they just put a lot of ideas in and at the end ran out of time because of all the consequences any change would have. E.g. the readme file mentions that combat can occur in cyberspace, which doesn’t happen in the game.

    - Scope: They say they basically made a game that they would want to play and doing this would be very difficult later or nowadays with everything having to have design by committee and everybody checking in along the way. John Antinori states that if he could go back and redo one thing, he’d love to go back and do BloodNet again, with new technology, and explore the world more, because it was a lot of fun.

    - Style mix: "At the time, we thought that we’re putting in this 2D RPG stuff, but there’s no reason we can’t have beautiful backgrounds. And the artists had fun with that. We also wanted the portraits to look really nice, because that was going to give you your feeling, that and the dialogue, that’s all you had to work with. So, I guess we were trying to do a mashup of it and you’re right, it is a little jarring, but that 3D stuff was still kind of new at the time, so we thought we were being pretty avantgarde."

  20. Congratulations on beating BloodNet. It's a weird game that I'm partially fond of and partially dislike intensly. Paragon's games invite a what-if history, because it always feels making them actually good RPGs would not have required much work and would not have detracted from what their merits are.


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