The Unofficial Patch is a community-driven project that has been in development since official release of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines in October 2004. It first started as a collection of minor fixes but has grown into a huge package that also restores content that did not make it into the release version of the game and also adds some high quality content created from scratch by the community. It is widely considered the only proper way to play the game.
The project was first started in December 2004 by Dan Upright and soon taken over by Werner Spahl, better known by his nickname Wesp5. Originally merely meant to fix obvious errors, some of which were soon after addressed by the official Patch 1.2, the project has massively grown over the years, addressing thousands of both minor and major technical and gameplay issues, rebalancing the game and restoring or adding content that was for one reason or another missing from the release version.
In more recent versions the patch is distributed in form of a configurable installer which allows deactivating certain features (more about that in the Plus Patch section further below). And unlike early versions, which simply overwrote the original game data, it now uses a structure inspired by mods for other Source Engine games, which keeps the base game intact and allows to parallelly use other mods, which may be incompatible with the Unofficial Patch, without having to maintain a separate Bloodlines installation for each one.
As the original game's release was heavily rushed and, the studio that created Bloodlines, was shut down by Activision almost the moment the game was released, the official technical support was extremely brief, with only a single official patch having been released. As a result, the game was left in a comparably bad state, with many bugs left in the game and many of them being potentially game-breaking. With the lack of long-running official technical support the Unofficial Patch quickly established itself as a de facto standard in the Bloodlines community.
As the patch grew over the years more and more changes and additions were made to the game which are widely considered controversial, particularly by players only interested in fixes to problems still present in the final official version of the game. This even lead to an alternate series of patches known as the True Patch. To counter this the Unofficial Patch was eventually divided into two separate versions, a "basic" version and a "Plus" version, the latter of which contains major additions to the game which arguably do not represent the creative vision of the game's original developers. At this point the patch is distributed in form of a configurable installer and the desired version can be selected during the installation process.
Having been in development for more than ten years the patch covers massive amounts of changes which can't all be summarized in a comprehensible list but a brief rundown of the nature of the changes is listed below (changes exclusive to the Plus Patch are marked with a plus sign, changes optional even in the Plus patch are marked with a plus sign in brackets):
- Fixed game logic, quests, locations, dialog options, interface, items and weapons
- Fixed graphical glitches, missing sounds and game crashes
- Added widescreen support
- + Improved balancing
- + Restored real-world names of weapons
- + Basic multiplayer functionality
- + Added key bindings
- + Restored and added Disciplines
- + Restored quests, dialog options, locations and items
- + Restored textures, music, sound and visual effects and interface features
- + "History" feature during character creation restored
- (+) New Discipline casting animation
- (+) Inclusion of the Eye Replacer mod (more detailed eyes)
- (+) Wolf character model with original animations when using Protean Discipline
As a long-running project the Unofficial Patch has several places where it is officially distributed and the project itself represented: