Just like everyone’s favorite lord of the undead, The Dracula Files Developer Diary keeps coming back again and again. For those just climbing aboard, I’m Greg Zesinger, the Product Manager at eGames and your guide into the wonderful world of vampire hidden object adventure game development. You can follow the game’s progress here, as well as on Twitter and on The Dracula Files Facebook page.

Here at eGames, we are getting ready to head out west July 21-23 for Casual Connect, the casual games conference held in Seattle. At the show, we’ll be meeting with many of our portal partners to show them the latest version of The Dracula Files, and discuss strategies for the game’s distribution in the fall. As a developer, our goal is to secure the strongest distribution possible, and there is considerable debate within the industry about what that means.

Some would argue that strong distribution results from a simultaneous release of the game across all major game portals, allowing for a larger audience to have immediate access to the title. Many liken this method to major movie releases. You don’t see a summer blockbuster playing in one specific movie theater chain exclusively for the first couple weeks of launch before trickling down to the other theaters. However, others would argue that a portal exclusive is the way to go, where the game would be exposed to fewer customers initially, but perhaps benefit by enhanced promotion opportunities.

We have gone both routes with our previous games, and we are not sure yet which way we will go with The Dracula Files. Regardless, we are extremely interested in ways to promote the game to our customers, and we are working on a few contest ideas that will start to become apparent very soon.

I also wanted to give you a sneak peek at another scene from Draco Winery. Most scenes will start out with a conceptual sketch like the one appearing here. You can see in this case, the final product didn’t stray too far from the original.

Draco Winery concept sketch (above) and final product (below)

As always, let’s take a look at some of the questions you have about The Dracula Files. Please keep them coming in the forum!

cnmoore chimed in, requesting that no "Simon-like" games be included where you have to duplicate a sequence from memory. Although Vladimir Draco himself pushed heavily for this type of mini-game, we ultimately decided against it. We definitely want to include some challenging puzzles, but as always want to make sure you have fun while you solve them! Draco, on the other hand, just wants to break your spirit. Good thing he’s not designing the mini-games.

While on the subject of mini-games, edmee194 was concerned that we would impose time limits during the challenges. As of right now, none of our mini-games will include a ticking clock. Much like the hidden object levels, you’ll be able to complete each puzzle in your own time.

Vdraco wants to know if we can make sure the vampires win at the end of the game, and that the Harker and Van Helsing families are crushed under their diabolical heels. Awful tempting, Vdraco, but we’re going to leave that up to the players.

Speaking of the Van Helsing family, as part of my design research, I also interviewed the last known living descendant of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, Elizabeth. Before his death, Abraham Van Helsing was one of the world’s foremost experts on vampires, and much of that knowledge was passed down to his great great grandniece.

Here’s a portion of the interview:

GZ: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me.

E: Please stand in front of this mirror. Good, you’re clear.

GZ: I’m assuming you were checking to see if I was a vampire?

E: Correct. In my line of work, you can never be too careful.

GZ: And that line of work would be?

E: Vampire hunting, of course. I also substitute teach on occasion.

GZ: Err, right. How long have you been hunting vampires?

E: All my life. After his encounter with Dracula, Abraham recognized that new generations would be needed to continue the fight against the forces of evil. He instituted a training program, beginning with his young niece, nephew, and Quincey, the son of Jonathan and Mina Harker. Since then, each member of the Van Helsing family has been trained in demon lore and monster slaying techniques.

GZ: But as I understand it, the Harkers are no longer in the vampire hunting business?

E: Correct, they left the calling long ago.

GZ: Why?

E:…I prefer not to get into that right now.

GZ: What about the rest of your family?

E: I am the only one left. Hence the paranoia.

With that, I am off to start packing for Seattle. Keep those questions coming and be on the lookout for our first contest announcement! Until next time, keep your holy water balloons full and try to be home before sundown!

Chat about The Dracula Files developer blogs in the Dracula Files forum.

Previous Developer Diaries:
The Dracula Files, Developer Diary #1
The Dracula Files, Developer Diary #2
The Dracula Files, Developer Diary #3