Hey there vampire lovers (and haters)! eGames Product Manager Greg Zesinger here checking in to give you the latest scoop on the ongoing development of The Dracula Files!

Since our last visit, we’ve been finalizing the order of some of the mini-games as they appear during the adventure. As we build mini-games for you in The Dracula Files, our goal is to deliver a fun diversion from the main seek and find gameplay. At the same time, we don’t want to stick a mini-game in there just for the sake of doing it. We want to provide a mechanic that makes sense within the context of the game with the successful completion of each illustrating more of our story. However, we also recognize that some of our players prefer to skip past these types of diversions, so we are planning to give you that option.

Anyway, we hit a bit of a hiccup in the placement of one particular vampire-related mini-game. If it was placed where the story dictated, it would bump up against another mini-game, and we felt that was too much too close together. After some brainstorming, we took the story on a slight detour, placing the mini-game in a more balanced position. I’m pretty pleased with the new twist, as it provides some new insight into Draco and his followers.

We also continue to tweak the interface. In the last blog entry, I provided an image of a ransacked hotel room. Here is a new image of the same room with a slightly different interface. Notice that the timer is gone, and the inventory slots (labeled as "backpack slots") flank either side of the list of hidden objects. We’re not totally happy with this one either, so it’s being reworked as well so it flows better for the user.

Now let’s take a look at some of the comments from The Dracula Files forum. Please feel free to ask questions there you might have about the game!

Based on the hotel room screenshot from the last blog entry, Gamezebo reader cnmoore expressed some concerns that some of the levels might be too dark (and actually, the screenshot attached today seems even darker). Obviously, vampires are creatures of the night, and thrive in the shadows, but one of our top priorities is to prevent a gloomy environment from making it frustrating to find certain objects. We definitely want to maintain a spooky atmosphere, but not at the expense of lessening your enjoyment of the game. We are going to go over each scene to make sure they aren’t too dark…with a few possible exceptions.

lkwhite wants to know when the game will be released. When you are more than a couple months out from the launch of a game, you have to be careful about giving specific release dates. The development process is very dynamic, and Murphy’s Law often applies. Occasionally, everything falls into place perfectly and the game is finished ahead of schedule, but that is certainly the exception. For a game like The Dracula Files, the added difficulty of working with the undead makes things even stickier. Most of them can’t work with you during the day, and they can be temperamental and occasionally try to suck your blood. In any event, we are targeting late summer/early fall for the release. Right now, it looks like sometime in September, but don’t hold me to that!

And finally, let’s pick back up on the interview I had with the game’s villain, Vladimir Draco as I conducted pre-production research for the game. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/draculafiles!

When we last spoke with Draco, he had just made an educated guess as to my blood type. That creeped me out a bit, so I tried to change the subject.

GZ: So, uh, wine, huh? How long have you been in the business?

VD: The winery has been in my family for generations.

GZ: How long have you been in charge?

VD: I personally assumed control of Draco Winery only a few years ago.

GZ: A few years?

VD: Yes, let’s just say prior that, I was feeling a bit burned out, and required a lengthy sabbatical before my return.

GZ: And I would guess it’s no coincidence that business at the winery turned around when you assumed control?

VD: Ah, how very astute of you. Yes, after I instituted some changes and new ways of thinking about our business, the Draco Winery empire has never been more powerful.

GZ: Do you own other wineries?

VD: Oh yes, we have several around the world. Romania, Germany, Greece, to name a few.

GZ: Of all your wineries, what would you say is your favorite vintage?

VD: It is hard to choose, but when it comes down to it, there is nothing I prefer better than a warm, deep red with just the right coppery aftertaste.

And there he goes again getting creepy. I’ll bid you adieu for now, but hope to have some exciting news to share next time around. As always, I invite you to follow The Dracula Files on Facebook and Vladimir Draco’s diabolical Twitter tweets (although somehow that just doesn’t sound that menacing). Please keep your questions and feedback coming. Let me know what you want to see! Until next time, avoid inviting dark, mysterious strangers into your home and keep your crosses (or other holy symbol of your preferred denomination) close!

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