Dev Diary #2: Strong Building Game Foundations

Or, Building A Good Building Game Needs To Start Somewhere!

Hullo Dear Readers!

Where to start talking about a building game? So, last time on Dev Diaryâ„¢… I said I’d kick off by talking about some of the key pillars in Dracula’s Castle. And so today, after a brief detour to talk about Sim Tower, let’s dive right in with our first topic – building! (I guess this is appropriate, y’know, for a building game…)

Like so many of the great building games out there (let’s not try to reinvent the wheel too much), you’ll start the game with a limited set of prebuilt rooms, these being Dracula’s quarters at the top and the entrance to the castle at the bottom. We’re calling these rooms our foundations as they’re the gateways to the rest of the game’s mechanics. (Also I guess that’s what you put pillars on? –Marketing Ed.)

In our alpha build at the moment, the castle is full size but what I’d like to do is add a mechanism where you must build floors as you go (possibly tied to the labour resource), and as you do this, the physical height of the castle increases. This building upwards might be a good analogue to Dracula gaining more and more power as the game progresses.

The moonlit top of Dracula's Castle.
Not a bad view from the top of the dark castle.

This would mean that Dracula eventually gets a moonlit penthouse/throne room to pace around in while he mulls things over. For this design I’ve got strong imagery of the opening level of a certain PSX platformer (and one of my all time favourite games) in mind but with a bit more Bram Stoker.

And essentially these quarters are where you’ll be able to customize Dracula (more on that later) and manage various castle affairs.

Now for the other pre-built room, the castle entrance… Every now and again, a member of the local vampire hunter clan will appear at the castle in an attempt to take down Dracula, for these events they will appear at the castle entrance then proceed to fight their way to the top for a final confrontation.

I’ll have more to share on this gameplay mechanic later on as it will tie into the castle’s monster menagerie, loot, stats/equipment and other systems.

Entrance to our building game.
Every good building game needs to make a great entrance.

And that’s it for this entry. Thanks for reading! Going forward with the diary entries on building, I’ll get into more detail around the different room types you’ll be able to build in the game and what they mean in terms of the overall game mechanics.

Until next time!

PS: Feel free to join our Discord server to chat about the game concepts as development continues.

Is Dracula’s Castle Basically a Weird Sim Tower game?

Or is it a Colony Sim?

Short Answer: Yes, Dracula’s Castle is indeed a Sim Tower game. Well, maybe a SimTower game is more accurate. Tower Sim perhaps?

I was recently re-tagging Dracula’s Castle on Steam to get some more accuracy out of the Steam algorithm and part of that is assigning genres and sub-genres to your game. In the end, I went with Colony Sim – because it seems to be the best fit – but I couldn’t not think of Sim Tower.

(And thinking of colony building games, the idea of Dracula running a colony seems a bit absurd… Maybe I’ll do a sequel game: Dracula 2142, where he’s in charge of running a moonbase on Titan.)

What Even Is Sim Tower?

If you’re not familiar with the term Sim Tower, let me explain. It’s a game that was released back in 1994, well actually it was called SimTower: The Vertical Empire.

SimTower, Copyright Maxis Software.

This is well before The Sims began it’s domination run in the early 00’s. It was a curious game, originally a Japanese creation by Yoot Saito, one which got onto legendary SimCity creator Will Wright’s radar and was subsequently localized for Western audiences and rebadged with the Sim (or Sims?) brand.

The Sim spin-offs were usually very original, I remember as a kid being fascinated by SimAnt as well (the fact that it made me think of Honey I Shrunk the Kids probably helped). I loved SimTower for its originality at the time and in fact I had a lot of fun many years later with Star Wars: Tiny Death Star, which greatly reminded me of it. (It also happens to have the best Star Wars pixel art, ever. Not to mention the Imperial March brilliantly re-imagined as an elevator tune!)

So here’s to SimTower and the plucky young Yoot Saito! Maybe it’s time it officially got its own sub-genre?

To those of you coming back after reading Dev Diary #1, hey I made it back! I guess this isn’t technically a Dev Diary but I am working on something. Hopefully I’ll have it up soon.

Dev Diary #1: Dire Introduction to My Spunky Dracula Game

Dracula’s Castle Begins

Where to start?

So, I’m going to give this Dev Diary thing a crack for Dracula’s Castle. Hopefully it sticks because historically, I have been monstrously notorious at making a couple of posts and then vanishing into the ether, never to be seen again (what a *terrible* way to start marketing your game! -Marketing Ed). The thing is, these past blogs were a bit too generic. Well… This time there is one major difference, I’m pouring my heart and soul into this game. I think that should keep me going this time. We’ll see!

So first things first, where to begin? (Well, the real first thing is getting over the daunting idea of starting a dev diary but I digress…)

I think that perhaps talking about Dracula’s Castle’s core pillars on a rotation could be promising. So far we have:

– Build
– Explore
– Combat
– Customize

A good plan – *I think*, I legit have no experience doing this whatsoever, you can tell right? (/facepalm -Marketing Ed)

Every now and then, I’ll talk about a minigame or a concept (I’ll have to be careful here though, I don’t want to get everyone excited about a feature I may end up dropping). And occasionally I’ll talk roadmap or release strategy. Two of the big ones being the alpha demo and whether or not for Dracula’s Castle to go Early Access (I think demand will probably end up driving this). And who knows, as I go maybe you’ll be there to give me tips and advice on this scary endeavour.

If I have time I may even do a separate Programmer’s Corner type entry for the technically minded. We’ll see.

Dracula's Mountain Train
An accurate simulation of me heading into the unknown.

OK, that’s probably an alright intro. Marketing Ed is giving me the cut comms signal. Or maybe he’s just telling me he’s gonna kill me after this. /shrug

Oh! And one last thing, if you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the newsletter. I’m not the spamming type and it’ll be a good way to stay up to date with the game.

And if you’re looking for a press kit, we’ve got you covered!

Announcing Dracula’s Castle!

I’m very proud to announce Dracula’s Castle today. In development for the last 20 months or so, it’s my first foray into the world of 3D. I expanded the scope in comparison to my earlier games as I felt I was ready to tackle something bigger. I did not anticipate the sheer amount of work I had laid out for myself!

It’s been an incredible year so far with the birth of our first child, and quite the schedule trying to get work done on the game at an acceptable rate. I feel like the game is in enough of a decent base state to announce it now.

I have a bunch of dev notes handy so hopefully, given the time, I’ll start a bit of a dev diary going. I’m not expecting to be able to post every week or anything like that, but I will try to update the site when I get the chance. Here’s to 2021 and to Dracula’s Castle!