(Updated on 06/24/12
In this scenario you will journey with Jonathan Harker to Count Dracula's castle. Once there, you will learn of the story of the real Dracula and relive it with him, seeing firsthand his descent into darkness. Once empowered with this knowledge, you and Harker will escape the castle and attempt to destroy Dracula before he claims Mina, Harker's love.
V1.1 (Updated 6/24/12)
-Fixed all bugs
-Enhanced gameplay, dialogue, map design, triggers, etc
-Balanced the game (IMO) very well
-Added bitmaps and walkthrough of tricky parts
This scenario is for the most part very historically (and geographically) accurate. The few inaccuracies are there to advance the story or show the effects of Dracula's dark power. The scenario is also very accurate to Bram Stoker's novel, and did its best to compromise between the two. For that reason, London is placed on the map even though it is far away from Wallachia, in order to include Stoker's story.
Please submit feedback in the form of reviews or comments, but most importantly I hope that you enjoy playing this scenario as much as I did making it!
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"Bram Stoker's Dracula" was Hockeysam's submission for the Halloween Horror Competition. Though there are many things that still need improvement, this is not a bad try for somebody's first scenario. The improvements and updates have visibly improved the project.
The scenario starts off with the narrator from Bram Stoker's novel traveling to Dracula's castle, but soon shifts to having Dracula as the protagonist and depicts his rule, in a way very similar to Great Emperor's Vlad Dracula campaign. Actually, this game draws a lot of inspiration from that particular campaign. However, there are lots of objectives throughout the game which are varied and some of them are pretty fun to do.
The problem of the bugs such as the ownership changes that didn't work have mostly been resolved and this is the reason why I have added one point to the playability rating. However, the problem with objectives that cross themselves out at unappropriate times remains. In the previous version there was also an issue with places and characters that you were not supposed to see at early stages of the game, which has also been taken care of. However, there is still a problem with the Harker character, which is awkwardly placed in Poenari castle and can intervene in events that are happening centuries before his birth.
Also, even though this time I got further into the game, to the point of almost finishing I still could not claim victory, because the slow and defenseless teutonic knight Harker was mercilessly slaughtered upon leaving Poenari.
Overall , some of the missions were really nice and challenging, others were plain boring (bringing 6 villagers all the way from one side of the huge map to the other, for example). However, most of them were decently entertaining.
THe first version of the game was too easy in the beginning. Now, it is visible that part was improved. However, the end battles are still very unbalanced, and there is also the issue of the huge map... for a player who gives it a shot for the first time it will be extremely hard to manage, especially the Poenari battle, where you have absolutely no time to prepare. It might be solved by making the population limit (a lot) higher and warning the player that all his fortresses must be prepared for battle.
I found the stealth mission in the end pretty well balanced, however I could not kill the second guard with Janos so I had to resort to a cheat code. The damn guard always fires the alarm, no matter how I approach him.
A few creative elements were introduced that show the author can think for himself despite being influenced by other designers (notably Great Emperor). The parts where Dracula impales his enemies work pretty well, and are somewhat different from Great Emperor's scenario, and the "impaled forest" that Dracula prepares for the sultan (true story!) looks pretty good. There is definitely a lot of potential there.
I have added a point to this particular category the second time around mainly because after the update, most creative elements on the map work better.
MAP DESIGN: 3++
The author is obviously fond of map design, and this shows from the very beginning, with some parts of the map that really look ok. Unfortunately, what also shows is lack of experience. The layout is not bad, but the paths that the player can take at certain points should have been studied more. Perhaps the biggest flaw of the map design is the over-use of certain objects such as the TWAL and the paths. However, in the update, the author has made sure not to leave ugly TWAL shadows unmanaged, and he has visibly worked on the map design some more. Cliffs in the middle of the water still look disgraceful, whether they are covered with rocks or not.
Despite the general progress, I cannot give this a 4 yet. Some parts of the design are even better than a 4, but others look like they were ignored, such as the big patches of snow pine trees.
Once again, there are lots of similarities with Great Emperor's campaign, though it is obvious that the author has tried to tell the story differently (kudos for that), and has added his own (and Stoker's ) ideas in the mix. The story works well until close to the end where it goes terribly off-track, with grossly unrealistic victories against Hungary and the Ottomans. The ending has somewhat put the story on-track, though I feel there could have been some more thought put into it.
The use of Romanian places and denominations tells me that the author knows something about my country and that he has taken the time to do some research. (on an unrelated note, I went to see Rasnov castle a few days after playing this, as I live a few miles away from it).
Although it is without a doubt the work of a newbie, this was a very brave effort and the author's potential can clearly be seen. This game will certainly not be a waste of one's time, despite the bugs, so I recommend a download, as I can see how some people might genuinely enjoy it. This is even more the case now, that the author has updated the game.
Right now, I can honestly say this is the one Dracula game worth downloading, apart from Great Emperor's masterpiece.
As an advice to the author, you might consider trying out your skills on a smaller format. I think this map got a little bit out of control for you, judging by the number of bugs. Another way to keep things under control is to have the map better divided in fragments and keep the triggers for a certain part of the scenario on a specific part of your map. That would prevent chaos to sink in and would make it easier for you to playtest.
Also, an advice after re-playing the updated version: Though there has been improvement, updating the file can only get you this far. You have visibly learned a lot and are a much better designer than when you started this project, and I am proud to have had a small part to play in this. However, I think moving on to a new project would be the best thing to do, because the already designed map has its limitations that no update can completely eliminate.
Hope to see something new from you soon, as you are one of the most promising new designers I've seen in a while.
[Edited on 07/30/12 @ 04:32 PM]