Part 85: Extra - The Vampires Dawn 3 PrototypeExtra - The Vampires Dawn 3 Prototype
♪ BGM: Vampires Dawn 3 Title Theme - vd3_theme_v3.ogg ♫
Well, it's time to finish this. The last stop we're making before this LP comes to a close - we're going to take a look at the prototype for Vampires Dawn 3. Right away, we can notice an uptick in production values. We now have the game in widescreen thanks to the upgrade to RPG Maker MV, and we now have original music instead of random MIDIs of mostly video game music.
The step to RPG Maker MV also means we get this shiny new options menu (Note: Might have also been in games that are made with RPG Maker XP and that kind of stuff, I have no idea about RPG Makers newer than 2003), with options to set the sound volume, and the ability to toggle "always run" (yes, we have running now) and "remember command" (which I think makes you start with the same command you used in the previous round in battle, but I have no idea, especially since there is no combat in this prototype). Let's not mess around longer, let's get into it.
♪ BGM: Silence ♫
Upon starting the game, Marlex kindly informs us we can press F4 to make the game full screen. I'll stick with a window, though.
♪ BGM: March - VD_Marsch.ogg ♫
And like a meal that is prepared exactly the way you remember it from childhood, our old friend blood text returns, and we're right back in that wonderful Vampires Dawn feeling.
"WHEN A HUMAN DIES, HEAVEN GIFTS THEIR SOUL ETERNAL PEACE
WHEN A VAMPIRE DIES, THEIR BLOOD SPIRIT SUFFERS ETERNAL PAIN IN THE CRIMSON REALM"
Well, yeah, we kinda already knew that. Been going over that topic quite a bit recently.
And here's the first thing we see. Valnar and Alaine are chained up, hanging over a pit of lava, Asgar is standing on the side with a lever that probably does exactly what you think it does, and he's not happy.
Wake up, you miserable worm! WAKE UP! I have grown tired of your miserable existence!
How dare you? I HATE YOU! You and that miserable traitorous bitch!
Well, that fucking didn't take long. "Verräterbraut" is the term that tripped me up here, and I'm not sure I got the meaning right. "Verräter" is "traitor", that's clear, but "Braut" is a tough one. Removed from context, it means "bride", but that's obviously not the right translation. In context, it's a derogatory term aimed at a female, and I feel like there's some sort of better term here, but just for the sake of tone, "bitch" works fairly well.
1) Asgar? - 2) What are you talking about? - 3) God damnit, what the... - 4) ...
Now, there are some things that change depending on your choices here, but without the ability to peer into the code (I don't own a copy of RPG Maker MV), I'm just going to go through this once.
Finally you've come to the point where you're going to pay for your unspeakable deeds! I've waited much too long to be able to get my revenge on you!
In my infinite grace I will even allow you to attempt to justify what you have done.
1) You're insane! - 2) Listen to me... - 3) ...
I'm just going to have Valnar have had entirely enough of Asgar's shit.
Insane? INSANE? I don't think you're comprehending the situation you're in.
It was YOUR actions that forced us to do what we did!
My actions? MY actions? You've destroyed everything I've built! Destroyed everything I've loved!
Quit talking about love! All you've brought this world is death!
As a sidenote, thanks to the increased screen real estate, we can get a lot more text on screen. Another fun added feature? Instant text skip. You can now mash the Enter button and advance through dialogue much quicker. I would have loved this back when I was recording all those endings.
How dare you speak to me in such a way? Your traitorous existence had become completely unbearable after you interrupted me while reading the book of the Elras! How dare you fight me?
Fight you? That was our only option after you decided to use the book of the Elras to give you incredible power.
Power that I would have used to the benefit of us all!
1) I doubt it... - 2) But of course... - 3) HAHAHAHA!
I love that every single option is just telling Asgar to fuck off with that shit.
You dare to laugh at me? Your disgusting character just keeps coming to the surface, you wretched weakling! How could I have been so wrong about you? I created you. As my apprentice! At my side, we could have achieved anything!
Apprentice? Slave is more like it, Asgar.
OK, I need to point something out here, because it's bugging the fuck out of me. Both Asgar and Valnar are getting the deep red eyes in this conversation, Asgar quite a bit, and Valnar just once here. Now, in VD2, those deep red eyes were shorthand for "possessed by a Shadow Wraith", but apparently now it's just shorthand for "is fucking pissed"? Either that, or this is a quite clumsy foreshadowing.
I forgave you so many things. So many mistakes that you've made. You ran away from my castle after your transformation. But I treated you like a son and forgave you. Again and again.
You turned me into a vampire against my will! Running away would have been my only chance to live a life free from you ruling over me!
And after I took you back in again, we found Vincent Weynard and destroyed him. Vincent Weynard. The first vampire, creator of us all. And destroyer of us all at the same time.
He was just as insane as you. Controlled by a Shadow Wraith he created the vampires, only to chase and kill them with the aid of his slave Abraxas to send their Blood Spirits to the Crimson Realm.
The Crimson Realm. At least you remember that. Also known as the Realm of Blood. Or the Realm of Blood Spirits. This most terrible place has many names.
No, it doesn't. So, here's the thing. Valnar and Asgar refer to the "karmesinrote Ebene", which technically would be the "Carmine Realm", but whatever, "crimson" is close enough, and that's in the title, too. But here's the thing. "Karmesinrote Ebene" is completely new as a term to me. Whenever I remember what that place was called in German, it was the "Realm of Blood Spirits" ("Ebene der Blutgeister" - technically it's "Blood Ghosts" here, and I think I originally used that term in my VD1 translation, but again, whatever, close enough). This creates the fun situation where if I wanted to be technically consistent, I would basically have to translate "The Crimson Realm. Also known as the Crimson Realm. Or the Crimson Realm".
But nobody can even begin to describe the pain that is inflicted upon you at that place.
Of course I remember! Your trap might have gotten me into this situation, but my memory still works! The souls of vampires are the Blood Spirits, which can give someone incredible power, if...
...you know how to use them! The book of the Elras would have given me the power to do that.
1) It's your fault! - 2) We can fix this! - 3) ...
My fault? What is my fault? Wanting a life of infinite possibilities?
Let us go, you maniac!
After all we've been through. Vincent Weynard, Jinnai, King Gerald... they all were just worthless worms. But you have taken the most valuable thing from me that has ever meant something to me!
1) Your castle? - 2) Your sanity? - 3) You disgust me!
Nothing will make me happier than to bestow never-ending pain upon you.
1) Stop with your games! - 2) I hate you! - 3) All right, take Alaine!
Again and again with the treason and the ungratefulness. You have actually managed to make me hate you more than Pharaoh Ustra.
1) Burn in hell! - 2) She never loved you! - 3) You won!
YOU tore us apart! But revenge will finally be mine, after all these months of war. I can't believe how every fiber of my undead being hates you! Die a painful death, traitor!
You dirty maggot!
I love you, Alaine!
And suddenly Alaine wakes up! But then...
How touching. And now go to hell!
And Valnar gets dunked in lava, which generally doesn't end well. And as Asgar laughs, we fade to black. By the by, I went through this scene another time, picking other dialogue options, and that time it ended with Asgar sending Alaine into the lava. Of course, it doesn't really matter, because the entire rest of the prototype...
♪ BGM: Intro - VD_Intro.ogg ♫
...takes place earlier. Some weeks prior, as the blood text so helpfully tells us.
We cut to a bat flying over a winter scene as we get some credits.
This, of course, is still a Marlex game.
We also get some more blood text.
"A BLOODY STORM
AN ETERNAL WAR"
As we fly over some dead bodies, we get our credits for graphics. And there's D'Amore again! Then, some more blood text.
"ONLY WHEN HUMANITY DIES
THE REIGN OF VAMPIRES WILL END"
And we also get some credits for music, now that we've actually got some original tracks and all.
And of course, some special thanks, which also go out to Nicolas Bruch, Richard Merkel and Jan Albers.
The bat arrives at its destination, we get some mist...
...and it's Asgar!
♪ BGM: Silence ♫
Where is she?
Master! We couldn't find Alaine so far, but we did manage to capture some of her soldiers. They're down in the basement. You'd best read their thoughts - we might find a trace of our arch nemesis that way.
This better not be another waste of time. Come on, we'll take a look around together. I can't stand being without a female companion for long...
As you wish, master!
At least you didn't skimp out on giving the interior a more colorful design. Well, let's go and see how talkative Alaine's miserable warriors are. Down to the cellar.
Dear player, this is a technical prototype for Vampires Dawn 3. There's not a lot to be seen gameplay-wise, I was more focusing on testing, if I could create a game in the Vampires Dawn style with RPG Maker MV. This seems to be the case - now it would be interesting to find out if the performance of the engine is good enough or if there's going to be problems with older computers. I'd be grateful for your feedback on that. In the next months we should have a demo out with an actual amount of gameplay content, because this prototype only gives you a very small look at the beginning of the game. The game isn't encrypted, if you want to, you can take a look at everything in the RPG Maker. But please remember that the graphics and music AREN'T freeware and can't be used in other games. Now you still have a city to explore and a few NCPs with some short dialogues. Nothing special, but your goal is now to find Alaine. Have fun, your Marlex.
Marlex actually uses a different portrait here, but I'm lazy. Anyway, let's go and explore this place.
"Integrity Is My Business". A boring metaphor about a worm that lives amongst hedgehogs. Something like that could only have been thought up by a human.
Alright, now let's check out the basement.
You dirty humans! The first one that talks gets to live!
We abhor you, Asgar! Nobody will tell you where Lady Alaine is hiding!
I have lost my patience with you worms! I've slain hundreds of you scum with my own hands!
Then we'll die. But if we betray Lady Alaine, the last hope of humanity is gone!
Last hope of humanity? Pathetic!
You create hundreds of vampires! We'll fight you to the death!
Useless scum. WHERE is she!?
Get lost, you disgusting blood sucker!
May your death by hunger be slow and painful, human.
I need to search the village for more clues. His thoughts have betrayed him. Alaine was or IS here!
Master, we've managed to capture more prisoners in the other houses. You should read their thoughts as well!
What are we waiting for, then!? Let's go!
And now we have a little posse!
Here's the menu, but everything is completely generic, so it's not really worth going into. Let's just head outside and explore.
♪ BGM: VD4 - VD4.ogg ♫
She can't be far. I can practically smell her!
I should interrogate the other prisoners, maybe they know more about Alaine's hideout here.
Master, we will find her!
Don't underestimate that whore. She's shifty and knows how to hide. We haven't been hunting her for years for nothing!
Be patient, master! Alaine can't hide forever!
Patient? I've been hunting her for years! PATIENCE is the last thing I have!
Master, we've managed to capture some of Alaine's warriors here!
I doubt they'll talk, but I'll give them five seconds before we slaughter them...
Which of you wants to live a bit longer?
You can save your lies, Asgar! We'll never talk!
You won't have to, human.
I'd rather die than betray our mistress!
If I had a Filar every time I got to hear those last words...
Alaine will destroy you!
My vampires will let you bleed out slowly.
His thoughts were easy to read. Apparently, Alaine is still hiding in this village. Now I've got her cornered!
Looks like we're getting closer.
This village was well guarded, but these human warriors had no chance against us!
And that's why you serve me.
"He Who Dies First Is Dead Longer". One of my favorite books.
I appreciate that the books make a good showing in this prototype.
Master, this house is free of enemies now!
Alaine, Alaine, Alaine. She must be somewhere here in this village. Keep looking!
Yes, master! As you wish!
Master Asgar! What an honor that you're speaking to me!
Quit talking and look for Alaine!
Yes, master Asgar! As you wish!
That's how to do it.
"Come What May - Life Before The Apocalypse". I don't think the author had an idea how the world looks now when he was writing this book. Then he would have spent his time in a more useful way than writing pointless books.
Nothing suspicious here, master!
Then don't stand around here! FIND ALAINE!
Of course, master!
We've eliminated the threat in this house, master!
What do I care about more of their dead warriors?
I want to find HER, not her underlings!
"You Are My Cream Pie - Experiences Of A Baker". Sounds really romantic.
"Sahnetorte" does not have the same connotation in German, but I couldn't resist.
Nothing to find here, master.
What a waste of time! I didn't fly all this way just to kill her underlings.
"The Suffering Of Young Valnar". Who the hell would write a book about this miserable worm?
But as long as he's suffering...
"Pineal Glands And Liver Damage - Anatomy Of A Crime". Sounds interesting, I should remember that one.
Master, I think there are some things hidden here that you could use.
Then I'll take a look around here.
Of course, master!
I didn't find a fucking thing here, and by god, I tried. I doubt there's anything there. I'd check, but alas, like I said, I am incapable of doing so.
"Where Blood Flows, Beer Must Also Flow". Apparently the story of a wannabe soldier.
"Only Who Knows Pain, Knows Suffering". Well, if that's not a deep, philosophical title, then my name isn't Asgar.
The smell of blood is driving me crazy!
It makes every slaughter worth it!
Nice house, master. But it's missing a nice coffin!
Nice house? What do you think we're doing here? Look for that damn Alaine and stop looking at the upholstery!
Of course! Please forgive me, master Asgar!
FIND HER! Fast!
"Bambini - The Child Eater". Now THAT'S true literature!
Master, you'll find more prisoners downstairs!
Slowly but surely I'm getting closer to her!
All this delicious blood everywhere, I can't get enough of it!
Red is the color of love. My love of BLOOD!
"Come Here Love - Then I'll Cut Your Head Off". The back of the book says it's the story of a female assassin.
I should give that a read some time!
Master, more prisoners are ready to be interrogated.
They'll talk. Whether they want to or not.
Come here, you runt!
Get lost, vampire!
I can feel your heart practically shattering from fear!
Even if you kill me, you won't destroy humanity! Mistress Alaine will save us from you!
So many years of war. And you still can't realize you've lost a long time ago?
Alaine will save us.
More thoughts. More clues. She is here! I have to find her! The hints are pointing towards a graveyard! I have to look out for that!
Nothing suspicious here, master!
I can feel it. She's not here!
Uh, whoops. Guess that event wasn't quite properly done.
Well, how's it hanging?
"Let It Run, Girl - Stories Of A Connoisseur". I thought this book had been burned by the church years ago. Seems like a copy survived here.
"He Who Is Without Sin, Kill The First Human". A story full of pacifists...
"Vulgurus - Terror Of The Seas". If I had more time I'd give it a read.
"The Tributes Of Rabani". A story of a group of religious people fighting against each other in a church, and the winner at the end gets to drink the holy water. Well, if people like it...
"Die Tribute von Panem" is the German name for The Hunger Games.
Thanks for creating me, master!
And you are?
Salina, master! A few months ago, you saved me from my unbearable parents with your bite!
How touching. Or not. You belong to me. So make yourself useful and look for Alaine!
Everything you want, master!
"Firm And Fresh On The Market - My Life As A Brothel Owner". I love salacious books like this.
"Dark Shadows". One of my favorite books.
God DAMNIT, Marlex. You just can't let it go. Anyway, we're done exploring this place now, so let's head to the graveyard and end this.
You dirty piece of trash! I know you're here! Come on out and let's finally finish this!
Man, that fog effect is running havoc on my GIF compression.
You don't have to keep looking, Asgar. I'm here.
Finally, the time of vengeance has come...
Thanks a ton for testing the prototype. Please send feedback to https://www.facebook.com/VampiresDawn or the forums at https://www.vampiresdawn.org
And then we're unceremoniously dropped back at the title screen. So that's it for the prototype, with leaves us with one more thing to do, and that's going through the screenshot and artwork section of vampiresdawn.de and show off some more in-progress shots.
Here's a more recent title screen, which looks a lot better than the one for the prototype.
Here's a shot of the world map.
Here's Asgar walking through a castle.
Here's the gang walking through what is called an Elras dungeon - which confirms two things to me, that one, the Elras are involved again, and two, the gang gets back together despite the clear and obvious wedge being driven between them by this prototype prologue.
Here's a shot of the new battle system. Seems to be that we can now both have a vampire party member and a summoned creature along for the ride in what is basically combining the systems from the first two games.
Here's the gang walking around a castle.
Here's the gang in a desert oasis town.
Here's the gang in a woodland village. I sound like I'm describing terrible vacation photos or something. Anyway, we also see the new portraits here. They've gone a bit anime on us, which I guess is just the style the new artist does well.
Here's the gang in a house.
Here's the gang in a place with a pool of blood and a woman asking if they want to donate some blood. Clearly, some very wholesome things are going to happen here.
Here's some other people near a desert cave. I suppose these people are going to take over the Nyria role of being the group we get to control in small interludes or something.
Here's one of these other people, telling a woman they'll be safe here. This picture is subtitled "famous last words".
Here's Alaine talking with Jayna's Blood Spirit about how Valnar's unable to materialize in the world because of the pain. So at least that confirms Jayna will not be forgotten about, and Alaine will be on the quest to revive Valnar from the Crimson Realm. I guess Jayna will then also be revived? Would be kind of a massive dick move to just leave her stuck there. Maybe she'll actually be the main villain this time around - gets revived, gets righteously pissed at everybody involved, and wants to murder everybody. It'd be a realistic response, anyway.
Finally, here's a shot of the new conversation menu. Seems like, going clockwise, we have "drain blood", "talk", "turn into a vampire", "turn into a vampire", "leave" and "capture"? The last one just looks like manacles, so I guess it'd have to be something like that. Looks like reading thoughts is out, though. That'll be less text to transcribe for me! And then, we have three more pieces of artwork.
Here we have Asgar and Alaine.
Here's a golem and somebody called "Lara", who will probably be a new character.
And here's two more new characters called "Vince" and "Manok". Who knows what their deal is.
EDIT: A cartoon duck comes to the rescue once more!
a cartoon duck posted:
From what I can tell those are from a spin-off game set during Vincent's crusade called VD: Deceit Of Heretics. Here's a screenshot of the cover art, just because the difference in art styles is kinda hilarious to me:
I could've sworn the game used to be only commercially available, but the last time I bothered to check was probably ten years ago, so either I misremember or Marlex changed his mind on that. Both a German and English version are available on vampiresdawn.org if anyone's curious to check it out.
There's two more spin-off games in the VD franchise, a tower defense game and a puzzle game with vague VD-flavoring, but the website doesn't offer downloads or other info so I'm just gonna assume they're basically irrelevant.
fake edit: Scouring the news on the website, apparently all three of those were phone games predating iPhones and androids, I guess the reason Marlex decided they're all free now is because he didn't wanna port them over to ever newer OSes anymore.
And that's all I have to show you, and with that, it's officialy time for me to give my closing thoughts.
♪ BGM: Birdman ♫
Vampires Dawn 2 is most definitely a game that could have immensely profited from more tight design. I might have been entirely too spoiled by Unterwegs in Düsterburg and its great quality, though, and now I'm too focused on linear RPG Maker games as a better idea than open-world ones. I also don't know how much of this is being colored by the fact that I played on hard difficulty, forcing me to set up the stupidity that is The Secret Plan, which then kind of threw any sort of sense of a reasonable difficulty curve and progression out the window. But here's some thoughts.
The plot is kind of scattered - there seem to be things established that completely get overshadowed by the Elras plot. Like, just to spitball something, here's two things I would have thought that could have been better.
One: We keep Jayna and Raron un-Shadow-Wraithed. Instead of having the wraiths fucking about, we just have the Elras revive after Asgar casts the world shifting spell of his own volition without knowing exactly what it does, figuring it'll give him great power or something. Jayna vamps Raron, who could have gotten injured in the shifting and would be near death when Jayna stumbled over him, and the two of them become an additional force in this conflict, acting mainly with the goal of fucking up our gang for fucking up their lives. You could maybe also have Nyria get vamped by Jayna as well, for her to get over her addiction to being strong or something, which would lead to our antagonist vampire group becoming a kind of mirror to our main group, with Jayna and Asgar being the ruthless, sociopathic one that really takes to being a vampire, Raron and Valnar being the warrior vampire brought into it against their will, and Nyria could be the Alaine as the vampire that is more friendly towards humans than the others with her connection to the Clan.
What this does is give Jayna and Nyria a lot more agency as sympathetic antagonists - because let's face it, our group of vampires really did ruin their lives, either by turning them into a vampire or by casting the world shifting spell. Wanting to fuck their shit up is a pretty reasonable response. It also sets up the "Raron killed Nyria's father" plotpoint as something that could have an actual value to the story.
Two: We shift the protagonist around and actually give Nyria the focus of the story. We take her, Asmos, the knight guy (who would be more fleshed out than he is right now) and a Clan mage (kinda need another spellcaster in the group) and base the plot around her fighting against both the Elras and the vampires. This would lend itself to making the story more linear, since they can't as easily fly across the world map. You could even have the story progress in the same way, leading to the Clan continuing to lose castles and stone fragments, until the group has to make a surgical strike at the Place of the Elras to take out the leaders of the other two groups and secure the stone tablet.
This too would give Nyria a lot more agency apart from just being somebody who kinda stumbles from situation to situation and achieves fuck all, and would actually give an opportunity to develop the Nyria/Asmos relationship.
Basically, I'm not entirely convinced that given the plot we have, focusing on our old group of vampires vs. the Elras was a good idea.
Some other points of interest:
- The systems are a bit aimless. Things like the rune synthetisizer are just kind of odd - like, you can find some recipes in the wild, but there's a ton you're apparently just expected to figure out by trial and error, which is weird. Or what about the lockpick system? It basically just means that you have to invest souls into skills and carry around more items in order to get... well, more items. You invest stuff to get other stuff. There's no additional gameplay or anything added, it's just... stuff. I'm not sure I'm happy with that.
- The dungeons aren't really all that interesting. I mean, there's the occasional puzzle, but overall it's just a straight crawl. Something could have been done to spruce them up more.
- There's too much content overall. I feel like we could have lost about three towns and three castles and the game would not have suffered at all.
- The castle battle system is really strange as far as its difficulty goes. It seems like the biggest threat is at the beginning, where you only have one castle and are directly at threat of getting into an unwinnable situation. Then, as time goes on, it just turns into a nuisance, and then eventually just disappears as the time between attacks becomes longer and longer. What a strange system.
So, with all that said, what do I think of this game? I love it. Now, this might come as a bit of a surprise after this LP and my large amount of words that would imply the opposite, but here's the thing: I am the type of person that will overlook any and all shortcomings if there's positives that outweigh it. In this case, just the entire situation makes me overlook the issues - this is basically just one guy. Like, the design and code is just one guy. Marlex has ambitious plans, and he stuck to them, and made them work, even with the restrictions of RPG Maker 2003. That plus the nostalgia can make a lot of issues float away when it comes time to answer the question "do you like this game". Nostalgia is one hell of a drug.
You do you, Marlex. I'm definitely going to pledge to your crowdfunding campaign for VD3 when the demo comes out. I'm in too deep to get out now.
Well, I think that's enough words. To cap things off, I've yet to get a response to the mail I sent to Marlex, and I'm not sure I ever will, so I'm just going to call this the end of the LP. Big thanks to everybody that has stuck around this long - you're the real troopers.
For now, I'm going to catch up on some games, but I'm sure I'll be back with my next LP project soon. And "soon" will probably mean about "a week later". After all, I can check out any time I like, but I can never leave.
LET'S PLAY VAMPIRES DAWN 2 - THE END