Vampire Bites (Ludum Dare 33 Redux)

September 4, 2015

Last week I blogged about my first experience with Ludum Dare, an international challenge to develop a computer game in two to three days. I participated by doing artwork for two games based on the theme You Are the Monster. However, while working on those games an idea popped into my head for a game of my own. Earlier this week I took three days to see just how much I could develop of my idea: Vampire Bites.

[Converting a damsel in distress.  Or dis-nightgown.]
Converting a damsel in distress. Or dis-nightgown.

Vampire Bites is a simple real time stealth strategy game. In it you play the character of Dracula across three levels of neck biting, blood sucking, vampire action. My basic idea for the game was that you would convert the townsfolk you came across into more vampires. As you did so, the rest of the townsfolk would become more suspicious (“goodness, there appears to be a vampire in our midst”). The more suspicious a person became the harder it would be to get close to them to convert them to a vampire.

The game is presented as something of a side-scroller (although you can scroll up and down as well). You walk Dracula around (sorry, no turning into a bat) going up and down stairways to access different areas and either convert or evade townsfolk.

I stuck to the timeframe of developing the game strictly in three days. This was actually incredibly freeing as it really made me focus on what was truly important to the game. I had a lot of ideas that would be “cool” to fit into the game but that were obviously beyond what I could do in the time allowed. That time factor made it really easy to keep the scope of the game tight and under control.

Programming the game in such a short time period also meant that I allowed myself to take shortcuts in the code. For example, the townsfolk in the game just wander around more or less at random to any reachable area in the game. However, I very much wanted to confine some of the townsfolk to certain areas and keep some of them grouped together to make it more challenging for the player to convert them to vampires.

For various reasons, I envisioned having a system where each townsperson could be assigned a series of waypoints that they could patrol between in the game. Want to keep someone in a small area? Just set up a couple waypoints there that the person can’t go beyond.

However, creating a waypoint system was going to be more than I could get done in time. Instead, I simply added into the different level maps invisible walls that allowed the player character to pass but that stopped the townsfolk from passing. It’s not as good as the patrol system and leads to some weird situations where a townsperson and a vampire can be standing right next to each other and do nothing, BUT it was easy to do and kept the townsfolk in the areas I wanted to keep them in.

[You have to start on a downslope to keep going down.]
You have to start on a downslope to keep going down.

After spending 5+ months (and counting) on Sleuthhounds: The Cursed Cannon, it was a lot of fun to just jump in and hack something together as quickly as possible. Understandably, with software created in such a hurried fashion there are a few bugs here and there. For example:

  • Some parts of the levels allow you to either go up one flight of stairs or down another. There’s a glitch in the game where you can only go down the down stairs if you start on a higher section of stairs already leading down.
  • Townsfolk randomly stand still or pick a direction to walk in for a few seconds before making another decision. Since these decisions are purely random they can sometimes lead to situations where townsfolk will seemingly get stuck in one spot for an extended period of time. They will move from those spots. Eventually.

It was a fun game to put together and, although it’s a little rough around the edges, I think it’s also fun to play (keep in mind, I’m biased). Once the Sleuthhounds game is done, I’m quite interested in expanding and polishing Vampire Bites into a full game with more townsfolk, more powers, different backgrounds, sound, and music.

Until then, if you’re so inclined to try this rough game, warts and all, you can download it right here.

[Vampire Bites]Vampire Bites

Dracula needs a drink before bed. Help him suck dry the nearby towns before heading home to his coffin for a good day’s sleep.


  • Side-scrolling, real time stealth strategy challenges.
  • Play as the ultimate vampire, Count Dracula himself.
  • Confront and convert townsfolk and the Transylvanian Travelling Nightgown Saleswomen.
  • Gain control of the elements as you conjure up fog to conceal your actions.

Minimum Requirements

[Microsoft Windows]
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP or later
  • CPU: Pentium 3 1.2 GHz, Athlon equivalent, or better
  • RAM: 256 MB
  • Graphics: Hardware Accelerated with full OpenGL 1.2 support (ATI Rage 128, ATI Radeon, nVidia GeForce 2, or better)
  • Desktop Resolution: 1280x720 or higher (game runs in a window)
  • Hard Drive: 6 MB free disk space for install
  • Input Device: Keyboard

Download Vampire Bites Installer for Windows (Download Size: 1.4 MB)