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  Mechanic #140 - Vampire
Posted: 12/16/11

Stalk the halls of an apartment building, feeding off the blood of tenants.


I wanted to make something that had all the virtues of a stealth game, but without relying on the same tropes. In this game, you play the bad guy - a 300 year old vampire - who stalks the halls of an apartment building, picking off the tenants, one by one. Secrecy is important, since you do not want to be discovered. Having the world know of vampires would make it more difficult to feed. Not only that, but there's been this vampire hunter after you and it just wouldn't do for him to know where you are.

In the manner that you must be secretive about your kills, this is a stealth game. But it is also a simulation game. The tenants all have routines that they follow, and it is important to know and understand these routines to plan your attacks. If you murder Mrs. Smith, the wife of Mr. Smith, then you can expect Mr. Smith to call the police when she turns up missing. However, Mr. Smith is having an affair with the lady down the hall. If you expose him to Mrs. Smith, her disappearance won't raise any red flags. But you can't kill Mrs. Smith in her apartment because it can be seen by the nosy old woman across the courtyard. You could kill the old woman first, or you could lure Mrs. Smith somewhere else.

This is a complex system that you must dismantle, piece by piece, in such as way that none of the pieces that are removed are missed. You can affect the environment to provoke specific reactions, but you, the vampire, can never be seen or interact with the characters directly. If you are in a room with a character, it is because you are sucking them dry.

  The Tenants



Fig 140.1 - A simple apartment complex.


The basic structure of the game is a simulation that plays out over a three day week (the first two days being working days, and the third being a "weekend" - think of a week which is comprised only of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). Each day is broken into a day segment and a night segment, where the sim tenants will go through a predictable schedule. During the day, for example, a husband may go off to work leaving his wife and young child at home. At night, he returns. On Thursday and Saturday nights, they eat in, but on Friday night, they get a babysitter (Janice from 3B) to watch their kid while they go out on a date night.

Each tenant has a set schedule over these three days. When the week is over, a new one starts, following the same schedule. Some of these schedules include other tenants, so if that tenant should disappear or have their own schedule disrupted, the schedule could change. If the babysitter is unavailable, perhaps the family does not get to have their date night on Friday night anymore.

The goal of the game is to completely kill every tenant of the building without raising suspicion. This is done by observing patterns for dependencies that could expose you as well as for opportunities to feed.

  Planning the Perfect Murder

You play two characters. During the day, you play the vampire's human helper. At night, you play the vampire. Largely, the can do the same things, but there are differences in how these things can be done.

The helper can move around in plain sight. If spotted by a tenant, nothing will happen. He can enter rooms without being invited. Instead of killing tenants, he overpowers them and ties them up (to be fed on at night when the vampire is up). Being only human, there are certain tenants that he can not overpower. He can move and hide bodies, but does it slowly.

At night, the vampire is up and about. He is a monstrous Nosferatu-looking vampire. If a tenant should see him, they would run away and/or call for help. He has superhuman strength and can overpower any tenant, and move bodies quickly and with ease. And he can not enter living spaces without being invited - though the helper can invite him in by placing a Welcome Mat in front of the door during the day.

Neither the helper nor the vampire can overpower more than one person at a time. They must perform their acts of evil in isolation, without being discovered. Similarly, they can not allow the bodies to be discovered, so they must be moved somewhere safe, or hidden where they are unlikely to be discovered before the tenants have all be fed upon.

Finally, the vampire must feed at least once per three day week. Failure to do so once will resort in the vampire being feeble for the following week. Failure to do it twice in a row will resort in the vampire going into a coma, causing you to fail the level.

  Getting Caught

Getting caught is not the end of the world. How each tenant behaves will depend on the circumstances of them discovering you and their personality. For instance, if you place a Welcome Mat in front of their door, they will simply pick it up and throw it away if they discover it. If they start to get too scared, they may simply take their family and move out, leaving you with a lower score for the level.

But there are two situations which warrant a response. The first is if they discover the helper doing something illegal, or if they notice something suspicious (like a blood splatter on the floor, or a tenant missing). They will call the police. The police will arrive in pairs and go around to each apartment asking questions. Depending on the severity of the crime reported, they may simply leave it at that - disrupting schedules for a few days and then leaving. Depending on the crime, you may be able to convince them to leave early. For instance, if the crime is missing tenants, taking their suitcases and clothes from the room would make it appear that they went on a trip.

If the crime is a bad one, such as the helper being discovered carrying a body, the police presence will be much stronger. They will come in pairs (thus you can't easily get rid of them), and will be more invasive in their searches. Eventually, they will find the vampire's apartment during the day and expose him to sunlight, killing him. However, the helper can confess. This will remove the helper from the game. You can now only play the vampire at night, making it more difficult to win, but still possible.

The other alternative is if a tenant sees the Nosferatu. This will instill fear in them, causing them to barricade themselves in their rooms or even leave the complex altogether. Some of them will call in a vampire hunter (just so happens, there is one chasing you and he advertises on tv). The vampire hunter will stalk the apartment complex at night. If he finds the vampire, he will stun him with a cross, then stake him through the heart. The vampire can still operate at night, but must be careful to avoid the vampire hunter.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.