Dracula 3 - The Path of the Dragon
 
Interview with Catherine Peyrot and Benoit Hozjan  
by Danyboy
June 19, 2008

 

The Story:

It is September 1920. The Vatican appoints Father Arno Moriani, the “Devil's Advocate,” to investigate a potential candidate for sainthood in Transylvania. But in the shadows of the disturbing ruins of what were once Vlad the Impaler's castle, his investigation takes an unexpected turn…

There are obviously no such things as vampires... at least according to the official line of the Catholic Church. But how can you be so sure, standing in the swirling mists of Transylvania? You must carry out your investigation amidst tales of bloody deeds and ancestral fears. Doubts start clouding your mind and doubt begets fear…

 

Introduction:

Catherine Peyrot (MICROIDS – Producer)

Catherine Peyrot joined Infogames in Paris, after graduating with a degree in History. She was responsible for media relations for the SIM CITY launch in France. In 1992, Catherine went on to work as a freelance PR manager and journalist for in the gaming industry. Catherine joined Softdisk France, and in 1994 she co-founded CD-ROM Productions, a multi-media development studio. From there, Catherine went on to "Paroles d'images" where she was the Production Manager of cultural software programs collection.

In 1999, Microids purchased the collection and Catherine joined their development team. In 2003, Catherine was named as a Producer at Microids. She is involved in the development of Dracula 3, Still Life 2 and Syberia DS.

Benoit Hozjan (KHEOPS STUDIO - Co-Founder, CEO and Executive Producer)

Benoit Hozjan received his Masters degree in Artificial Vision and Robotics in 1994. He worked as a software engineer in the Research and Development department of Cryo Interactive for seven years and was in charge of Technical Direction for DreamCatcher Europe. Benoit is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kheops Studio.

 

The Questions:

If it isn't giving away something in the game, can you explain where the title The Path of the Dragon comes from?

Benoît: We created this title to name the initiatory path the player will follow in order to meet Dracula. Dracula in Romanian means dragon or devil …

Not a lot has been said about the story. Can you elaborate a bit about it?

Rome 1920. While admiring the painting of the martyr St. Sebastian in Monsignor Briganti's office on that cold fall morning, Father Moriani tries to drive away the chilling vision of being buried alive that seized him during the night, as well as the morbid feeling of suffocation stealing over him. His superior's voice rouses him from his reverie. What new mission lies in store for him? No matter… Arno desperately needs to take his mind off last night's events and throw himself into a new case.

Father Arno Moriani is the Promoter of the Faith within the Sacred Congregation of Rites in charge of the Catholic Church's rigorous canonization process. Acting as a sort of prosecuting attorney, or "devil's advocate", he must examine each case and objectively look for any unfavorable elements that could compromise the candidate's sanctification. His new mission takes him to Romania, to the small town of Vladoviste, whose Catholic authorities recently wrote to the Vatican to praise the exemplary life of a certain Martha Calugarul and her posthumous miracles, which have had a great impact on the local inhabitants.

Father Moriani's investigation is soon wrapped up; Martha Calugarul apparently indulged in obscure rituals condemned by the Church, though with the best intentions of saving lives. Consequently, Father Moriani sends a negative report to his superior "(…) She used consecrated hosts to drive away supernatural creatures, or vampires." The Holy See is quick to respond: such superstitions must be countered and stamped out once and for all. Monsignor Briganti therefore orders Father Moriani to determine the historical and scientific origins behind the beliefs, so that he will be better prepared to fight them.

Arno wishes to find out more about the medieval tyrant, Vlad Tepes, whose castle ruins actually overlook the small town of Vladoviste... Janos Pekmester, a young history student encountered at the inn, suggests that Father Moriani get his hands on the unique work of Professor Herman Van Bergen in Budapest. As far as Van Bergen is concerned, Dracula, Bram Stoker's famous vampire, and Count Vlad Tepes are the same person, and also claims that the Irish novelist's book was anything but a work of fiction: his book is based on real-life events that Van Bergen actually witnessed! His notes also mention something about the "Path of the Dragon", an initiatory journey undertaken by lost souls towards the source of evil, Dracula, in their quest for immortality and power. Journalist Stefan Luca confirms that the path does indeed exist and tries to make Father Moriani understand that following the path is the only way to reach and destroy the source of Evil!

Arno starts having doubts. Certain elements do not have any rational explanation. He is increasingly unsettled by his investigation, which will gradually turn into a struggle between the forces of Good and Evil… where reality is deceiving and fiction is powerful.

Gamers will have to negotiate their way through the game, from logical and medical interpretations to ancestral superstitions, from macabre discoveries to the tempting call of female wiles, while confronting the extremist militia and secret societies looking to get their hands on power and immortality at all costs. Gamers will have to decipher and analyze the legend's different elements, and during their quest, update the evidence found that will guide them unfailingly towards reality. As they progress towards reality, gamers will need to take a critical look at what they already know, raise doubts about themselves and question their beliefs. Has Dracula been controlling events since the beginning? Has he used the situation to his advantage and manipulated gamers like puppets, mocking their stubborn determination, their courage and their conviction?

Why did the development team decide to go with new characters instead of Jonathan and his beloved counterpart, Mina?

Benoît: Our purpose was not to build the sequel to our Dracula 1 and 2 story. Instead, we intended to create a comprehensive change of perspective in the approach of the Dracula myth: the player is not plunged into the myth but he inquires about the myth. However we did not create a break but continuity; in a way, Dracula 3 is the story about a story. We studied the myth and we think of Jonathan and Mina like real people who lived in the past, and not fictional characters.

Can you give us more details about who Father Moriani is?

Benoît: The game takes place in 1920. A young priest with a voluntary and upright mindset, Father Arno was recently promoted as a devil's advocate. He previously served as a nurse priest during the Great War. He is in shock as a result of his section's loss following a shell blast and being buried under rubble.

A pragmatic and faithful character, he is used, since his shell-shock, to refer to the Bible to help him deal with his anguishes; he believes a link exists between his faith and the dramatic events of his life. During his quest, Arno wonders about his fate…

Who are the other characters we will encounter during the gameplay?

Arno Moriani, the priest. Arno is the hero of the story. He is the devil's advocate, responsible for deciding whether Martha Minhea should be given sainthood. The young priest is realizes quickly that his investigation is leading him into great danger. The Path of the Dragon is calling him... could Count Dracula be waiting for him at the other end?

Cardinal Felicio Briganti, the superior. Cardinal Briganti is the young priest's superior and confidant. From his position in Rome, he will try to keep a rein on Arno's excessively eager temperament and protect him against Evil and from himself...

Ionel Martinescu, the kid. Ionel, a child from the streets and an orphan, has been taken in by his uncle. Ionel is the playmate of Ozana Vulpesco's son, Ariel. He knows something about the disappearance of the cursed cup from the chapel in the hills above the village and his friend's sudden illness. Ionel himself does not seem that well either...

Iordan Mitiu, the sexton. Iordan is an employee of the church who is responsible for the care and upkeep of church property and sometimes for ringing bells and digging graves. A nice guy, though a bit dim-witted, Iordan is the village priest's 'odd-job' man; he can often be found in the cemetery digging holes.

Professor Irina Boczow, the librarian. Irina is the former assistant of the late Professor Arminius Van Berry. Her admiration of the professor never wavered during their time together. She strives to protect his memory and guards his work and manuscripts. She works at the University of Budapest. She is old-maidish, uncompromising and honest.

Janos Pekmester, the student. Janos loves history and is especially fascinated by 15th century Prince of Wallachia, Vlad Tepes aka Dracula. This young student has moved from Hungary to Vladoviste to be closer to the subject of his thesis. He searches the ruins of the prince's castle, all while keeping an eye on our hero's investigation into Dracula; a very close eye.

Luana, the gypsy. Is it by some twist of fate or some strange coincidence that Luana happens to have parked her caravan on the village outskirts? Whatever the case, she does not seem overly worried about the shadows cast by the ruins of Prince Dracula's castle. She likes playing for money with the villagers, who come full of hope, only to leave full of disappointment... In fact, many villagers have given her a reputation as a "dirty cheat".

Maria Florescu, the physician. An intelligent young woman, Maria recently arrived in Vladoviste to run the dispensary, which had been left unoccupied since the death of the former physician Martha Minhea, also known as the 'Saint.' Maria's gentle manner and beauty may have quickly won over the villagers, but riled less well-intentioned characters.

Ozana Vulpesco, the innkeeper. Ozana owns the village inn, where the priest is staying. Born and bred locally, Ozana is a spirited, talkative and inquisitive woman. Ozana's young son is very sick with an unknown illness. Following the advice of her friend and local physician, Martha Minhea, Ozana sent her son far away from home to the mountains of Transylvania to receive treatment, hoping a better climate will speed up his recovery. The separation from her son and Martha's recent death are a heavy burden for Ozana to bear.

Professor Heinrich Von Krüger, the scientist. The eminent professor teaches at the University of Munich in Bavaria. He keeps a close watch on all the latest scientific progress, and before the war, he worked with Dr. Martha Calugarul. Together, they published an important series of work on blood circulation.

Pragmatic and rationally-minded, he is quick to refute anything with mystical or supernatural undertones, especially the existence of vampires.

Stefan Luca, the journalist. Stefan Luca is a reporter for the Romanian newspaper Vale Telegraf. He is an expert in his country's traditions and folk wisdom. His reports often take him to Vladoviste, where he struck up a deep friendship with Martha Calugarul. He is distraught by Martha's death, which has increased his leanings towards mysticism.

Will the game give us some of the history behind Dracula?

Benoît: Yes, players should discover the main pieces of the history.

Will we have lots of locations to visit during the gameplay?

Benoît: Vladoviste, the village contains many different locations: the inn, the dispensary, the cemetery… and on the heights outside the village, the threatening ruins of the Castle of Twilight. Our hero will also take the train to Budapest and to Turkey.

What is your favorite location, and which was the most challenging location for the developers?

Catherine: the Castle of Twilight which you will discover at the end of the game in a very weird atmosphere.

Benoît: the internal yard of the castle when only lit by the full moon is a beautiful landscape. But the greatest challenge for our developers team was the dispensary because it hosts a number of puzzles and interactions at different moments of the gameplay.

Will there be links between the two previous games and The Path of the Dragon?

Benoît: Dracula 3 “absorbs” Bram Stoker's novel (and consequently Dracula 1 and 2) and brings new light to it. The Irish writer would have based his Dracula novel on real events! Dracula 3 is a mise-en-abyme (story containing the stories) of all of Stoker's book, Dracula 1 and 2, the vampires reality, and a myth history. We are highly faithful to Stoker's universe and often refer to it. By the way, the full Dracula novel is reproduced in the game and the player can find useful hints in it.

Can we classify The Path of the Dragon in the horror genre? If so, what was done to build the “scary factor” in the game?

Benoît: We are not dealing with pure horror: no blood, no gore event. We prefer to mostly use anguish and scenario tension.

In Resurrection and The Last Sanctuary we had a nice variety of challenging puzzles. What can you tell us about the ones we will have in The Path Of The Dragon ?

Benoît: Dracula 3 is as rich as our two previous Dracula games. Puzzles are often linked to the locations where the player finds them. A few examples: blood test and scientific experiments take place in the dispensary, the documentary quests in the Budapest library, labyrinth puzzles in the castle basement, etc. The player will need to adopt many different logical mindsets to decipher codes (Enigma machine), trace symbols, associate elements, etc.

Between Resurrection and The Last Sanctuary, we saw the graphics evolve. The screenshots posted around the internet indicate this third game will have some very good graphics. How did you make the scenes as realistic as possible?

Benoît: Since the game relies on a “realistic” story and numerous existing locations, we wanted to be as close to reality as possible and worked a lot on the treatment of textures, lights, objects, climax effects etc. We also spent a lot of time researching documentaries...

Will there be any timed sequences in the game?

Benoît: No.

What kind of music will we hear during the game?

Benoît: The music was composed to follow the gameplay and the player's quest in a growing tension. He will hear orchestral music, “inquiry music”, anguish music, and Arno's musical theme among others.

Have sound effects been incorporated into the game to keep the player on the edge of his or her seat?

Benoît: That was indeed our intention to enhance a number of sequences.

The first two Dracula games were released fairly close together, so the characters were familiar in both their appearance and their voices. Will we recognize any of the characters from the first two games, and are any of the same voice actors involved with Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon ?

Benoît: Dracula 3 is a brand new story, hence new characters and new voices.

Were any members of the Dracula Resurrection and Dracula: The Last Sanctuary development teams involved in The Path of the Dragon?

Benoît: Dracula 3 was developed by Kheops Studio: a new talents' team for a new license orientation. On the editorial level, a number of Microïds people were involved in the first two games.

The first two games of the series were available for Mac and Windows. Will there be a Mac version of this one for those who prefer that platform?

Benoît: We are thinking of adapting Dracula 3 on Mac, but nothing sure for the moment.

What do you think will make this game stand out from all the others available on the market right now?

Benoît: We are proud of the scenario quality, which balances myths, historical events and imagination. It allows the player to be in the Dracula universe while living a quest on this universe, which is quite unique. We hope players will enjoy this feature!

Will the end of the game bring the story to a final conclusion or will it leave us waiting in anticipation of a fourth game?

Benoît: The game will conclude father Arno's story, but when you deal with vampires, you need to be prepared for revivals…

Do you have any last comments before we end this interview?

Benoît: Are you so sure vampires do not exist?

 

Benoit and Catherine, thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions about Dracula 3: The Path Of The Dragon. We wish you the best of luck with your upcoming game.

A special thank you to Julia Perreira from Strategic/Ampersand who was the link between me and the developer.

 

Official website:

Kheops Studio

Microïds

 

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