Project Blue: the wastelads of neo hong kong

This month and the previous have been slow going, NESdev-wise. But here’s an almost finished concept for the ”dystopian wasteland of neo hong kong” that Project Blue is set in.

ruinsofneohongkong

Level 2 concept. Subject to change. Click to view full size.

Far background tricks
Due to the screen-flicking mode of camera movement (as opposed to scrolling), you’re afforded a bit of leeway when it comes to positioning the far background as you see fit – as long as the next screen hide the discontinuation (which is the function of the lower right quarter). Another trick (not shown here, but i aim to return to showcase it) is how you can achieve a sense of elevation by reusing the same piece of far background set at different heights on screens following each other vertically. That’s what the far background in the upper right corner is for.

The creative process behind it
This scenery follows the creation formula i wrote in the article ”making worlds alien” somewhat. First off, the history was first imagined before i went on to draw the blocks. Note that the following is just part of the process and not necessarily the story the game will officially adopt as-is, but we’ve worked out the boiler plate nonetheless. Basically, the fictional city of neo-hong kong is loosely based on an extrapolated subset of features of real-world current mega-cities; among them of course also the original Hong Kong. In this fiction, the quick growth of economy and population combined with a difficult terrain to zone/exploit (lots of mountains  on a peninsula) leads to high rents, cramped living spaces, and informally converted offices turned into black market squats (cubicle homes), sometimes even in unfinished or disused projects. There’s just no room for unexploited real estate. Because of the illegal status and sub optimal living standards, OMNICORP, who in this cyberpunk fiction is an entity already extremely influential in official policies, maybe even acting as a parastate, were at some point in the future able to dezone this particular area for their highly  lucrative military/security research complex. I imagine most squatters were forced into terrible sweatshop contracts moving into OMNICORP owned coffin hotels elsewhere. There are still dwellers living in this institutionalized drone-warzone, however they’re essentially guinea pigs for post-genève experiments. Adopting the mentality pf rodents to survive, they quickly scurry underground or into crawlspaces whenever they hear the hum of a hoverbot. At the event of Blue’s escape from the lab, this zone is now bustling with automated security detail. Because of the hot weather, there’s a lot of makeshift electrical installations for fans.

I tried to make the tileset reflect on the disuse, military testing, and squats. You’ll find DIY electrical installations, makeshift plank bridges, and crawlspaces. The level is intended to have the thematic structure of a series of ruined office buildings, with varyingly wide gaps between them. This to present as many opportunities as possible to make use of it’s slightly aerial-themed new mechanisms: there’s fans, parashutes, rotor blade-carried sentries, and moving platforms(tm).

Things still missing:
Some mechanisms aren’t drawn yet. Instead of the lasers from the first level, we’re looking to have little electric zaps from faulty wires, and sharp rebar spikes instead of the slime pools. Both these give material reason for more liberal placement, opening up the possibility for some new puzzles.

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