I was combing through my drive for materials for the upcoming Kickstarter campaign – oh that’s right, it’s coming this month just in time for Portland Retro Gaming expo! – and found the original concept art for the first zone in Project Blue, which i thought was long gone in a disk failure.
At the time, i had just read Cixin Lius’ Three Body Problem and was under heavy inspiration from its description of a fictional high-end, heavily computerized military-governed science base in rural 70s China. Maybe attributable to Liu being a plant engineer for a living, his descriptions felt so vivid and accurate i could almost touch them, even through the curtain of translation practicalities. This concept, of which most ended up in the game, is of course heavily sci-fied and cartoonized, and therefore somewhat remote from the source of inspiration. What the narrative of the game would be (which is pretty simple, NES style) was still fairly up in the air. Little did i know at that point that we would situate the rest of the game in a not too remote location – a fictional, future version of Hong Kong called Neo Hong Kong.
Level design wise, Project Blue quickly took a sharp turn from a meandering doom-inspired metroidvania (you’d flick switches and find passkeys to open ways to new areas) to a more action-oriented pacing that worked better with the flick-screen handling of the ”camera” – with just a few alternate routes sprinkled here. Similarly, the original idea for the nesdev compo idea was to infiltrate the base and stop some computer maniac, but we eventually changed it to being a test subject escaping the clutches of a mega corporations’ shadier side of business.
Good news for backers around the world
Project Blue, the full version, will be manufactured and shipped from both the US and the EU. In addition to fewer backers being hit by customs fees, double VAT and other nasty things, it also means a handful of countries outside these regions will have a better shipping rate estimate than if shipped from the US solely!
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