?*:.?.o So this is amazing! ?.:?*:?’
When I submitted BlueSuburbia to IndieCade I had little expectations for anything happening. Submitting to IndieCade is just a thing you do!
I was hoping it would be eligible for one of the exhibits or just get into Night Games. IndieCade announced that Night Games would be an in person event, making that the first since the pandemic hit. It seemed like an exciting time to submit to them.
I was floored when I received an email from them saying that it was nominated!
Personally I really needed this.
BlueSuburbia is a project that has been in my life ever since I started as an artist working with interactivity. I released the first version in 1999 and was building it all the way into 2005. It has had a cult following loyally visiting the site, and emailing me about it, until the end of the Flash Player… after that people were using emulators.
The project has haunted me since. It didn’t seem right to abandon something that meant so much to so many people.
I made the decision to get into Unreal and professional 3D game development because I wanted to finally express myself in that sense. All my work, up until now, has been strictly 2D… with BlueSuburbia being the first thing I made.
BlueSuburbia seemed like the perfect thing to translate into a 3D context because that rich history of art that I could draw on as reference.
It’s incredible to me that something that has existed for so long is finding new life, as well as enjoyed so much support already. The comments about the demo have been touching.
The switch to 3D was initially terrifying to me because I wasn’t sure if I could even make something that could hold up. Could I even do it? Am I shooting myself in the foot? What if I suck?
I got a comment a while ago from a friend who’s opinion I really look up to that said that it was amazing… Another hardcore gamer friend liked it too and I wouldn’t have expected that.
The validation confirms to me that I’m on the right path.
I’ve done a lot of work recently on fleshing out the new open world part… BlueSuburbia will be comprised of a few different open worlds, this one is the first.
It has come a long way since the release of the demo. The work on it is stunning and I couldn’t be more proud.
Aside from Quake 2 modding way back in the day I never did anything in 3D before. Now 3D feels like a second home.
In a way, getting into Unreal has been a positive for my mental health. I reached a low point with depression and it was hard to pick myself back up to get past all the stuff that had happened. Unreal was just challenging enough (and fun as hell) to keep me mentally engaged so I don’t think about all the traumatic things.
The roadmap for BlueSuburbia will be to get the first iteration of the open world ready (get all the ambience, sounds, and early writing in there), and release that as early access on Steam.
That way there will be BOTH a demo, and people can experience it as early access while it is being built.
I prefer that because publicly developing something is a lot more motivating.
When you work as a solo-developer you have to protect your motivation and keep yourself as engaged as possible. It’s a marathon not a sprint!
If I maintain my course I hope that this next iteration will be out by the end of the year.
BlueSuburbia is going to be rich with writing. It has always been about interactive literature. I’m achieving a lot of that by using Unreal along with smaller tools like Bitsy, Pocket Platformer, Decker… because Unreal has the ability to package browser work too. You can use that in combination with their UI tools and it gets really fun!
There’s a strong mix of switching between a 3D and 2D context to experience the writing in BlueSuburbia.
I’m amazed by how impactful it is because constantly offering the player different contexts (the switch to 2D presents a different “point of view”) makes the writing haunting. It encourages you to engage with the written work in a more personal way. You have to think about the player’s “inside voice” when they read something… this approach helps encourage their imagination to fit into the context of the world.
Aside from that, smaller game engines like Bitsy are extremely easy to hack. If I need a state system, or to hack in a way to get it to work with Unreal, all the source is easily accessible in a single html file. It’s a pleasant experience.
It’s been beautiful. I can’t wait to show more!
Here are some screenshots from the open world…
Did I mention I’m getting pretty good at creating procedural textures in Blender and getting that looking beautiful in Unreal?
Here’s some flesh I made for organs and injuries (this is a horror game after all)…
…Screenshots from the IndieCade site so I can remember this moment :D