The Origins of Blue
Blue was a character I actually conceived of 2 or 3 years before I even started work on Assassin Blue. He wasn't called Blue, either. At the time I'd been working on a classic-style RPG like Earthbound or Dragon Quest, and I was coming up with character designs for the party. These images have been previously unreleased...
See the third character? That's Blue! And for the record, yes, the fourth party member is Kylie, the one and same heroine of Wolf.
His original design was virtually identical to the one he has today, down to his character. He was a boastful show-off with a strong moral compass, trapped in a promiscuous line of work (in this case, thievery). In addition to having the flashiest sword attacks, he provided healing spells for the party, making him one badass cleric.
Around the time that game was being developed, a big game idea was forming; why not make a Super Smash Brothers game using game maker characters? I was among the first to submit a design...
This was his first time being sprited for a platformer. I think the idea stuck.
Even though he hadn't actually made an appearance in-game, I tried to get him into the Smash Bros game. But as history tells us, both the Smash Bros game and the RPG were eventually discontinued and the mysterious Thief was never known.
...Or at least, until another game came along, called Wolf.
Wolf, my Zelda-esque adventure title.
The story of Wolf involves Kylie, a nice young woman, who inadvertently becomes a werewolf and kills just about everyone in her village. Now the game ends there, but originally I had some ideas for how to continue it. I had plans in particular for my old friend the Thief...
Blue as he was going to appear in Wolf.
His name was Hiro now, a twist on "Hero." He was to act as a foil to Kylie. Officially, he was a monster hunter who caught wind of Kylie's curse and pursued her. He was radically different from the Blue we know, however; he was interested only in his own glory and fame, and thought nothing of justice or the right thing, solidifying the irony in his name "Hiro."
I had his first appearance worked out, too. Kylie was to run into a lady being attacked by monsters, but just before rushing to her rescue--SHLINK! Blue appeared from nowhere, killing the monster and trying to impress the two ladies with his arrogant gloating.
The lady he saves, infatuated with her savior. Kylie was wise to him from the start, though.
But I decided to keep Wolf short and simple, so I cut out Hiro and released the game. Months later I began working on Assassin Blue, focusing the game on the hero I'd spent so many years working with.
Getting the Game Going
Getting the game off the ground proved to be nearly impossible. I spent two short weeks programming the basic engine in April or May 2008, until I had a demo that looked like this...
With the balance of combat and platforming, I knew I was on to something, but I lacked the spriting skills to make decent tiles for the game. So I put out at least 5 team requests across various forums, looking for someone to join up with. I got an early response from a guy called Kindred, who worked with me to make some tiles for the game's level 1.
The original level 1
The game was looking to be awesome, until Kindred suddenly disappeared off the face of the Earth. After he was gone for a month I put up all my team requests again, spending weeks looking for a response, slowly losing hope... To keep myself interested, I programmed the first boss, Riley, but even after he was finished I never got a response. Frustrated, I discontinued the project.
Then in July I found the old editable, full of potential but missing decent backgrounds. That was when the idea hit me; if I can't sprite the backgrounds, why not hand draw them? And so was born the Assassin Blue we know today:
The game's very first official release looked like this. Compare to today's:
After about a week of backgrounding, level 1 was finished and was met with great success. With another week of work I turned my very first original demo into level 2, squoze the already-made Riley at the end, and the game's first 3 levels were done. The rest is history.
One Last Fun Fact!
This was Red's original character design. Seriously.
That's it for now. Next time I think I'll be doing something a bit more analytic, studying the game's level design or story...