BLUD Interview - a character is threatened by a huge vampire

#Blud Developers Discuss the Cartoon Vampire RPG’s Buffy Inspirations, 90s Cartoons, & Social Media

What inspired #BLUD?

#Blud is an action RPG with vampiric overtones and is the debut game from Exit 73 studios. In our review, we talked about how the game touches on nostalgia, but also brings back some of those classic 90s TV Series vibes as well. It also features a unique usage of social media, as its X/Twitter-like program can be used both to post selfies but also to keep track of sidequests.

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Recently, we chatted with the heads of Exit 73 studios to discuss the long journey of #BLUD from short video to full release.

Image Source: Humble Games

Twinfinite’s Damiano Gerli has been speaking to Exit 73 Studios’ Art and Sound Designer Bob Fox and Writer and Game Producer Gregory Lane.

Twinfinite’s Damiano Gerli: Blud definitely brings some heavy 90s cartoon vibes, what were your inspirations working on Becky and the rest of the cast?

Exit 73 Studios’ Greg Lane: A lot of Becky’s friends fill roles similar to party members of a tabletop RPG. Terrell is the healer, Morgan is the witch, etc… but there’s also a lot of influence from other ‘ensemble’ casts. (Ali would not be such a recurring character if Cordelia didn’t hang out with Buffy first.)

Damiano Gerli: As far as vampire inspiration goes, which were your biggest ones? I definitely feel some Buffy in there, since the overall narrative framework definitely works closely to that of a TV series.

Greg: Buffy for sure. Couldn’t even get through the first answer without going there. Lol. While
there is a real Carpentersville in the US, our town name is derived to honor the master of horror,
John Carpenter. But yeah – Blade, Lost Boys, all of it seems to be fair game.

Image Source: Humble Games

Damiano Gerli: How does Twilight and the “shiny vampires” mania, factor in as far as #Blud inspirations go?

Greg: There’s a point in the story where Becky’s mentor tells her she needs to “smite the vampire
lord Dragur”, to which she responds “he’s going to be so smitten”. Corey then chimes in with an “I
hope they’re not that kind of vampires.” We wanted to drive home the idea of killing vampires
instead of falling in love with them.

Damiano Gerli: This is your first game as Exit 73 studios, have you worked on anything previously gaming-

Bob: Our first involvement in the game industry was when we were asked by Capybara Games to
animate all the cutscenes for Cartoon Networks O.K.K.O Let’s Play Heroes! It was one of our
favorite experiences as an animation studio and they were absolutely amazing to work with. It
definitely got us a bit more interested in learning more about the gaming industry.

Image Source: Humble Games

Damiano Gerli: You mentioned in a post on X that you have been working on the game for several years. How was the journey from the first drawings to the final product?

Bob: #Blud originally started as a pitch for an animated series years ago. We animated a short test and created a pitch bible, but never really garnered any traction, so we shelved the idea. Later on, we wanted to start testing out making a game and went through a bunch of our old ideas, we eventually settled on Blud. After getting a demo together, we took it to several conventions and kept tinkering with it. We finally were able to land a publisher and had the time to finish our game.

Damiano Gerli: Speaking of gameplay, #Blud is a real time action rpg/adventure, what were/are your favorite games in the genre and how did they come into play when designing the gameplay?

Greg: Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was definitely the biggest pillar. The freedom and
ability to explore a town at your own pace lined up with our project goal of letting players feel like
they’re in a cartoon. For several of our boss battles and mini-games, we reached outside genre
conventions, looking to games like Battletoads, Punch Out!, and even Number Munchers.
Anything that could hit the mechanics of nostalgia, really.

Damiano Gerli: #Blud also heavily features social media among its gameplay mechanics. What’s your relationship with social media and how did it influence its role in the game?

Greg: Since the name was set from the original series pitch, we wanted to use that as a
foundation of worldbuilding. The first draft of the mission log was going to be using the player’s
notes app, but we quickly transitioned to social media, since we could have more interactions with
NPCs (for sidequests and things like that). We leveraged the hashtags in our social media system
as hints, in case players don’t want to read and parse through the text, or just get caught up at a
glance. Personally, I’m a recovering community manager, so I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time on
social media. The themes of our relationship with social media play strongly in our game. It’s
really a parallel to the soul-sucking nature of vampires.

Image Source: Humble Games

Damiano Gerli: the team that worked on #blud is definitely small, with only five people (if I remember correctly). How did you manage the work over several years of game development?

Greg: Yeah, our team is two artists (Chris & Bob) in Long Island, two programmers (Andrew &
Cody) in NJ & FL, and myself in Maryland. Pre-pandemic, we went to a lot of festivals and events
treating them as “mini-milestones” to get work done. During the pandemic, we had the opportunity to partner with Humble Games to pivot to full-time development. (There’s no telling how long we would be at it if we didn’t switch things up!) The 5 of us are all in the same time zone, so we can spend most of the day in a video chat, coming up with ideas or tackling areas of development. It’s been a real delight to get the game into the hands of players after all this time!

#BLUD released on June 18, 2024, published by Humble Games. It is currently available on Steam.

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Image of Damiano Gerli
Damiano Gerli
Damiano Gerli is a gaming historian and freelance journalist, born with a faithful Commodore 64 by his side. He has been writing about games for 20+ years, with articles on gaming history published on Kotaku, PC Gamer, PcGamesN and Retro Gamer magazine. Say hi to him on Twitter at @damgentemp, or on his blog (now dedicated to the history of video game design).