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The team decided to keep the spherical nature of the Blob and the basic painting mechanics, building upon them an accessible platformer that anyone could pick up and play. However, the initial prototype took a while to win the hearts and minds of the folks back at THQ corporate.
"We were demonstrating the painting, the environment art-style, the street-art inspired paint effects and the interactive music system," explains Hagger. "We had a colored ball you could bounce around, and at that point it was like half wielding a paintbrush, half swatting a squash ball."
"There was a moment of silence, because the people present weren't quite sure what they were seeing. I knew at this point that we had to work a lot harder to communicate what was fresh and exciting about the game we wanted to make. Thankfully, Steve [Dauterman] continued to champion our vision."
Coming from a smaller Australian studio, with a game that introduced a mish-mash of not-so-typical mechanics and ideas, Blue Tongue was going out on a limb. Haggar says the team had to answer two rather important questions: "How do we bring a character-driven platform-puzzle game to a marketplace which is very risk adverse at the moment, and how do we convince our publisher to get behind us?" As an internal studio, the team was not only competing for their share of the budget, but for the time and attention of a talented pool of developers that could be working on other licensed property. THQ encourages innovation, Hagger says, but "they also have games to be released and schedules to be filled."
The next challenge for the team was wrapping up all their kooky concepts into a marketable package. Drawing heavily from the designer vinyl scene, the team created the tyrannical, monochromatic Inkys and the game's lead character, "de Blob." Very clean and rounded, de Blob lacked the pedigree and mindshare of such iconic characters as Mario and Sonic, who've "had a lot of time to become ingrained in people's minds as part of the gaming cultural landscape," according to Hagger. Though not immediately understood by the publishing team, Blue Tongue needed to convince corporate of de Blob's lasting appeal.
Part of the appeal of designer vinyl is the ability for artists to customize the look of figures and bring new meaning to the familiar shapes of the toys. In a sense, this is one of the flavors that makes de Blob unique as a videogame character - his ability to change the color and sound of the landscape around him. This makes him part videogame character, part interactive toy.
"Blob is just enough of a character that he exists but is not so domineering that it pulls the player's imagination out of the equation," Hagger says.
"He's an unconventional hero. We wanted him to employ the values that we hope other people share. He's very relaxed, he's not particularly in your face, he's a little bit mischievous, he's fun, he's got a sense of humor but ultimately he's really you. He allows you to express yourself in an abstract and barren world."