Andrew - thank you so much for taking your time for an interview on Slotsjudge. First of all, I wanted to ask you to tell us a bit more about Blue Guru Games. You describe the studio as "driven by stories from history, mythology, and esoteric traditions". Could you please describe it in some more detail?
Thanks a lot for having me!
From the very foundation of the company, storytelling was key. I’ve worked in gaming for a long time on the opposite side of the desk as a casino manager and operator and thoroughly enjoyed it. I did that for about 15 years though and I started to crave a bit more creative expression. Having been pretty vocal about slots and studios for so long it was time to put my head above the parapet and give it a go.
I think Blue Guru was born out of my desire to tell stories and bring them to life as games. We managed to get a great bunch of like-minded people together and were fortunate to secure really solid financial and business backing.
We’re slowly moving toward the vision of every game having a clear Blue Guru feel. In this first phase, we wanted to get games out there and to build brand awareness.
Initially not every game can be developed enough to carry a full narrative or convey a tale, but we’re getting there, and at some point, the vast majority of our games will be clearly aligned to that ethos.
At the beginning of August, Blue Guru Games released a new slot called Treasures of Tengshe. Can you please tell us who Tengshe is and why he was chosen as the main character for the slot?
Tengshe is a Chinese dragon. It’s a generic term and doesn’t really relate to a specific beast, and in this case, was a mechanic-driven idea rather than narrative-led.
How did you come up with the concept of the Growing Wild Dragon mechanic? Does any other Blue Guru game contain a similar feature?
Not so far but if players take to it we’ll reuse it in another form. It takes cues from several influences and evolves them a little; there are some elements of Fat Rabbit and Snake Arena in there - of course, both popular games with the team.
What else can players expect while playing in Treasures of Tengshe?
It’s one of those games that can really hit if you get the firecrackers landing and the dragon takes up a good position - it's extremely exciting when that happens. The trade-off for that is that you’re going to sometimes see the opposite of course. If you have the bankroll, I’d recommend trying a few low-stake bonus buys so you get to see what the game’s really about. If you like it, then drop back into normal spins mode as you know what you’re chasing. That’s pretty much how I play every slot mind you; it’s not specific to this.
Can we expect more Asian-themed slots from Blue Guru Games?
Yes, most definitely. Our next is due for release in January and tells a more specific tale related to a particular beast that later become embedded in Chinese culture; we’re really looking forward to that one. We’re not only looking at Chinese myths of course, as the company name and logo clearly indicate we have a lot of influences from (and stories related to) India and other parts of Asia as well as some fascinating tales from the western culture such as Spring-Heeled Jack which is released via Relax in October. That’s a fantastic folktale that I remember reading about in childhood and it scared me to bits for ages.
Next year you’ll see a lot more really fun and fascinating stories reimagined as slots.
And the last question is a philosophical one (as all questions to Gurus are): what is more important, the theme or the mechanics?
A Guru would tell you always to take the Middle Way of course.
I’d say whichever gives you the best game. I’ll always fall on the side of the narrative, but often, as was the case with Treasure of Tengshe, the mechanic comes first and a solid narrative is woven around it. We have shelved some really interesting mechanics because we couldn’t weave a good story around them; we’ll resurrect those when inspiration hits.
There are also some stories that seem promising but when you dive a little deeper, they just don’t lend themselves to a game. I generally sulk for a bit about those but then grudgingly accept the Games team’s rejection.