In April 2022, the GMBLRS spotlight highlighted new games developer Blue Guru Games with a Spotlight Series interview of the fledgling studio as one to keep an eye on. Commercial Manager, Kristian Hassall, told of plans to wow players with entertaining games with eye-catching designs, compelling game mechanics, and the occasional story, folklore, or legend.
We caught up with CEO & Co-Founder Andy Braithwaite for an update on the road to slot developer stardom and Blue Guru Games first steps into the competitive online gaming world.
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GMBLRS: Welcome, Andy, and thanks for taking the time to chat during what must be a busy schedule. You’ve been building Blue Guru Games from scratch, pushing the brand and launching your debut range of online slots. Has the dust settled yet, and how is the team settling into its stride?
Andy: I’m not sure the dust will ever settle, but it’s fun, it’s a proper challenge too, but it’s all good fun. We’re pleased with what we’ve achieved, especially in such a short time, but with each release, we’re learning, and we’re getting closer all the time to where we want to be in terms of game quality and style.
GMBLRS: As they say in the States, ‘this is not your first rodeo’ please tell our readers about you and your background in online casinos and game development.
Andy: No, I’ve been around gaming for quite a while, and I’ve been thrown off a lot of bulls. I spent the majority of my time running casinos and selecting studios and games to promote. I really enjoy the challenge of running a casino business, but it offers limited creative opportunities, and that was becoming increasingly important to me. So I switched sides.
GMBLRS: Recent release, Treasure of Tengshe, has found popularity with a growing dragon wild that snakes across the reels during free spins. Where does Treasure of Tengshe fit in terms of success in the range?
Andy: Yes, it’s a really exciting feature, especially as you see your dragon growing quickly and there are free spins left. It obviously draws inspiration from some of our favourite games like Snake Arena and Fat Rabbit. I think we got the gameplay down on this one, but graphically, it could have been stronger. We’re getting there, game by game.
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Andy: Clash of Seraphim was one of our earliest ideas and game builds. The Seraphim are the highest-ranking angels who guard the throne of God in Abrahamic religions. According to those texts, they spend eternity circling the throne of God singing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’, they sometimes get a break to fight evil forces though, which provides the theme of the game. We took some artistic licence with the appearance, but we are true to the description of the Seraph from the texts with the six-winged Scatter symbol. The game is a grid slot with some interesting and engaging additions, such as the aura field and the scatter collection mechanic.
Spring-Heeled Jack is the game that we think best defines Blue Guru so far. It’s a fantastic folktale from Victorian London and Liverpool which made a lot of headlines at the time. Residents were often terrified, although many residents quickly formed vigilante gangs to apprehend the monster. It doesn’t matter how nimble or demonic you are, you really want to think twice about messing with Cockneys and Scousers. Spring-Heeled Jack is the first time we’ve aligned theme, mechanic and graphics to a point we’re happy with, and it sets the standard for future releases.
Napoleon Vs Rabbits takes a different artistic approach, but what a great story! Napoleon and his generals are sent fleeing in shock from a colony of tame rabbits, something the great armies of Europe had failed to do. We’ve taken a more playful approach with the graphics than we usually do of course. We can’t wait to see how players take to that one.
GMBLRS: The Blue Guru name and, if you like, brand personality will resonate with fans of folklore, history and mythology, and you invite players to contribute ideas through your website. Just how focused is Blue Guru Games on the player experience, and how do you plan to keep them engaged? I guess you could ask, ‘what do you think makes a good game?’
Andy: The gameplay is always going to be the most important thing, but the set and setting are important to attract players and give them that increased sense of engagement and immersion.
Asking what makes a good game is like asking what makes a good book – it’s very subjective and the aim is to build something that broadly resonates with most players but really hits home with some. We haven’t settled on a formula for that, I doubt we ever will. I appreciate that there are studios that become known for one set of mechanics, and it works well for them, but variety really is the spice of life. We’ll continue to diversify mechanically, and the guiding principle, other than the narrative angle, is to release games that we’d want to play.
GMBLRS: What legendary tales and engaging game mechanics can players expect from Blue Guru in 2023?
Andy: Although we won’t be sticking to a particular style or set of mechanics, we do have a couple of innovative mechanics in production which will hit the casinos in 2023. We’re not just looking at subtle iterations of existing mechanics but a new way to interact with the reels, we’re obviously excited about those.
In terms of stories, we have some really interesting and lesser-known mythology lined up, some tales inspired by colonialism and colonisation, and a really fun-looking game which masks a serious ecological message. 2023 will see a broad range of topics and game types, but all the games will be recognisably Blue Guru, something that, in hindsight, we neglected a little in the early games.
GMBLRS: We asked Kristian this same question – Sum up Blue Guru Games in three words? (Kristian bent the rules and went for ‘Games for Grown-Ups’).
Andy: Brevity has never been one of my strengths but in the interests of sticking to the rules and putting right the wrong that Kris did can I take ‘Grown up games’?
GMBLRS: He also spoke of your love for The Beatles, and the logo is somewhat similar to the artwork on the Sgt Pepper’s album. We sometimes finish by asking guests for their ideal slot theme, given no boundaries, but I am guessing yours would be something to do with the Fab Four from Liverpool?
Andy: Great idea! I think a game featuring a psychedelic Evertonian buddha riding a Lambretta has real legs, our games team are exhibiting an uncharacteristic lack of vision over this one though.
I’d love to make a game that explores the nature of consciousness and reality, although it’d be a ridiculously difficult thing to convey – and would likely have an even smaller audience than Scouse-Scooter-Buddha.
GMBLRS: It’s been great to catch up with Blue Guru Games and a pleasure to see the studio making a big name for itself with prime positions at numerous online casinos. Thank you for your time, and GMBLRS look forward to giving Scouse-Scooter-Buddha a spin, should it ever make the grade.
You can catch up with the Blue Guru Games catalogue here, peruse detailed game reviews, and find where to play them at the best online casinos. Blue Guru Games make quality online slots with a focus on fun themes, engaging mechanics steeped in occasional folklore, and diversity in a range of online slots that offers something for all types of player.