Blooming Business: Casino devs talk inspirations, VIPs & narrative in business sims

Check out our chat with Homo Ludens in which the devs discuss Blooming Business: Casino's sim and sandbox gameplay, as well as how Animal Crossing inspired various elements.

Homo Ludens

Blooming Business: Casino continues to be one of our most anticipated indie games of 2023, and that enthusiasm only grew with the launch of the game’s latest demo on Steam. This cutesy animal-run casino game is shaping up nicely ahead of its May 2023 release window, but there’s still plenty to learn before it launches. We caught up to Homo Ludens to ask some burning questions about the background behind how many of the game’s ideas came together so far. Check out the full interview below!

Shacknews: Why animal people? Why the casino business? Where did the team begin with this funny combination for a business management sim?

Homo Ludens: At first we didn’t have animals, we had cartoony humans, but it made them quite hard to differentiate from above and it made the game a bit darker than we intended. The first time we tried putting animal heads, we were sold; it made characters stand out from one another as well as make us look like nothing else on our block! We also quickly realized that having animals instead of humans made things a lot less personal and allowed us to have a darker comedy feel rather than a gritty tone, and we liked the reference to old tales and fables. In France every child grows up hearing about the Fox and the Raven, the Frog and the Cow and many other fables and most of humanity has been doing this whenever it wanted to get the message across. There must be something about anthropomorphism that allows us to take a step back from pure empathy. Our hope is that once you’ve swindled a raccoon for long enough in BB:C, you’ll think to yourself ‘ah, tonight I am that racoon’ if you ever find yourself in a Casino.

Shacknews: We’ve seen business sims streamline the UI while also offering a lot of depth, down to the minutiae where every patron and staffer has unique characteristics. Have there been any business sims or other games in recent that inspired design or mechanics in Blooming Business: Casino?

Homo Ludens: We certainly hope that our streamlined UI will make getting into the game much easier for those who might not be familiar with the genre. While we certainly have more depth than our looks might suggest at first, [Blooming Business: Casino is] not a pure simulation. We are trying to give you a management challenge set in a casino theme with a story to put some life into the game, not teach you exactly how casinos work under the hood. If you play BB:C you will be familiar with the House Edge and how casinos make money, but the math behind making the Roulette or Blackjack more profitable for you is streamlined. The goal is for you to focus on handling business and optimizing client satisfaction more than having a perfect logistical chain on your bar stock.

Furthermore, we tried to give the game an open ceiling difficulty rather than a hard floor difficulty. What we mean by that is that the game is easy as long as you want it to be but if you challenge yourself, you will have to think hard on how to achieve mission goals. But only if you want to. Mount Everest is here if you want to climb it, but we don’t expect everyone to even try. In recent games, I think Two Point Hospital is the biggest inspiration for its ease of use and clarity of feedback, and as for our characters, we decided to implement VIP when we discovered that we had multiple team members completely enamored with the villagers in their Animal Crossing games and thought VIPs would put more flavorful narrative elements rather than only having “generated” clients.

Blooming Business: Casino VIP Ant'ny Barr of the mob
Source: Homo Ludens

Shacknews: The VIPs are such a fun and unique twist on the usual business affair. I really liked how you might have to just uproot a full room or spruce up parts of the whole establishment to appease these characters. How did this twist come about?

Homo Ludens: Thank you! It means a lot hearing this… A metaphor we use a lot internally is that in every management you are building a House of Cards and what we want to do is regularly throw balls at that House of Cards and see what happens. VIP and narrative events are our balls, and it made a lot of sense thematically since VIPs can go on huge spending sprees under the right conditions and as a Casino owner, you just need to play with whatever you’re dealt. You’d be dumb not to try and squeeze those rich VIPs for all they’re worth. Furthermore, in terms of gameplay, we needed those big characters to make an impact, but since we didn’t want to force people into playing one way or another, we made VIPs into big carrots rather than big sticks.

As I mentioned earlier, some team members were talking about their Animal Crossing villages and debating which villagers were best, and even with the very light characterization of those characters, there were clear dividing lines! VIPs solved two problems: they anchor narration and allow players to make choices. If you represent Blooming Business: Casino’s levels as a series of Ven Diagrams, you will find good Casino compositions, but I don’t believe there will be perfect ones because Client Types and VIPs have different likes and dislikes, and you need to navigate those all the time.

Shacknews: It feels like Blooming Business: Casino also has a more in-depth narrative than most business management sims you see these days. Was that difficult to work into the gameplay or did it come together nicely as you developed the mechanical and functional parts?

Homo Ludens: Some game genres aren’t known for their stories, yet have some of the most remembered narration in gaming: think Warcraft 3 or Age of Empire 2’s campaigns, and we believe strategy games realized this a few years ago, not in small part because of all the stories that came out of games like Dwarf Fortress or Crusader Kings 2. Mechanics tell stories, and if you sprinkle just a bit more narration on top of it, you can get very strong narration elements. Just look at Frost Punk or This War of Mine! The problem we have with all those games is that they all take place in violent, gritty universes and are mostly stories of strife, conflict, and violence.

We wanted to have a more inclusive take on this, and Casinos are a good place for it: If you take the genre where Casinos are the most represented, heist movies, those are all about avoiding violence, and the stories are always full of colorful characters, which was of course a big inspiration. Lastly, tycoons all have down times - moments when you’ve spent a lot of money and are waiting on the investment to pay off - and so we thought we could put some flavor and story into those while keeping the game easy to get into for most people (and especially tycoon fans).

Blooming Business: Casino gameplay
Source: Homo Ludens

Shacknews: I also really like how in any level, once you complete the story objective, you can just keep fiddling with that establishment like a sandbox mode. Can you speak more to that feature and how it came about?

Homo Ludens: Building anything is very personal and there is nothing worse than being stopped in your tracks when you’re making something, and since we want to let you play just however you want, it was logical for us to let you carry on. Levels are not very hard to finish, but if you truly want to build the most profitable casino you can, that’s a harder objective and one we don’t want to force on you, but we’ve built all the systems for this so we would be dumb not to let you! I remember when I was young and playing linear games, some areas or levels were so interesting I was always sad to leave them behind and wished for more games where I was free to play with the tools for as long as I wanted without necessarily having to hit the marks of the scripted story. The old ‘hold for 30 minutes’ missions in Starcraft frustrated so many players that I wouldn’t be surprised if the tower defense genre was made so that people could see how long they could hold without having a scripted end of play.

In Blooming Business: Casino, we are giving you the keys to the truck. Play however you want. The story is an excuse to tell jokes, show you our nice characters, and allow you to understand the inner workings of our systems, but we expect players to spend a lot of time in the sandbox mode that will be available at launch, which will allow you to build Casinos without premade missions. With the mod support that we have built, it’ll be endless fun waiting to happen!

Shacknews: With a release window set for May 2023, the team is finally approaching a finish line for Blooming Business: Casino’s release. Have you thought about what comes after Day One for the game?

Homo Ludens: Everyone is happy to finally launch the game after almost three years of development, but we are also very excited with the prospect of building on top of the systems that are shipping with the game in order to give even more tools to players! We want to work in coordination with our publisher on this and try to support the game for the foreseeable future and are currently building different plans for new content and features. Sadly, I can’t say anything more on this yet!

Blooming Business: Casino gambling management
Source: Homo Ludens

Shacknews: Where can folks learn more about Blooming Business: Casino and check out more of the Game?

Homo Ludens: We encourage players to join our official community Discord to discuss in real time with the community members and the development team. If you want to share feedback, make suggestions, participate in polls, contests or AMA, this is the place for you! To be informed of upcoming events, you can also follow us on our Twitter account. It’s where you find our best selection of game characters’ animation videos, gifs and timely news about the game. This is where we will also highlight our community content creations when the game releases!

Want to see more Blooming Business: Casino? Be sure to check out our recent preview and stay tuned for more updates and information leading up to the May 2023 launch window.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
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