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The Behemoth

A history of BattleBlock Theater, from start to finish

Apr 02 // Chris Carter
"So knowing what you know now, would you take back any of the lengthy five year development time?"John - "That's not to say we will have five year cycles every game, but I look at the world in a different way than other people. I think that the five year time wasn't wasted. We were always working on BattleBlock. If you're small developer and want to attend these shows (PAX), it's going to take away development time. But if you go to some of these other bigger booths, there aren't always developers there. The amount we learn from trade shows firsthand is priceless. When we first showed Castle Crashers, we scrapped around a year's worth of work. It took  us a full year until we could show it again. The only way we could have done that is by doing a trade show. Here we can see hundreds of people play your game and for a small developer, that's really cool. "Most games have pretty restrictive deadlines. Since we don't have that, we can let the design grow organically. Even though from a fan perspective, it's taken five years, we've used every minute of that for the organic growth of the game. I think the finished product shows that. It seems so long. We're just patient with it: it's really like writing a book." "Did you find it easier having prior success with your other games?" John - "The advantage of Castle Crashers being so successful is we were able to lengthen our development. We do a lot of the figurine and product stuff ourselves. Yeah we have this epic success to build on." "If Kickstarter was as big as it was now, would you have considered it?"John - "Knowing what I know now? I totally wouldn't have used it. Now I do a lot of Kickstarters personally as they're super fun to do. But I think the problem with Kickstarter is that many people think that you have a product that is ready to ship, and you're 'pre-ordering' this product that 'will' ship in six months. It takes a lot of time and education that people are paying you money to maybe build a prototype that maybe will go to production. Most game developers way underestimate how much the game is actually going to cost. It's a totally legitimate platform, but the designer has to be 100% ready to know what they're getting into when they take that person's money. It's a wonderful platform to understand the innovative side and the venture capitalist side though." "You know what though that reminds me. Back in the day we pitched Alien Hominid to around 40 publishers. Maybe 10 of them understood what we wanted to do. But a lot of them were like 'you aren't going to sell a million copies, so we're not going to press these discs.' So in that regard, self publishing is the best thing that happened to the gaming industry." "Would you say the beta has been a resounding success?"John - "For us? Absolutely. I would have never done this game without a beta."Ian - "It's putting the game into reality. It was good to see a lot of these people and how these moving parts work. I mean, there were no major issues -- don't get me wrong, there were bugs, but for the most part, this is validation that we're heading on the right path." "Are you concerned that online play, with the large amount of modes will be segmented? If players gravitate towards certain modes, others might become ghost towns." John - "Well, yes and no. We are still looking to learn what players prefer. One major change we made is the ability to do quickmatch and search for anything that's open. Not just arena modes, but everything. We're also hoping to spotlight and showcase community built content. The beta helped in that regard." "Are you considering other platforms or are you exclusive right now to the 360? Would you think about PS3 and Steam?"John - "We always think about every platform. We can't really speak to exclusivity right now, but the size of our studio makes that a moot point. We don't have 15 programmers churning out different versions of the game with our small team of around 15 people." "How influential was Alien Hominid's PDA Games on BattleBlock? Did you one day envision that it would be a full game like this?"John - "Well, I don't think it was...that this could be a full game some day. In Alien Hominid it's his own game he plays on his portable gaming device. I'd say much of BattleBlock is inspired by it, but it quickly diverges into something else. Yeah I'm addicted to it. I would love building super simple levels. It's like haiku."Ian - "PDA is one of those things where it's like the purist form of gaming. There's something philosophical about it, with the building blocks. If BattleBlock and PDA Games spoke to each other, one would say I'm your spiritual successor, one would say I'm inspired by you, then they'd kill each other." "Do you have a favorite costume or favorite design that you had a ton of fun creating in BattleBlock?"Ian - "Some of the stuff we want people to discover so we won't go into full detail. But the cinematics for the story mode are definitely something special. You're not human if you don't like these cinematics -- they tickle us on a daily basis. "Were there any holes you had to jump through with Microsoft to perform this beta? Why doesn't everyone run an XBLA beta?"John - "Well it is time consuming. Administration is the big thing. There's a massive amount of work you have to do to make it worth doing a beta. Whether it's Microsoft, Sony or Steam there's this admin component that takes up time -- not even going into the game itself. It's a huge time sink. But working with Microsoft, we believe we're the third XBLA game ever to run a beta and we did it mostly for the online component. So if a developer doesn't have a big online component, it's probably not worth it.""So you would run a beta on another platform?"John - "Absolutely if they allowed it. If there was an online component, that is. See that's the big thing, an online component. It's just a different mentality that you have to develop with. The beta was a really good thing. It lets us sleep at night." "Can one assume that due to the success of the beta did you just decided to pull the switch and launch in April?"Ian - "Once we actually went into the beta, we pretty much realized we were ready. There hasn't been any massive change, outside of the details like translations." "So if there was a Castle Crashers 2 you obviously can't talk about it, but are you considering extending the franchise at all?" John - "We love new genres and new franchises, so you never know. But after Alien Hominid launched, everyone wanted Alien Hominid 2. So really, it's all about balancing your projects. But we like new things especially.""It feels like you're following the Blizzard philosophy. Creating a small stable of strong IPs to draw from. So it's safe to say you're the Blizzard Entertainment of indie developers?" John - "I'll quote you on that!" "So, one of my big questions deals with the massive glitch that erased progress for Castle Crashers players, which made quite a few people angry. Did dealing with that problem influence how you approached BattleBlock's development?" John - "So that was fixed in our title update. That took us a while to figure out what it was. I think it was a six month turnaround. Particularly for that problem, that was something that had never been seen before. So there's no tests for that. So even with tons of certification testing no one actually thought of that. There's that problem, and the connectivity problem as well. Then we fixed it to make it back in line with all the other games. Every game after us had that test done actually, and it's one of the reasons we started our own QA, so I'm glad you asked that."Ian - "It's unfortunate, but I think we're stronger for it. Moving forward it's a learning experience. We're developing this knowledge base and leveling up with new games." Stay tuned for our full review later this week to see how the game turned out!
The Behemoth interview photo
Sitting down with The Behemoth
For many Behemoth fans, the wait for BattleBlock Theater has felt like an eternity. In some ways, it really has been, as these past four or five years have been approximately half of a console's lifecycle. But what went on du...

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Elder Scrolls Online, Riccitiello Resigns & Transistor!


The Destructoid Show makes fun of a giant corporation
Mar 19
// Max Scoville
Hey guys! Here's today's Destructoid Show.  Big news, in terms of business stuff -- EA's John Riccitiello has resigned from his role as CEO. EA is offering a generous choice of one of eight free games for customers ...
BattleBlock Theater photo
BattleBlock Theater

BattleBlock Theater FINALLY has a release date


No, for real!
Mar 19
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Yes, the wait has been quite long but now it's almost over. The Behemoth's BattleBlock Theater will be out on April 3, 2013. Hey, that's my birthday! You'll be able to pick up the game on Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft ...
BattleBlock photo
BattleBlock

BattleBlock Theater coming out Spring 2013


And it will be playable at PAX East 2013
Feb 26
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Behemoth's BattleBlock Theater, first announced way back in 2009, looks to be finally arriving this Spring. The official beta starts this Thursday, and once that's out of the way we might finally see the release of the g...
Battleblock Theater photo
Battleblock Theater

BattleBlock Theater closed beta starts February 28


Sign-ups still open to new registration
Feb 15
// Conrad Zimmerman
The Behemoth has announced the start date of their closed beta for Battleblock Theater, which will commence at the end of this month. There's a new trailer celebrating this, and you'll be happy to know that you can still sig...
Battleblock Theater photo
Battleblock Theater

Battleblock Theater to start closed beta soon


Sign-ups now open to test Behemoth's next title
Jan 16
// Conrad Zimmerman
Remember Battleblock Theater? It's that competitive/cooperative multiplayer platform game that The Behemoth revealed just after the Big Bang (or a little over three years ago; same difference). It pops up at PAX and Comic Con...
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Don't worry: BattleBlock Theater is still a thing


Remember that game from 2010?
Dec 14
// Chris Carter
Remember that one time we saw that teaser image for Battleblock Theater and got all excited? It feels like that was ages ago. Well, that was because it was nearly three years ago, and the game has been hit with delay after de...
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Almost here: Castle Crashers coming to Steam next week


Sep 21
// Jason Cabral
Four years after releasing on XBLA and winning over the hearts of millions of gamers, Paladin-powered developer The Behemoth is nearly ready to release its medieval, multiplayer beat-'em-up onto Steam. Castle Crashe...
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The Behemoth wants your Castle Crashers fan fiction


Apr 29
// Tony Ponce
Do you like reading fan fiction? Do you like writing fan fiction? Do you lament the lack of good Castle Crashers fan fiction? Are you just gonna sit there and take it? Do something about it, son! The Behemoth is giving away e...
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The dead rise again in this BattleBlock Theater update


Nov 18
// Jason Cabral
The fine folks over at The Behemoth have shined the spotlight on a new set of prisoners for the upcoming Battleblock Theater. The two new prisoners are the undead duo of Prisoner #10334 (a.k.a The Mummy) ...
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BattleBlock Theater is all about being cool


Nov 03
// Victoria Medina
BattleBlock Theater, by The Behemoth, has humor, murder, cuteness and now ice. A new video has just been released with some gameplay footage that introduces prisoner #10330 and the ice levels. While I would have liked some more voiced story trailers, this one shows off the game, so I suppose I'm okay with it. The real question here is, can that guy narrate my life?

Battleblock Theater is Battlebloody Brilliant

Aug 28 // Jim Sterling
In case you don't know the basics, Battleblock Theater is a co-op platformer in which up to four players help each other to collect gems and find their way to each stage's exit. At least, they can help each other. Betrayal is said to be a big part of the experience, and it's not difficult for untrustworthy players to deliberately screw over their allies.  In Battleblock, death comes frequently and without mercy. Whether you're drowning in water, getting fried by energy beams, jumping into spikes or getting kicked around by cats, you will face your own mortality repeatedly, and it's rather hilarious. An announcer constantly taunts you with each death, and respawns are well placed enough so that expiration isn't too frustrating. In fact, while you will die often, you won't ever die for good. To expect that, though, is to miss the point.  Battleblock Theater is just as much a puzzle game as a platformer. In order to get gems and collect rare balls of yarn, players need to work together -- holding down buttons, timing jumps, and throwing each other around the map. There are loads of environmental obstacles, unique platforms with special properties, and power-ups that both provide aid and hindrances. Each level is also timed, so while you can attempt to get a gem as many times as you like, you'll fail if you can't nab it and reach the exit in time.  With the focus being on trial-and-error gameplay with puzzle elements, I'm reminded of classic puzzle-platformers like Abe's Oddysee and Heart of Darkness. However, while those games are slow-paced and atmospheric, Battleblock is a cartoony, rapid-fire experience, and I felt like I was playing one of those old school greats in fast-forward.  With the ability to customize characters and equip special weapons, a huge amount of stage variety, and some tightly fiendish level design, Battleblock Theater is a game I cannot wait to get in full. It's a delightfully sadistic romp that fans of intense platform action will surely dig.
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A hi-res, hand-drawn, downloadable game in which cute characters are imprisoned by maniacal cats who force them to act in lethal plays for their amusement. Sounds like a game from The Behemoth to me! I played Battleblock Theater at PAX this weekend and was so impressed I made sure it got a Destructoid Game of the Show nomination. It was just that much silly, outrageous, beautifully violent fun!

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BattleBlock Theater still not out, here's a new cinematic


Jul 30
// Tony Ponce
Comic-Con attendees had an opportunity to play The Behemoth's BattleBlock Theater this year, which ought to be a sign that the game is just around the corner. However, I played what felt like a near-complete build at PAX Eas...
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SDCC: Behemoth's big ol' BattleBlock Theater arcade cabs


Jul 23
// Dale North
There's always a huge crowd in The Behemoth's booth here at Comic-Con 2011. They're all there to play the massive BattleBlock Theater arcade cabinets. The cabs feature HD screens, joysticks and buttons, but there's an Xb...
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The BattleBlock Theater intro is basically fantastic


Mar 18
// Jim Sterling
Here is the intro movie to The Behemoth's upcoming new game, BattleBlock Theater. It's got a high chance of becoming the best thing you'll see today, so make sure you pay attention.  Nothing much I can add, other than t...
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The Behemoth bringing monster arcade cabinets to PAX East


Mar 04
// Jordan Devore
It certainly would not be a Penny Arcade Expo without The Behemoth, and PAX East is no exception. We've just been given the juicy details on what the studio's setup will entail. I had to shove a few kids and old ladies out of...
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Freebie alert: Super Soviet Missile Master for iDevices


Feb 05
// Jordan Devore
As promised, The Behemoth has put Super Soviet Missile Mastar out for iPhone and iPad. It's a free download, so you might as well grab the game. In it, you guide a missile away from inconsiderate birds and helicopters so that...
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Behemoth brings Pink Knight to Castle Crashers on PSN


Feb 03
// Conrad Zimmerman
The Behemoth has announced a new downloadable content pack for the PSN version of Castle Crashers. The Pink Knight Pack contains what Behemoth has said is the "single most requested character." As you may be able to surmise f...
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Super Soviet Missile Mastar coming to iDevices for free


Jan 11
// Jordan Devore
Now here's a mini-game I haven't given any thought in years. Super Soviet Missile Mastar from Alien Hominid is making the leap to iPhone and iPad -- possibly as early as next month. And it's going to be free. Honestly, I thi...
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Castle Crashers on XBLA hits 2 million player milestone


Dec 30
// Conrad Zimmerman
The wonderful people at The Behemoth received what can only be assumed to be a delightful gift this Christmas. On December 25th, the total number of users (based on leaderboards) who have played Castle Crashers exceeded ...
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Commence frowning: No BattleBlock Theater this year


Nov 17
// Jordan Devore
The Behemoth won't be be releasing BattleBlock Theater until next year? You don't say! This sad -- but not entirely unexpected -- news was credited to there being "a little more R&D than we thought and lots of new ground ...
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PAX 10: Long and Holmes take on BattleBlock Theater


Sep 09
// Jonathan Holmes
After a few confusing twists and turns, Tara Long and I finally got to take a crack at BattleBlock Theater. The game has a very classic feel to it. In days of old, developers couldn't make games that included 2D platforming,...
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[Update: Contest closed! Winners of the squeezy chickens are: Eques-Ardor, Keklar, Cadtalfryn,  Cacophony,  halcyon, WhiteZombie, Shrimpula, HammerShark, N3vDawg, TenchuZakuza,  Jing,  keyo, LeoKnight,...

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Castle Crashers PSN in final testing phase


May 05
// Conrad Zimmerman
The long, long wait for PS3 owners who have yet to experience the bliss of Castle Crashers is almost at an end. In an update to their blog, Behemoth has revealed that the game has completed their internal testing and has bee...
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Volleyball mini-game coming to Castle Crashers on the PSN


Feb 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Behemoth may be all about BattleBlock Theater right now, but they haven't forgotten about Castle Crashers for the PlayStation Network. The game is still on track to hit the PSN this year and a new volleyball mini-game wil...
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The Behemoth has finally revealed the name and premise for its long-awaited Xbox Live Arcade game. The follow-up to Castle Crashers has now officially been named, and we all now know to look forward to BattleBlock Theater! ...

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Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid DLC sales donated to Haiti


Jan 21
// Joseph Leray
You know what's better than accusing Haitian earthquake victims of signing a secret pact with the devil? Buying DLC for Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid HD. Not only are Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid remarkable games, bu...
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At $7, you should probably go buy Castle Crashers


Dec 30
// Jordan Devore
While I'm pretty sure most of you who have the ability to do so have already purchased Castle Crashers, the rest of you dangerous loners living on the edge ought to take note: good for today only, the game's price has been sl...
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Castle Crashers turns one, free Necromancer DLC coming


Aug 27
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Castle Crashers turns one-years-old today and The Behemoth is giving back to their fans! They’ve given a bunch of things away today but it’s pretty much too late to talk about all that as this post is going up p...
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Castle Crasher Necromancer DLC now out


Aug 26
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Necromantic DLC pack for Castle Crashers is now out! It’s going for 160 MS Points and contains some pretty awesome new content. The pack contains two new playable characters (The Necromancer and Cult Minion), two ne...

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