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 during all that time? Surely it couldn't have all been spent on development, right? I had a chance to sit down with The Behemoth's Ian Moreno and John Baez, to talk about self-publishing, beta testing, Microsoft, and a whole lot more.
"So knowing what you know now, would you take back any of the lengthy five year development time?"
"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?"
"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?"
"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?"
"How influential was Alien Hominid's PDA Games on BattleBlock? Did you one day envision that it would be a full game like this?"
"Do you have a favorite costume or favorite design that you had a ton of fun creating in BattleBlock?"
"Were there any holes you had to jump through with Microsoft to perform this beta? Why doesn't everyone run an XBLA beta?"
"Can one assume that due to the success of the beta did you just decided to pull the switch and launch in April?"
"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."
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."
Stay tuned for our full review later this week to see how the game turned out!
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