hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

BattleBlock Theater
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

A history of BattleBlock Theater, from start to finish

1:00 PM on 04.02.2013 // Chris Carter
  @DtoidChris

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?"

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!



Chris Carter, Reviews Director
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidChris Tips
Chris (Magnalon) has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! -----------... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
If I was to play through the NES library, besides being madness, what order do I do it? Alphabetically or Release date-wise? Whats the Dtoid universe think?
Gundy avatarGundy
Maybe someday I'll finish Natural Doctrine AKA Natty Doc...
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
You've got guts, a powerful soul You've got guts, sweet and sour You've got guts, do the guts A man sweats, he really does, go!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Finished Xenoblade Chronicles for the first time in about 107 hours. Got tired of attempting to clear as many sidequests as there were left available. Maybe in NG+...
techsupport avatartechsupport
Woah. I consider myself a nerd and all, but the trophy hunting community is next level. Is there a biopic about the people at the top of these leaderboards? I'd find that very interesting.
Paul S avatarPaul S
GeoHolmes [img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/ntf3p5PqS2GteYfXUH33[/img]
Mr Knives avatarMr Knives
I have no idea what this game is about but if this isn't the best goddamn cover art ever, I don't know what is. [url=http://imgur.com/3yw3G8S][img]http://i.imgur.com/3yw3G8S.jpg[/img][/url]
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
#thanksnintendo.
Shinta avatarShinta
Xenoblade X limited edition on Amaxon now. Will probably sell out very fast like usual. http://m.neogaf.com/showthread.php?t=1103729&page=1
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Just got a Vita with a 16GB card for super cheap. What games should I be looking out for?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
So the XCX Special Edition was marked as in stock for 20 seconds and I got a copy! I am disproportionately excited considering what it comes with. Hopefully the art book and packaging are high quality. WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Surprise, Xenoblade Chronicles X Special Edition has already sold out on Amazon.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Just a heads up, the Xenoblade Chronicles X Special Edition is up for preorder on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Xenoblade-Chronicles-Special-Edition-Wii-U/dp/B014LNTVGK I think it'll be available elsewhere but you know. Nintendo. Love em but hard to find.
Clicks Clacks avatarClicks Clacks
Picked up Valkyria Chronicles for $5 in the Humble Store, figure I'd advertise that for anyone that doesn't have it yet. Sale ends in less than 42 hours after this post yo. https://www.humblebundle.com/store/p/valkyriachronicles_storefront
gajknight avatargajknight
My copy of National Geographic came today. Best subscription I've paid for, worth it for the lovely pictures alone. This one has a story about elephant poachers and ivory tusks with spy chips in 'em. James Bond shit man.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
If someone used the blog reply feature to just divide a somewhat long blog into easier-to-digest chapters that could be consumed at the leisure of readers, would that be kosher?
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
[youtube]https://youtu.be/7bzKWOeSVn4[/youtube]
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
@Barry Kelly It looks like it will get pretty difficult later on. It even has instafail stealth sections according to @Chris Carter #neededanexcuse to #tryouttheatfeature
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
I hope MGS V manages to have some sort of challenge to it. I just replayed MGS 4 for the first time since release and wow that game just practically plays itself. And that's outside of the long sections it is playing itself!
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Splatfest Decipticons, Let us crush the Autobot menace [img]http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/attachments/transformers-fan-art/27462687d1408744118-3d-tarn-model-tarn-propaganda-copy-01.jpg[/img]
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
BattleBlock Theater


  Mar 04

Worth the wait: BattleBlock Theater headed to Steam

Watch the full video to see Gabe Newell as a cat


  Apr 11

The Behemoth details how to get featured in BattleBlock

Get a free chicken and get your playlist online


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -