hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Binding of Isaac

How a killer Christian shmup roguelike came to Steam

10:30 AM on 07.21.2011 // Jonathan Holmes

Imagine you've just spent the past two years of your life working on a videogame. You've sacrificed your money, your time, your physical health (to the point where you've ended up in the hospital at least once) and your sanity to make this game a reality. If it fails, you've sent yourself and your family into potential financial ruin, not to mention your career and your life.

Then the game comes out. It's a critical success, getting 9s and 10s from major outlets. Then the sales start coming in, and you're overwhelmed with the realization that all the hard work was worth it, and that you're definitely not going to starve to death any time soon.

After fighting so hard, putting so much on the line, and finally getting to the end of that long road, what do you do with yourself? Where do you go from there?

If you're Edmund McMillen, you immediately start making a videogame about abused children -- based on the four classes of Dungeons and Dragons -- fighting through a seemingly endless tribute to the original Legend of Zelda, working their way toward a life-or-death showdown with (who else?) their own mother.

In case you haven't been keeping up, The Binding of Isaac is the game we're talking about here. I recently got to catch up with McMillen about the development of the game, and its connections to Tom Hanks, Satanism, and other magical things. Here's the first half of this (probably) two-part interview:

How long have you been working on The Binding of Isaac, and what aspects of development are you solely responsible for?

We have been working on it for about two months -- probably three full months of development total when it's done. I handle design, art, and story; Florian's on the code but also helps out with design.

How does it feel to be working on a game that's less difficult to develop and less financially risky, now that you've worked so hard on, and (hopefully) reaped such great financial rewards from, Super Meat Boy?

It feels great. I actually started Isaac when Tommy [the other half of Team Meat, creators of Super Meat Boy] went on a vacation, because I felt like working on a small prototype would be a bit of a vacation for me. Turns out, neither of our vacations turned into what we expected, but either way, a small-scale project where you don't have to deal with business people and marketing is a hell of a lot more relaxing, and overall, more fun. Isaac originally started as a "game in a week" but ballooned into this little monster. It's also a way for me to prototype some design ideas for the next Team Meat game.

I've read that The Binding of Issac is about a little naked boy who, after being trapped and ritualistically tortured by his mother, escapes from the basement of their family home in order to kill her, before she kills him first. Is that about right?

Yeah, that is about right, but the abuse isn't ritual abuse. His mom is a Christian.

I've also heard that the game was influenced by both religious fanaticism, and the scare tactics from the 1980s that tried to link heavy metal, Dungeons and Dragons, and videogames to violent symptoms of mental illness and Satanism. Please tell me I heard that correctly, and elaborate as you see fit.

It's hard to elaborate on it, but yes, the majority of themes in Isaac were inspired by '80s Christian-right scare tactics and all that weird Satanic cult mass hysteria. I'm not sure how much of it will translate to everyone playing, but it for sure was the main inspiration for the game's theme.

Is it true that out of the four currently planned selectable characters in the game, that the puffy-haired one is based off of Tom Hanks' character from Mazes and Monsters?

Just looked that up, and it looks awesome. But no. The unlockable characters in Isaac were all inspired by the four main classes in Dungeons and Dragons and the four suits of the tarot.

----------------------

That's it for today! Tune in tomorrow, when McMillen shares more about The Binding of Issac's difficulty curve, its ties to the Legend of Zelda series, and much more.



Jonathan Holmes, Bad Joke Uncle
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
"Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Ju... 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

Script avatarScript
Tearaway was cute, but it was kinda short and underwhelming to me. I would recommend paying around $20 for it if you value your money.
Lena Gredasova avatarLena Gredasova
Pixonic has published its game Walking War Robots globally on Google Play. Walking War Robots is a 3D MMO shooter where players pilot giant robots and battle in 6 vs 6 teams. Get it for free now! play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pixonic.wwr
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I wanna buy PS+ Plus but I know once I play my PS4 this weekend I wont touch it again for half a year.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
MGS V starts with a flaming unicorn. Yup, I already fucking love it! :D
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
Writing about Tearaway PS4 & referencing Metal Gear Solid several times because, guess what, Tearaway is really dang good
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
I took some shots of my DIzznee Infineetee Quorra figure. Been waiting for this since the brand first stumblefucked its way onto the scene. (pics in comments of post to save feed space)
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Now Listening to Old Music 7 - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
[youtube]https://youtu.be/9aHQnDTd1y4[/youtube]
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube]https://youtu.be/ix6BJTSjAB4[/youtube] There is a ton of awesome music in this game.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
Laracraft: World of Tomb Raiders
Joe Parlock avatarJoe Parlock
So there's a game called School of Ragnorok coming out, and in it there's my new boyfriend. He's an 8 foot tall demon thing with awesome hair: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ibgnjCHv24
Nerdcotic Network avatarNerdcotic Network
check out this awesome video made by the Nerdcotic Network. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3KgJfBt0uE
Nerdcotic Network avatarNerdcotic Network
Hay check out this awesome video made by the Nerdcotic Network on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QemwbuspOJg
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
[img]http://cdn.destructoid.com//ul/308609-RR1.jpg[/img] Dayum. Billy Mays is back and lookin' good.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
Pivot smash my way to victory
Osc44 avatarOsc44
You ever dream of flying through the clouds, but couldn't so you just watch TV? Me neither.
Zack Furniss avatarZack Furniss
Oh GOOD, The Flock is awful. I was hoping to break my high review score streak. (this is a joke)
Zack Furniss avatarZack Furniss
So many PAX things to write. So many.
Shinta avatarShinta
Bwahahahaha .... my helicopter now arrives in the middle of a fight blaring "Take on Me" on the loudspeakers. Metal Gear 5, 10/10. [youtube]https://youtu.be/djV11Xbc914[/youtube]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Oh neat, Hollow Knight got through the Colosseum of Fools stretch goal while no one was looking. Shame they couldn't get to three characters but the game still looks awesome.
techsupport avatartechsupport
S Rank is so satisfying. Too bad I rarely earn it!
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
The Binding of Isaac


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 -