Quantcast
How a killer Christian shmup roguelike came to Steam - Destructoid

DestructoidJapanatorTomopopFlixist



The Binding of Isaac  



How a killer Christian shmup roguelike came to Steam


10:30 AM on 07.21.2011
How a killer Christian shmup roguelike came to Steam photo



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.








Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.






timeline following:
The Binding of Isaac



3:00 PM on 02.03.2013
Binding of Isaac piano arrangement is sweet sorrow

When The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was announced, I was puzzled by some of the folks were annoyed with the new graphics, deeming them "pointless." They seemed to think that because they liked the original game's visuals ...more



12:00 PM on 09.28.2012
The Binding of Isaac turns one, goes 75% off on Steam

Has it really been a year since The Binding of Isaac released? Time sure does fly when you're playing and replaying such a deceptively large game. To celebrate the one-year anniversary, Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl are d...more



1:00 PM on 06.20.2012
Binding of Isaac passes 700k sales, gets another update

According to game designer Edmund McMillen, The Binding of Isaac has sold more than 700,000 copies to date. This was made possible with help from the "Wrath of the Lamb" expansion, which sold 1/5th of the overall sales in "le...more



1:30 PM on 05.28.2012
Binding of Isaac 'Wrath of the Lamb' DLC now on Steam

I adore The Binding of Isaac. It's one of those games with a bite-sized length which lends itself perfectly to a mid-day work distraction and, as a result, I've played it nearly to the point of full completion.  The one ...more



12:30 PM on 05.07.2012
Binding of Isaac expansion set to release on May 28

When someone tries to make videogame characters look hyper realistic, the end result usually leads to feelings of regret. "Why couldn't I just let that link be and move on?" The same effect can be found even for a game like ...more



2:30 PM on 04.20.2012
This Binding of Isaac expansion poster is such a tease

You know, it feels great to not spend every last moment of my free time playing The Binding of Isaac. This has been a nice break, but it won't last for much longer -- not with the upcoming expansion on the horizon. Edmund McM...more



8:40 AM on 01.30.2012
Binding of Isaac nears 450,000 sold mark

Hot off the announcement of a brand new retail version of the game, The Binding of Isaac is about to join the 450,000 sold club. There's no doubt that creator Edmund McMillen is thrilled, considering he didn't think that many...more



5:00 PM on 01.28.2012
The Binding of Isaac gets a grotesque retail edition

It was only a few days ago that online retailer, Merge Games, announced they would be selling a retail version of Terraria, a collectors edition no less. Now another of my favorite indie games from last year is getting a reta...more



2:00 PM on 01.06.2012
Binding of Isaac to expand with 'Wrath of the Lamb'

The Binding of Isaac is a deceptively long game if it's full completion you're after. I'm at 25 hours and I know that's nothing. Edmund McMillen recently started working on a new expansion, "Wrath of the Lamb," that will add ...more



4:45 PM on 11.04.2011
This weekend on TwitchTV: Also Binding of Isaac

Destructoid's Twitch.tv channel is committed to bringing lots of great gaming-related entertainment even during the weekends. From playing games on the stream, to discussing them in a talk show format, we bring a wi...more





Win your choice of console from Destructoid! in Destructoid's Hangs on LockerDome

321gocast

5:45 PM on 04.13.2012
This Weekend on Twitch TV: Forever alone with Psychonauts

It's time for another super entertaining weekend on Destructoid's Twitch TV channel. It's going to be a bit unusual this time around. King Foom is taking it easy on Mash Tactics with some "A.D.D. Friday", to round out this we...more



5:30 PM on 03.24.2012
This weekend on Twitch TV: 321Go Effect

It's Friday again, which means it's time for me to break down for you the coming weekend of entertainment on Destructoid's Twitch.TV channel. I'm leaving Mash Tactics out of this one, as you can read all about the awesomeness...more



5:45 PM on 03.16.2012
This weekend on Twitch TV: Big ups to all of the lurkers

As another week of programming on Destructoid's Twitch TV channel comes to a close, and the excitement of the weekend approaches, I'm going to take this opportunity to do something slightly unorthodox. Spamfish and the Melted...more



View all 321gocast






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more