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[Featurama] Highlights from the Fan Q & A with the Behemoth Part 1: The Games

The Behemoth started off as a small developer of flash games and then quickly transformed themselves in to one of the most successful developers on Xbox Live Arcade.  One can only be amazed at the achievements they have reached.

A month ago the team at the Behemoth decided to sit down and have a Q & A with their fans.  Here are some of the highlights of their conversation.


What was the most difficult obstacle that you faced while creating Castle Crashers?

The most difficult obstacle was try to get the base mechanics just right, along with the first boss. We didn’t add any other levels until we had them down since they were the most important part. I think we spent a year and a half just on tweaking those! Once those things are in place, the rest is pretty much downhill since the precedent is set.

What made you guys decide to build Castle Crashers to support 4 local players and do you think it contributed to the success of the final game?

Definitely. Families and friends get to play on the couch together and laugh/cry/scream, and I think that strengthens the experience a lot. They might tell people how much fun they had together, and that spreads the word!

I guess just because we liked those arcade moments where you could all play together, so we wanted to recreate one of those moments in our own game!

If you could change Castle Crashers in any way, what would it be?

I think if we could change Castle Crashers, I’d want to have playable princesses.

Any chance of ever releasing Castle Crashers on PC and is there any interest in or plans to bring Castle Crashers to other platforms like iPad or iPhone?

We want to do whatever will get our games into the most hands possible. Just a tough balancing act of timing and available resources. Our team has a lot of experience with consoles, so they come easier to us.

It’s definitely a possibility. We are 150% focused on BattleBlock right now though so any future stuff like that is on hold for now.

Has there been a past reason for not releasing on PC? With the recent surge of indie success on Steam and Desura, has this position changed?

No specific reason really. We’ve been very focused on console titles with our first two offerings, but we’re definitely not against pc gaming. Hopefully in the future we can get on Steam and figure something out.

Why did you guys choose to release Castle Crashers on Xbox first?

It was the only console at the time that would take us.

What has been your most favorite platform to develop for?

It’s tough to compare different platforms as far as which is our favorite to work on. We worked with Microsoft a bunch in getting Castle Crashers out the door, so we have that history with them, not to mention the work we’re doing with BattleBlock Theater. Working with Sony was a completely different experience, as was our short time working with Nintendo back in the GameCube days.

Diplomatic answer complete.

Any plans for more PS3 releases?

We generally will try to release our games on as many consoles as we possibly can. Sometimes the nature of the business leads us to stick to certain consoles, over that of some others, but the underlying mentality of releasing our games on as many platforms as we can has always been our goal.  

Which is your favorite character to play in Castle Crashers and which were the most fun to design?

Well, Dan enjoys Green, and Tom is Orange. I’ll have to get back to you on the rest.

The bosses were a lot of fun to make since bosses always tend to break the game’s rules. Pink Knight was probably the most exciting since I was re-visiting the game and we got to set up the new “stun” rule when hit with the rainbow.

What prompted the poop-propelled deer?

The poop propelled deer just had to exist for the world to be in balance. It was also a great way to force Emil into having to write a deep description to the ESRB explaining what exactly is happening. Very interesting read, he should dig that one up!!!

It started one late night when I got a bit slap-happy. Then the deer, and then the bear. The deer was always fun to bring back. Did anybody see the deer easter egg in the full moon level?

How did you guys feel about all of the Castle Crashers Character level glitching? How often do you go online and see the players at level 256?

Well we don’t like our game code being manipulated in a way that ruins the experience for others. That’s something we’d like to avoid, and fix for all current and future titles.

Outside of that, once the game is made and the community has it, it’s up to them how they want to handle certain situations like this. On the one hand it created this system of being able to trade weapons with other people, but then with everything good, there was the evil side to it.

The evil side made us sad.

After the success of Castle Crashers, how did you come up with the brilliant idea of Battleblock Theater?

We started to notice a lot of positive reception towards PDA games in Alien Hominid, and really liked how people interacted with each other in that game. So we wanted to try to recapture and recreate it with a more fuller experience. It started out in a floating box, and then was dressed with a theater setting, then we needed people to run the theater so we chose the cats, etc.

Why is Battleblock Theater taking so long to develop?

Games are weird animals. They can look finished so quickly!

Castle Crashers took 3.5 years to make. We’re a little under 3.5 for BBT right now, so I’d say we’re right on time! I think one of the most challenging things about BBT would be that the formula is not standard. Castle Crashers was our take of evolving the existing beat-em-up genre, but BattleBlock is so much more than a take on platforming.

Trying to simplify it, I’d say it is a semi-precise pseudo-co-op amalgam that happens to involve a lot more variety during play. We have different sets of levels that are catered to exactly how many people are going through Co-op, so that makes our level creation double, and it has to be vigorously play-tested, along with all the testing. Polishing is always the most painful phase for all of us, but it’s what makes our games fun!

If it makes you feel any better I’m coming in on the weekends to reduce your wait time. <3

I know there was some discussion on a level editor for this game. Is this still a possibility?

Anything is a possibility. Nothing official yet though.

Ever consider an Alien Hominid 2?

We have considered it a few times. I think one day we might revisit some of our older titles, but not just yet as we have a lot of ideas we still want to try!

I was curious if the Alien Hominid: PDA Games was developed internally and what time frame it was made in? Has your team thought about developing smaller games like this to help in funding your larger games?

Yes we developed that ourselves. It took us about 4 months to get the game out, but that includes testing too. We’re still a relatively small team so it’s difficult for us to have a lot of concurrent projects going on at the same time. We’re sort of testing the waters on iOS right now, and hopefully it can lead to more development on the platform.

Since Alien Hominid, the scope and ambition of your games has increased. What do you see as the next aspect of games that you want to push yourself in or improve upon? What genres?

We have a very random process of deciding what game we actually end up developing. We have so many ideas floating around all the time, it usually just ends up being which one ends up floating and staying at the top for the longest time.

We always try to push ourselves and improve on every single element we create, but it’s not so much this active pre-planned decision that we make. Dan’s art seems to age like a fine cheese, and subsequently all of us try to do better than we did on our previous attempts.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t answer anything, sorry.

Do you plan on ever releasing Dad n Me on a console?

Dad ‘n Me was the game that kind of got us excited to make a full fledge beat-em-up. We figured we couldn’t make a very long experience about beating the crap out of innocent children, nor would it be received so well, so we didn’t run with it. I’d love to bring them into something, though, as they just seem like some solid little people. Even though they are serial killers, they have a deep love for their family!

With the success of Alien Hominid, and now Castle Crashers, and presumably in the near future, Battleblock Theatre, are you guys planning on expanding your staff to enable multiple projects in the future?

We’ve expanded quite a bit over the last year or so, but it seems like we’d need to expand a lot more to enable multiple fresh projects. I think we work best all looking at the same game to get every angle we need. It’d be nice, though. I like to have this vision of having little squadrons making different games at the same time like Valve does. They’re a lot bigger than us. ONE DAY

 
[Update] Part two can be found here.

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