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[Featurama] Highlights from the Fan Q and A with the Behemoth Part 2: The Company

Earlier we put up the first part of the Behemoth’s Question and Answer where we had a look at the thought processes behind their games.  Today we’re going to look at some of the aspects of how the company works.

Below is the final transcription of the Behemoth’s fan Q and A.


What are your educational backgrounds and how did you get started with game design and development?

That’s a great question. John is some kind of crazy Architectural/Art major, Dan didn’t go to college, and Tom is an Computer Science/Network major. For the most part, the industry doesn’t care what schooling you have, just how well you handle your trade.

Who is it that handles the humor in your games?

Humor is specifically handled by one staff member. His name is Giggleson McGiggles and he’s like sorta clever with stuff and things. No, but really we’re all sorta strange here so that tends to come out in the games humor at times in some way or another. Dan drives most of the crazy that occurs in the office.

Do you have any big inspirations for any of your games or were they just really awesome ideas that popped into your heads?

We never really plan what’ll happen, as we’re spontaneous.  So, all the ideas just happen out of thin air, over a drink, about to go to sleep, or screeching while on the toilet. Well, Tom always says his inspiration comes to him when he’s on the Toilet.

What games from your past inspired you to jump into the gaming industry?

Dan and Tom were both inspired by titles like Gunstar Heroes, and River City Ransom. One day John and Dan were working at the same company, that was about to shut down and they decided to make a game that Dan had been working on with Tom over at Newgrounds into a console game.

Fast forward many tears later (get it) and here we are, grown full baby boys.

What video or board games are you guys currently playing when not working on your own?

I can tell you that a lot of us are logging in some massive hours on Skyrim recently. I guess that’s not too much of a surprise actually. We actually recently started circulating an internal spreadsheet asking everyone to fill out their favorite video/board games.

There’s a lot on the list, so I’ll just drop a few board game favorites from our test office also known as, Testopia:

  • Chaos in the Old World
  • Dominion
  • HeroQuest
  • Axis and Allies
  • Talisman
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill
  • Settlers of Catan

How does PAX stand compared to the other bigger shows? PAX has seemed more “For the fans, by the fans” than say E3, Tokyo and others. Is it actually more fun for the people participating in the show?

PAX is always a great experience for us.

Back in 2008, when Castle Crashers first released, we were doing PAX at the same time of the launch. It was just a crazy experience for everyone. There was a non-stop line that formed from the first hour of the show, that lasted for 3 straight days until the show ended. Ever since that year, we’ve been having nothing but non-stop traffic in our booth for every PAX show we attend. With lots of very cool people we’ve made friends with at shows like PAX over the years, so it’s really hard to compare it to anything else.

When we are at Comic-Con, we also have a great time, but the scope of that show is so massive it’s hard to compare it to PAX. My favorite story from Comic-Con was when we asked a lady who was standing in a very long line in front of our booth what she was waiting for, and she responded with “I don’t know, I just saw a line and stood in it”.

That basically sums up Comic-Con.

Are you at all worried about any perception that the Behemoth is moving toward being more of a merchandiser than a game developer, and how do you balance making new content with monetizing your existing properties?

We’re not worried at that perception at all. Our primary drive behind merchandise for our products is because most of the time we personally would like to see a toy, or some shirt made for ourselves, so we figure it might be cool for others too.

When we finally saw a demand for it online, and at shows like Comic-Con, and PAX it just helped justify it even further. From the business end of things it helps us with dev costs primarily, as well as offset the tradeshow expense. You won’t see any television commercials from us anytime soon, so one of our primary sources of getting ourselves out there is through our merchandise, and our appearance at shows.

With all of that said however, it is handled separately from game development.  It doesn’t really interfere directly, with the exception of having Dan and Tom, or other core staff take time from development and attend the show.

Planning of doing any new videos with Mega64?

MEGA64 always surprises us. They might say “we want to interview you guys” and then all of a sudden we’re talking to a puppet or being put in an entirely awkward situation out of the blue. We like doing videos with them, so we’re up for it whenever! Rocco comes to Tokyo with us once a year when we’re doing a show.

Great guys all around.

For those thinking about getting in to game development, can you describe what language, IDE and development tools you use?  How do you test your work on the Xbox?

The language you’d need to learn would be some form of C, and an Xbox 360 Devkit would be granted to you after you’ve been approved developer status. Can’t go into much finer details than that! Sorry!

How do you feel with the huge push in the indie game market? Do you actually feel more pressure now since Indie Games are in the spotlight?

I guess in a perfect world having zero competition would be great, but that’s not how life works. I think having great games, that are fun to play is needed regardless of the status of the people who make it. Meaning, whether you’re Indie, Super Mega Corp, or some dudes in a garage making some stuff, it all comes down to if the game is fun to play or not. Maybe it’s a little more complicated, but dreams are cool. Right?

What is the business of game developers like from your perspective? Is it getting more difficult to compete with all the Indy developers out there? What are some of the challenges smaller developers face in competing and getting visibility?

It honestly feels about the same as it did 9 years ago. The challenges we face remain similar, constant and simple: we’re mainly just trying to get to the end without rushing and making sure everyone knows about it before it reaches that point! The challenges are the greatest when you’re first out the gate, you have a lot to prove to the public, hardware manufacturers, press and publishers but as long as you know you have something good, you will do it!

What are the workspace/working conditions like at the office? What’s crunchtime like, and what gave you guys the inspiration for the art style you’ve been working with?

We don’t have deadlines or crunch. We don’t really have hours, either. However we work like crazy. It’s almost like this dirty trick where everyone works more than 40 hours a week because they know they don’t have to! Nobody go and steal my management ideals or the world might become too awesome.

My art grew on its own, mostly because I have no patience and I have a love for simplicity. I got my first big step from watching Captain Mark Kistler on his old TV show. He taught me a lot and I took it from there.

The addition of Avatar Awards to Castle Crashers was awesome. Are there any plans on releasing more Avatar gear to the Marketplace?

Yes, we are working on some other Avatar treats, but I can’t tell you what. They are coming out great. Shout-out to Thomas, who is re-envisioning the designs to fit on very different proportioned bodies! Green knight is BA, that’s all there is to it. Hang tight!

Would you guys mind setting the record straight for Pico 2, or at least explain why you’ve been mum about the subject for so long?

I know Tom was working on it and reworking it for a long time. He wanted it to be just perfect, but new things would always come out that he felt raised the bar so he’d go back to the drawing board. It’s such a personal and close character to him, I can see why he’d want to get it just right.

I think somewhere in there he just didn’t have time to complete it, but I think he will actually get around to it one day out of some instant inspiration!

What words of advice would you tell to aspiring video game designers?

As long as you know you have something awesome, don’t let anyone discourage you otherwise. All you need is 1 other person on Earth to agree with you to have it be realized!!!

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