Monday, April 1, 2013

Interview - Ian Moreno (BattleBlock Theater)

Battleblock Theater is the brand new Xbox Live arcade game from The Behemoth out soon. I had a chance to check out the game at PAX East 2013 and talk about it for a bit with Ian. The game packs a lot for a Xbox Live Arcade game, with a big story mode, all sorts of different multiplayer modes and the ability to create your own levels for your amusement as well to upload for others to enjoy. There is a lot you can do within this game that will have you playing for hours on end to uncover the story and maybe throw in a little beat’em action in the process.

Omnicomic: Where did you find inspiration for the game as the dialogue is pretty hilarious?

Ian: I can't take credit for it as it’s all from the mind of Dan Paladin, the Head Art Director, with this game really being his vision. The humor that he exudes is definitely companywide with someone calling it zany, but with a dark twist to it. With all of that daily oddness and zaniness in a game that all starts with Dan and spreads from there; as Will Stamper the narrator put a lot into it as well to bring the narration to life.

This is the first game we have done with a voiceover that was so weird. With Castle Crashers you know what’s going on, but this time we are going to put in words and build a story out of it that isn't too complex with cats, an island and a hat. When people play it they are going to get the whole story and see the whole picture. It’s going to be a fun ride.


Omnicomic: Is this game going to be Xbox Live exclusive?

Ian: We are releasing on Xbox live and we have no plans on any more. We like other consoles and platforms, but for right now it is an Xbox Live exclusive for launch.


Omnicomic: Would you consider the Beta a success? Did you get the sort of information you wanted out of it?

Ian: Absolutely. The Beta was one of the coolest things we've done as there haven't been many Betas for Xbox Live Arcade games and it was interesting in trying to figure out how you would do a console Beta. We got to see what people gravitated towards, what people were finding and really a test to put the game in reality. Just not in this sandbox environment that we tested in.

We learned some good stuff, found some bugs, made some tweaks and streamlined some UI stuff as we saw how people were using our UI to get into levels and UGC so that was really helpful. The people were so awesome in terms of their feedback and the private forum we had going; it was amazing how helpful it was. We couldn't have done this without the community and we need to reward everyone somehow is what it’s gotten down to.


Omnicomic: Will there be any Castle Crashers or Alien Hominid cameos in this game?

Ian: Well if you have played our other games it’s been known to happen and I don't want to give any spoilers away.


Omnicomic: Can you elaborate on the ability for users to create their own levels? Will there be leaderboards for the most popular ones or other ways to sort?

Ian: Yes. We have a series of feeds such as new stuff, top rated, top downloaded and one of the coolest things is a curated feed that will been done by The Behemoth. We are going to go through and play through as many levels as we can and put those to showcase them in our feed so people can go and check out what The Behemoth folks are liking to play and spotlight showing the members who are making the levels.


Omnicomic: Can users create as many levels that they want or is there a limit?

Ian: They can create as much as the Xbox hard drive can handle and save down.


Omnicomic: Is there a way for you to suggest levels to your Xbox Live friends?

Ian: You can host games privately and invite your friends or play with strangers and load up those certain levels. There is not a direct way to share the direct levels.


Omnicomic: Are there ways to save down levels you have played and would love to be able to play again?

Ian: Yes. There is a favoriting system so you can favorite the level and can bring up your favorites later on to be able to play it again.


Omnicomic: Is there any way to search by a certain theme or type of level (i.e. a Mario themed playlist)?

Ian: Unfortunately, we don't have any kind of word search system. Maybe eventually, you never know and you can write down the name of the playlist or levels and shoot that list to the front and we have a whole search system where you can search by gamertag, name of the playlist or by level types.


Omnicomic: With the amount of character customization are there plans to add more weapons or shapes costumes?

Ian: We do have a system that we revealed on our blog. The prisoners on the game are a bunch of question marks so we have a way to unlock new heads along the way to give out to people. These will be free (not as DLC) to roll out along the way.


Omnicomic: Lastly when will the game be out?

Ian: April 3rd.


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