Q&A with The Behemoth
Founded by veteran console developers in 2003, The Behemoth has quickly evolved into a powerhouse indie developer thanks to fun and humorous titles like Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers. We recently had the pleasure to pick the brain of Dan Paladin, Co-Founder & Art Director for The Behemoth, about the studios’ past titles and its recently released BattleBlock Theater.
How did “The Behemoth” and “The Behemoth Chicken” come to exist?
Dan Paladin: In January 2003, we were an experienced console team about to be laid off because of consolidation in the video game industry. When we saw the end was near, we decided it would be better to start our own company than to look for a job and work for someone else again.
As for The Behemoth Chicken, while we were trying to figure out a logo, I was just randomly doodling, and the one that really stood out was this.
First off, congrats on crossing the 100,000th sales mark for BattleBlock Theater on XBLA. Any plans on expanding to other platforms?
Dan: Thank you! We’re happy to see that it has been well received.
No plans for other platforms currently. While we’d love to be on every platform in the universe, we’re a small company with limited resources, so we’ll just have to see what the future has in store for BattleBlock Theater.
Your games always have great style and humor, what was the inspiration behind Hatty Hattington?
Dan: Hatty was originally the storekeeper and nothing more. He was brought into the story to be much more than that since his glazed, sad stare was intriguing, and the hat looked suspect since it was a little too normal. Hatty Hattington is born out of the best friend we’ve all had. Our true best friend would never betray us, so something is clearly amiss.
You can see that Hatty’s tears are the only real part left of him. He’s crying because he’s imprisoned all his friends against his own will. As he sits in the chair he fights a nonstop battle against the hat which has grabbed hold of him.
Has there been a game idea pitched that you thought “whoa! That may be a little too crazy?”
Of the three titles released, were there any features or mechanics you wish would have made the final cut?
Dan: I wish Alien Hominid would have had areas that force you to use your abilities to progress so players would be more aware of them. I wish Castle Crashers had playable trolls and princesses. I wish BattleBlock would have had even more custom art inside the levels themselves.
How do you guys keep yourself sane during development? Is there a particular food or drink that must be accessible at all times?
Dan: We joke around a lot in the office and no one is chained to their posts, so we do get up every so often to play with the office dogs, go for coffee and have snack time. There isn’t a particular food or drink we have to have since everyone’s tastes vary, but we do usually have tons of diet soda stocked in the fridge and bottles of mineral water at all times.
With the next wave of PlayStation and Xbox consoles upon the horizon, which titles would you like to see appear?
Dan: The Last Guardian, and a modern version of Chromehounds.
Any words of advice for gamers ready to dive into the waters of developing an independent title?
Dan: Aspiring designers should have some sort of appeal — if it isn’t new gameplay, then it really needs to be something visual. Not many people will be patient enough to play something that doesn’t bring something new to the table, but that goes for any game, not just community games.
Once you’ve got something fairly solid, show your game to as many people as possible and gauge the response appropriately. If people aren’t seeming to be excited about your game, redo it. That’s what we did for BattleBlock Theater and Castle Crashers! The core remained the same, but we adjusted things based on what we saw at trade shows and in the usability testing.
Also, when putting together a team, find the right guys that do it all for the right reasons and pull their weight. Keep your heads down, and never stop believing.
Great words of wisdom. What are the odds that we can expect a Castle Crashers or Alien Hominid sequel in the near future?
Dan: We’re not 100% no-sequel as many will claim. It’s just that in order for us to make a sequel we have to be adding something new or fresh to the genre. For now, we don’t have that major inspiration that would make a Castle Crashers or Alien Hominid feel like anything but much different than ‘a little more’ of the same universe.
What’s next for The Behemoth Team?
Dan: We’re currently prototyping our next game. Nothing is set in stone yet, but we have some good leads!
Click here to check out our review of BattleBlock Theater!