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Joystiq interview: The Behemoth talks crashing castles

Jason Dobson

Despite keeping players salivating over Castle Crashers' eventual price and release date, The Behemoth's hand-drawn epic nonetheless remained near the top of a short list of 2008's most anticipated titles right up until the game's recent XBLA debut. Since then, Castle Crashers has more or less delivered on its promises of manic 2D brawling, though a near-crippled online experience threatened to send us stomping off to our rooms in contempt. Nevertheless, at the end of the day Castle Crashers is still a heck of a lot of fun to play.

Fun as it is, however, we recently managed to put the controllers down long enough to speak with The Behemoth's Emil Ayoubkhan and Dan Paladin to discuss their game's price, what took the game so long and what the team has planned now that Castle Crashers is out the door.

A quick addendum: This interview was conducted just before its release on XBLA but, due to Wednesday's Large Hadron Collider test, got lost in a black hole. Read on little soldiers! And for more, be sure to check out our PAX interview with The Behemoth as well.

Castle Crashers
has certainly been a long time coming. Now that you just crossed the finish line, what can you say you learned most about the journey?

One of the biggest things we've learned is not to announce our titles so early in development. Also we always want to touch on the fact that we are a small team, and we take our sweet time with our projects. Although Microsoft has an extensive certification process the length of development time really had no bearing on that. We wanted to make sure the game was going to be as bug free as we could make it, and Microsoft helped with that.

Something you didn't announce early was the price. What took so long? Why the secrecy?

There was never any secrecy with the price as we were waiting on Microsoft to determine the price point.

Speaking of price, as a fellow indie XBLA developer, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on Braid. Jonathan Blow admitted he struggled with price a bit for his title too before settling in at the same somewhat controversial 1200 MS point price point.

We support Jonathan and other developers like him in their fight to survive the harsh climates of the retail world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Peace on Earth. That sounded epic and professional, right?

Of course!

Switching gears a bit, what are your thoughts on DLC? Specifically, are there plans to support Castle Crashers post-release with downloadable content?

Castle Crashers will have DLC at a later time. Although we can't go into details right now, we will have a couple of expansion packs in the near future.

Note: It looks like we can look forward to at least two additional characters, which may make up one or both of the DLC offerings mentioned here, depending on how things shake out.

With so many characters and weapons from which to choose in Castle Crashers, is there an office favorite of each, or maybe a particularly lethal combination that gets mad love in the studio?

I enjoy the Saracen because of his Middle-Eastern heritage. Dan Paladin likes the Green Knight for some reason even though the Blue Knight is so much more awesome. Tom Fulp enjoys the Orange Knight, again not sure why as the Blue Knight is so much more awesome!

What are your thoughts on indie game development in the console space? Is it difficult to make a living down in the trenches?

Console space has been good to us since we've decided to publish our own titles. Before that we only had retail shelves and PC space, which was a lot more challenging as an independent developer.

Given the amount of time that Castle Crashers has been in development, surely you all must have spent a good deal of time playing other games as well. What game or games have gotten the most play time between the staff at The Behemoth while spending time under Castle Crashers' hood?

Team Fortress 2, Starcraft, World of Warcraft, EVE Online, Call of Duty 4, GTA4. Every game on Partnernet.

(Dan wanted to make sure that Pac-Man Championship Edition was mentioned as well.)

I think we just discovered what took so long, haha! Just kidding, of course. So will the team take a well deserved break after Castle Crashers is out the door, or are there plans already in place for another project? You all sleep, right?

We don't really take breaks, but we sort of go into hiding sometimes when we are very stressed. As for future projects, yes! We have a lot!

Given the road you just traveled, would you do it all again? Would you do anything differently?

I think we have a pretty good formula, and we plan on sticking to it until we either run out of money or kill each other.

Finally, and since we're getting pretty hungry: Do you have a fave lunch spot?

Dan likes to walk 56 miles to Subway in Downtown Egypt. I don't mind going to 7-11 and grabbing a sandwich (which is located right next door). For the most part we just grab random crap and shovel it in our mouth holes and go back to work.

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