BattleBlock Theater Lead Level Designer Talks Inspiration, Fine Tuning

A lot of work went into the development of BattleBlock Theater.

Battleblock Theater

BattleBlock Theater is easily one of the most highly anticipated indie games this year. Developed by the makers of Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid, BattleBlock Theater is a platform game in which players are forced to play through a series of levels devised by Hattie Hattington. The game's level design accommodates both single- and two-player co-op, so it can be played alone or with a friend.

To that end, we had a chance to sit down and have an in-depth talk with BattleBlock Theater's lead level designer Aaron Jungjohann, who told us about his inspirations for the game's levels and how the team spent a lot of time tuning the puzzles and platforming mechanics to ensure tight controls.

"Sometimes the smallest tweak would throw the entire experience off. Everything was so fine tuned that if you even slightly shortened how much movement there was in the lateral jump it would destroy half the puzzles in the game. That actually happened once. Once small "fix" broke a lot because everything is so intertwined," he said.

"I was a big fan of the momentum based, speed up/slow down platformers like Super Mario Bros. but because we have so much control over the environment, it's best that those things are localized around you, so that you can react to what's going on in the level and also respond to the chaos by knowing where your guy will be and that he'll stop on a dime. We wanted our control system to be transparent and reliable to make the learning process easier.

"I gotta say one of the other things that was cool about the team I worked with is that each of us had our own styles. While I was more of the "deliberate puzzle guy", one of our other guys is more a core platformer Sonic the Hedgehog type, creating automated pinball systems and secret rooms and that sort of thing. Sometimes you'll have players bouncing around, flying through the level real quickly and I always appreciated those sequences, but I wanted to make sure we didn't take away too much control from the player. A lot of the times in Sonic the Hedgehog you'd feel like you didn't even really do anything. It was always about getting the perfect run and memorizing the best layout of the level. One thing we did was to make sure that none of our fast sequences ended at a checkpoint or exit block, we wanted to make the player go get that themselves so it wouldn't feel like it was handed to them."

Check out the rest of the interview.