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Castle Crashers Interview: Dan Paladin

Bart Robson: What was the inspiration behind Castle Crashers, following up from Alien Hominid?

Dan Paladin: Castle Crashers was mainly inspired by the flash game Dad ‘n Me that Tom Fulp, Dustball and I worked on. It was well received and we needed a better premise than beating up on helpless children. Haha… So Tom asked for 4 adventurer designs that would all be different from each other, but as soon as I got to the knight character I thought maybe medieval would be best.

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B.R.: The characters in Castle Crashers are very iconic. How did the art develop? Did Crashers just sort of appear, or were there major changes made to the art along the way?

D.P.: The crashers went through a pretty definite series of designs. The old designs look much less appealing in comparison and i don’t even like to remember them. Once they were nailed though, everyone agreed that those designs are what we should go with. It was somewhat nerve wrecking trying to design something that was as well received as the alien’s design, and now it’s going to be even more nerve wrecking for the next game!

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B.R.: What lessons were learned after Alien Hominid? Were there any aspects of that game that you wanted to avoid, or things that worked that you guys wanted to keep for Castle Crashers?

D.P.: After Alien Hominid I stopped making the background work full-bright and started leaning it towards more grey or dull colors. This allowed the characters to stand out more and just was easier on the eyes in general. As for difficulty, I was disappointed that a lot of players were unable to go through the adventure we created for them because the difficulty held them back. We aimed at an easier game that still maintains a challenge for players, which is a pretty fine line to walk.

B.R.: What’s the easiest part of designing art for a game?

D.P.: I think once a level is complete with main characters, enemies, a boss, and main gameplay elements in place that everything starts to kind of flow on its own. The universe is in place, so the rest seems to be an easier ride in general, though it is a lonnnnnng ride.

B.R.: The hardest?

D.P.: Vice versa of 4. Getting everything in place and setting it all in stone is an involved process. Having to have rulesets in your mind of how design will work for every type of item in the world while being cohesive can be a task.

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B.R.: Do you have a favorite character design in Castle Crashers?

D.P.: I really like the barbarians and the barbarian boss. Also, green knight!

B.R.: The ending of Castle Crashers is amazing. How did that… uh… special scene come about?

D.P.: I’m not inclined to spoil anything just yet, other than the fact that it was hard to end the game after all the epic stuff happens. I wanted people to know we don’t take ourselves super seriously. i also felt like the audience should be on the same page as us – that we’re all in this for a fun ride!

B.R.: What sort of hand did you have in the development of the actual game, besides artwork?

D.P.: Tom Fulp does the majority of gameplay, but we bounce things back and forth often on how things should work. Since i’m doing the artwork for the things that get implemented we are both in on the game design the entire time. During conception we both had our hands in the recipe quite a lot and tried all kinds of things. After showing the prototype at Comic-Con we employed new gameplay angles. Observing people play really helps!

B.R.: Are there any things you wish could have been done differently in Castle Crashers?

D.P.: There will always be a laundry list of things i wish i would have done different in any game. Ishall never rest! i will say though that i am very pleased with the final product. I’m not going to list the things i wish i would have done better because i don’t want people to have those things ruin the fun for them like it did for me at times.

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B.R.: Besides The Behemoth’s work, do you have a favorite game on any platform?

D.P.: I really enjoy river city ransom. The timing and humor in that game is great. I also enjoy Team Fortress 2 quite a bit.

B.R.: What kind of game would you like to work on next, if at all?

D.P.: Something that continues to broaden the amount of people able to participate in our games just like we’ve been doing. I think the main evolution between AH and CC has been the approachability of it (while maintaining challenge) and i want to keep exploring that direction.

B.R.: The Behemoth’s work is an inspiration to indie game developers everywhere. Is there any advice you can give on how to get started?

D.P.: 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 Castle Crashers! Find the right guys that do it all for the right reasons and pull their weight, keep your heads down, and never stop believing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Use the nay-sayers as fuel.

Castle Crashers is available now on Xbox Live Arcade.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in October 2006.

Gentle persuasion

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