Interview: Sharing Horror Stories with the Studio Behind PS4 Exclusive Basement Crawl
Posted by Sammy Barker
What lurks beneath?
For a title that was originally intended to launch alongside the PlayStation 4 in November, we didn’t learn a whole lot about Basement Crawl until a couple of weeks ago. The release – a maze-based multiplayer affair starring creepy clowns and telepathic teddy bears – has been described as a mix of Bomberman and Twisted Metal, and with inspirations like that, we simply had to find out more. We caught up with developer Bloober Team’s marketing manager Aron Cender to obtain a little more information on the recently delayed next generation game – and also to find out what it was like being one of the first independent outfits to score access to Sony’s supercharged system.
Push Square: Can you talk a little bit about the origins of Basement Crawl? How did the title come about, and what is it that you think makes it a good fit for the PS4?
Aron Cender: Basement Crawl is something that we wanted to make for quite some time, and the launch of the PS4 offered a really good opportunity to do it. We feel like local multiplayer is being forgotten – even though gamers still love to sit down with friends and have some fun. We believe that the PS4 needs a game like this.
PS: The title’s art direction is extremely unique. There's a touch of Twisted Metal to the characters – was that an inspiration at all? Why did you decide to adopt such a dark theme for the game?
AC: The art style for Basement Crawl was mostly inspired by classic horror films like Chucky and Saw. We wanted something dark, evil, and twisted, so it’s not a game that you just play, but also feel. Also, we found it a pretty suitable direction for a multiplayer battle game like this.
PS: You're aiming to make this title accessible to newcomers but challenging to veterans. How are you going about achieving that, and what are the biggest problems that you've faced?
AC: Basement Crawl is all about skill. There is no luck involved – everything that happens is based upon how well you control your character. Our biggest challenge was balancing the game, and I believe that we did a really good job with that.
PS: We're familiar with the clown, crash-test dummy, and teddy bear characters, but are there any others in the game? How will they differ during gameplay? Are there any character ideas that you had to scrap, and why?
AC: There are four playable characters: the Clown, Wrestler, Girl (with the teddy bear, like you mentioned), and Dummy. Each of them has a different playstyle that can benefit from different skills. As for the character ideas, we pretty much used everything that we wanted and are really happy with the roster.
PS: While it supports online multiplayer as well, this game seems like it's built around the idea of local multiplayer. As gamers, are you disappointed that this classic style of gameplay seems to have been shelved in recent years? Are you hoping that this game sparks a bit of a resurgence for the forgotten format?
AC: Local multiplayer is an amazing feature, and, honestly, I wished that it was more popular. There is no better feeling than beating your friend in a game when he’s sitting right next to you. Everything is online and social now, but there is nothing more social and fun than local multiplayer. I hope that Basement Crawl will serve as a prime example that it’s still a viable gameplay style, and that other developers will follow it.
PS: Can you talk a little bit about your involvement with the PS4? How long have you been working on the console, and how have you found the experience so far? Does it still feel special being one of the first studios to release a title on the system?
AC: We started around June, I think. The PS4 is a great piece of hardware, and working with it has proved a very valuable experience. It’s really developer friendly and has certain built-in features like cross-game chat that allow us to save some time. We do feel a bit special, but we have some history with PlayStation launches, so this isn't our first time. It’s still great to be here, though.
PS: Does the game take advantage of any of the console's unique features? How are you employing the touchpad, light bar, or PlayStation Camera for example?
AC: We’re just using the light bar. We decided to focus more on the actual gameplay than including gimmicks just for the sake of using them. I’m pretty sure that that they can be used in a really good way, though.
PS: You've mentioned quite a lot recently that you're focused on developing exclusively for Sony's platforms. Why have you decided to stick to the PlayStation brand?
AC: PlayStation is where the hardcore gamers are and we make games for them, so it was natural for us to stick with Sony. Xbox One is also a great console, but we believe that our target audience prefers PlayStation.
PS: What's next for you as a developer? Are you working on any more PS4 or Vita games? Can you give us a hint at what we should expect?
AC: We have another PS4 project in progress and several prototypes in the works. We have some pretty nice ideas that we want to develop, but I can’t really say anything more right now.
Are you looking forward to digging into the diminutive deathmatch happening beneath your house, or has Basement Crawl’s dark art style turned you off it? Do you wish that more developers would include local multiplayer in their games, or do you prefer playing online? Fall to your knees in the comments section below.