Today, we explore our Gift Shop area of BattleBlock Theater. As we developed our story for Hatty we found his overall presence was lacking throughout the game. You would see him in the cinematics, and occasionally spread out within the game, but we wanted to make sure Hatty’s presence was more immediate so that the player would feel motivated in what they were doing in trying to save him. We expect that the Gift Shop will be the most visited area in the game and since Hatty has an uncontrollable greed with the currency of BattleBlock Theater, this would be the most natural and fitting spot to have him hang out while the game progresses.
When we first tried putting Hatty behind a register on the ground it didn’t seem right. If he’s just sitting there you should be able to just grab him and run out, right? So I ended up moving him up into the balcony of the Gift Shop. This gave him a kind of ‘Doctor Evil’ sort of vibe as he overlooked all the transactions. However, Hatty doesn’t have that kind of natural evil, so I felt it’d be a necessary idea to illustrate his unwanted servitude to the cats, or in other words show the cats intimidating Hatty all day long. I thought this might strengthen players’ bonds to Hatty.
In most games where the hero gets betrayed early on, the immediate reaction is to get some type of revenge, IE. Kick Hatty’s butt. This wasn’t the feeling we wanted the players to have, though. So we had to adjust. The cats in the video that were around Hatty were later removed for a whole variety of reasons even though I still like the base idea of it all. We then found better ways to illustrate important story points to the player, while strengthening the story overall at the same time. But I can’t tell you how just yet or I’d be spoiling stuff!
The ‘prisoner concession devices’ you see in the video were originally negotiation chambers where you exchanged gems for prisoners. Previously, cats would release the prisoners after you paid up, but not being able to pick what you’re unlocking wasn’t being conveyed clearly. It seemed like you could have negotiated which prisoner you’d like to free.
The best way I could think of communicating not being able to pick who became free was to stuff all the prisoners into little gumball style machines. You turn the crank and hope you get the unlock you want. This concept resonated with the players much more, and it was funnier — that is, unless you’re the one trapped in a plastic ball all day.
In our latest BattleBlock Theater video, we show some of the changes described in this post: