Escapist EditorialsBlood of the Werewolf Is Truly A Labor of LoveEscapist Editorials - RSS 2.0
Since I got to check out Blood of the Werewolf at PAX Prime last year, I've been following the studio and the game fairly closely. It's always fascinating to watch a game progress from early stages of development to final product on different platforms, especially when the team behind the game is so passionate about what they're doing. Than McClure, CEO of Scientifically Proven Entertainment, was not only passionate, but visibly excited to talk platformers with me after the demo. After the initial launch on Steam, the team took feedback and applied it to working on BotW 2.0, which hit Steam last month, and has just launched on Xbox 360 via XBLA.
I got to chat with McClure about the development process, the hardships of being independent, the mixed reception of BotW, and about a shared love of platformers in general. To kick things off, I was curious what exactly his role was at Scientifically Proven Entertainment and in the development of Blood of the Werewolf. "- I am the CEO/EP but we are pretty small, so I rather be called chief, cook, and bottle washer," he said, seemingly only half joking. He was not, however, the sole source of the concept for BotW saying, "The original concept was the brainchild of our creative lead, Chris Kagel." McClure went on to explain that the game you see today is a far cry from the original combo-driven concept, and that ultimately "Myself, Jason (designer) and Derek (writer) sat down with Chris and started to discuss what we loved about the platforming genre." They hashed out core elements that all great platformers seemed to boil down to; "a quest for mastery wrapped in a fun story."
I was a little surprised to hear that story was a motivator in the conception, given how little story I really remember from most of the platformers I grew up with, but he explained that even something as simple as Mario, roaming from castle to castle looking for Peach was fun, and, to some extent, you get that feeling from BotW. Instead of Bowser, you're facing classic horror monsters, but you'll still get the "ongoing carrot" to motivate you to get to, and eventually defeat the next boss, and finally save Nickoli.
I was also particularly interested to know how the team behind the game felt about the mixed reception it's found on Metacritic. Several of the critics gave it a reduced score because it was "too difficult." "But isn't that kind of the point?" I inquired. "We thought so. One of the most common complaints we have seen is reference to knock back. People complaining how horrible and archaic it is. Ideally, if you master the game, you never get hit," explained McClure, going on to say that he simply "couldn't be prouder" of some of the challenging elements incorporated into the final product. The negative reviews and complaints of difficulty were actually not a point of concern for McClure and the team, "It's always tough to ship a game. You put so much into it just to get it out and regardless of what you make some people will hate it. But for the first time in my career it was kind of the goal of this game," he said, "If everyone had a vanilla response I would feel that we failed at delivering our goals."
That's not to say that some of the complaints about difficulty in the original PC release were unfounded, nor did they fall on deaf ears. "The feedback we received allowed us to fine tune a lot of the elements that were simply deemed too punishing," he explained, citing specifically the "mashers" segments early in the game, as well as the Hyde boss fight. Having played both 1.0 and 2.0, I can attest to the frustration of some of the less-tuned challenges, and how vastly they have been improved with the latest update.