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How He-Man, The Walking Dead, and Invincible came to #IDARB: A Love Story

When it comes to making games, it’s good to have friends. Last year when #IDARB launched, we got a lot of love from fans and notice from the press when it was downloaded more than a million times its first week. One of our longtime friends, Skybound Interactive President Dan Murray, visited our studio around that time and mentioned how much he was loving the game. With an update already in the planning stages, we talked about the possibility of doing some Skybound-related DLC. Instead of just making it specific to “The Walking Dead”, we thought we could do something fun with Skybound’s beloved Invincible comic as well. So we set out to make two really great maps, one based on each comic universe.

Mike Mika and the team delivered an outstanding Walking Dead playfield that really adds new challenge to the core gameplay, as ‘walkers’ now steadily spawn into the arena. In keeping with the theme, they’re lethargic in movement but deceptively disruptive as they knock the ball away from you if you make contact with them. Of course, there’s a few ways to get rid of them we won’t get into here. To up the ante even more, Mike created a classic first-person shooter for the half-time minigame, aptly named “Halftimenstein” which supports up to 8-players splitscreen!

As part of the same DLC pack, the Invincible arena offers a much different experience, taking cues from the expansive superhero universe embodied in the comic. The arena design includes a “super bounce” floor and “wrap-around ends,” enabling players to really launch themselves around the map for a much faster, high-flying #IDARB experience than found in the traditional arenas. In keeping with this theme, the halftime minigame is also an aerial battler called “Sky Knights,” which pays homage to early arcade game Joust, only here there’s no ostriches to ride and the enemies are all controlled by other players.

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Roughly the same time we began working on the Skybound DLC, we met with our longtime friend Robert Johnson, who had recently joined Mattel. While discussing Mattel’s properties, it became immediately obvious that “Masters of the Universe” and #IDARB would complement each other like peanut butter and chocolate. Taking inspiration from Mattel’s “Masters of the Universe” playsets, we began work on new arenas based on Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain. On the Castle Grayskull map, players can grab the Power Sword power-up and use it to vanquish opponents to the penalty box and break through some environmental pieces. Snake Mountain’s design ultimately yielded a lava floor which will occasionally rise and swallow unsuspecting players, and have them cooling their heels in the Penalty box.

Things really got interesting when it came to designing the halftime mini-games for this pack. Nothing was going to pull together this add-on pack like an 8-player, split screen homage to 16-bit kart racing games, so that’s what Mike built. On top of that, we really wanted to add some more variety to the types of halftime games we were building, and Mike wanted a quiz game of some kind. We considered doing a math quiz, and when someone floated the title “He-Math” we knew we could deliver a challenging experience worthy of this impressive moniker.

Over the summer and fall months, we worked on both DLC packs in parallel with our general update, (which also includes a bunch of new features we didn’t get into here) as well as working on the Win10 version, which is also launching very soon with some exciting new features, to get to where we are today.

Lastly, we just wanted players to know that we are aware that a lot of you are price sensitive, (that’s our nice way of saying we know you hate free-to-play with microtransactions) and as #IDARB was free to most players as part of the Games with Gold program, we wanted to launch these DLC packs at a real value to consumers. At $2.99 each for these packs, we feel we really have done just that.

Anyway, if you haven’t played #IDARB in a while, we encourage you to check out the free update. If you match online with someone who is hosting a game with content from either of the new DLC packs, you’ll be able to try it for free even if you don’t own it! So the good news is that this add-on content is shareable with players who don’t have it, as long as you’re hosting. Because that’s just how friends roll.