Edmund McMillen On The Orgins Of Isaac

By Craig Pearson on September 30th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

This might be the saddest concept art of all time.
What happens when one half of a development team goes on holiday and leaves the other, slightly agoraphobic half at home? In a roundabout way, it ends up in The Binding Of Isaac. That’s the origin of the game, the very moment that sent Edmund McMillen down into the basement to confront elements of his religious upbringing in a Flash game. Isaac’s odd story is told in this interview from the makers of Indie Game: The Movie. Want to hear about how Ed’s Team Meat partner Tommy Refenes’ holiday turned into a game of contradictions? It’s posted below, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

EDIT: The video was live when I wrote the story, and now it’s private. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!


None of Isaac makes sense. It’s ugly, but inspires fan art. He’s not happy with the technical details, the art, or the fact that he made it in Flash, but it’s because it’s been built in that engine that so many people have been able to play it and turn out Let’s Plays, which helped sell the game. McMillen’s belief in difficult art means he set out to to make a game that he hoped might damage his career, but it ended up selling over a million copies.

And then there’s the theme. The poke into the religious upbringing, both the positives and negatives that came with it. Rather than summarising it, I’ll let Ed speak his mind on that, because I’d hate to have a quote come across wrongly on the page.

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17 Comments »

  1. Leeryshroom says:

    The youtube vid is private, might wanna check into that.

  2. GernauMorat says:

    Yeah private video guys

  3. Darkhorse says:

    hah

  4. Turkey says:

    A reserved man. Edmund’s thoughts are often very private.

  5. DrScuttles says:

    Saw this the other day, was pretty interesting. Edmund McMillen spent a lot of time thinking about the design and his own relationship with religion for a game that can accurately be described as that thing where you cry at poo.
    I always feel sorry for Isaac. Poor little guy.

  6. SillyWizard says:

    Can’t watch the video. More like the BLINDING of Isaac amiright?!

    :/

  7. Fazer says:

    Please tell me there is a mirror.

    • bateleur says:

      There is, it’s called “My Reflection” and you can find it in some Treasure Rooms. When collected it causes your tears to return towards you like a boomerang. This can occasionally be slightly useful, but overall it’s not a particularly strong powerup.

  8. Hodge says:

    I was able to watch it last night so I can confirm that Craig’s not being fruity. It’s a good interview, McMillen doesn’t really mention anything that he hasn’t already spoken about elsewhere but it’s still great to hear the whole story straight from him.

    There’s a bit at the end where he talks about how people have responded to it which made me a bit teary-eyed. I hope someone re-ups it, if you’re interested in the game it’s definitely worth the watch.

  9. Jackablade says:

    If it makes you feel any better, it looks like Polygon got caught out too.

  10. BubuIIC says:

    As an alternative here is another interview with Edmund: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDDSYnZfxTM
    It’s a bit long but quite interesting. He talks about his career in general, Super Meat boy and also in depth about Isaac.

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