In other words, they felt their assumptions validated. "To hear that the game is appealing to the new Wii audience of grandmas and young children as well as the hardest of the hardcore game really validated our design philosophy," says Rahimi. "It gave us the confidence to pursue that even more. In most of our levels you'll find even more of an ability to approach it as a gamer and figure out the ideal solution, as opposed to just someone who wants to explode something and have fun with it." Not that dissenting voices were ignored. "We got plenty of feedback that the shooting game mode wasn't as fun," says Rahimi. "Shooting has taken a huge back seat in the sequel."
Perhaps the most fundamental change in Bash Party isn't in any of the game's new modes or toys - it's what you get to do with the toys, and the sharing of levels. This comes off the response to the tools shipped with the original game. "If you pop Boom Blox into YouTube, you'll find some pretty amazing stuff," says Rahimi. "The community is so intelligent with its hive-mind thinking. Everyone has at least one good idea they can contribute." (Perhaps, as Kodu's Matt MacLaurin puts it, we're all capable of "fifteen minutes of sheer brilliance".)
The problem with this cleverness is that it's left in little islands. Most Wii games require you to know Friends Codes to swap creations, and who wants to do that? "The thinking was: how can we bypass that? How can we let people share their ideas?" says Rahimi. "Essentially, we created a server that sits in EA and people send their creations up to us. And we actually broadcast that out to the world. What it means is that for the hardcore create-mode guy they have a way to share their creation, get author credit and get it rated. Even better, for everyone else - which is the majority, probably the vast majority - all they have to do is plug their Wii into the internet and they get tons of free content."
So if you're playing a particular game mode and fancy some new toys, there's an internet icon at the end. Select it, and it downloads any user-created levels in that mode. "They're tiny," says Rahimi. "They're an insignificant amount of space. They download like... that." There are deeper options for searching, with YouTube-esque rating systems, but it really is as simple as a button-press. "We really wanted to support and unlock the community. People are shelling out hard-earned money for this game - and we want it to be long-lasting and highly appealing. As a team, we're committing to supporting this feature - not only broadcasting user-generated content but creating actual levels for this feature and making them available."
Making it easier to share levels is one thing; making it easier to make levels to share is the other, to which the team's also paid attention. "On the first one, we built the editor at the same time as we were building the game," says Rahimi. "From day one on Bash Party we committed to building the entire game through the in-game editor. So every layout you see in the game is done through the editor. This focused our attention on making the editor more robust and easier to use. We added tools and features to make it much easier to pick a game mode they want to remix, then upload. On the consumer side of that equation, we've made it easier than ever - probably easier than any other game I can think of."
We talk a lot about the novelty of playing with your non-gaming family. I wonder what it's like for the developers, who have spent their working life off on their own, and finally making something they can actually show mum and dad. "First of all, for me personally, it was the first game I worked on which I could truly share with my family and connect with them on it," he says with a laugh. "I come from RTS games - and those are a little more hardcore, a little less accessible to my sixty-year aunt. To be able to put this in their hand, no matter who they are or what their background, for them to enjoy it, was immensely gratifying."
We'll find if our own grandmothers are immensely gratified when the new Boom Blox Bash Party hits soon. I could do with some gratification too, if there's some going around. Lovely gratification.
Boom Blox Bash Party is due out for Wii in May.