2013 Pumpkin Preview: TK Baha's Bloody Harvest

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I promise, this one is not a cop out. The latest in a long line of DLC for Borderlands 2, T.K. Baha's Bloody Harvest brings back one of our favorite characters and pits players against a fresh batch of themed enemies. Our beautiful pumpkin here is based on the climactic boss fight with the Pumpkin Kingpin.

Bloody Harvest is the first of a number of upcoming DLC packs called Headhunter Packs. Each pack will feature a theme area, mission and boss fight. Upon completion, players will receive the head of the areas boss. Because nothing says "badass" like wearing the head of your enemy.

A while back, we had the opportunity to talk to Josh Jeffcoat, the lead designer of the Headhunter Packs, to talk about Bloody Harvest and the Kingpin himself.

Somnam: Could you tell me a little about yourself and what you do at 2k Games?

J. Jeffcoat: My name is Josh Jeffcoat, I'm a game designer for Gearbox Software. I am the lead designer of T.K. Baha's Bloody Harvest.

Somnam: Can you tell me a little about the Head Hunter Packs?

 J. Jeffcoat: Well, Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep was a big massive project and a lot of us just really poured a lot of ourselves into it. Even after we finished that last one, fans still wanted more Borderlands. That was such a massive under taking for Tiny Tina, that we basically said "What can we do with some smaller scale story telling? Can we do some real small mini adventures? Bring back some small characters that people haven't seen in a while.

Basically it's real small, a lot faster for us to produce these and it's just faster to get out to the fans. We wanted to create these brand new boss fights to where once you kill the boss you get to take it's head and wear it, for the character customization and stuff. With the Headhunter Pack stuff you get a new head and a new skin for every character and it is all based on the big thing that you had to fight so you get to keep the trophy for your kill.

Somnam: Cool. What is the specific story of Bloody Harvest?

J. Jeffcoat: In this case you travel to a new part of Pandora called Hallowed Hollow and when you are there you are greeted by zombie T.K. The fans will remember him being alive in the original game and being dead in the first DLC for Borderlands 1. He greets you and says "Welcome to Hallowed Hollow, this in Pandora's premier retirement community." He is living out the last of his days here, he has had kind of a hard life, but he says "There is a guy that has been hassling all of the townsfolk out here and we need, peace and quiet so you need to take care of this troublemaker." Then he sends you off on a quest to deal with the Pumpkin Kingpin.

Somnam: So who is the Pumpkin Kingpin?

J. Jeffcoat: The Pumpkin Kingpin, you will see in the DLC, is uh a giant walking pumpkin. [laughs]

Somnam: How much has Bloody Harvest grown from it's original concept? I understand that it started very small?

J. Jeffcoat: It did, when we were originally kind of prototyping this stuff out, it was just the boss fight and the pumpkin patch, and that was it. Which is basically what you are seeing right here [Indicates Borderlands 2 Booth] for the demo today.

Somnam: Ok.

J. Jeffcoat: But then we decided, "that's not enough, we want to tell a story here, we want to really give our fans a lot of time to sit down to play this, meet old characters and really just kind of dig into some new content. So we made an entire story mission around it. Built a whole new level for it, built some side quests around it, lots of little Easter eggs. We made it into a full sized little Borderlands mission, instead of just a fight.

Somnam: With the Ultimate Vault Hunter 2 pack out, how do you  keep the head hunter packs fresh for and challenging for low-level and high-level players?

J. Jeffcoat: The Head Hunter Packs, from my perspective, were designed for the low level players, um, we just have the Game of The Year Edition that is going to be coming out pretty soon so we are going to have a lot of new players coming into Borderlands that maybe haven't played before.

So, if they fall in love with the game we want to give them the ability to like keep playing new stuff um, but not have to be level 72, op level A, you don't have to have the best gear. This is not raid content, this is just story content so that maybe players that haven't played Borderlands in a while a chance to come back and have a good time in Pandora again. Without having to get, you know, just murdered by all of our high level content. So, yeah, that is what this is for.

Somnam: Nice! So, do you have a favorite moment from any of the Borderlands DLC?

J. Jeffcoat: In this one specifically or any of them?

Somnam: Take your pick.

J. Jeffcoat: Tiny Tina is the most fun I have ever had working on anything. Just that whole process. I got to be so imaginative with everything and we got to make jokes about all these awful game tropes, and it was just, it is hard to just narrow it down to just one thing. That, that entire experience was just pure joy, and the whole team felt that way. It was a labor of love for us and everyone responded really well to it so we couldn't be happier with that.

Somnam: Cool. What was your role on the Borderlands team before working specifically on the Head Hunter Packs?

J. Jeffcoat: For the Borderlands 2 main game, I was in charge of the major boss fights. I built The Warrior -

Somnam: So you're the one to blame?

J. Jeffcoat: Yes, [laughs] if you ever lost loot underneath The Warrior it is totally my fault. It's happened I'm sorry.

Somnam: It wasn't the good loot though.

J. Jeffcoat: Every once in a while an Orange will fall underneath him and you will just be like "Nooooo!" but I built The Warrior, I built the BNK3R fight, and I built both of the levels that they take place in. I was originally a level designer a very long time ago and I transitioned to the creature team. So, because I have a foot in both worlds and the boss fights need to have custom level built just for them so I did all of them together.

Somnam: Borderlands 2 has had a very active release schedule for DLC -

J. Jeffcoat: Yes.

Somnam: even a year after launch.

J. Jeffcoat: Yes, we never could have imagined that. It's so awesome.

Somnam: Many other studios would have moved on by now from their titles, so, why do you think Borderlands is so different?

J. Jeffcoat: It's just a really fun game to play with your friends; and the community response has been overwhelming. It's the craziest experience that I have ever had as a developer. Just the response from the fans is just out of this world. And they keep asking us to make new stuff, and we love making it. I don't know. It's just incredibly fun to make and everyone thinks that it is incredibly fun to play so that just kind of just works out for them and for us.

Somnam: Cool, cool.

J. Jeffcoat: Yeah.

Somnam: Last of all, is there anything that we haven't discussed that you would like to talk about?

J. Jeffcoat: Oh, uhhhhhh, I don't know. Oh. Is that just anything else that I would like to add randomly?

Somnam: Mhm.

J. Jeffcoat: Play T.K. Baha's Bloody Harvest. It’s awesome. Whoooooo!

Somnam: [laughs] Alright. Well, thank you very much for your time we appreciate it.