So now that you’ve arrived at Shovel Knight, are there plans for Shovel Knight 2?
Sean: Well, first off we have a whole bunch of content that we still need to make for Shovel Knight 1. So this initial release of the game is going to be everything we promised in the Kickstarter plus even a few of the stretch goals that we achieved during the Kickstarter. So we have things like New Game+, the music player, achievements; a lot of our stretch goals have already been implemented. But, there’s also big, content heavy stretch goals. Those included things like having an additional three playable characters that were the Order of No Quarter guys. On top of that there’s also going to be a challenge mode, which was described as having several rooms; like let’s say there’s like forty different little challenges, and one or two rooms, and it’s just some super difficult thing you have to get through. Although we’re not exactly sure what the format of that is going to be yet. Then we also have a gender swap mode, which is kind of just for fun but changes the gender of all the characters to be female if they’re male and vice versa. And then we’re going to cap the whole thing off with a 4-player couch co-op battle mode. So with all of these stretch goals, obviously if we had tried to develop all of them Shovel Knight wouldn’t be coming out for another year. So we put the initial game out, and now we’re going to spend the next…we’re not exactly how long, we kind of have to pick up all the pieces after release and see what the schedule is going to be like. But, there’s going to be free updates that are coming to Shovel Knight in the coming months, and each update will add cool, new functionality that’ll extend the game and just make it more awesome in every way. And if you hadn’t bought it before, maybe it’ll entice you to pick it up then. So yeah that’s what we’re going to be doing for the next year. In a lot of ways it is like a Shovel Knight 2, because it’s going to be the same kind of game, but it’s going to be a totally different playable character, a different story.
Woz: It’s more of like the Metal Gear Solid Subsistence or whatever, like it’s the extra, 1.5 version, where it is meaty content, and you can spend a lot of time playing it, but it’s just going to come as a free update.
Sean: Yeah. But I mean I don’t want to over-sell the campaigns as being totally unique, right. It’ll be like 90% the same. But the cool part like we were saying Shovel Knight just has a couple of mechanics and that defines everything you do in the game. Well, we’re going to make a new character that has brand new and totally foreign mechanics and that’ll make the game that you play completely different. Like what if Plague Knight , when you’re playing as him, could transmute sand blocks into something, like into a resource. Then all of a sudden as you’re looking through the game you’re not seeing those sand blocks as just a thing I have to dig through anymore it’s like now each of them is an important and valuable thing that you’re going to notice and take advantage of.
Woz: Yeah so then think about your inventory, and how you’re making bombs or whatever, and it’s just a different way to approach this, even it’s the same geometry, even if it’s the same enemies, you’re just approaching the levels a whole different way. And because an NES game like this is based on those core mechanics it basically changes the whole gameplay. So yeah Plague Knight could do that, and Spectre Knight could be a more risk/reward kind of thing where he uses his health to do attacks and so you’re constantly on the verge of dying but you’re faster and you’re just more action packed.
Sean: That also brings up another good point which is like these characters will probably be easier or more difficult than the standard Shovel Knight campaign, to accommodate to players of different skill levels or like different things that they want to do. So Spectre Knight, let’s say his health is always draining and he’s rushing around and he’s all fast like a frickin’ badass, right, and maybe like King Knight is more easy going but it’s a kind of funny, like lighthearted adventure that’s maybe easier than the regular Shovel Knight adventure.
Woz: Yeah we’ve got a lot of feedback from people, everything ranging from “It’s balls to the wall, way too hard” to “It’s too easy, I hope New Game+ gives me a challenge”, so we want to make sure that when you play Shovel Knight with these updates maybe people who think it’s way too easy find Spectre Knight’s challenge to be like exactly where it’s at. And then maybe people who are like, “Shovel Knight’s way too hard, let me train a little bit more” or something like that will play King Knight’s romp through gold land or whatever. (laughs)
Sean: Yeah, just a more laidback experience. In addition to all that stuff, we’re also putting out the game, you know localized versions, for both Europe and for Japan, and you know there’s a very high likelihood that we’ll be looking into coming to other platforms. There’s a lot of stuff just with regular old Shovel Knight that we would love to look into. But, that being said, we’re always having tons of ideas about new things that we might be doing at the Yacht Club. A few things that we’ve talked about are doing like a Super Shovel Knight, like a 16-bit version, or doing like an N64-style like Shovel Knight 64 that would be a 3D platformer. I mean like I wouldn’t want it to look terrible, you know. (He and Woz laugh)
Woz: Well in the same way we didn’t want Shovel Knight to look like a terrible NES game, I’m sure that we would approach Shovel Knight 64 with the same level of you like, you know, it’s pushing towards that era but not adhering to its limitations.
Sean: Right, it’s like maybe we would round off the polygons so it looks a little bit more Wind Waker-y, you know, but it still has a very simple and clean 3D aesthetic.
Woz: Whether the use of textures, emphasis on geometry, and maybe some billboarded enemies. (laughs)
Sean: So it’s like maybe that kind of thing. What we’ve been saying a lot is after this we kind of want to just step away from Shovel Knight for a bit and make something unique and new so we’re not pegged as “The Shovel Knight Studio”. We may not even do something that’s like a retro-remake style thing, right, like we could just do a game that has no nostalgic trappings to kind of show our range a little bit more.
Woz: Yeah yeah, we could do like a (laughs) super high-def 3D FPS.
Sean: Something smaller in scope, right. Something we could put together maybe a little bit more quickly.
Woz: Maybe focus on like one technical thing. A thing that we’ve talked about is like doing online multiplayer, maybe that’s what we tackle, and that’s the goal for the game. And mixing fun with it. So it’s more of a company building thing, and more like a buffer to more Shovel Knight, because after developing Shovel Knight for a year and the next, probably year, I’m sure we’ll be totally done with Shovel Knight (laughs), just like sick of it. At least for a few months. (Laughs)
Sean: I was reading about the Mario team, and you know Miyamoto, he’s like “Every time we make a Mario, usually we swear never to do another one. Then like six months later everyone starts kind of remembering the ideas they had or starts to have new ideas and then everyone’s like ‘Okay, maybe it’d be a good idea to make a new one'”.
Woz: And then that becomes excitement, and that becomes the dredge of like, executing it. (laughs)
Sean: And that’s the cycle of development.
Sounds enticing. Alright, quick fire round. What’s your favorite game of all time?
Woz: Oh, that’s so hard to say…
Sean: Super Metroid. And like close behind is A Link to the Past, Zelda II, Mega Man II.
Woz: Yeah I could probably give my top five games easier than my top one, but A Link to the Past or Link’s Awakening, one of those two. Shadow of the Colossus is definitely one of mine, Dark Souls is really high up there, so is like, Mario 3.
Sean: Yeah Dark Souls, we were tremendously influenced and just like obsessed with Dark Souls for like…
Woz: Too long. (Laughs) Minecraft is also really huge for me.
Sean: Oh my god, yeah. See, like if a game has come out in the past like five years I don’t want to put it in my excitement list because it seems like “Well, it needs to settle”, you know, but like wow, Minecraft, oh my god. You know we went to MineCon and got to see just the extent of the Minecraft fervor, and it’s like, it makes sense, because like I was the same way. Like we had a Minecraft server, and we were all building at once, like we built a whole frickin’ society.
Woz: Yeah, like we spent all of our free time, but imagine these kids that have nothing but free time (laughs). We spent way too much time but I’m sure they spent more than us. Sorry that wasn’t really a quick fire (laughs).
No worries, this is great. What was your most frustrating gaming experience?
Woz: Oh, that’s hard…do you have one?
Sean: I got really really into Ninja Gaiden Black on the Xbox. I loved Ninja Gaiden Black, and you can only unlock the subsequent difficulty level if you played it on the last difficulty level. So I finished on normal, then I finished it on hard, and then I finished it on very hard. And then after that you get to master ninja, and then all the ninjas, when they hit you once, you get lit on fire. So very hard was already the most frustrating shit I’d ever experienced in my life, but then when I got to Master Ninja at that point I had to just put it down because it was too much.
Woz: I think one of the most frustrating experiences for me, besides I play games that are just supposed to be frustrating, like Angry Video Game Nerd, and that’s just supposed to be like a masochistic endeavor, one of the ones that sticks out for me is I played Metal Gear Solid 2 on hard mode, and like the levels are fine, the bosses in that were just ridiculously harder for me, especially Fatman and Vamp, because for Fatman, he has like such a small time for vulnerability, and he’s also on those skates and he’s running around the screen and you don’t see him for most of the battle he just like suddenly show up and knocks you over and there goes like a large portion of your health. And then for Vamp there’s a part where he’s running around the rafters of the arena you’re fighting him in, and he stops and just throws like twelve knives at you, and that’s the only point where he’s vulnerable but knives are coming at you. So you have to use a machine gun to like knock out the knives with bullets and then hit him and that’s his only point of vulnerability and it’s total bullshit (laughs).
Alright, if you could be any video game character, who would it be?
Woz: Um, the wind from Flower.
Sean: No matter what I say I can’t beat that answer.