Yacht Club Games

Category: Shovel Knight

Dance! The Story of a Useless Button!

Many fans of Yacht Club Games have noticed a weird trend in the games we’ve worked on: we almost always add an action, assigned to a specific button, that has little or no purpose for either the gameplay or the story. Initially, this may seem to fly in the face of our design sensibilities which favor simple gameplay and mechanics. Why would anyone design a mechanic that doesn’t benefit gameplay and instead adds another potentially confusing action.  “Games should be simple!  One action! Like jumping in Mario!  Why would anyone decide to do something so dumb?!” Today we’re going to try and explain why we add useless actions to games, and explain some of the weird and fun things we’ve done in the past.  This quirk might not fit every game, but it’s definitely a unique re-occurring element to us that adds a little bit of flavor!

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Breaking the NES

In case you missed it, this is a reposting of an article we wrote for Gamasutra.  Check out the original here!

Shovel Knight is a game that embraces the look of NES classics, but has some major differences when examined closely. When setting out to develop the game’s aesthetic and play style, we at Yacht Club Games had a few goals in mind. Instead of emulating the NES exactly, we would create a rose-tinted view of an 8-bit game.

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Shovel Knight International Status!

Hello again! We talked for a bit previously about Our Plans For Releasing Shovel Knight In Additional Regions. Let’s go into more detail about what we’re at work on and what steps await us! A lot of these steps might not be new information for many of you out there, but I hope it can help clarify where we’re at in the process. Releasing the game in these regions is our topmost priority right now. We’re sorry that this delay has even occurred!

Note that some of these details may be specific to Shovel Knight! These steps can occur in different orders or in parallel depending on a game’s development cycle and all projects can face unique challenges. Also this status is only for the release of Shovel Knight on the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS since the PC version is already available worldwide. Alright, here we go!

Update: November 5th, 2014: Shovel Knight is out now, right this very moment, in Europe and Australia for the Wii U and 3DS!! Reade more here.

Update: October 14th, 2014: Believe it or not, we can finally confirm that Shovel Knight will be releasing in Europe and Australia in November for the Wii U and 3DS!! Reade more here.

Update: September 19th, 2014 : Final Testing has drawn to a close! We’ll be shipping up and shipping it out the door! If no unforeseen issues arise, then a solid release date will be coming into focus soon!

Update: September 4th, 2014 : Shovel Knight has received a “PG” rating from the Australian Classification board! Thank you to everyone involved there as well as the incredibly helpful staff at Nintendo Australia!

Update: July 31st, 2014 : With localization in hand, the European region is one step closer!

 

The Story So Far…

An active blue flame checkpoint means that step is done!

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Digger’s Diary Detailed!

Shovel Knight is a game being initially released on 3 platforms: Nintendo Wii U, 3DS, and PC (Steam, Humble Store). Creating a new version of Shovel Knight isn’t as easy as pressing a button; taking on a new platform is no simple feat! Each new device brings new specs, controls, quirks, expectations, and features which need to be considered across the game. We don’t just want our game to run on the system, we want it to feel at home there too! So…when it came time to develop Shovel Knight on Wii U, we were already brainstorming about the wild world of Miiverse!

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Checkpoint Design

Checkpoints are a contentious subject when it comes to gameplay design.  Especially in a retro style games, there are many schools of thought. First off, let’s define a checkpoint: for our purposes, it’s any mechanic that saves the player’s progress, allowing them to return to it in that position after dying or losing.

Some people think that repeating content is never good and copious checkpoints or even quicksaving should be implemented; think the quicksave ability in a game like Half Life, where you can save the game at any time. Other players are purists, and think progress shouldn’t be saved until you beat a stage!  The Yacht Club thinks there is no hard and fast rule: it depends on the game you are trying to create, the emotions you’re trying to evoke, and the experience you want your players to have.

For Shovel Knight, we knew from the beginning that losing, lives, and checkpoints would be important to get right.  Lack of checkpoints and hard limits can typically cause a lot of frustration in classic games. We wanted to retain the mechanic, but do away with the inherent frustration of having to repeat large swaths of content.

Iterating on checkpoint design was a slow and painful progression, but the result was worth it.  There were 3 main versions of the checkpoint mechanic, so let’s go through them!

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