VGU Interviews: Shovel Knight

SF: Kill your darlings is a thing I’ve learnt to keep in mind from writing, don’t be afraid to get rid of an idea if it isn’t working out and start on something new.

NW: Right but don’t also be afraid to iterate on what you already have and improve it. A lot of the times something isn’t working, don’t trash it and start it over, a 20% change can make all the difference.

SV: I’d also say get players in front of your game. If you’re developing a game, make sure to do that early and often because a lot of game developers have a tendency to want to hold onto their projects and be like ‘It’s not ready to be played!’ but if it’s not ready to be played, it’s not a game. You need to get it in front of people and if they have a terrible time and they hate it, I mean that’s what happened with Shovel Knight, people came in and they played it and there were things in there that were just awful.

Of course, that breaks your heart when you’re watching someone play and they don’t get it or they’re not enjoying the thing that you were hoping that they’d love so much but that thing of thing is constructive and so when you have some who is not enjoy it or not understanding it, it gives you the tools to go back and change the game and make it more comfortable or to make people enjoy it more.

SF: Okay, the heavy stuff done, now for some lighter questions. Are there any games you are really looking forward to?

NW: Well, I haven’t actually played Dark Souls II yet, so I’m looking forward to playing that. That’s my prime result on working on Shovel Knight so much and crunching on it, I haven’t had time to play many games from the first half of the year.

SV: I don’t really know what’s coming out. I really want to play Don’t Starve together, that sounds awesome.

NW: I really want to try out Destiny, see what that’s like.

SV: I’m also really into the Oculus Rift right now, anything that’s really 3D or VR is really exciting for me because we are making Shovel Knight.

SF: Is there going to be a VR Shovel Knight?

SV: *laughs* At E3, that was my first real time to try it out and I was just blown away. Even though it was just the Gen 1 hardware, just putting it on and it was just like going to another place. It’s such a cool experience, I would just like to see a fun application of it and really get my hands on it.

Propeller Knight Stage

SF: I’ve seen people playing Super Mario 64 for the Oculus Rift and it looks really weird to get used at first to but it looks super fun once you get used to it.

SV: I started to feel a little nauseous after I’d played a game for about 15 minutes. I had to take it off as I was feeling sick.

NW: Really? I didn’t get that at all.

SV: You were playing a demo where you were taking the glasses off a lot.

NW: Yeah, the thing I was playing was really cool as I had the headphones on and when I was looking at it through the Oculus, it was totally different to when you were looking at it on the laptop in front of me. It was constantly switching in between and hearing different story bits in my ears, all of it was very immersive and very cool. I’ve never really seen something like that.

SV: I’ve just started Mario Sunshine again and I’m trying to get all of the blue coins. Okay, the blue coins in Sunshine, first of all, there’s like two hundreds of them.

SF: It’s ridiculous how many you have to get to get all of the shines sprites in the game.

SV: You have to get every coin and if you miss one, there’s no checklist to tell you if you missed it and they appear and disappear based on which shine you’re playing. So, the only way to get them is to meticulously keep track of every coin which is exactly what I’m doing. It’s like dammit, this is no fun but I need to do it! So that’s what I’m torturing myself with now.

SF: If you two had to be any of the Order of No Quarter, who would you be?

NW: If we had to pick one?

SF: Yeah, which one of the knights would you be.

SV: Propeller Knight.

NW: Yeah, he’s pretty cool.

SV: He flies an airship around, that’s pretty great.

NW: I think Polar Knight’s cool.

SV: You’re already not too far from Polar Knight.

NW: Spectre Knight’s cool too, he can fly.

SV: You want to be an undead Grim Reaper?

NW: I like to fly, yeah.

SF: You’d be pretty badass as Spectre Knight.

SV: But so is Propeller Knight and we can’t both be Propeller Knight.

Order of No Quarter

SF: Finally, what has been the best Shovel Knight-related thing you’ve seen since the game’s launch? Like art or Let’s Plays or cool streams?

NW: There was an animation on Twitter that somebody made and that was pretty cool, of Shovel Knight in the dream sequence, fighting a bunch of bonelings and catching Shield Knight in the air.

SV: I saw that. There was that image that got posted of the Black Knight and Shovel Knight each facing in opposite directions and it’s night time. The Black Knight is at a campfire and Shovel Knight at a campfire and Shovel Knight is holding Shield Knight’s helmet and the Black Knight is holding a feather from the Enchantress, with them both looking off wistfully into the distance.

NW: That was just an incredible piece.

SF: I’ve seen the one of Shovel Knight being reflected in the Shield Knight’s shield, that was a good one.

NW: I’ve seen that picture, that was cool.

SV: There was a really cute one of Shield Knight resting her elbows on Shovel Knight’s head as she’s way taller than him, that was super adorable.

NW: It’s cool to see the adorable/humorous take on their relationship.

SV: The Let’s Play videos and the speedruns are especially great, since a ton of people are doing them. We are just watching that stuff nonstop. There are a few secrets that we put in there specifically for speedrunners to try and find and just to see them break the game and exploiting it, we are really into that.

NW: There was the SGC one, the Ironman of Gaming run recently where someone had 9,000 gold in that. It blows me away as I had only 6,200 gold and I thought I did everything I could.

SV: Like, the top score in the office is about 6 or 7 thousand and they just blew it away. I mean it’s just everything. I can’t believe Zero Punctuation did a review of it, to hear him blabbling at a million miles an hour about Shovel Knight. Or CliffyB tweeting about it! Something like Shovel Knight is tickling…

SF: Shovel Knight is tickling my 12 year old self. That was a bit weird.

NW: Yeah, that was a bit weird.

SV: But still, just to have that happen. I mean the Game Grumps are playing it, I’m loving their series of it and the Two Best Friends did a thing on it. There is just so many videos and just so much art. I mean, someone did a hilarious series of 6 4-panel Shovel Knight comics that were just hilarious. They are completely unrelated but one is just Shovel Knight talking to Propeller Knight and asking why do you have that helmet and he is just wooing some lady and clinking their wine glasses together. Suddenly the door slams and someone shouting ‘Honey I’m home!’ and Propeller Knight just flies out the window and that’s why he has it. I mean, there’s just been so much creativity.

NW: It’s cool seeing people grabbing the characters and running with them.

SV: Yeah, we love that. The more art, we are running some contests, we want to see lots of Shovel Knight stuff.

SF: Well, that’s all of my questions. Thank you so much for talking to me and I wish you all the best with the future of Shovel Knight.

It was great to talk to the guys behind Shovel Knight and really hear about the game’s development and some of the inspirations behind certain characters. Look forward to more Shovel Knight when the new updates coming out in the near future.