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Shovel Knight programmer outlines 'year of free content'

Shovel Knight completed his long journey earlier this summer. But Yacht Club Games isn't finished with that world just yet, as they share their grand plan for the future with Shacknews.


While gaming is heading into the holiday season, it would be a disservice to forget one of the best games of the summer. Shovel Knight captivated audiences when it finally completed its long Kickstarter journey, becoming a favorite of many, including Shacknews.

However, while the title character's journey is complete, Yacht Club Games is far from finished with the world they've created. Shacknews reached out to the studio to ask about what they have planned next for their retro platformer. And while Shovel Knight's tale has been told, there appear to be other stories waiting in the wings. To learn about everything coming to the Shovel Knight world, we talked to Yacht Club Games programmer David D'Angelo.

Shacknews: It's been almost six months since Shovel Knight released. It's gotten almost universal acclaim from critics and readers alike, but there were some delays along the way. Was there ever a point where you were concerned that Shovel Knight, as we know it now, wouldn't make it out?

Yacht Club programmer David D'Angelo: All games of course have a risk of not coming out, but we were probably the least worried about that for Shovel Knight than with any other game. With a publisher, you never know when they are going to take the game away from you or cancel it altogether. On Shovel Knight, we were the ones calling the shots about what the game would be and when it would come out!

Shacknews: Some of those delays also hit Europe and Australia. In fact, Shovel Knight just released in those regions on Wednesday. What was the reason behind those delays and how were they resolved?

D'Angelo: There were so many reasons! First, we're just a small team of half a dozen people, and we were publishing a game for our first time. We had to figure out all the nitty gritty details about Europe and Australia: who to use for translations, testing our game in French/Italian/German/Spanish, how to get business and tax licenses, getting ratings across the board, working with Nintendo to make sure our game passed certification, and readying the game for the eShop. There are a lot of moving parts involving a lot of companies across many countries. We weren't prepared for what was in store, and unfortunately Europe and Australia felt the negative side effects. For more on our process, check out the site we made.

Shacknews: You brought Shovel Knight to IndieCade for the second year in a row and I'm sure you were approached by fans that enjoyed it. Did they share any stories about their time with the game? What was your favorite?

D'Angelo: It's a joy to bring Shovel Knight to any convention, especially now that the game has been released. Hearing stories from players about how they were surprised by a boss, event, gameplay, or the story really warms our heart. Our favorites are always those who start to shed a tear telling us how a game hasn't brought them back to being a six year old, with their face pressed against the television, quite like Shovel Knight.

Shacknews: Nintendo also spoke to you at IndieCade, where you mentioned that there's more content coming to Shovel Knight in the future. Can you tell us about Battle Mode and Challenge Mode?

D'Angelo: Absolutely -- we don't have the scope of either entirely mapped out, but I'll do my best. For Challenge Mode, we plan on delivering a series of small stages where Shovel Knight's true skills are put to the test. Expect pixel perfect platforming, expert relic use, strategic attack and defense, knowing when and what to spend your hard-earned gold on and much more! We have something in mind, like New Super Mario Bros challenges or Pikmin 3 challenges... or somewhere in-between. For Battle Mode, we'll have an all-out 4 player brawl, where you can play as any of your favorite boss knights and Shovel Knight. Play with your friends to find out who is true champion of shovelry!

Shacknews: You also mentioned that while Shovel Knight's journey is finished, you alluded to the possibility of other knights. Who else are you looking to add to the game and how will their inclusion change the Shovel Knight experience?

D'Angelo: We will also be adding playable boss campaigns for Specter Knight, Plague Knight, and King Knight. For each knight, players will be able to play through the existing game content (i.e. the same levels), but with a new twist! Each knight will have new mobility, some new objects, new relic systems, new story, new music, and a couple new bosses. It'll be a fun, interesting way to experience the existing levels. I hope everyone will enjoy it!

Shacknews: Possibly along the same lines, will we ever learn the backstory of some of the other major characters, like the Black Knight?

D'Angelo: In the other boss campaigns, I'm sure we'll tease a little bit more backstory out of all the major characters and minor characters. But if we don't hit on everyone, you never know... maybe we will in a sequel!

Shacknews: How instrumental was Nintendo in helping create awareness for Shovel Knight? How much did they help get the word out about this game?

D'Angelo: Nintendo was completely essential and instrumental in promoting and marketing Shovel Knight. They brought our game around to conventions, featured us on Nintendo Directs, re-did the eShop art for us, featured us on their website, did press releases... the list goes on and on. They were very helpful in getting the word out about the game, and making sure gamers new exactly why Shovel Knight fit well on Nintendo platforms.

Shacknews: If given the opportunity, would you work with Nintendo again or would you seek to explore other gaming platforms?

D'Angelo: Absolutely, we love working with Nintendo and we love making games for their systems. They always have a focus on creating new and interesting gameplay experiences, and we aim to do the same!

Shacknews: You emphatically pointed out that Shovel Knight's first adventure is over. Is it too early to ask if you've started looking towards his second?

D'Angelo: It's definitely too early! We've still got a year of free content to generate: 3 playable boss knight campaigns, gender swap mode, challenge mode, and battle mode. There's a lot to do still just for Shovel Knight - in a year we'll know more about what's next for the Yacht Club.

Shovel Knight is available now on the Nintendo eShop for both Wii U and 3DS. It's also available on Steam.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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