When a character controls well, its motion might seem purely natural and intuitive. What we don't often see from the playing side of the experience, however, is all the work and tweaking developers likely did to make it feel that way.
With the free Plague of Shadows campaign coming soon to Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games developer David D'Angelo took to gamemaking blog Gamasutra to pull the curtain back a bit on how the newly controllable Plague Knight's moveset was designed.
According to D'Angelo, Yacht Club wanted to provide a unique mobility set for the villain that would make old level designs feel new again, but didn't want to lose that classic NES-inspired sense. In that regard, D'Angelo noted the intent to shift from the simplicity of Shovel Knight's controls to something more advanced and exploratory:
Do you remember starting a new game like Castlevania only to discover hours later how to climb stairs or use a subweapon? The concepts being explored in games around that time were sometimes so new that there weren't standards for how to jump, how to attack, etc. We hoped players would sit down with Plague Knight and be curious in the same way…enjoying the discovery of each button's actions. We hoped they would learn a new way a character could move in a 2D world. Maybe something they've never played before – just like picking up a new game during the days of the NES. Something that was easy to learn but difficult to master over the course of the game. The fun would come in learning the character's strengths and weaknesses, and using them to his or her advantage!
This new experience, however, would need to be built within a world tailored to Shovel Knight's actions (all of which was neatly devised by a grid system) while remaining true to the spirit of the maniacal alchemist. The end result is a moveset that includes a wild, distance-covering attack-jump, a double jump, and tri-bomb peppering attacks that change angle depending upon one's position on the ground or in the air. More moves are likely waiting beneath the surface.
A deeper explanation of the moves is provided by D'Angelo over at his blog on Gamasutra, and includes plenty more glorious GIFs showcasing Plague Knight in action. Additional teachings on the alchemist's moves have been promised as well.
So how about it? Are you bursting with anticipation toward giving Plague Knight a go?