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|Derek Yu on Spelunky 2's more 'open-world' nature, items balance, and shoppies|
|Posted by . on August 14th, 2020 @08:15PM|
(Minor spoilers in this article.)
Developer Derek Yu has dropped a few fresh details about Spelunky 2 ahead of the upcoming release, suggesting that the sequel will feel more open in nature as well as hinting at some of the differences compared to the first game.
With Spelunky 2's release date confirmed as September 15 for PlayStation 4 (the PC version is expected a few weeks later), Yu - alongside composer Eirik Suhrke - was making an appearance on the latest Spelunky Showlike podcast. "One thing that's been really interesting for me is thinking about Spelunky 2 more like an open-world game or a sandbox game in some ways," he said, describing the step from the first Spelunky to Spelunky 2 was like Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario Bros. 3 or World.
"Instead of [thinking about it] like a roguelike, which I think implies more of a linear game, if you think about every run that you do in Spelunky 2 is like a different thread heading out in a different direction, where this time around you can try this, I think it's more like an open-world game in that sense. [In] an open-world game, you're just at this starting point and you can pick a direction to go in. You can go north, south, east, west. You can do that in Spelunky 2, even though it's ostensibly a linear game.
"A lot of that has to do with the branching paths, and also that second layer in the back. But thinking about the game like it's open-world has really informed a lot of the design and this idea that you cannot see everything in a single run. In Spelunky 1, it was actually kind of a goal to be like, it'd be cool if the player could see every single thing that you can see in a single run if they know enough about the game. Whereas in Spelunky 2, you literally cannot do that. No matter how well you know the game, you cannot see everything in a single run."
Yu added that he sees reaching the end as a "secondary goal" in the game, explaining: "I really just want people to explore and experiment, kind of in the way that the speedrunners do. Like they're going to do runs just to see, 'Well, what happens when you do this?'. I think I want more casual players to feel that they can do that, too.
"There's a lot in the game that pushes you to not care about dying in some ways - to care but not care like, the game is meant to be played across multiple runs. And so that's something that we really wanted to convey with the design this time around."
The Spelunky Showlike hosts brought up a new object in the game - a ghost jar. Breaking open the jar will reveal a diamond but it comes at a cost, with the ghost immediately spawning. "The ghost jar just came from wanting to give people a way to summon the ghost if they wanted to ghost-mine basically and not having to wait around," Yu said. "That basically came from the speedrunning and high score community to start with. And then I threw in the diamond because when you ghost-mine, the ghost turns gems into diamonds. I wanted to tie it to the ghost in that way."
While the promotional trailers and screenshots for Spelunky 2 have revealed a number of new items that players can expect, many of the old ones from the first game have been altered slightly. Climbing gloves, according to Spelunky Showlike, have been 'fixed' where "you don't really accidentally stick to walls", while using the cape requires a button to be held down rather than toggling. The tweak with the cape is due to a desire to standardise the controls (the turkey mount can glide).
But for other items, Yu wanted to do a little balancing while also using them to flesh out the new world. He added that Spelunky 2's array of items means that theoretically players should feel less reliant on the jetpack compared to in Spelunky 1.
"There are a lot of items in Spelunky 1 that just weren't super useful, or as useful as they could be," he said. "But [the balancing] works really well with also making the world feel more rich and just pushing the possibility space outward or filling in the existing possibility space - finding what are things that we can do with the items that would make them more interesting and more useful. And so a lot of those older items that people didn't use as much are more useful and that's intentional.
"I think one thing that was interesting to me was, having a variety of items and good items is that… when I play the game, I feel like the jetpack comes up a lot less in my runs and also I don't miss it as much when I don't get it. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's something that I'd hoped would happen and feels like is true. In Spelunky 1, you did kind of have sort of like an ascension kit of shotgun and jetpack, and I did want to move away from that for Spelunky 2."
Finally, Yu talked about the shopkeepers in the game, who appear to be much more dangerous and threatening this time around. Shopkeepers - as well as Hired Helps - have greater AI and pathfinding and can even climb ladders and ropes, meaning that robbing shops become a riskier affair.
"I did want shopkeepers to be scarier," Yu told Spelunky Showlike. "One thing that really stood out to me from one of your previous podcasts - the one with Justin Ma who co-created FTL and Into the Breach - he was saying that he never robs the shops. He just doesn't want to deal with all that. And so I thought it was really important to make not robbing the shops as viable as possible in Spelunky 2.
"It was obviously viable in Spelunky 1 if Justin wasn't robbing the shops, but I wanted the pressure to rob the shops to be less if you really didn't want to… [but] it should still be tempting."
The black market has undergone a big change too, as a result. Although neither the Spelunky Showlike hosts nor Yu detailed exactly how the black market was different this time around, there was some allusion that it would be noticeably more difficult to rob. "That was definitely intentional," Yu shared. "That was another thing - making it viable to actually shop at the black market and kind of pushing you to do that if you want to was also important."
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