Derek Yu discusses Spelunky 2 philosophy while aiming for 2020 release
Posted by hb on May 11th, 2020 @10:36PM
Spelunky 2 creator Derek Yu has dropped a couple of small hints about the upcoming sequel as the development team works towards a 2020 release.
Late last month, Yu confirmed on social media that he and Eirik Suhrke will be prioritising development on Spelunky 2 over UFO 50, and although the developer didn't share any new specific details while featuring on the latest episode of the Spelunky Showlike podcast, he did talk about his philosophy and approach to game design while repeating his desire for a launch before the end of the year.
"For me, the experience of working on Spelunky 1 and previous games has helped me move in the right directions at the right times," Yu said when asked about heading towards the finish line and whether or not he was considering making cuts. "At the point I'm at now, I don't feel like I need to cut a lot of things that I want to have in the game.
"In general, I've been developing a philosophy of not cutting anything from games. Just leave it in there, you know. But it depends on the kind of game that you're working on… For example, I think Spelunky 2 has become such a dense game that if I add an enemy or a trap, I can find a place for it. I can find a place to put that thing and there's not going to be an enemy or trap that just breaks the game.
"I knew I wanted to finish both [Spelunky 2 and UFO 50] around three, it's going to be four years. I didn't want to take much longer than that because for me, I think after three or four years, that's like a single game lifetime and then after that, I've changed too much as a person. And I kind of like these projects to be snapshots of me and of the development team in this three- or four-year period."
Later in the podcast, Yu shared how arcade games will continue to influence Spelunky for the sequel. He commented that one complete run of Spelunky 2 shouldn't take longer than an hour, and that he was inspired by the "lean and explosive" approach seen in arcade games.
"It's 'lean' because you have to push players along to the interesting parts of the game as quickly as possible," he explained. "And you just don't see it in modern games or modern game development. I think the temptation these days to make more sales in games is, you've got to make your games feel very full and I think it can lead to padding your game or choosing genres that feel like they're going to offer this 'full' experience so people feel like they're worth buying.
"And I say 'explosive' because [arcade games] don't save anything for the end. The experiences are quite short, to play through an arcade game. It's like 30 minutes to an hour tops for the longer arcade games. You don't want to save anything for the end because players are renting the game a quarter at a time. So starting with Stage 1, you've got to put it all out there on the table while still in the later parts of the game giving people something to look forward to. And I realise that I think that's been very influential in Spelunky 1 and 2, and it's a type of design that I really enjoy.
"I think while working on Spelunky 2, I've had that mentality -- consciously or sub-consciously -- like, don't save anything. Just, I want the experience to end, playing from beginning to end, after an hour tops. And within that timeframe, I just really want this experience to be really dense starting with the very first area of the game. I want to be laying it all on the table, and I want the game to be as interesting as it possibly can be there.
"I've just been really into arcade games recently. I think they have influenced Spelunky's design from the very first game, even with stuff like the ghost kind of pushing you forward a bit as a soft timer. That's a very arcadey system and I may not have completely understood why it worked the way it did back then in the larger context of arcade design, but I think I'm starting to get it more."
And when Yu was asked about his thoughts on whether or not Spelunky 2 could have worked as an early access game, the developer said that he never really considered that idea. Yu added that he hopes players will be surprised by Spelunky 2 and explained why he doesn't simply want to give fans of the first game exactly what they want.
"To me, there's kind of a membrane between the developer and the player, and it feels strange to break that prematurely," he said, discussing why early access wouldn't have worked for Spelunky 2. "My whole relationship with feedback is just very strange. I tend to have to change into the headspace where, okay, now I'm going into feedback mode.
"Feedback is very important and especially from players of Spelunky 1. I do want to hear what they want to see in Spelunky 2, but I just can't have that constant sort of drip feed of feedback. There has to be, I think, large periods of time where the development team and I, it's just us in our own little world. I think even some of the uncertainty that comes from that like… 'Is anybody going to even like this?', which always comes up no matter how many games you've worked on, even that is good and I appreciate that feeling.
"It's sort of an exciting feeling, and ultimately releasing a game these days, more than people enjoying the game I think you want people to just really feel something strongly. I'm really scared of putting something out that is just what everyone wants. I know that sounds silly and you have to get to a point where you're lucky enough that that is not your main concern."
In 2018, Yu talked about how his daughter inspired him creatively for Spelunky 2.
Spelunky 2 has been confirmed for PC and PlayStation 4. An exact release date and additional platforms have not yet been announced.