We talked last time about creating character mobility that featured a learning curve for the player.Â Now that we have the basics established, we can show you some tips and tricks toÂ master the mobility toÂ get the most out of it.
During development, the basics being fleshed out allowed for us to design and implementÂ moreÂ polish and tighter control. If you havenât yet, be sure toÂ check out part 1 to learn about the Plague Knight characterâs core move set, or read the instruction manual to know more about Plague Knightâs campaign.
One thing to remember âÂ these tricks are not required to beat the game! We designed the basic mobility so it was entirely enough to get you through the game without all the bells and whistles. But isnât mastering mobility fun?
Plague Knightâs sidewaysÂ Bomb Burst can be useful forÂ jetting from place to place, but when used recklessly itâs also a greatÂ way to flingÂ yourself off a ledge! Luckily there are safeguards in place.
Jumping again when Bomb Bursting allows Plague KnightÂ to shoot across the screen, but jumping without pressing any direction (usuallyÂ called a neutral jump) breaks all momentum with aÂ hop straight up. In earlier iterations, we tried having thisÂ neutral jumpÂ ease you to a stop over time. However, this behavior overlapped with the bomb throwâs âease to a stopâ motion and was inconsistent with the snappy behavior of Plague Knightâs other jumps. Having a clean stop gives players the option of saving their double jump to helpÂ stick the landing.
Alternatively,Â Bomb Bursting without pressing a directionÂ will send Plague straight up, removing the crazy fixed arcÂ of the sideways Bomb Burst. This allowsÂ a lot more control over where Plague lands, and goes even higher than the sideways Bomb Burst! You can use this to get up high for an aerial attack too.
Iteration on the Bomb BurstÂ was key. We spent a lot of time determining the right amount of control to give the player, while still giving Plague Knight that wild feel.
Because we needed to cover the height of Shovel Knightâs normal jump as well as theÂ additional height gained from bouncing on anÂ enemy, Plague Knightâs extraÂ jump heightÂ wasnât a concern to us from the a level design standpoint. Getting great height takes some mastery toÂ execute andÂ can be riskyâŚbut it can also be a ton of fun too. Notice how we combine double jumps and bursts in order to reach ledges you couldnât without help before.
Also, note that the additional height combined with the burst speed lets you cover great lengths. With proper timingÂ and a little bit of courage, you can sail through entire rooms of obstacles.
Itâs tough to balance difficulty when your platform character can jump to almost any platform!Â ToÂ avoid these issues, we focused on keeping the tricks moreÂ challenging to pull off at an execution level (similar to a Metroid mobility set). We also had more freedomÂ since this wasÂ an alternateÂ adventure to Shovel Knightâs main campaign. Being able to conquer new heights and explode over gaps that you couldnât with Shovel Knight makes it all the more fun as you occasionally feel like youâre breaking the rules of the game!
Sometimes youâd end upÂ reallyÂ closeÂ toÂ making it up a nearby platform as Plague Knight. To avoid this frustration, we added a bounce that Plague Knight performs on each throw, giving himÂ a slightÂ bump in height. This can make your throws even more clutch!
Remember how theÂ Bomb BurstÂ explosion does damage? Donât forget that! When enemies take damage, they flash and you can go through them. While this let Shovel Knight beat melee enemies to the punch, it allows Plague Knight to Bomb Burst past:
This mobility combined with the gameâs combat rulesÂ makes this move idealÂ for a quick escape out of a tight situation. But what about hazards that canât be damaged? Luckily, Plague Knight is also invulnerable for a few frames after Bomb Bursting:
This invulnerability is important! It gives the player the edge neededÂ to go in and play moreÂ dangerously.
Players need onlyÂ focus on only two things: charging ahead of time, and getting close to an obstacle orÂ enemy. Burst invulnerabilityÂ prevents up close encounters from feeling frustrating or cheap.
Itâs an awful feeling in a gameÂ when you successfully hit an enemy, only to be immediately knocked away. Shovel Knightâs Shovel Drop & bounce also have uniqueÂ invulnerability rules because we wanted the characterâs signature attack to be frustration free and fun to pull off. The same stands forÂ Plague Knight â take advantage of the Bomb Burstâs invulnerability and nothing can stand in your way!
Have you noticed that Plague doesnât really start slowing down until he throws his second bomb? You need to toss a lot to slow all the way down.
This is good because it helps players better controlÂ their speed, keepÂ momentum when bombing weakÂ enemies, Â and charge another Bomb Burst! Keep this in mind as you figure out how to optimize speed runs through each stage.
This bomb throwing slowdown was established through design iteration. It was important for us to maintain Plague Knightâs sense of speed, as that really sets him apart from Shovel Knight.
When an instant action and a charge-up action are mapped to the same button, you get aÂ problem that occurs in many games:
Notice above in Mega Man X that charging your arm cannon immediately after releasing a charge shot results in an unintended pellet. This unintended attack can lead to unfortunate consequencesÂ â for instance, an enemy might get hit by the small attack and not the big one! Â NES Mega Man games solve this problem by giving the charge shot a large cooldown, which slows gameplay down while you wait for the shot to finishâŚ not so fun either!
We found it important to solve for this problem with Plague Knightâs mobility, which is why we added a buffer period where the player could charge a burst without throwing a bomb.
Basically, if you throw immediately after Bomb Bursting, no bomb comes out!
Observe the technique below:
The bombÂ button is held within a few frames of using the burst here, sending the player straight into charging the next Bomb Burst instead of throwing a bomb. It can be a very helpful technique to make a quick getaway, cover more ground without throwing a bomb and slowing down too much.
There are other cases where we wanted to give you the ability to charge without having to throw a bomb first. One of those is the get hit animation:
This allows players to more easily save themselves in dangerous situations or begin their counter attack.
Thereâs actually very few places where you canât charge your Bomb Burst! Opening a chest? Talking to an NPC? Climbing a ladder? YouÂ can charge during all of these!
All of these statesÂ takeÂ different levels of control away from the player, but we never wanted the playerÂ to feel like theirÂ charge was being lost. The start, stop, and total time needed to charge should remainÂ consistent across the entire game, regardless of player states, so that you could alwaysÂ haveÂ the timing down in muscle memory even when performing complicated platforming. After while, you probably donât even need the visual flash to know thatÂ you have a charge ready â it becomes intuitive.
One of the coolest parts of this ruleÂ isÂ that you can get a Bomb BurstÂ ready during any of the gameâs room screen transitions!
Wow, thatâs a lot of tricks! Plague Knight gets really enjoyable when all of these tools are under your mastery so make sure to study up! We hope delving into these a bit shows how much time can beÂ invested into every tiny mechanic, and how important each element is to the final result. Even while iteratingÂ based on what âfeels rightâ, it can also be helpful to take the time out to put the end resultÂ into words, especially when discussing it with other members on your team!Â And donât think this is everythingâŚlet us know if you discover any tricks we didnât mention! Have fun!