At PAX East, Yacht Club games showcased the latest standalone expansion to Shovel Knight, Spectre of Torment. It’s a brand new campaign with a brand new playstyle where you play as another one of Shovel Knight’s foes, Spectre Knight. Currently, only players with the Nintendo Switch version of the game can play this campaign. Players on all other consoles will receive the Spectre Knight campaign in April.

I spoke with a representative from Yacht Club Games, one of the interns from the development team. Our interview revealed a lot about the game design philosophy behind Shovel Knight and the ways Yacht Club Games shows dedicated consideration to its fanbase.

The team at Yacht Club Games takes its fan feedback to heart, and you can see that in the team has done with Shovel Knight’s Spectre of Torment expansion. According to Yacht Club Games’ representative, they really wanted Spectre of Torment to feel like a “really new experience.” That’s because they noticed some fans felt that even with the completely new gameplay and story in the first expansion Plague of Shadows, they still felt like they were retreading more or less similar levels. So, to make it really show, you’ll notice brand new visuals and composer Jake Kaufman’s new musical arrangements.

For instance, the familiar Plains of Passage stage has been given a gorgeous sunset/evening time overhaul with a brand new musical arrangement fitting for Spectre Knight’s campaign. Even the Black Knight boss battle in that stage feels more pronouncedly different than how it does in either Shovel Knight or Plague Knight’s campaigns. The Black Knight strolls in with the rhino turtle Terrorpin as his mount and it becomes part of a brand new set of attacks we’ve never seen the Black Knight do before.

Among the Shovel Knight fanbase, Yacht Club Games shows a lot of love for Shovel Knight’s speedrunning community. During some of the past Games Done Quick events, Yacht Club Games has even been on call during the Shovel Knight speedruns. When their representative at PAX and I spoke about the speedrunning community, he surprised me with how the speedrunning community has really impacted the team’s design philosophy.

“The developers actually think of the speedrunning community when they design levels,” he said, “So, we actually consider if the levels would be received well by speedrunners or not. Our designers decide if a segment is friendly for speedrunners or not, and if not, we fix the level design.” No doubt; these philosophies have worked their way into both Plague of Shadows and Spectre of Torment. When the King Knight DLC drops in the future, you can bet that it’s going to be speedrunner-friendly too.

I also had the chance to ask about if there were plans to use the Shovel Knight Amiibo in more content or if the team had plans for functionality in other games. The Shovel Knight Amiibo’s main function, the Wii U-exclusive multiplayer mode, is being brought to other consoles without the need for the Amiibo. “Well, what do you want,” he quipped. “We ask our fans what kind of stuff they’d like to see with the Shovel Knight Amiibo. People are split about functionality and cosmetics,” he stated. It seems that too, is part of their immense consideration for their fan base.

Finally, I asked: what’s next for Yacht Club Games after the King Knight-centric final Shovel Knight DLC? The answer surprised me. “A new project will be starting this year. The staff is torn between a new project or wanting to do a Shovel Knight 2,” he stated.

Yacht Club Games had previously put out a survey asking what fans would like to see next. Some of the options ranged from a proper Shovel Knight 2, Shovel Knight’s appearance in other genres like a kart racer, a Shovel Knight & Shield Knight co-op adventure, or even a completely original Final Fantasy-inspired RPG. It seems the team is still internally debating on what their next big effort will be. Either way, we’re hyped to see what comes next for the developers at Yacht Club Games.

Shovel Knight: Spectre of Torment will arrive on all other platforms in early April. In addition, the base game has been rebranded as Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove to emphasize how the game has multiple different adventures in it now. Later in the year, a new King Knight DLC campaign will be released.