Shovel Knight Retrospective Episode 3: Progression and Power-Ups


Progression is a powerful tool in game design, but it requires a careful balance between challenge and reward. Players need to feel as if they earned the next upgrade or resource, but that emotional response diminishes if a challenge is too easy, too hard, comes too slowly, or comes too quickly.

To strike this balance, Yacht Club makes several interesting design choices around world structure, level design, their power-up system, and their pacing. These themes began in our previous two videos, and they become even more powerful as we zoom into the details of today’s video.

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