Of all the games that I’ve discovered through Xbox Game Pass, Slay the Spire is one of my favourites. It’s a roguelike deckbuilding game with turn-based combat, and the mechanics are genius. There are several different characters with varied abilities, and it’s amazing seeing all the potential options for playstyles. There are so many incredible combos to discover, and the music is stunning. I’ve had hours of fun playing it, and each run feels like a new experience. As such, I was thrilled when Mega Crit Games agreed to an interview with me. I knew that I couldn’t waste such an opportunity, and so I asked the Reddit community to help me come up with some questions. I compiled my favourites, as well as some of my own, and sent them off. So, here’s my Slay the Spire interview!
When creating the game, what were your inspirations? Did you have any games that you based Slay the Spire on, or did it originate completely organically?
We had so many inspirations for Slay the Spire, but especially deckbuilding physical games like Dominion and Ascension. I managed a board game shop for several years, and played everything in the deckbuilding genre I could.
One of the coolest things about Slay the Spire is the fantastic artwork. The designs are so unique and fun, how did these ideas develop? Do you have one person who comes up with the character/ card designs, or is it a team effort?
Casey was the primary driver behind the character designs, and I think he did a great job creating some novel creatures that definitely carve out their own identity in a strange world. Our idea generating process was very brainstorm focused. We would have design sessions where we would just write down huge lists of ideas, creating hundreds or thousands of ideas in a single day before doing lots of filtering to find the gems.
I really love how each of the playable characters have a completely different play style, it makes runs feels so varied and intense. How did you originally come up with the ideas for them? What changes did they go through during the development stage? It would be really interesting to hear more about the early character concepts and how they differ from the final versions.
Character design in particular was one of the more time consuming aspects of development. Each one was unique and done one at a time. Probably the biggest change was in the Defect. The Defect was originally conceived as a gunslinger character. You would load bullets into your gun chambers, before firing them off. This notion of gun chambers being filled with bullets eventually became the orb system!
I believe you’ve mentioned before that you’re limited in what you can do in regards to balance changes (you can only change numerical values) because of localisation issues. If that weren’t a constraint, are there any big changes that you’d want to make to any of the cards?
If I could go back and change any single card right now it would be either Wraith form (too strong), or Clash (too weak).
It was really exciting when The Watcher was added as a new character in 2020. Can we expect any more new characters in the future?
No new characters are planned for StS as we are working on our next project instead. 😉
For years I’ve been saying that Slay the Spire would make an excellent board game, so I was beyond hyped when I saw that you’re making a Kickstarter for one. I was hoping that you could share a few details as to what people can expect from the board game, such as the price point, or the release date? Will the play style be very similar to the videogame version, or did you have to tweak it substantially to make it work as a board game?
I can’t say too much about the board game at this time, it has been a very interesting design challenge to take the essence of the video game and channel it into a faithful and fun co-op experience. I think our players will really enjoy it!
As a development team, you have a closer relationship with the cards than any of us. What are some of your favourite deck builds or combos?
My favorite card in the game is still Corruption, and I think the obscene combos you can pull off with it are the best for any long time card game player.
I know this is probably a long shot, but can you give us any clues as to what’s next for your studio? More content for Slay the Spire? Maybe a Slay the Spire 2, or a completely new game? It would be amazing to have an idea of what could be waiting around the corner!
Are there any behind the scenes mechanics at play, that aren’t inherently obvious? For example, are the final act bosses as random as they seem, or are they chosen to counter the deck style of the player?
The end bosses are indeed truly random! The human brain has an amazing capacity to find patterns where none exist, and these biases lead people to think their deck is being countered. At the end of the day though, it’s just the way the rng rolled. Maybe the biggest unknown mechanic is how ? rooms work. For example, when you enter a ? room and get a fight, it will raise the likelihood of getting a treasure or event in the next ? room. These rooms weight the probability over time to try and smooth over unlucky distributions.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier, Slay the Spire has such incredible art and lore, it would be fascinating to know more about the process of creating that. Do you have any examples of early concept art that you’d be willing to share with us?
Attached is some art from a prototype build!
Thanks so much to Anthony Giovannetti for providing these wonderful answers! It was really cool to learn more about went on behind the scenes of Slay the Spire. I’m also really grateful that we got to see that screenshot from a prototype build. I love seeing how games develop over time, it’s so fascinating to see what stays and what changes. I’m also intrigued by some of the answers. Whilst it’s disappointing that there won’t be any new characters, I can’t wait to see their next project.
How about you, what was your favourite part of the interview? Join the discussion over in our Facebook community! And if you enjoy deckbuilding games, check out this month’s giveaway for Banners of Ruin!