LocalThunk talks mobile version, concept of Balatro, design, importance of presentation, future plans and more – TouchArcade

It’s been an amazing year for gaming, but we’re still in the first quarter. There are already several Game of the Year contenders on my All Platforms list, and one specific game that tops the list is Balatro from LocalThunk and Playstack. I tried Balatro because a friend of mine praised the presentation and I ended up liking it. It’s basically consumed most of my free time since receiving it for review. Following the game’s release, I recently had the opportunity to chat with developer LocalThunk about the upcoming mobile port, the game’s design, music, potential DLC, and more.

TouchArcade (TA): I gave Balatro a 5/5 on Switch and have been playing it regularly since receiving the review. How did you come up with this concept?

Local Thunk (LT): The concept was originally inspired by the real-life card game Big 2 and a video I watched about Luck Be a Landlord, but mostly it evolved naturally during my early exploration of Balatro’s design.

face: One thing that makes Balatro stand out is that it doesn’t have massive life bars or attack numbers etc., keeping poker at the forefront while still maintaining the complexity of a deep roguelike deck builder. Was this always what you wanted players to see?

LT: Yes! These same themes always turn me off from games. I don’t like the “game” language of fantasy and combat, which seems excessive in video games. Since Balatero is ultimately a game to me, I wanted to rely on different phrasing and visuals.

face: How important is your pre-release Steam demo for player feedback?

LT: They are very helpful. This game truly became the strategy game it is now because I was able to iterate on it with the community over time. A lot of mistakes were made and a lot of systems were changed, but it all worked out in favor of Balatero.

face: Balatro feels perfect with touch controls on the Steam Deck and Switch. I need a mobile version to play on iPad and iPhone. I know you said it was possible, but can you give us more information about Balatro on mobile devices?

LT: I think you can expect pretty much the same experience now! I’ll need to evaluate and possibly tweak the UI to make sure it plays properly on mobile, but I’m sure it will perform just fine.

face: How does Balatro run on all consoles and PC simultaneously? Are there any issues with updates or platform-specific issues?

LT: This is a lot of work. Fortunately, I had great help porting the game to Xbox and Playstation, but the Switch was the biggest bottleneck in terms of performance. I spent a long time optimizing the game for all platforms to bring Balatro up to the quality standards of each platform. Fortunately, optimizations are shared between all versions.

face: Are there plans to introduce more Jokers or deck types in updates or DLC?

LT: most likely! I don’t have anything concrete to mention yet about these future plans, but I will let you all know when details are available to share.

face: Balatro’s audio design is excellent and the sound effects are satisfying, but the real star is the music. The main theme is now legendary and I even listen to it outside of the game via the Steam soundtrack. How many different versions were considered before settling on the final theme?

LT: I spent a long time sifting through the portfolios of freelance musicians before finding LouisFSoundtracks. He did a great job and it took some iterations back and forth to get it right, but not very long. He accepted my quirky request and actually made it happen!

face: While Balatro has a good progression system to unlock new content, you also have the option to Unlock All to disable achievements or trophies on your profile. What prompted you to add this option when not many games do something similar?

LT: I personally would never click that option myself, nor in other games, but when someone suggested it to me, I thought – why don’t I just add it as an option? It’s just a net positive mechanism.

face: Congratulations Balatero Over 500,000 units sold (Editor’s note: This interview was conducted in 1 million sales milestone be announced). Did you expect to see so many sales so soon?

LT: When I first launched the Steam store page in May, I expected to sell maybe 2 copies. So no, not at all! Even a week before launch, we had no idea what kind of impact the game would ultimately achieve.

face: Back in 2012 or 2013, I used to watch Northernlion’s Spelunky live streams. Fast forward to today and I’m doing the same thing for Balatero and he got a lot of my friends into the game. How important is it for you to see so many creators live-streaming pre-launch demos?

LT: I was watching him play too! Obviously, this is huge for the game – I’m so grateful that people are choosing to share this game on their streams. I try not to think about it too much, because ultimately they picked my game for a reason, and game developers struggle with imposter syndrome, and it’s easy to think that the only reason my game is successful is because the right person is working on it Time played with it. That’s true, but I need to focus on the things I can control and hope that the quality of the game eventually gets the attention of streamers and the media.

face: Balatro is one of the highest-rated games of the year, with Metacritic scores exceeding 90 on most platforms. Are you looking forward to seeing this pre-release reception?

LT: No! I think it’s cool, but it’s not something I think too much about. After all, I made this game for myself, and while I love that others can relate to the experience, I think that’s secondary to my own opinion of the game. For me, I don’t know if I would rate this game so highly.

face: What are your plans for Balatro, aside from fixing the issues you’re seeing with the current game on console and PC?

LT: I’d love to keep working on it; making fixes, balance changes, and new content for the game! I think Balatero has a lot of room for improvement.

face: What should we expect next from LocalThunk?

LT: Well, I’ll continue developing Balatro – but I’ll definitely be working on the game for a long time after that! Probably still as an indie developer, probably privately, until I have something basically finished to share.

face: What is your favorite game of 2023? What games are you currently playing?

LT: I think the only new game I play in 2023 is Roadwarden, so that’s probably it! Really loved the mood and vibe of that game, it felt like a fantasy novel. To me, this is a very atypical game. Currently – not much, but I’ve played a few games of Rocket League in the past week or so!

I’d like to thank Playstack’s LocalThunk and Wout for their help and time.

You can follow all of our interviews here, including our recent interviews with Warframe Mobile, Team NINJA, and Digital Extremes, sonic dream team, hi-fi dash, repentanceand more.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *