Design Post-Mortem on Helgä’s Slöp Höuse

At the launch of the Slöp Höuse update, the Grindstone team wanted to take some time and talk through the design process behind the creation of Helgä’s Slöp Höuse, the first fully brand new progression loop introduced to Grindstone since the game’s initial launch.

The Slöp Höuse update features a few new things, such as the self-starter Helgä, her “recipe” book, and a new progression loop, tracking all the enemies players kill in the game as a way to offer new, unique, and high-powered items.

What a lot of fans might not know is that right from the get-go Grindstone was built with a really rich world behind it. Amongst the team, there’s a lot of love for all the characters and enemies you see in the game. So the recipe book was originally conceived as a bestiary-type book that could serve as a funny reference for all the enemies and NPCs you encounter.

So, in one part, we were reacting to this gap: we had all these really fun and creepy enemies and wanted to give players an easy way to reference them. This could also serve as a reminder about how they operate in-game, as well as give them a consistent name in challenges.

There wasn’t an easy way to learn the names of all the Creeps and Jerks in the game, so challenges that relied on players knowing which enemy to look for sometimes were confusing and difficult to intentionally accomplish. A bestiary could solve this!

But we wanted to introduce more gameplay to it, a way to provide both narrative rewards and gameplay rewards to players. We knew we wanted to track the number of times you killed an enemy on their specific page, and so we started from there.

So the game design question was: Why kill a lot of enemies? What does a large body count amount to?

The answer: guts. Lots and lots of guts.

So then, okay, what if the NPC (the as-of-yet-unnamed Helgä) was actually using those guts to make little snacks. And the player could eat those snacks to get really cool gameplay boosts? We wanted these snacks to be extremely difficult to craft, so they had to be powerful.

Okay, so now we had: a bestiary featuring all of the enemies in the game, a kill tracker, and cannibalism. Where did that leave us? The answer: Helgä’s Slöp Höuse Slöp Bucket.

Originally it was a kid’s book, but thought it’d be funny (and gross!) if instead it was an old bestiary that somebody wrote in. And we thought it’d be even funnier if that marginalia was about what the Creeps and Jerks tasted like. So that gave birth to the Slöp Bucket!

Now we had Helgä, a sketchy business-woman relegated to the basement of the Howling Wolf Inn, we had a bestiary collecting her tasting notes of all the enemies, and we had the Slöp Bucket, which collected all of the guts of the enemies players killed.

And then the rest was balancing and iterating. What type of “snack” items felt powerful enough to warrant such a high crafting cost? What were the old dream ideas for gear and weapons that were cut because they were too OP? Let’s start from there.

So the Slöp Bucket was an initial reaction to a few gaps we saw (no reliable naming for enemies, no way to surface lore) and became a whole new progression loop that rewarded players for all the enemies they defeated in the game.

Also we got to write some jokes. And who doesn’t like jokes?

Capybara Games is an award-winning indie video game studio in Toronto, Canada.