When it comes to the creation of the poker-themed deckbuilder game Balatro, Localthunk took a bold and unconventional approach. Rather than following in the footsteps of other card-based roguelikes, the developer actively avoided them in order to craft the best game possible. This decision to steer clear of similar games was a deliberate one, as Localthunk wanted to explore the design space with fresh eyes and avoid being influenced by existing titles.

One of the most surprising revelations from Localthunk is the primary influence behind Balatro – Luck Be A Landlord. Despite being a deckbuilding roguelike itself, this game served as the catalyst for inspiring and shaping Balatro. Watching YouTuber Northernlion play Luck Be A Landlord sparked Localthunk’s fascination with the concept of a non-fantasy themed score-attached roguelike. This unexpected inspiration led to Localthunk modifying the card game they were already working on to fit within the roguelike structure.

In addition to Luck Be A Landlord, Localthunk made a conscious effort to steer clear of other card-based roguelikes during the development of Balatro. This intentional decision to cut themselves off from the genre allowed Localthunk to make their own mistakes and explore the design space naively. By avoiding the influence of other games in the genre, Localthunk was able to take risks and approach game development with a fresh perspective, ultimately leading to the unique and innovative gameplay found in Balatro.

Despite the inevitable comparisons to popular titles like Slay the Spire, Localthunk reveals that they have never played or even watched footage of the game until much later. The developer acknowledges that they hear the comparisons to Slay the Spire often, but their lack of exposure to the game demonstrates their commitment to creating a truly original and authentic gaming experience with Balatro. This decision to remain isolated from industry trends and mainstream influences allowed Localthunk to bring a fresh and unique perspective to the game development process.

The unconventional research process employed by Localthunk during the creation of Balatro ultimately led to astonishing results. By embracing influences from unexpected sources, avoiding genre conventions, and shunning comparisons to popular titles, Localthunk was able to engineer a game that stands out in the crowded market of card-based roguelikes. Balatro’s success serves as a testament to the power of originality, creativity, and a willingness to break away from the norm in game development.


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