Journalists from EDGE magazine recently got the opportunity to interview Yusuke Amano (Director), Tsubasa Sakaguchi (Director) and Hisashi Nogami (Producer), about Splatoon. First, they talked a bit about the prototype, which had basic blocks as characters, and the painting mechanics. At the time, you could become invisible when standing in your own ink. Then, they added various things like jumping, being able to hide within the ink, and the ability to shoot up and down.
But after that, they were quite confused about what to do next. Back in 2013, they were actually scolded by Miyamoto who told them he didn’t understand what the team was trying to do with the game, which didn’t really have any appeal at the time.
For the boxart, they thought of putting a squid on it, but they needed a humanoid character to hold the guns, so they were not quite sure what to do. They thought that having a character that was both human and squid wouldn’t be really appealing. But then, in January 2014, they had an epiphany: they came up with the human > squid transformation.
From there, everything went really fast, as ideas started flooding in: faster movement in the ink while in Squid form, enemy ink slowing you down, swimming up walls, etc..
Yusuke Amano explains that he’s quite the shooting game fan, but when he invites people over to play such games, they always end up frustrated. From there was born his desire to make a shooting game that could be enjoyed by a lot of people, even those who aren’t really fan of traditional shooters.
He also gives his reason for not including any voice chat: it all comes down to his own personal experience. He didn’t quite like all the negativity from other players, bossing people around, saying rude things like “You’re playing like crap”. Instead, he wanted to focus on the positive aspects of online gaming. He doesn’t really think having chat automatically makes the game not fun, but he preferred to focus on bringing new players. (That being said, having an option for enabling/disabling voice chat would certainly have been better a better option, especially for sessions with only friends).
In its article, EDGE also gives several tidbits about the game: for starters, even though the weapons come in sets (main / sub / special), there’s sometimes sets with the same main weapon, but different sub/special weapons. For balancing, Tsubasa Sakaguchi explains that the tricks lies in making people want just a little more (like “if only I could shoot a litter faster/further”).
In other words, there won’t be one weapon much more powerful than the others. During testing, there’s often been quarrels between the developers, about which weapons is more useful in certain situations. At one point, they even spent 2 full hours arguing about how fast the grenade should explode after being thrown!
During gameplay, you can actually start to shoot even before you land after using a Super Jump. As for online, the developers confirm there are more modes besides Turf Wars and Splat Zones. And to avoid trolling from people camping just in front of a team’s spawn point, they made it so players are invisible while standing on it.
Apparently, a lot of the designers in the development team are in their 30s, which means that fashion from the 90’s was a big source of inspiration for the clothes in the game. They also talked about one of the pairs of shoes, which actually change colour depending on the Inkling you’ve created. Finally, some details about the amiibo: each of them unlock 15 Single Player challenges, and 5 rare pieces of gear (clothes, weapons, etc.). One of the challenges seems to consist in completing one mission within the time limit.
Splatoon is definitely an important project for Nintendo, and especially Yusuke Amano and Tsubasa Sakaguchi. They’ve been thinking about it so much they’ve even started dreaming about it. One day, Sakaguchi dreamed that he asked one of the programmers to include an idea he had: he actually liked that idea a lot, and the next day, he went and asked that same programer to include it in the actual game. A dream come true… literally!
EDGE concludes with a Q/A with Katsuya Eguchi, who mentions that Splatoon is a brand new IP with a huge potential: its characters could even appear in different games (not necessarily shooters). He also talks about the challenges of HD development, and more precisely the size of the team. All developers do not necessarily have the same level of skills, so it’s something to take into account. They also have to avoid developers working on the same thing (overlapping) when it’s not necessary.
They’re also trying lots of new different things, like taking the opinions of younger developers at the beginning of the project, and not just of the veterans. Finally, he mentions various things that will grab players’ attention once Splatoon has released, probably hinting at potential updates / DLC for the game.
Splatoon (Wii U) comes out on May 28th in Japan, and May 29th in Europe and North America.