News Article

Developers Outline The Creative Process for Crafting Splatoon as a New IP, Working Towards Retail Release

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"We had robots, different animals, macho men, and Mario"

Of all its announcements at E3, Splatoon was arguably the biggest hit for Nintendo, perhaps aside from obvious blockbuster efforts such as The Legend of Zelda. It generated a lot of hype, seemingly caught the imagination of the Nintendo Life community and has been praised in numerous previews.

All of this is doubly surprising due to its status as a new IP, challenging the assumption that Nintendo sticks with the familiar too often. That can be argued as an unfair accusation, but regardless it captured the imagination.

Nintendo didn't necessarily set out to produce a new IP, however, but rather a new idea. Producer Hisashi Nogami and co-director Tsubasa Sakaguchi have spoken to Game Informer about the creative process that brought the game into being. It began with a team of 10 being brought together to produce a new game, and a concept that was subsequently pitched was a two-colour black and white ink-based shooter, a territory game — after various pitch meetings it was given the go-ahead to become a full release.

In an interesting segment of this interview that focuses on the creative process, it's explained that it wasn't first decided that teams of human/squid hybrids would be the centre-piece for a new game, but rather the decision was driven by the concept. In other words, various other characters and even existing IPs were considered.

There was actually a huge period of time between where we started thinking squids might be a good idea, to the point where we actually decided to go with squids. That process might be more interesting.

Even at the time of that prototype, there was the ability to hide in the ink – squash down in it. At that time, we weren’t describing it as diving into the ink. You just kind of got squashed down into it. But then, in order to make the hide in your own ink ability more useful, we started adding other abilities, like the ability to move very quickly through the ink. That was the kind of thing that started to make us think maybe the squids would be better. That’s where we kind of came up with this concept about making the game about switching between the person and being a squid. When you’re a person you can shoot the ink, everyone can see you, and you’re moving a little bit slowly. When you’re a squid, you’re fast and you can hide, and you can charge up your ink, but you can’t do any attacking.

When we decided to make the game about switching, we got a really good reaction and we were having a lot of fun playing the game. While we were thinking about the mechanics and player abilities, our art director was coming up with assorted character designs. We had – right from the beginning – all these different ideas, the squids being one of them. We had robots, different animals, macho men, and Mario – existing IP. Right from the start we had all these different choices.

The art director was making lots of different sketches and designing lots of different characters. As we were adding more and more abilities, everything came to a head with the visuals that we were thinking of and the abilities we were giving the players. We realized: squids! And that allowed us, in terms of world building, that to explain things to the player in a different way. It used to be, when you were in the ink you just moved fast, but now we could explain it as you were swimming. Before, the player just sort of squished down into the ink, but now we could have them dive in. From there, the sound directors and the people working in the graphics were able to add the sound effects and the wake you leave behind while swimming that make it the game you see today.

Rather than the squids being the first domino – the new game, the new IP – it was more like we were creating the whole way and the squid was a piece over on the side, and it became the final piece we put in.

For those also curious about this title's release platform — ie as a download, free-to-play product or full retail game — the following was clarified. It looks like it'll be more than an online-only eight-player game.

Ultimately, we’re looking at getting Splatoon out as a full retail packaged software in the first half of 2015. Our plans are to create, maybe for the benefit of the people who cannot connect online, a single-player mode and a local one-on-one mode.

...We’re still wrestling with exactly how we want to do it, but it will probably be one person on GamePad, one on pro controller.

Some interesting info on one of the most talked about reveals from Nintendo at E3. Let us know what you think about the squid concept and the prospective retail release, while you can also see what we thought of this one in our Splatoon first impressions.


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User Comments (54)



Octane said:

''a single-player mode''

Missions? With bosses? Other enemies? Great! I'm usually not very keen on online-only games, but now that there's a single-player mode, I'm definitely more interested.



AlexOlney said:

When I first saw the Wii U logo being splattered out with ink, I did think we were getting DeBlob 3. That would have been nice, but Splatoon looks like it might just be the game everyone wanted before they knew it existed.



Mega719 said:

Mario can still be in this game he could turn into a Blooper. I am surprised with all this hype wouldn't think this would be on everyone's top 2015 list but hey new Nintendo IP instant fame



Tsurii said:

@AlexOlney I think everyone expected DeBlob when they showed that first scene.

EDIT and kinda Off-Topic:
I just remembered something, I wanted to say for a while now.
I think it's pretty dang awesome, that you actually know, who the people mentioned in an article and who're behind those games are (the directors/producers at least). That's another thing Nintendo did really well this year imo and it kinda lets you appreciate the game even more when you see those guys, who're really proud of their work "in person" and not just on pictures or as a name in some interview.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Yeah, it's hard not to get excited about the prospect of a full fledged single-player mode and i hope it doesn't have to play second fiddle to the very fun-looking multiplayer. It's all got a lot of potential.
It just wouldn't have been as exciting as a new Mario game. Even though i think the use of F.L.U.D.D. in some form or another could make it even more fun.
@AlexOlney The aesthetics reminded me of DeBlob too. I really loved that game. Hopefully i'll get around to play the sequel soon.



Nicolai said:

I saw the ink splatter the Wii U logo, and I immediately thought it was a collaboration with Nickelodeon. I think that's why so many people attribute it to Nickelodeon, just from that intro scene.



New_3DaSh_XL said:

When I first saw the ink splatter, I thought Nintendo was reviving an IP I had never heard of before



Captain_Toad said:

Well those concept characters are images I wish to have not seen may be stuck to me for a while..



rjejr said:

Considering Deblob has 2 complete solo games - both very good BTW - , adding a solo story mission into this game shouldn't be too difficult. Probably making a 2 player couch co-op or vs. w/ 1 person on a Pro will be more difficult.



Ryno said:

If this is online only I will pass. As long as it has a single player campaign I am interested. It is also good to see Nintendo not relying on Mario for this new concept.



aaronsullivan said:

I'm sort of at a loss with what the single player version would be. Whatever it is I hope it funnels people to the multiplayer game eventually training them so they aren't horrible online. The bigger online community the better.

In the meantime I want a free multiplayer beta at the end of the year! Even if it was basically what was being played at E3 it could really build the hype for the Wii U at the right time.

Mario with FLUDD should totally be a "boss" character in the single-player mode.

@Tsurii897 I also like how the individual developers and producers are being highlighted. Nintendo has been doing it for the last couple of years, but it was really amplified this year with the digital event focusing right on the individuals and then the creators being present during the live treehouse videos.

It deemphasizes Miyamoto as he is not the only great designer at Nintendo and won't be there forever. More importantly it creates a connection for fans and an appreciation for the care that goes into making games. Plus, there is this overall vibe from Nintendo creators that they just want help people have fun. It's infectious in a good way.



Gerbwmu said:

Looks like a fun game that is adding to a packed 2015 schedule and really a packed September 2014 on. It really would be neat to have a 4 player split screen version though....even if the local play was your team online or something. Probably asking too much though. This, X, Zelda, and maybe FE vs SMT all in 2015.....I need to start saving money.



ShadJV said:

Squids are my favorite animal, but they aren't a very well represented creature of the animal kingdom... Imagine my joy when I saw a game at E3 that revolved mechanics around squids. Imagine my increased joy when said game looked incredibly fun and novel. I'm glad there will be a single player campaign but I honestly hope the most resources go into the online multiplayer, the game looks built for it - and I'm not usually too concerned with online, this game is a huge exception!



SleepyCrossing said:

Looking forward to this. What really interests me is the fact that Splatoon devs were taken from the core Animal Crossing team. You can kind of see it in the art style a little bit. That could indicate no Animal Crossing U though



HAL9000 said:

This game blew me away at this years E3, I was hooting during the reveal when the squid popped out of the ink. Bravo Nintendo for making a family friendly shooter where you can contribute to team by spraying the environment and not just sniping each other.



IxnayontheCK said:

I hope this game is amazing only because maybe then it will make Nintendo want to create even more new IP's



ZurrrrBlattTron said:

Not surprised Mario was considered one bit, glad this is a new IP and not Mario Splashers Splatoon is easily looking like a Wii U hit



unrandomsam said:

"...We’re still wrestling with exactly how we want to do it, but it will probably be one person on GamePad, one on pro controller."

That is rubbish should be two gamepads.



Ralizah said:

First half of 2015? That sounds promising. I'm really itching to play this game.



IceClimbers said:

@unrandomsam Probably going to be some sort of asymmetric gameplay (think ZombiU's local multiplayer, though probably works differently than that). I think I remember reading something about it being focused more on stalking and hiding in the ink.

Nintendo doesn't seem ready to sell GamePads separately unfortunately. Still too expensive most likely.



Hong said:

So glad they didn't go with something boring like Mario characters.



Mr-X9000 said:

while i think the game will be fun, i really dont like the design of the humanoid characters at all!!



EarthboundBenjy said:

Wasn't Steel Diver a new IP? It was even a launch title for the 3DS, and nobody even really cares about that game. It's not about what IP something belongs to, it's more about what the game is like to play. The IP is just a tool to generate interest and to provide context.



JaxonH said:

@Ryno ]

It's not online only. Confirmed single player. Confirmed local co-op. Confirmed online play. Confirmed online IN-GAME voice chat. Confirmed, confirmed, confirmed! So no worries, you're covered



JaxonH said:


Why is that rubbish? While I'm not denying it would be cool to play with 2 gamepads, how many people do you think are gonna want to shell out $200 ($60- game, $140- gamepad, and that's being conservative) to play this game with a second person, just so the OTHER person can have a gamepad too? I mean, you could say "that's rubbish" over any Wii U game that could have used a second gamepad. Why just this one?

Nintendo is not ready to take that step yet. Not now anyways. What happens is the expensive "second controller" gamepads don't sell due to the high price tag, low install base and lack of compatible software, there ends up being tons of overstock at retailers, which is followed with even further hesitation by retailers to accept new product from Nintendo, which is not a risk I think they're wanting to take at this stage in the game.

This is why Nintendo has not committed to accessorizing the gamepad yet. I believe they're waiting to see if and when the Wii U reaches moderate levels of success, so that stock won't just sit and collect dust, alienating retailers even further and costing Nintendo millions through unsold inventory. Discs are relatively cheap to make. Gamepads are not. You don't want to ship 100k gamepads unless you know they're going to sell. And of course, they'll want to wait for more games to release that benefit from a second gamepad, which will also help drive demand.

There is, however, a possible solution to this. If Nintendo were to introduce secondary gamepads into the market through the Nintendo Online Store, this would allow them to not only bypass the risk of retail overstock, but also to gauge preliminary demand, all while satisfying the likes of you who want a second gamepad now, regardless of the current cost/benefit ratio or number of games that would be able to utilize it.

Problem with that is, gamers (such as yourself) who then go and buy a secondary gamepad would be demanding every game provide dual gamepad play, which Nintendo would not likely be willing to sustain provided the extremely low portion of the fanbase that would even be able to take advantage of it.

The bottom line is there's no secondary gamepad integration as of yet, and there probably won't be unless the Wii U finds moderate success.



IronMan28 said:

@rjejr +1 for mentioning de Blob (awesome game).

Regardless, this game looks pretty darn good. I can't wait to see how it turns out, it looks so Western, yet it's coming from a very Eastern company. Seriously, I cannot wait to see how this pans out.



Ichiban said:

It looks alright. I think it will have the same problem as Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, awesome fun......but only in small, small doses.
Devil's Third multiplayer is where its at!!



Zyph said:

This game looks like a ton of fun! I recommend watching the Splatoon match between NCL devs and the Treehouse guys. So fun to watch. You can clearly see the developers having a blast themselves. Especially Sakaguchi-san.



Zombie_Barioth said:

To add to that, Nintendo also needs to get the Wii U brand's image on the right track before releasing the gamepad as an accessory. People already think the Wii U is an add-on, releasing it now will just lead to a bunch of people to buy one thinking it'll work on their Wii.



JaxonH said:

That's a really good point. Cause you already know that's exactly what would happen too.

"I bought this tablet thingy for my Wii but it doesn't seem to work?"



Gorlokk said:

Squids definitely make sense, and I'm glad they went with them, but I want to see all those other character designs like the animals and macho men!



DangerousDreams said:

I really hope this game does well and the development team's efforts are rewarded. While being completely wowed by their presentation at e3, I was simultaneously thinking " yes Nintendo, this is the kind of game the Wii U needs", it's eye catching, it's fun, it's definitely Nintendo.

@ erv,
Brother, you tuck the words right out of my mouth.! Lol
Two players online would be amazing!! I can already imagine the look of fustration on my little cousins face when I repeatedly rack up more points then him, lol.



Lord said:

Nintendo does not do voice chat! So I'm confused how you command your squad online without talking to them??? Sounds like a game breaker



MadAdam81 said:

@Lord I wouldn't care too much if there was no voice chat, as not many have a headset anyway, and it hsould be hard to fit in with other players.



clvr said:

@MadAdam81 @Lord I don't know if they're gonna use it, but you forgot the GamePad has a microphone built in it so there still may be vocal chat.



Freeon-Leon said:

Nintendo should release 2 versions. One would be the "complete" game with all the features at full price, and another version with just the online multiplayer at ~$20. Win win.



AusfahrtXD said:

Guys there is a Mic built into the gamepad. Monster hunter Wii u actually lets you chat online while playing without have to buy anything. It's just built into the gamepad. And this game is confirmed to have it as well.



luckybreak said:

If there is only online play/ multiplayer I would appreciate this game being 30-50 dollars not 60...



Henmii said:

I admire that they didn't chose Mario, we have seen him enough! I also admire that this looks totally different from the stuff Nintendo normally makes, and it looks like its made by a new generation!

Sadly multiplayer-only. If it had a single-player, I might have tried it!

Also: Lol at the people who thought this would be download, among some other titles. No people, it will all be Retail (Mario maker may be the only exception)! That's good news!



Bender said:

@Lord yeah.. There's a microphone in the gamepad. Mario Kart 8 uses it in the lobby for Friend matches.

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