So what was the idea that became the basis for Splatoon?
A demo made by our Program Director Sato-san. At first there was a white cube in a maze...
Yes. (laughs) There was a white thing and a black thing shaped like blocks of tofu, and they were shooting ink and they had to steal each other's turf.
So at first it wasn't squid at all. It was black and white tofu shooting each other with ink. (laughs)
But tofu is usually white.
The black one was sesame tofu! (laughs)
So the basis of Splatoon was a fight between a block of sesame tofu and a block of firm tofu.
In fact, much of the agonising over the core of the game was over characters; while the idea of using Mario has been mentioned before, another consideration that got relatively far was to use rabbits, as shown below.
With all of that in mind we're rather glad the team settled on Inklings.
Another section of interest relates to timelines; this appears to have been a rapid project, with just 10% completed at the point Splatoon was taken to E3 2014. At that point the team was still contemplating details such as weapons and how the single player mode would work.
Now let's move on to a totally different topic. To an outsider at last year's E3, it seemed as though Splatoon was already complete.
It's taken about ten months from then to get to where the game is now, but I think there were a lot of people who were dying to play the game after E3. What were you all doing for ten months?
The game was only about 10% complete at E3.
It was only 10% complete, or should we say, we still had about 90% left of the game to make.
You had your strong idea, you had the firm basis for the game, and you already had something that was actually fun to play. But you're saying it was still only 10% complete.
Right. At E3, we only had one weapon. We only had one stage, and only a mock-up of the sequence. So when we returned from E3, our big issue was figuring out how to turn all that into a product.
At E3, we already had the heart of the game, which was "it's fun to shoot ink", and "it would be fun to turn that into a turf claiming game," and we also had the play cycle of strategizing. But it wasn't something that would keep people playing yet. We decided we needed to add another larger cycle to this, so we made all sorts of things.
For example, we've made a lot of weapons in these ten months.
As is our tradition, we've picked out a humorous section to finish off; in this segment Satoru Iwata makes a brilliantly awful joke.
I just wanted to say one last thing…
We've been using the word squid a lot today, but they are actually called Inklings.
It hasn't really caught on. (laughs)
No one was calling them anything but "squid." And we're never calling them anything but "squid," either.
Well, I guess ink-an't be helped. (laughs)
Ooh, I should have thought of that, I guess ink-an't be helped. (laughs)
We heartily recommend checking out the full Iwata Asks at the link below, for the (laughs) if nothing else.