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This year’s GDC has begun, and Splatoon/Splatoon 2 producer Hisashi Nogami hosted a presentation on the making of the first game, along with the decisions that led to the squid kid shooter we now know and love.

Here are some highlights:

  • The team for Splatoon came up with a prototype after about half a year of brainstorming. It involved cubes (nicknamed “tofu”) that could shoot black and white ink all over the terrain. Hooking up several Wii U’s, the battles were to cover as much turf as possible.
  • The game explored ways to use the Wii U and the GamePad in interesting and dynamic ways, trying to find a type of game that hadn’t been made before. To reflect this, it was decided that the game wouldn’t be a spinoff of Mario or another existing franchise — a new style of game needed new characters.
  • Initially, the characters in Splatoon weren’t squids, but rabbits – this was because their monochromatic color scheme would contrast nicely with the bright and colorful ink, and also because rabbits have strong territorial senses.

  • However, this posed a question: Why would rabbits shoot or hide in ink? This was a disconnect in ideas and mechanics. The team then identified core mechanics — shooting, swimming in ink, etc. — and tried to figure out a design from there.
  • Eventually, the idea of a squid stood out, what with both the ability to swim quickly and squids’ natural inking abilities.
  • The world of Splatoon was mostly fleshed out by individual staff member suggestions, rather than homogenized team efforts. Ideas like the focus on popular music, street fashion, and urban culture made the world feel distinct and realized and not just an implement for the mechanics.
  • They gave the analogy of “creating a container, and then tossing balls in it to fill it up” in regards to worldbuilding. Apparently, Nintendo in general is fond of using this method for its games, meaning Splatoon wasn’t the first to do so.
  • The game’s support after launch was meant not only to ease players into the new style of play, but to keep engagement and interest.

You can check out some slides from the presentation below, which Twitter user @frozenpandaman has captured in their stream. Here are a few especially notable tweets and images:






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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.