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How Nintendo created Splatoon for the kid in all of us
How Nintendo created  Splatoon  for the kid in all of us
July 3, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

July 3, 2014 | By Christian Nutt
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More: Console/PC, Design, Production



"I think everyone kind of remembers being a kid and would be like, 'Great, I'm just going to go crazy.' I think if anyone has something like that still left in them, they'll definitely be able to enjoy this game."
- Splatoon producer Hisashi Nogami

In a new look at Splatoon, Nintendo's internally-developed new IP game for the Wii U, Kotaku's Stephen Totilo uncovers some interesting facts about its development process.

For one, the new team shooter -- in which players splatter the level with colored ink to win -- was birthed from what sounds like an internal game jam where Nintendo employees were tasked with prototyping new game concepts. "Everyone played that prototype, and we all had a great reaction to it. Everyone thought it was fun," says Nogami.

It's not a new insight, but one of the things that sets Nintendo games apart is the company's attention to play feel -- a big part of its development process. That's a big part of Splatoon, too, judging from this quote from Nogami:

"We want to make sure that action of spraying the ink around feels really really good... Just that feeling of shooting some ink and having it splash on the ground and splatter everywhere and be shiny and be bubbling up, the sound of that the graphics of that -- everyone on the team is working really, really hard to make sure that feels really great when you do it."

The full Kotaku article is worth a read both if you have an interest in Splatoon or hope to glean some insights into the Nintendo development process.



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Comments


Ron Dippold
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The paint movement mechanic is one of the most interesting - you should read the whole article (it's fascinating) but the short version is your inklings can swim really fast through unbroken swaths of your team's color. So besides just scoring, the topology of how you lay the ink down is also a tactical consideration.

Darius Drake
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Yeah, read the whole article, or watch Nintendo's E3 footage all day. :P The Nintendo Treehouse played Splatoon a few times at the E3 weeks ago. Yup, that mechanic is something that could turn out to be something big. Although I don't see all the implications of it now, it will be a core mechanic, I'd say.

Kaze Kai
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I get crazy with my art, I doubt I'll enjoy this game though because it's competitive multiplayer and I dislike competition.

Leszek Szczepanski
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Now I got two reasons to get a Wii U :)

Alan Barton
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It looks like a really fun game. I really like how they have taken paintball to such a cartoony extreme. :)

As a programmer, I've been wondering how I would have written it?. That paint goes everywhere.

Does anyone know or suspect if its just lots of decals? or is it render to a big overlayed texture atlas? Or is it both perhaps? There's a few ways I can think it could be done, but it would be interesting to know how they did it?

That painting gameplay mechanic is very old and it reminds me of very old games like Crush Roller and Amidar.

Amidar was one of my favorite games back then (its a 1981 Game by Konami where you painted in regions of the map).

Crush Roller was a more obscure game (again from 1981), here's a video of it...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmP9rRb6DDY
(The idea was to paint your territory with a paint brush and creatures would walk in your paint etc.. :)

Also here's Amidar...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3372BvVJxr8

Ron Dippold
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A couple of things I noticed:
- The geometry's not that complicated (it doesn't need to be).
- See through things (meshes, gates, glass) don't get paint on them.
- Some other things (team flags, yellow tanks,) don't get paint on them, though I imagine that's just for gameplay reasons.
- The paint looks flat, but actually has some 'texture' at the edges and in large areas, giving it some 'thickness', so it's not just a single bit.
- There seems to be a little bit of texture artifacting, though that could just be video. But you never see, for instance, a single orange pixel in a bunch of blue paint. It's a little island of some size.
- Once you paint something you never need to restore what's underneath - there seems to be no wash function!

It seems very similar to de Blob: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Blob

My guess would be that they just have a texture set for every paintable surface, with no sharing, so if you have two walls that would normally share the same texture, they each start out with their own copy of it instead, and then you just paint right on that. And since there's no wash function, it's okay to just obliterate the old texture.

Or maybe they actually make a 3d mesh and render it over, like a liquid sim without any movement. That seems nastier to me, but I'm not an engine guy.

Alan Barton
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Thanks for your replay.

Yes I noticed the no paint on glass thing and its a strange one. A decal could be drawn on glass, but perhaps the glass is drawn after decals, so the painted surfaces can then show through the glass. But that would imply they are using decals of some kind rather than a texture atlas.

@"actually has some 'texture' at the edges and in large areas, giving it some 'thickness'"

Maybe that's a normal map? That could give some depth like look to the paint as paint is mostly flat enough for normal maps to look good?.

That's a very good point about paint can't be removed after its painted.

Another clue that could indicate a texture atlas is the mini-map could use the same texture atlas.

The only down side to unique texturing is the resolution that's available that the console memory can hold?. But if the paint was an overlaid texture atlas, then it could be at a lower resolution than the underlying textures.

Whatever their method, you are right there are a few exceptions to where it can paint, so it shows some objects in the world can't support paint on them.

Also that de Blob game looks interesting. I've not played it, but I've been watching some youtube videos of it since you mentioned it. :)

Another (very old) game is Qix. That was a very abstract graphical style painting game where the player had to paint in areas of the map. I think it was just a flood filling painting method. (I guess it flood filled both sides of the line as it closed off an area and then counted their area, then graphically flood filled the smaller of the two sides). Its what it looked like it was doing.

Anyway it would be very interesting to hear a retrospective about how they approached the painting code design in Splatoon. :)

Ben Andrews
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Portal 2's gameplay gels/paints might be a good reference:
http://www.valvesoftware.com/publications/2011/gdc_2011_grimes_no
nstandard_textures.pdf

George Menhal III
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What a refreshing and interesting game. Out of everything Nintendo announced at E3, I think Splatoon is the most exciting. The genre is so uncharacteristic of Nintendo. The lighthearted nature of the game and the way it's being built--as all Nintendo games are built--to put gameplay first... is just perfect. I think this game fulfills a need I didn't realize I had until I first saw it. I'm really looking forward to this one.


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