Hisashi Nogami on Spla­toon 2

In­ter­view by James O’Con­nor

Hyper - - FEATURES -

In June, three sig­nif­i­cant things hap­pened in the world of Spla­toon. The Spla­toon 2 World Cham­pi­onships took place along­side E3, where Ja­pan’s GG BoyZ dom­i­nated the com­pe­ti­tion; Nintendo an­nounced that Spla­toon 2 would con­tinue to be sup­ported with new con­tent drops through to the end of 2018; and the Octo Ex­pan­sion, a ma­jor sin­gle-player DLC with a pun­ish­ingly high diŠculty level, re­leased. Spla­toon 2 has been a ma­jor suc­cess for Nintendo, both crit­i­cally and com­mer­cially, and the In­klings have be­come Nintendo’s most sig­nif­i­cant new mas­cots in some time.

Hisashi Nogami is a pro­ducer on Spla­toon 2. He held the same ti­tle on the original game – it was his idea orig­i­nally to make the playable char­ac­ters squids. We had the op­por­tu­nity to speak to Mr Nogami about his work on the se­ries, how it has been re­ceived by fans, and what the fu­ture of Spla­toon might look like.

HYPER>>: THE VERY FIRST SPLA­TOON 2 TRAILER SHOWED TWO PRO­FES­SIONAL TEAMS TRAIN­ING IN POR­TA­BLE MODE. NOW THAT THE GAME HAS BEEN OUT FOR A WHILE, HAVE YOU SEEN THIS HAP­PEN­ING IN REAL LIFE?

Mr. Nogami: The play­ers you see in the first Nintendo Switch trailer are not meant to be from pro­fes­sional teams – they are meant to be from strong and pop­u­lar teams. We de­signed the trailer hop­ing that the com­pe­ti­tions of Spla­toon 2 would be­come huge, since Nintendo Switch comes with fea­tures that make com­pet­i­tive play more ap­proach­able. As I have re­cently men­tioned at GDC 2018, there have been var­i­ous suc­cess­ful events hosted by Nintendo and fan com­mu­ni­ties across the globe. I have seen play­ers prac­tice in hand­held mode and in­ter­act with other teams at such events. I am very happy to wit­ness with my own eyes that what we hoped for has come true.

DO YOU GET MUCH OF A CHANCE TO WATCH PRO­FES­SIONAL SPLA­TOON MATCHES? IF SO, DO YOU SEE ANY­THING THAT SUR­PRISES YOU, OR TEACHES YOU ABOUT HOW THE GAME IS BE­ING PLAYED?

Mr. Nogami: I watched the world­wide pre­lim­i­nary com­pe­ti­tions for the Spla­toon 2 World Cham­pi­onship that were held at E3, in­clud­ing the 2018 AUNZ Spla­toon 2 Cup. I watch videos of both pro­fes­sional play­ers and fans from time to time. I watched a friendly match in­volv­ing play­ers from Aus­tralia, New Zealand, and Ja­pan, and I saw dis­cus­sion on­line that some Amer­i­can play­ers have asked Ja­panese play­ers to play a match to­gether. It makes me happy and it’s such a pleas­ant sur­prise to see that play­ers are in­ter­act­ing with each other around the globe.

SPLA­TOON HAS BEEN AN ENOR­MOUS SUC­CESS - DID YOU EX­PECT THIS WHEN YOU WERE WORK­ING ON THE FIRST GAME?

Mr. Nogami: I was hop­ing to make a game that is en­joyed by peo­ple around the world from when I was work­ing on the first game, but I didn’t ex­pect the mag­ni­tude of sup­port that we ended up hav­ing. I am happy that game fans en­joy the Spla­toon se­ries, and it has been a nice sur­prise that peo­ple who had never played net­work games or com­pet­i­tive games be­fore also en­joy the se­ries.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS IN­VOLVED IN DE­SIGN­ING A NEW WEAPON - DO YOU DE­CIDE WHAT IT SHOULD LOOK LIKE FIRST, OR WHAT EF­FECT IT SHOULD HAVE?

Mr. Nogami: We usu­ally de­cide the eˆect of a new weapon first, but there are times when the de­sign comes first. For ex­am­ple, Brel­las were de­signed from child­hood mem­o­ries of play­ing with friends, splash­ing wa­ter on umbrellas at each other. Eˆects are im­por­tant, but it is also im­por­tant to make weapons look ap­peal­ing and love­able, so we

make sure that the de­sign and the e ects work well to­gether.

WHEN YOU FIRST DE­CIDED TO MAKE THE CHAR­AC­TERS SQUIDS, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO FIG­URE OUT HOW THEY SHOULD LOOK?

Mr. Nogami: The process of de­cid­ing that the char­ac­ters will be squids and the de­sign­ing of the ac­tual char­ac­ters hap­pened si­mul­ta­ne­ously to some de­gree. It is di cult to tell the ex­act time frame, but it prob­a­bly took less than two months to fi­nalise the char­ac­ter de­sign af­ter we de­cided that they were go­ing to be squids. The char­ac­ters look very di er­ent in the squid state and hu­man state be­cause what play­ers can do in these two states are com­pletely di er­ent. The di­rec­tors asked the de­vel­op­ment team to make sure that the char­ac­ters look very dis­tin­guished in the two di er­ent states and de­sign the char­ac­ters so the hu­man state looks clearly hu­man, and the squid state looks clearly like squid. It didn’t take long to de­cide on the de­sign be­cause the di­rec­tion was clear.

THE SPLA­TOON SE­RIES HAS BEEN DE­SCRIBED AS ‘FASHIONABLE’ - EV­ERY­ONE DRESSES WELL AND LOOKS COOL. DID THE TEAM CON­SULT WITH FASH­ION EX­PERTS ON THESE GAMES?

Mr. Nogami: We have some artists who are into fash­ion. They seem to en­joy de­sign­ing based on their tastes (laughs). Of course, it’s not like they can just do what­ever they want to. They de­sign di er­ent items suited for each brand and ex­press the pass­ing of time through the evolv­ing fash­ion. Their work con­trib­utes im­mensely to mak­ing the world of Spla­toon 2 seem real and com­pelling.

THE OCTO EX­PAN­SION ADDS MORE SIN­GLE PLAYER CON­TENT. HOW DIF­FER­ENT WILL IT BE FROM THE ORIGINAL CAM­PAIGN? WILL WE LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WORLD OF SPLA­TOON AND THE DIF­FER­ENT SPECIES THAT IN­HABIT IT? (NOTE: THIS QUES­TION WAS ASKED PRIOR TO EX­PAN­SION’S RE­LEASE DATE BE­ING UN­VEILED, BUT WE’VE DE­CIDED TO LEAVE MR NOGAMI’S RE­SPONSE IN ANY­WAY)

Mr. Nogami: I en­vi­sioned the original sin­gle player con­tent to be mainly about the con­tin­ued ri­valry be­tween In­klings and Oc­tar­i­ans two years af­ter the first Spla­toon, with the Squid Sis­ters be­ing main char­ac­ters. The Octo Ex­pan­sion ex­pands the world of Spla­toon by il­lus­trat­ing a di er­ent side to this world. You will also see a di er­ent side to fa­mil­iar char­ac­ters such as Pearl and Ma­rina from O the Hook and Cap’n Cut­tle­fish. The new sto­ry­line will be hap­pen­ing at the same time as the original sin­gle player con­tent; how­ever, the world of Spla­toon changes with Octo Ex­pan­sion, and In­klings and Oc­tol­ings get to co­ex­ist to­gether.

ARE THERE

PARTS OF THE SPLA­TOON WORLD - CHAR­AC­TERS, SPECIES, THINGS LIKE THAT - THAT YOU HAVE PLANNED OUT BUT NOT

PUT INTO YOUR GAMES?

DO YOU THINK THE WORLD OF SPLA­TOON COULD AP­PEAR IN A DIF­FER­ENT GAME, OF A DIF­FER­ENT GENRE, IN THE FU­TURE?

Mr. Nogami: My mind is all about the Octo Ex­pan­sion, and I fi nd it di cult to think be­yond it for now. How­ever, the world of

WE HAVE SOME ARTISTS WHO ARE INTO FASH­ION. THEY SEEM TO EN­JOY DE­SIGN­ING BASED ON THEIR TASTES

Spla­toon could fur­ther ex­pand in the fu­ture, and there is al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity that new crea­tures will be in­tro­duced then.

WHICH WEAPONS ARE YOUR PER­SONAL FAVOURITES?

Mr. Nogami: It is di cult to choose just one par­tic­u­lar weapon since I use var­i­ous weapons for dier­ent stages and modes. I like hav­ing a wide view when I play, so I of­ten use longer range weapons that are good for lo­gis­tic sup­port. Some­times I like to use shorter range weapons on the front line too. In terms of ap­pear­ance, I like the Hy­dra Splatling.

SPLA­TOON HAS A MANGA TIE-IN NOW. ARE YOU IN­VOLVED IT IN AT ALL, OR DO YOU READ IT?

Mr. Nogami: I am in­volved in mak­ing the manga se­ries in CoroCoro Comic (a Ja­panese comic magazine). The cre­ator strives to un­der­stand even the fine de­tails of the Spla­toon world in or­der to cre­ate the il­lus­tra­tions and the story. I look for­ward to see­ing the draft each time. Of course, I read the fi­nalised comic story too.

HAVE YOU BEEN IN­VOLVED IN BRING­ING THE IN­KLINGS TO THE NEXT SMASH BROS?

Mr. Nogami: Yes. I am very proud to be in­volved in bring­ing the In­klings to Su­per Smash Bros. Ul­ti­mate. I was also very happy to be able to an­nounce Octo Ex­pan­sion at the same time as Su­per Smash Bros. Ul­ti­mate was first re­vealed.

YOUR VERY FIRST CREDIT IS ON YOSHI’S IS­LAND. OB­VI­OUSLY A LOT HAS CHANGED, BUT ARE THERE LESSONS YOU LEARNED AT NINTENDO BACK WHEN YOU STARTED THAT ARE STILL USE­FUL TO YOU TODAY?

Mr. Nogami: I was a part of mak­ing Su­per Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Is­land as an artist, draw­ing graph­i­cal el­e­ments such as char­ac­ters and back­grounds. I have al­ways been fo­cused on cre­at­ing graph­ics that match their roles and eects in the game. That is some­thing that I still con­sider im­por­tant for good games today.

YOU’VE ALSO WORKED ON THE AN­I­MAL CROSS­ING SE­RIES, WHICH IS A VERY DIF­FER­ENT SORT OF GAME TO SPLA­TOON. WAS IT IN­TIM­I­DAT­ING TO TAKE ON A ‘SHOOTER’ GAME AF­TER DI­RECT­ING SUCH A LAID-BACK EX­PE­RI­ENCE?

Mr. Nogami: I have been in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of the An­i­mal Cross­ing se­ries for over ten years. As a game player, I like ac­tion games and com­pet­i­tive mul­ti­player games, so I had no hes­i­ta­tion in cre­at­ing Spla­toon.

How­ever, de­vel­op­ing new games is never easy. There were lots of chal­lenges in cre­at­ing both the An­i­mal Cross­ing and Spla­toon se­ries.

WHICH PART OF SPLA­TOON 2 ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF, WOULD YOU SAY?

Mr. Nogami: I usu­ally don’t like to praise games that I was in­volved in the cre­ation for, but one of the good things about Spla­toon 2 is that you don’t need to play the game your­self to un­der­stand it. You can be stand­ing be­hind some­one play­ing the game, and you’ll un­der­stand what kind of game it is, and what you’re sup­posed to do. You can be com­pet­i­tive and se­ri­ous, and you can also be ca­sual about play­ing the game with friends. I would be de­lighted if par­ents might feel in­ter­ested af­ter watch­ing their kids play the game. Per­haps they could pick up the con­trollers them­selves and give it a go when the kids are not around?

Hisashi Nogami - Spla­toon 2 pro­ducer and squid fan.

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