Splatoon 2 – Il producer parla del secondo anno, Final Fest, futuro e molto altro

Hisashi Nogami, producer del gioco, ha riflettutto, nel corso di un’intervista, del seconso anno di vita di Splatoon 2 e non solo.

Con l’avvento e la conclusione dell’ultimo Splatfest, il supporto in termini di festival allo sparatutto per Nintendo Switch si è concluso ma nel futuro ci saranno comunque nuovi aggiornamenti.

Di seguito ecco la raccolta di tutte le informazioni sul futuro del gioco e del brand:

Moving with the Trends

What were your impressions since the first anniversary?

Nogami: Well that all came to an end with the Squid vs. Octopus Splatfest. Aside from that there was also the Octo Expansion. Once that came out, the timeframe for the Inkling world began to gradually evolve. Because of that the events and updates became a little different to what we had done up until then. From a development standpoint, in contrast to that first year where the things we had to do were always piling up, in the second year we were able to try out a lot of new things.

Did you decide on the plan for the second year after looking at player trends?

Nogami: Yes. Originally we weren’t intending to do the Kensa Collection. In fact, when we were making the Kensa Collection we weren’t planning to release those 12 new ‘Sheldon’s Picks’ either. But we thought the timing was good and added them as little extra something.

Really?! I assumed they were designed as a set.

Nogami: Actually it was more a case of the Kensa Collection being an attempt at the same sort of thing that Sheldon’s Picks were for the last game. We brought over some weapons that didn’t make into that first game and also introduced new sub weapons and specials for the weapons we introduced in 2, to add a bit of variety. Because the Sheldon’s Picks came so much later, they were a lot more effort (wry laugh).

The Kensa Collection is a collaboration with the Toni Kensa brand. Why did you choose that one in particular?

Nogami: Since the collections in the first game were so colorful, we decided to go with a black and white base palette for this one. And, since we were going with monochrome, we went with Toni Kensa.

You mentioned the new specials and sub weapons. Were they also not in the original plan?

Nogami: That’s right. We felt that just adding new weapons alone would not have been enough, so we started also thinking about adding the sub weapons and specials.

Were there things you tried to mirror from the first game, like in the way the Booyah Bomb kind of has the same feeling as the ink strike from the first game?

Nogami: Now that you mention it that could be the case. The specials were originally chosen by how useful they would be in different situations, and then put together from that. So while the Booyah Bomb can be give a tactical advantage in certain circumstances, the aim of something like the Ultra Stamp is simply to thrown an area into disarray.

Why did you make team assistance necessary for the Booyah Bomb?

Nogami: Since specials are often used by individuals, we wanted to create one that encouraged players to think about teamwork. I think when friends are online as a team they have an idea of what specials their teammates are using, but this was a way for even those matched up randomly to be aware of what was going on with their teammates.

The move received a pretty quick patch. Was it difficult to get it just right?

Nogami: Whenever we release a special views are often polarized between those saying it is too powerful and those saying it is too weak. But when someone posts online something like, “It’s really powerful if you use it this way!”, the word travels quick and people catch on. So then that makes it easier for us to know how we can fix it in a way that makes it powerful when used correctly.

To OP or not to OP

I feel like the patches have become a lot more focused now on smaller tweaks. Do you feel that’s because you are getting close to an ideal balance?

Nogami: True, the scale of the updates has definitely become smaller and we haven’t drastically changed any of the weapons. But that’s not because we have reached some sort of ideal balance. It’s not like we are no longer able to decide on weapon usage or the way certain weapons work, but that sort of thing doesn’t necessarily lead to enjoyment for the players. Now we are a lot more mindful of how we can change things so that the game remains fun. It’s just that the scale of those changes has become smaller than it was before. So right now we are making our decisions not only on how to make all those weapons usable for beginners but also how to make it so that all players not used to these weapons can learn to use them more efficiently and to their advantage.

For example, something like the recent L3 Nozzlenose.

Nogami: That one definitely isn’t the easiest to use! (laughs) Walking your own path is difficult, but when you see how accomplished someone else can be it kind of opens up the way for other players to try and reach that point.

Even though I guess no-one wants to just copy the skilled players.

Nogami: And it’s also not like we are against a certain weapon becoming popular, but we would like to avoid it becoming overwhelmingly so. At the end of the day we want everyone to enjoy the game, so having weapons that have their own distinctive fun points might be that ideal balance you were talking about. But then again, having loads of weapons to choose from alone doesn’t necessarily lead to balance…

And it’s also possible that a weapon becomes so popular that other players begin to criticize it, and then that weapon will also lose its appeal for the players using it…

Nogami: And even though we want to avoid one weapon becoming an overwhelming favorite, I don’t think it’s always necessary to change the strong points of each. We’re always wary of change for the sake of change, but the imagination of the players spans much farther than ours, so sometimes it’s a tricky process.

In version 4.3 there were a lot of big changes to the main abilities of the Power Gear.

Nogami: That was also something we weren’t originally intending to do. But after thinking about the continued enjoyment of the players we decided to add it in.

It’s a bit of a game changer.

Nogami: The concept was threefold: make the weapon merits stronger, offset weaknesses and allow for new ways to play. So players who want to bring a certain attribute of the weapon to the fore can use gear in order to do that. We came up with more gear because we wanted the player to have more to choose from.

What sort of balancing are you going to do from the second anniversary onwards?

Nogami: From now on we’ll mainly be balancing the additional content we have added. The updates in future will mainly be for that. It’s not like we have a schedule, so it will be more a case of updates only coming out as and when they are needed.

The trailer for 4.0 felt a lot like an anime opening – and you even had all the sponsors listed at the end, just like an anime! (laughs)

Nogami: It seems the team thought of that as like the opening theme of a second series of a show. As I said before, all the stuff up to the end of Ver. 3.0 was already laid out, whereas 4.0 onwards had lots of parts that weren’t decided. That’s why that trailer became like the introduction of a second era of cool.

You have also introduced Diss-Pair and Sashi-Mori as new bands. Is this the result of the conflict between the Inklings and Octolings?

Nogami: Two years on this is a world of Inklings living side by side with the Octolings. There are even Octoling fashion items available in the shop.

Is there still any conflict left between the two?

Nogami: Seems not, since the Inklings haven’t even noticed really. Well, aside from maybe being like, “Is it just me, dude, or are there like totally more people with curly hair around?”

The True Warrior Enters the Arena with All his Powers at the Ready

How’s the rank distribution looking?

Nogami: People have been playing for a long time now, so those at C rank have been decreasing while those above that have been steadily increasing.

Have even the X ranks been increasing?

Nogami: There is a reset at the beginning of each month, so there is always an increase in the second half of the month that drops in the first half, but generally I think we can say there is a slight increase. Still, I think the ratio for that rank is still only something like 1 in 20 people.

Has there been any change in the modes people prefer?

Nogami: There hasn’t been much change and the numbers have remained pretty steady. But since we have opened up more opportunities for players to play Salmon Run that mode has seen an increase.

You’ve also started the monthly promotional League Battles. What was the idea behind those?

Nogami: Right from the start there have been a fixed and steady number of users who play predominantly in League Battles. Some of those players assemble a team in order to just have fun, but I think for some reaching the competition preliminaries is also a big goal. We wanted to give those players more opportunities to reach that target.

I think those guys also like taking screenshots of the winning screen for cred.

Nogami: We added some special photo opportunities that aren’t available anywhere else. There’s a moment when the name of the player flashes up on the screen before it moves on to stats, so most photos are taken then. I think those that aim for the top always choose a name they would like to see displayed on that screen… (laughs)

Going back to events, Splatoon partnered up with NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) for special eSports events.

Nogami: With the history of sports that they have, I think they know how to get the best out of these types of events. It was a very different feel to the usual Splatfest.

I also want to talk about the World Championships at E3. GG Boyz were crowned winners for the second year in a row, but I feel like the foreign teams are getting stronger.

Nogami: America and Europe definitely have some strong teams. When GG were asked about the competition, they said it was really tough and some of the matches really were a close call. They won the last match 4-2 but there were a lot of times where it went down to the wire.

What did you think of the atmosphere this time around?

Nogami: Last year was great but I think this time was just as good. The support for the American teams was huge, so GG Boyz definitely had that feeling of being the away team. American sports fans have a culture of strong sporting rivalries, so the fans get really worked up, which helps their team and can also intimidate other teams.

In Japan you also announced The 5th Splatoon Koshien.

Nogami: Since we made it so that more people could enter, the numbers are one and a half times what they were. Libalent Calamari won the NPB tournament league and Hyper Beam were able to defeat GG Boyz, so it’s possible we might see even more heroes breaking through. Obviously even now those teams are still training really hard, but I think I’d also like to think new players are trying just as hard to break onto the scene.

With more people competing, the level of the tournament can only go up.

Nogami: I think there are many different players that wanna be the very best that no one ever was. They come along with their friends and family and the whole thing becomes a way for them to create sweet, sweet memories. I’ve always thought games go hand in hand with communication, so if this game can improve opportunities for discourse between families and friends, then I’m all for it. Obviously I still want those competing to be in it to win it, but all those people coming together is also great to see.

The day before the finals of the 4th Koshien there was a live Off-the-Hook concert. How did you feel watching that?

Nogami: At the 2018 Haika Live we had two different mixed sets, so even though the colors were of Off the Hook, it was actually a collaboration with the Squid Sisters and all four of them made an appearance at the end. Since this time the Off the Hook band were performing alone, the whole events was done out in their colors. Whereas the Squid Sisters are more like pop idols, Off the Hook have more artistic clout, so the stage was arrange din line with that.

So it’s less a case of waving glow sticks about and more just losing yourself to the rhythm?

Nogami: Obviously it’s also fine if you want to put your hands in the air like you just don’t care, but we wanted the performance to have a sense of trendiness. Pearl might seem like a little squirt who is always boasting, but when she hits the stage there is something stoic about her. I think people seeing her for the first time will be struck with how different she is. That other side to the characters is something we aren’t always able to see, so I think the concerts are really worthwhile.

Getting into the Festive Spirit

Since the first anniversary there have been a lot of big events, such as Splatoween and FrostyFest. Were these designed with a global audience in mind?

Nogami: These weren’t originally in the plan, but after the end of the anniversary Squid vs. Octopus Splatfest we changed our plan so that we were focusing more on these events. And when we then started thinking about ones that could run at the same time globally, we first thought of Halloween. It was nice to see so many players coming together for the event.

With the unique gear up for grabs too, it seemed like there was an effort to add more incentives for players to take part.

Nogami: We wanted to have certain items that were only available through participating in the fests. The New Year’s glasses available at Frosty Fest, for example, have a pretty limited time frame they can be worn and still be relevant… (laughs) So we wanted players to come for those exclusive items and wear them, even if just for that limited time.

And now we are nearing the final Splatfest. With the name of Splatocalypse and the teams of chaos and disorder, the themes seem a bit heavy this time around…

Nogami: It seems like a lot of people are like, “Wow, why so serious all of a sudden?” (laughs) We’ve always messed around a lot in this game, so we thought why not go all serious at the end.

Well, the one before was to decide whether or not to have pineapple in sweet and sour pork so… (laughs)

Nogami: That’s the true fest! (laughs) For a game that you really can play at the table top, that one is perfect.

And then from that to the grand scale of world order…

Nogami: Given it’s so different I was a little concerned about how it would be received, but we used the theme of ‘Love vs. Money’ before and the players were nice enough take it seriously. I think that these contests that buck the trends are especially interesting. Since this is the last fest, I thought it would be nice to feature something that deals with much larger scale issues.

I’ve heard people saying that since the final fest for the last game was a showdown between the Squid Sisters, this time it was bound to be between Off the Hook.

Nogami: I think that’s probably the obvious conclusion, but the development team don’t actually want those two to attack one another. Since the Squid Sisters have their own talents and abilities, even though they are a duo they are also kind of rivals, so we thought we would pit them against each other. Off the Hook, though, are much more of a unit and on good terms with one another, so we didn’t want to force them to fight.

Well, I’m convinced. The result of the final fest of the first game had an impact on the Hero Mode of the second game. Will that be the case this time?

Nogami: We’ll have to wait and see… (laughs)

I’m looking forward to finding out. You’ve also designed lots of items, including key visual items for each character.

Nogami: We have designed something for each character regardless of whether order or chaos reigns. You can find all of those designs on the official website.

And this time the event also spans a whole 72 hours.

Nogami: We were thinking about including some of the Shifty Station stages in the festival, but since we already have 23 stages we knew that handing over two hours to each would take two days… (laughs). So, as we wanted to include those Shifty Station ones too we extended the time to 72 hours.

And with version 5.0 those Shifty Stations are also becoming playable in private matches.

Nogami: These festivals will soon be out of our hands, but we also hope that players will continue to hold their own events. It has taken us a while, but we plan to have those ready by the end of July.

To go back to version 5.0, will that mark the end of additional content?

Nogami: Yes, it will. When the Splatfest comes to a close that will be it for new stages and weapons. But, as I said before, we will continue to patch the game as necessary for balancing, etc. The ranked matches will also continue.

You might not be able to answer this, but finally do you have any plans for DLC or a sequel going forward?

Nogami: We started making the second game pretty much as soon as the first one was released, and continued to develop Splatoon 2 while supporting and updating Splatoon 1. Since this time around we also released the Octo Expansion for 2, our time has been entirely taken up with supporting this game, which means we are still at a stage where we haven’t even thought about what comes next. I think that time to think will come once everything has been finished with 2. I’m not in a position to promise anything, but I want to say that I would like to give something back to all those players who have supported us, and if there is support for another game too, then I think I would like to continue. I might be repeating myself, but it’s not like we are turning off the servers, and we’ll continue to run those league matches and Koshien as long as the support and opportunities are there, so I’d like to think players can continue to enjoy playing this game into the future.

Via: Nintendo Everything

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