**Real quick I'm doing a 3 part series on Splatoon they should be dropping within a couple days of each other. I broke it up in an attempt to make my posts shorter because they seem to get kinda long sometimes. Let me know what you think! Thank you! and please enjoy!**
Shooters have received a lot of flack for being overly violent. Shooters have also done typically poor in Japan. So how did Nintendo make a shooter that doesn’t take any heat for being violent and does well in Japan?
By making the first person shooter not about shooting each other. Splatoon is a game about painting as much of the floor as possible. Players gain points for shooting the floor instead of other players. Yes, they can shoot other players and make them pop causing the attacking player’s color to spread in the area, but the reward isn’t great enough to intentionally seek out players all the time. That’s part one.
Part two is the movement. Because Nintendo wanted the players to really focus on painting the floor they gave them the ability to move faster in squid form through their own colored paint. Additionally, if a player ends up in a pool of the enemy’s paint their movement is slowed down considerably. This gives the player more incentive to paint over the enemy’s color so they can more easily move around the battle field. They have further reason to paint the floor and not to focus on the enemy.
(You also don’t want to wade into enemy territory because you wont be able to reload. Players can only reload while in a pool of their own colored paint. But I felt this was less important than the movement because most players will shoot the floor directly below them the moment they realize they are being slowed so they can move full speed again)
This ink mechanic does something else too: It creates an escape route for players. When a player is standing in their own ink and they are under attack it is easier for them to pull back than for an enemy to advance on them. This is because the enemy will have to paint the area leading up to the player if they wish to pursue them.
Part three is that literally anyone can play and feel like they are contributing. Have you ever given someone the controller to play Halo or CoD and they don’t play video games. There is a good chance they had difficulty controlling the camera and looked at the sky and or the floor. In Splatoon the player can stare at the floor, run, shoot and they will be contributing.
In the case of any team based game it’s important that a player feels like they are contributing or they will more likely stop playing.
This is of course strictly on a mechanical level. The adorable creatures and charm definitely helped as well.
So what have we learned?
1. To make a shooter which targets a younger crowd:
a. Don’t focus on players killing each other
b. Focus on something easier to accomplish so all players can feel like they are contributing regardless of skill
2. Make sure to reinforce your mechanics further in ways players can understand
a. Movement is always a safe bet because it is one of the first things players master in shooters and it is easy to tell if you have dramatically slowed down
b. Don’t forget your visual cues to help the player understand what is going on (the avatar physically slowing, appearing to have a hard time pulling their feet out of the enemy ink as they attempt to walk through it and the ink on the screen are great indicators)