Splatoon 2 dev on jellyfish lore, New York subway inspiration for Octo Expansion, process of making new content, lots more
Nintendo has shared a brand new interview with Splatoon 2 producer Hisashi Nogami. Nogami was mainly asked about the Octo Expansion, but had quite a bit to say.
Nogami spoke about why an Octoling was featured in the DLC, creature designs, taking inspiration from the New York subway system, and more. As for general Splatoon topics, there was talk about things like the role of jellyfish and how the team goes about creating new content.
We’ve transcribed the full interview below.
Thank you for making the time to speak with us today.
Nogami: Of course. Thank you.
For our readers who are familiar with Splatoon 2 but not the Octo Expansion. Can you describe what the expansion is?
Nogami: Octo Expansion is paid additional content we made for fans of Splatoon to go deeper into the world and gameplay than they were able to before. Characters that fans know from Off the Hook, even characters that they know from the previous game’s Hero Mode, appear and assist the new protagonist – the Octoling Agent 8 – as they explore and eventually escape from a secret research facility in this new single-player adventure.
We’ve designed the campaign to incorporate a wide variety of challenges, with many larger, elaborate levels.
Ah, very mysterious. One thing that’s very striking to me is the new creature designs. What can you tell us about them?
Nogami: It’s a little strange – a little mysterious – because it’s underground, right? It’s different from the surface worlds we’ve seen so far. Of course, the animals that live on the actual ocean floor in the real world evolved in unique and strange ways too, and we wanted to create a world with a lot of contrast to what we’ve seen so far from the world of Splatoon to evoke that feeling of strangeness.
So why was it decided to have an Octoling as the main character for this expansion?
Nogami: We wanted to show that this is a multifaceted world. The protagonists we’ve seen so far in the Splatoon series have all been Inklings – squid – and the truth is that the squids aren’t exactly the defenders of justice in this world. They aren’t supposed to be the “good guys.” The squids have their squid society – and while there are other creatures that they are friendly with, like the jellyfish, the squids live in a world made for squids. We wanted to show that other creatures in this world have their own societies too, and they all do what they need to do to protect what they have. It’s a way to bring richness and depth to the world of Splatoon, which we hope will bring our fans deeper in to the series.
So it’s a way to showcase the different creatures and lifestyles?
Nogami: Exactly. The real world is the same way, isn’t it? We wanted to show how different societies and people can understand each other and live together.
Random question, but is there a reason the Octolings are also hurt by water?
Nogami: (laughs) The concept behind these creatures is that they evolved to be able to transform, and at one point in that evolutionary process they lost the ability to live in the water. The Octolings evolved in the same way that the Inklings did, like their skin is a little too thin for the water now – that’s why they can transform – but just like the Inklings they can’t swim in water anymore.
That makes me wonder if the jellyfish are the ones that actually control the world of Splatoon 2…
Nogami: Maybe you’re right! When you play the game you’ll often see jellyfish in the stands watching the Inklings battle. What if they are actually the sponsors behind these battles (laughs)? Maybe they are the ones supporting the whole Turf War Industry?
Now that you mention it, they do like to lounge around by the pool.
Nogami: It’s funny that you mention that. The jellyfish aren’t really individuals. It’s more like they are all parts of a larger organism. So even when you see them playing in the pool, or when you spot two jellyfish lovers hanging out at the poolside, it isn’t that they are actually jellyfish in love, but more like they want to behave like, or impersonate, what it would look like if they were jellyfish lovers. Regardless, I’m glad you brought up the jellyfish. They are another angle on this world that is entirely separate from the Inklings and Octolings.
This is starting to sound like science fiction.
Nogami: Isn’t it?! (laughs). As we go through development, the staff starts to think of all kinds of stories and explanations that don’t end up getting explicitly stated in the final game, but we save all the ideas so that we share and reference them together whenever we start making new content.
That’s great (laughs). But moving on, can you talk about how Pearl and Marina are featured in the expansion?
Nogami: In the expansion they help the Octoling navigate the subterranean passages. At first they mostly help the player over the radio, but who knows – if you keep playing they may show up in person!
As for Pearl, the player may find out things about her past that explain major aspects of her character – at first she seems a little selfish, but as you play through the new expansion you might be surprised to discover how dependable she is, and what a strong moral compass she has. There are plenty of surprises about Marina too.
Everything from the look of the subway train to the new characters is very different from what we’ve seen in past Splatoon games. Can you explain what inspired these changes?
Nogami: We were inspired by a lot of things, but we tend to start with thinking about the gameplay. Online battles are really the basis for Splatoon gameplay, and they take place out in mostly open areas, under the sun, in a bright and colorful world, right? We want to differentiate game modes by art style, so when we were designing Salmon Run we decided to make it a little creepier, so that’s why it’s always on the verge of twilight.
When we started thinking about Octo Expansion, we wanted to take the art in another new direction. You’ll find that it’s usually a little darker and quieter in the new mode – those are the elements we started with, which led us to think of the subway setting. Down deep underground there isn’t as much happening as there is up and above ground – things move slower down there – so in a certain way it’s like time has stopped. The objects are dated and nostalgic – they’re from another time. The characters also speak with antiquated slang. We thought a lot about the New York subway system and we referenced that particular mood it has when we were designing the world.