From the development team that brought you Rayman, Splasher launches today! We had the opportunity to ask Designer and Programmer Romain Claude a couple of questions about the game and it’s development.
What type of humour can we expect from Splasher?
My friend Richard Vatinel aka “Gromy” who did all the graphics of Splasher has a strong taste for French / Belgian comic books. And that’s a taste I deeply share. You can feel this inspiration in our Art direction but also in the general mood of the game and the kind of humour we both love. We have a grotesque evil boss making rude moves at many occasions, ridiculous “potato-shaped” foes, a setting full of insane details, from the security signs to many kind of details in the background… And if your mission is to save the Splashers, expect to actually kill them in numerous crazy “accidental” ways …
What was your inspiration behind the game?
The concept of Splasher popped up by the end of 2013. Initially I was reproducing gameplays I already knew well for training purpose on Unity. Super Meat Boy and the new Raymans were the starting points. I made many and one of the most interesting one was a tile painting system. Initially it was just cosmetic (for … blood!) but I started to think about turning it into something intractable, a real gameplay feature. I remembered Portal 2 and Power of Paint (the initial student prototype that inspired Portal 2‘s paint feature). Boom, Splasher was born. So nothing planned, just experimentations that led to this concept : a 2D platformer in which paint is your “vehicle” as well as a weapon.
On the Art style side, looking at video game inspirations, our favorite directions are almost exclusively cartoon ones : Crash Bandicoot,, Donkey Kong, Castle Crashers, Battle Block Theater, Ratchet And Clank, Oddworld …
When developing this game, which audience did you have in mind?
To be honest we started thinking about us. What do we want to play as platformers enthusiasts ?
Then we actually showcased our prototypes in various conventions very early in the process in 2014, and we did it frequently with updated versions of the game until the end of 2016. So thanks to that we payed attention to a lot of feedback coming from many other players. Plus it’s a convention we did 3 times (a competitive arcade one called Stunfest) that brought us the idea to particularly aim the speedrun community. A shit load of players were warmly encouraging us to do that with Splasher, because of its strong fast-paced navigation aspects.
But this is just the top of the iceberg because between 2014 and 2016 we also did hundreds and hundreds of playtests at home, mainly focused on platformer players but also with people coming from a “wider” audience … and lots of them were very enthusiastic too ! They brought very precious feedback to help us make Splasher more accessible while being demanding and highly challenging. We did so many sessions that we had to hire a Playtest Manager, Joffrey Babilotte, who did an amazing job at gathering our audience’s feeling on the game, day after day during months.
By the way you’ll see around 50 of our more implicated testers in the game credits!
Has anything you’ve learned from Rayman’s development transferred over to Splasher?
There are many things I’ve learned working on Rayman, from design stuff to very technical aspects. The way I built the level and let’s say the “overall flow” of the game are mainly coming from my experience working on those games. Even for the scenario, in which you have to stand against oppression and rescue buddies from a deadly destiny, you may find a Rayman inspiration (but I would prefer the “Oddworld Homage” to describe it actually). Add plenty of inspirations coming from other platforming master pieces and you get Splasher.
On the other hand a lot of big platformers, like the Mario ones for instance, often propose a very wide range of gameplay features. As a tiny core team of 2, we wanted to concentrate on 1 kind of challenge and craft it as best as we could. This is why the game is almost exclusively focused on platforming and navigation. That said, and this is my past on Rayman who kind of drove me there too : on each level you’ll find 2 special rooms that offer a more exotic challenge, a bit like the small cage-maps in Origins and Legends. These are interesting variations because they offer more diversity in the overall rhythm of the level, they are both challenging and surprising moments.
Are there different levels of difficulty or does the game get progressively harder?
The chief design philosophy we had in your mind was: “Easy to learn, hard to master”. The early levels are meant to give the players the appropriate time to learn about the core mechanics. Your paint cannon will gain its powers over a few levels. But once you get them, then it’s becoming harder and harder. I am actually this kind of player you can call an “insane difficulty enthusiast”, but it all depends on how the game presents it to me. Difficulty is a brake for no one, as long as the game is fair. So I want the player never to think that the game is cheating on them, and it means that they can learn at their own pace too.
We designed each level to offer interesting challenges, by paying a close attention to both learning and difficulty. We wanted the player to feel a compelling flow from the beginning to the end of the game.
Does this game have online capabilities?
No, but we have Time Attack and Speedrun leaderboards where you can compete with the best players in the world!