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Check out a new article by Max Pears on the way level designers encourage players to move using objectives and other tricks.
I hope you are all doing well, enjoying your day, or night depending when you are reading this. In 2017 I bought a Nintendo Switch and do not regret it! I love this console so much as I travel a lot so it really is great for my lifestyle. The games on this console are some phenomenal games! To list a few:
- Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Mario Odyssey
- Splatoon 2
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Each of these games are fantastic in their own right, providing some memorable xp for all players. Yet the main one I am going to focus on (As you guessed by the title) is Splatoon 2. So this is the first one in the series that I played. I did not own a WiiU so I missed out on the first one. I did not know what to expect from this game when I got it. (The main reason I picked up a switch was for Zelda: BotW)
I had seen the reviews were good and got Splatoon 2 included into my bundle deal so heck why don’t I give it a try. I have only recently gotten back into multiplayers games with the likes of Splatoon 2 and Overwatch.
The objective of the game is simple, Cover more fo the map with paint than your opponents (there are other game modes but you won’t unlock them until you a certain level in the game) now it is that simple but I want to talk now about how the developers used the objective and other tricks to encourage players to move.
Movement in games is common but its how games communicate with players on a subconscious level, that always impresses me. Splatoon 2 and Doom are two games of recent times which spring to mind with how they encourage fast paced movement (Doom’s fast paced combat comes its core combat loop, for more info check out this great article here on Doom) Without a further due let’s jump into it.
The first way Splatoon 2 encourages players to move is the objective of the game: Cove the map in your paint. In order for players to do this they can not stand still or stay in one place they have to move to find every nook and cranny to cover in paint. Compared to other multiplayer missions types like a deathmatch, you as a player could employ the strategy of wait for the enemy to come to you. Yet sitting and waiting in Splatoon 2 is a quick way to ensure you will lose the match.
A knock-on result of this main objective which has an impact on players movement is the strategies for players, One of the best is to be the quickest to the centre of the map.
On the map I have marked the two spawn locations of the teams. Now lets split the map into Thirds
So as you can see that roughly each team will have a third of the map uncontested which allows players to have an easy section to mark their territory. Leaving only the centre of the map to be contest and most of the time the deciding factor on where players will win or lose their match. Meaning moving to this section is of the utmost importance.
Another sub-strategy which encourages movement is for players to push beyond the centre and attack the opposing teams start area. Now this can be hard to do but very effective if done right. Because you have managed to push or sneak past the enemy you can start to take over their area, which will be uncontested as they may be fighting for the centre of the map. Now players will have to move back to their area, forcing a limit how much enemy players will move as they will be focused on their own area.
Think about that for a second yes you are taking control of more areas of the map but you are also controlling how much your opponent can move (More on this later) if you are making other players stay n focus on that one area it gives your team more time to move and take over more areas.
You can see that was the first way the devs on splatoon make you move, through objectives and strategies. Now let’s talk about how their core mechanics make you move.
First mechanic I want to talk about is the two forms that players take on with their Inkling avatar.
The two forms show above are as humans and squids. Each of these play a vital role in how you play the game. You use your human form mainly to shoot out your paint on the map (yh that sounded really weird when I read it out loud) while the squid form is used to gain ammo and move around the map.
Now in these forms players can move around freely but in the squid form players can move around much faster than their human counterpart. The primary purpose (the secondary purpose we will mention soon) of the squid form is to move, the squid is much faster than the human form and having a speed advantage over the other this will encourage movement with players as you need to move as fast as you can to take control of the map.
Ammo in this game is used so well in encouraging movement.
Your ammo in the game is a canister filled with paint and you will lose every time you shoot (basic I know) yet there is no ammo packs to pick-up when playing, players must go into the squid form and swim in your coloured paint to regain the ammo. Just think about that for a second, to get your ammo you will have to move to your paint to gain ammo. Your paint can be right under you or it may be further away due to enemies over painting yours.
If you are in Squid form and swimming in the enemies paint, that will hinder your movement by reducing your speed drastically, your Squid will not blend into the paint but instead pop out making you an easy target. You need to be able to move fast to survive. Think back to the strategy I mentioned earlier, if the enemy has you corner and most of the map is covered in the enemies paint then your movement is limited making you vulnerable to their attacks.
Next is genius, (Disclaimer I am unsure if this is true, but it is what I believe I have witnessed so if you know the answer please correct me) If your paint ammo runs out you can as a player just sit in the paint and wait for your canister to refill. Yet if you move around in your paint then the canister will refill even faster so again encouraging movement to get back into the fight quicker.
Ammo running out will not just stop you from firing your primary gun but to use certain weapons like grenades, you need a certain amount of paint in your canister to use them. Which means for strategy, you will be filling up your canister on a more regular bases to be able to throw a grenade to have an A.o.E on the map.
Showing that again even in order to get ammo, to use certain equipment, you will need to move to be able to do this.
Earlier in the article I mentioned that you move faster as the squid, yet this is only true if you are swimming in your team’s coloured paint. To be able to move as fast as you can you will need to create a path for yourself. Which means you will need to shoot in the directions you wish to travel, again making you move because if you want to travel the fastest and cover the map to win the game you will need to shoot out your path.
Well I am a level designer so I would be remiss if I did not mention anything about their level layouts.
First topic of their level design are there sniper nests. Like all shooters they have sniper paintball rifles and vantage points for snipers to shoot from. Yet it is how players have to reach these vantage points that I love.
The sniper point in this map is the mast (I have put dotted red lines around it) this is a great spot for players to go as you can see, it has a lot of areas for players to shoot at and cover map. Now players can enter this sniper point in one of two ways.
The first way is on foot by getting up across the footpath, now players this is the traditional way and can be done but if you do this via foot, it is slower because of the pace of the human mode but also the grate flooring will not be covered by paint and the path to reach it is much longer.
Then you have the second way to reach it.
Which is by players shooting up the mast which will then create a path for players to travel when they are in their squid form. I find this super smart because as a beginner in this game you will just aim at the floor and cover the walls for points not for a mode of transport. With sniper points like this it encourages quicker movement for a stronger vantage of the battlefield.
The next way in which levels in encouragement is via shortcuts. As I mentioned about the sniper nests, you can reach these quicker via your squid form, which opens up the map to new traversal possibilities.
This wall here from the previous picture, some would see this as blocker making players take the path on the right, yet for more experienced players you can see this as a shortcut. It can either lead player above to the sniper nest or (it is hard to see on this pic) the catwalk on the left hand side as a flanking route.
It is with these short cuts and flanking route embedded into the level which you need move to via your squid form to take true advantage of these levels. Their level design in Splatoon 2 is all about encouraging movement, from the routes to the centre, to flanking options, and to vantage points. Once you understand that you have to move in Splatoon 2 then your ability in this game will skyrocket.
Those are the ways that Splatoon 2 encourages movement in it’s gameplay. I hope you have enjoyed this and if you own a switch check it out, I really love this game and is one of my favorite multiplayer games to play.
If you like what I have done here and want to hear more of design thoughts then please check out my
Podcast – Level Design Lobby:
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Take it easy and I hope you are enjoying playing and more making the games you love.