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Splatoon Global Testfire: My Impressions of a Nintendo Experiment (4th Testfire Impressions ADDED!)
May 11, 2015, 05:02:25
With the fourth Testfire session, new Thoughts and Stats from DrFinkelstein can be found on page 3. Click the link to check those out or continue reading from the start right here.

You may or may not know this but over the weekend Nintendo pulled off something really cool that hopefully sets a precedent for the future. Nintendo put together an online testing event called the Global Testfire for their upcoming 3rd-person team-shooter game, Splatoon. In Splatoon you'll find yourself as a squid-like humanoid character whose primary goal is to cover the land with ink. The game releases on May 29th, 2015 and will feature a wide array of stages, weapons, enhancements, and more. Nintendo hasn't really created a game like this before from a genre standpoint and their execution of the premise is quite strong based on the three hours I spent with the game. Full disclosure, I already felt pretty strong about this game before the demo occurred. I had been growing more and more interested in the game and when it was finally given a release date, I decided to pre-order on the presumption I would want it Day One. However it wasn't always that way as my first impression was honestly skeptical back when the game was first revealed.

Last week Nintendo surprised us with a Nintendo Direct whose focus was solely on this game. It didn't feature Mr. Iwata and in fact it was even kind of weird in presentation. The Nintendo Direct detailed upcoming facts about the game, some explanation on it's summer-releasing of content, amiibo functionality, and most importantly it detailed the Global Testfire event. The event occurred over a 25-hour period this past weekend in three separate hour-long intervals. All someone needed to do was to download their special app on the Wii U and be present at the time of the events. I work a typical work week and was home well in time for the 11 PM eastern-time start of the first match on Friday. My girlfriend and I hung out for a while but she works weird hours and was quite tired so she went off to bed leaving me to hang out with my squids. I alerted the forums about the event in terms of myself playing and encouraged folks to join the Negative World Chat during it. I was psyched to see many of my friends join me for the event. Ploot, Cryojin, VofEscaflowne, chrisbg99, Jarsh, nate38, and Super_Conzo joined myself and I'll clue you in on the general feedback shortly.

First I want explain my first experience with the event. The splash page was up and the clock struck 11. We all frantically hit ZL + ZR to get the thing going but came across a few errors. First there was some kind of server is full bull crap and then some kind of server work error. Maybe it was the other way around. Either way, it was probably bogus as they were simply turning on the servers. Quickly we all jumped in, myself, my friends, and the world.

The demo started with a test aimed to get people used to the controls. It was a skate park and it took you through all the basic controls. I took my time and picked up on the controls pretty well. I haven't played much of the shooter genre in a while and so I didn't have a lot of habits to change. Thus I grew accustomed to the motion controls pretty quickly. You move with the joystick but the aiming is affected by tilting the Wii U Touchpad. This may seem tricky but it's way more comfortable than you'd expect. I found it requiring only mostly subtle moves but even the more grand gestures weren't out of my range of movement. I did have a little hard time remembering which button was jump but I got over myself. Index-triggers were used for shooting ink and going into squid-form for quick swims. Overall I felt it was quite intuitive. Once I realized I could throw my special with R I became instantly more tactical and a better player. By the end of the first hour I was feeling pretty good about how things went and my ability to tackle the task at hand (except for jumping; which got better in later rounds).

The only mode that was playable during the weekend was the Turf War mode which is where teams of four enter an arena for the sole purpose of covering it with ink. You get points for covering naked ground with your ink but you can subtract points from your enemies at the same time if you cover their ink after they've placed it down. All this happened in fast and frantic three-minute cycles. I don't know if you can change the time limit in the full game but I felt like three minutes was enough time to get in, get coverage, fight for coverage, and engage with enough people and space. The matches flew by though because I was having so much fun and I loved checking the results after each match. Despite the subtle indicators, you never really know who is winning (unless there's an obvious slaughter going on). The map they have on the Wii U Game Pad shows the match live and it's easy to tell where you need to be focusing your efforts. You may not want to take your eyes off the action but hiding in some ink for a quick glance works well. The touch screen is also used for choosing where to Super Squid Jump. When you perish you get sent back to home base. This takes you out of the action but long enough to be a punishment but not long enough to be truly punishing to the fun. The jump helps you get right back into the game by essentially warping in a really dramatic leap to wherever a fellow teammate may be. Your choice though as you can choose who to go near or you can just leave from the base. Very neat setup.

The demo only had two stages and throughout my weekend I found myself in one more than the other. First up was Saltspray Rig which is more or less a mirrored A-style level with each team starting in the bottom of an A-leg. It took a few plays but I learned I could shoot ink on the walls and swim up to some great vantage points. This was explained in the demo but I was only able to realize with this level just where and how it could be used. I'm excited for the future of the vertical levels. The level is oil-rig-themed and there are a lot of ways to flat out fall off. Thus you have to be careful. The second level was Walleye Warehouse. This was completely closed off, like any normal warehouse, and had a lot of nooks and crannies to sneak around. Boxes would find themselves as cover or platforms. I played this a lot more than the other level, at about a 3:1 ratio. This wasn't by choice but the demo was simply random about it and that's how it broke down. Naturally I found that I had quite a great strategy for starting the level and I knew which areas were being neglected by the other teams. I felt quite adept at this level compared to the Rig and for that I think I liked it more. However in time I know I'll love Saltspray too. It has a lot of great aspects to it as well.

To accomplish all of this ink-spraying the humanoid squids use a variety of weapons. The demo had four to choose from, each with their own sub weapon and special weapon. Once I realized how to use the latter two, I found myself much more adept and tricky for foes. The four weapons we had to choose from were the Splattershot Jr, the Splattershot, the Splat Roller, and the Splat Charger. The Splattershot Jr. was easily my most used weapon and my weapon of choice. It's a rapid-fire short-range weapon which required me to really keep moving and get up in the faces of others but being brave I did so and was quite effective with it. The Splattershot is different but similar and I don't quite know how… I mean, it felt like the Splattershot Jr. naturally but I didn't enjoy it as much. I also didn't enjoy the sub weapon as much as I did with the Splattershot Jr. I think in the final game you should be able to adjust fully your 'package' weapon and swap out one sub-weapon for another but I don't know the facts on that. The Splat Roller was quite a cool one too. It's essentially a giant paint roller which has a large coverage and covers as fast as you can run. You can flick it to toss ink at enemies and on walls but that range is vastly nerfed. You can steamroll over unsuspecting enemies with ease and initial reports were that the weapon was overpowered. Even I thought so at first but by the second match on Saturday morning I found that not to be the case. I learned to counter it with relative ease. I'm not invincible when I'm up against it and I didn't spend enough time with it to know if I'm effective with it either. The special weapon and sub weapons are pretty cool for it though. The special weapon is a giant satellite dish type ray which kills in a wide spread in front of where you place it and the sub weapon is a timed mine of sorts with a unique sprinkler-style blast radius. The final weapon was the Splat Charger and I plain suck at using it. I saw a few folks using it well but it's not something I plan to use much. I used it once, had such a cruddy time with it that I chose not to use it again for the rest of the weekend. I only used it once on Friday night in that first half hour. It's essentially a charged up sniper rifle with long but narrow range. I can see where it's great for quick escapes through enemy territory and surprise head-shots of sorts but for me… it's too slow at actually claiming Turf. I kind of liked when one person on my team had it though as it felt like somehow it rounded out the event.

Back to how everyone in the chat enjoyed it, we all frantically typed in between battles exclaiming things like "Got destroyed.", "fun fun fun", and "omg we owned that one". People generally were excited with the whole percentage aspect of each round and the feelings were wide spread. Quickly folks had commented on the weirdness of using the motion controls and each weapon was generally appreciated. Midway through the night VofEscaflowne told us "i can't stop smiling". He wasn't alone. I was having the same sentiment as were everyone in the chat. Near the end I was worried that the roller was over powered (which was a sentiment that followed in the Splatoon thread later). We were pretty upset to see the time running out. The psychology of the time limit was interesting. I am excited to own this and have that not be a problem any more. Suddenly everyone experienced some kind of lag or issues and BAM time was up and we all were booted. While it was only midnight for me, it was five in the morning for Super_Conzo and late for many others. Ploot commented he had some minor lag in one match but most of us experienced no issues what-so-ever. Cryojin was someone else who had lag but only in the final match. VofEscaflowne finished the evening with pretty much the best way I could have summed it up too… "I don't think I've ever played anything and walked away just wanting so much more". Three sessions later I certainly still agree. I've been watching a lot of other people's play throughs of the demo throughout today. I've been showing my nephews this too but still I'm getting a ton of enjoyment out of it. Alas, the first night finished with me disappointing the room with my lack of Star Fox love and then we went to bed.

I only nabbed about five and a half hours but I had so much fun with the first round that I had to jump in on the second. Plus this was such a rare event I just felt like I should be a part of as much as I could. r_hjort was the only buddy to show up. For him it was much later in the day but for me it was 7 AM on Saturday morning. I hadn't had a lot of sleep the previous night either because of the ZooBrew (which was freakin' great, thanks for asking). r_hjort was eager to try it with all the glowing impressions which found themselves on Negative World from the night before. He was worried as his internet was a little unreliable. We spent the hour having fun and sharing experiences. r_hjort had already heard that the Splat Roller was overpowered but he didn't find it to be so when he played. I commented that on one match it was me on the Splattershot Jr. with three rollers and we cleaned up house. They did the coverage and I covered their butts. Before we knew it the time was already up. It flew by even faster than the night before. r_hjort and I talked about character gender and style and I realized that while I chose to be a pale white male with brown eyes (like I am in real life) perhaps I should change it up for fun. I wonder if the final game will have you pick one and stick with it but in the demo you can change each time. We said our goodbyes and I went off to clean the house and grab some Jimmy Johns for lunch.

I made it back home in time to eat a #16 with avocado spread and jump online for the third and final session. r_hjort had said he would try to arrive and arrive he did. I was concerned that others wouldn't join. Not that r_hjort isn't great company but I wanted us to share with more folks. Mop_it_up joined quickly and we were pleased. She changed her name to 'Splat_it_up' which was funny so I changed mine to DrFinkelsplat. r_hjort later changed his name to 'splort'. Super_Conzo joined and eventually changed his name to 'Splatter_Conzo'. For this round I opted to darken the skin up a few levels, became a female humanoid, and colored my eyes yellow. I looked badass to be frank. I started my run pretty strong. I was the MVP of my group on the first round and a few there after. By now I felt confident in my skills. Splat_it_up was using the Splattershot since it shot farther but at a slower rate. Something weird happened though and I was booted from the match. That was fine since two characters on the opposing team had clearly flaked out so I bet they left the match early. Then I lost big time in a match where my team was pushed back to the spawn point. Splat_it_up won a match by a mere 0.6% percent! Wow! We had a ton of fun and by the time it all ended we stuck around to chat about the game and our relative desire for it. Some might hold off at launch due to the fact the true game is being rolled out over the summer in spurts and the default buy is kind of light, while others are more in my camp and are so happy to just play some more Turf Wars, there's no way we can wait later than May 29th.

If you've made it this far into the article, I thank you. Hopefully it's been at least a fifth of the fun reading about Splatoon as I had playing it. After every single match during the play test I had taken a photo of the percentage screen, which is how I knew many of my stats later on. I did a large handful of calculations to see what was happening and here were my results.

General CategoryResult
Games Played39
Total Wins29
Total Losses10
Biggest Win %67.4%
Biggest Loss %18.1%

I played quite a lot of games in my short three hours with the game. The demo tutorial at the skate park became a mad-dash to start at the end of this thing. I should have spent more time in there but I wanted to get into the action. I felt proud at having a nearly 75% win record. My biggest win percent was pretty strong but clearly sometimes you can lose by a lot too at under 20% of the overall level claimed.

Colorful CategoriesResult
Most Common 'Good Guys' ColorOrange
Most Common 'Bad Guys' ColorYellow-Green
Most Common Color OverallOrange

I found the color choices to be quite interesting. Overall I saw seven different colors. In no specific order there was Green, Orange, Light Blue, Dark Blue, Purple, Yellow-Green, and Pink. I checked each match against itself and saw that despite the seven colors, of which would allow 42 total combinations, there was actually only ten used. Technically there was only five but a special pattern arose proving that the opposite colors were used too. In light of this, I had been Orange a considerably greater amount of times than any other color. I had only ever been Pink once. I have no idea if this is important or if there is any method to the madness. Still, the five true color combos are what exist as far as we can see now.

Maybe there are more in the final version but perhaps these are deemed the optimal five as far as Nintendo is concerned.

Percentage-Based CategoriesResult
Avg 'Good Guys' Overall %49.4%
Avg 'Bad Guys' Overall %35.8%
Avg 'Good Guys' Win %53.1%
Avg 'Bad Guys' Win %45.4%
Closest Match Difference0.3%
Widest Gap in a Match58.3%
Biggest % of Untouched Land28.7%
Smallest % of Untouched Land5.9%
Average % Untouched Land14.9%

These were just easily calculable stats based on the win/loss percentages I wrote down. It shows that every match can truly vary and I think that's the fun of this game. Things can turn at any moment with a good team. It also shows that you can easily win without covering more than half the map with ink. The fact that some of the map is usually not covered means it's not a race to 50%. I think this is a good thing.

Testfire CategoriesResult
Most Common StageWalleye Warehouse
Stage with Most WinsWalleye Warehouse
Rounds Completed in Session 112
Rounds Completed in Session 213
Rounds Completed in Session 314
My Highest Score in a Match1,106 pts
Best SessionSession 3
Worst SessionSession 1
Weapon of ChoiceSplattershot Jr.

Alas the final stats and the end of my article. I had a ton of fun with the Splattershot Jr. and enjoyed some great fun in the matches. I don't know why the Walleye Warehouse showed up way more than the Saltspray Rig and I wish I could play that level more. Alas… in time… in due time. I think it's funny that I fit in an extra round every successive hour. I craved more and more and more! I hope you found this interesting enough of a read. It's a lot of text but clearly I can't get Splatoon off my brain. I never expected to get hooked but I'm squid-brained to the max.

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Posted: 05/11/15, 05:02:25  - Edited by 
 on: 05/27/15, 04:53:22    
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*falsetto* "Mayyyybe!"

Posted by 
 on: 05/19/15, 23:27:49
So in a turn of events... my girlfriend's father wasn't able to nab Saturday night tickets... so he has them for Friday night... meaning I have a date with squid... oh and my girlfriend. She'll get to play. And this means I'll take more data! Wahoo! /nerdy

Posted by 
 on: 05/21/15, 01:39:24
When Nintendo had their original Splatoon Global Testfire a few weeks back, it was something unique that they had never done before. Leave it to Nintendo to rehash a franchise by having another 1-hour session this past Saturday… oh and by re-hash I really mean… GIVE US EXACTLY WHAT WE WANTED!!!! (well, eventually). A quick preface; last week I was eagerly anticipating playing this one final additional Testfire hour. My anticipation for this game has only grown since the initial trials and the fact we were still something like 10 days away was just horrible to experience. Yeah… first world problems. So I was planning to go spend time at my girlfriend's parents house for the Memorial Day Weekend and we had planned to play the final hour on Saturday night. It fell at a good hour, 6PM EDT, so we had no issues. Then suddenly last week I received a mass text from her father. It was sent to everyone in the family… her, her sister, her brother-in-law, her mother, and me. He wanted to buy tickets to a Minor League baseball game for Saturday night. Game started at 7:05 PM. I never hated the South Bend Cubs more than I did at that moment. In fact, it was the first time I had heard of them too. To discover something and instantly hate it was a unique feeling. I kid of course but I was bummed when everyone jumped right in and I was out of time for thinking of a way to have my cake and eat it too. Could we leave at 6:30 PM or were we going to dinner ahead of time? Would there be a rain delay I could count on? No. So I posted my disappointment on Negative World as I would have to miss the Testfire for the game. Then a few hours later an adorable Squid Girl and Squid Boy brought me my cake. The Saturday night game was sold out and instead we were going on Friday night. I could have my cake and eat it too.

Fast-forward to Saturday night at 5:50 PM EDT and we were at the house with the Wi-Fi on. I hopped into Miiverse to test the connection of my Wii U and all was good. It was 5:58 PM and I tried the demo anyway. Huzzah! It logged me in! Bonus match! I decided to play first and show her what the game was all about. I was back on my classic turf… Walleye Warehouse. My first match was a close one as I won with a 46.7% versus the 45% of the other team. Clearly I was rusty or the internet had gotten better since the last Testfire. Probably both. Then Erika had her first match ever. It was history in the making! She had a pretty decent first run on Saltspray Rig with a 41.6% to 44.3% loss against the opposing team. I was proud of her still. She wasn't a huge fan of the motion controls, which made me chuckle because I'm comfortable with them but her thoughts mimicked that of many others on Negative World. I'm glad the option is there for fans of either type. Then the Splatpocalypse happened.

Our third match wasn't connecting. I was so frustrated because I wanted her to continue having opportunities (and I wanted to enjoy a couple more too). I did what came naturally and went to Twitter to see if others were having problems. The answer as a resounding Yes. However the internet can tend to be a very reactionary place which leaves reason and understanding outside only to run rampant with muddy shoes covered in hate, anger, frustration, and absolute hyperbole. It seemed that Nintendo was a huge asshole who had wronged so many for simply having a beta test not run smoothly. To the internet's credit, the first three hours of the Testfire ran ridiculously smooth that people had quite an expectation. Myself included. Many folks swore off Nintendo forever and proudly proclaimed that they were canceling their pre-orders. I took a more reasonable approach. Despite the disappointment, I understood that the servers were possibly having their heaviest load yet. After all the Testfire was so successful before that surely everyone and their mother was trying to play this time. I presume this server load wouldn't be the case in the final game since rarely would the presumed amount of pressure be on their servers at a specific time again. It should be more spread out. Plus I took this as a learning experience for Nintendo. Perhaps even they did it on purpose to see how much the server would take… all in all it was simply speculation. The main thing that was frustrating for me was the lack of any word from Nintendo. It was the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend in the United States but Nintendo of America had nothing to say on their Twitter feed. It was weirdly fun watching Twitter do it's thing while I repeatedly re-attempted to make new matches to keep playing. However I was definitely disappointed for Erika and I, especially after trying so hard to keep the event going in the light of other responsibilities. We got a good amount of that Squid-Jumping mini-game in and eventually we made it back to the lobby where Erika finally had her chance to take her time in the skate-park-based demo section I blew us through initially. As the hour neared it's end, we simply turned off the system and left to pursue other activities.

NOT! Of course we waited until 7 PM when the servers kicked back on for another hour. I suspected perhaps that Nintendo would simply find the solution and in the name of making things easiest to know for folks, simply start the hour over at 7 PM instead of having some random start time and random end time. We were overjoyed! So we continued on taking turns, though on occasion I had two simultaneous turns and vice versa as we would forget to change the weapon. She had been preferring the Splat Roller while I kept using the Splattershot Jr I had grown so accustomed to.

Every match that evening I took photos so again I could perform some stats and calculations. Those will be below. I just want to finish up by stating how much fun Erika and I had playing this hour. It fed my deep yearning for the game and our frothing demand for this game increases. In fact, just tonight, Erika mentioned how bummed she was that we'd need to buy two copies in order to play online together when we move into our own place later this year. If Splatoon sees a particularly nice deal I'll likely do it. Maybe I can nab a used copy at the end of the summer. I'll be buying mine on Day One however. When the Testfire kicked back into gear all the negativity on Twitter left. People suddenly calmed the hell down and kept playing. There was joy and happiness.

Before getting to the stats I wanted to give some major props to Erika (known on the forums as EponaEatsCarrots) for kicking some ass in those matches. In my final two matches, I lost decently. Her match was our final match and she won by an 11.5% gap. I was proud of her to do right by us considering how poor I played at the end. At the end of the session I had won more than I lost but I did a little damage to my overall averages. Still, I had a blast. I can't emphasize that enough. Now for the stats. I'll post the same series of stats that I did before, noting any significant changes. These will not include all 54 matches from across the four sessions but merely the 47 matches I partook in. Erika can make her own thread about her own stats if she wants to. (She doesn't. I'm the crazy one in the relationship.) So without further ado….

General CategoryResult
Games Played47
Total Wins34
Total Losses13
Biggest Win %67.4%
Biggest Loss %18.1%

At only eight actual matches played myself, there wasn't as much time to really rack up the wins or losses. I managed to win 5 of my 8 matches. The only bummer was that they were my first five matches, meaning I ended the night by losing my last three in a row. Talk about a buzzkill. Erika won her last one though, and with flair, so she made up for my poorness. The Biggest Wins and Losses were the same as last time, meaning I never won by a larger percentage, nor lost by a smaller margin, than I did in the first three rounds.

Colorful CategoriesResult
Most Common 'Good Guys' ColorYellow-Green
Most Common 'Bad Guys' ColorPink / Dark Blue
Most Common Color OverallGreen / Dark Blue / Yellow-Green / Pink

Chock this up to pure randomness and luck but instead of Orange, the most common color was now Yellow-Green as far as the Good Guys were concerned. Before, Yellow-Green was the most common Bad Guys color… does this mean I'm a bad guy? I've gotta go hit up that Help Group I saw an ad for in that film Wreck It Ralph! My highest scoring match was a manly Pink! Can't say I mind. The common Bad Guy colors were shared this time around and the most common color overall was actually shared across four colors. Chock it up to the fact that some colors are shared in multiple pairings. After viewing more random footage after the initial write-up I saw new color pairings so I doubt these five (or ten) are all there is.

Percentage-Based CategoriesResult
Avg 'Good Guys' Overall %48.7%
Avg 'Bad Guys' Overall %36.6%
Avg 'Good Guys' Win %51.7%
Avg 'Bad Guys' Win %50.4%
Closest Match Difference1.7%
Widest Gap in a Match37.6%
Biggest % of Untouched Land20.9%
Smallest % of Untouched Land8.3%
Average % Untouched Land14.1%

So… these stats. I saw a drop in Average Good Guy Percentage and a rise in Average Bad Guy Percentage. Same goes with the Average Win Percentage for both sides of the coin. The Closest Match was similar at 1.7% but the Widest Gap dropped over 20% points. The percentage of untouched land also dropped as people became more aware of the nooks and crannies of each stage. The stats for Least Percent Untouched was pretty close, as was the Average Percent Untouched. I should add though, speaking of the Widest Gap, Erika had the Widest Gap I had seen so far. In her third match ever, she had her first win. There she entertained an unprecedented 62.8% gap between her winning score and the losing score. This was over 4% better than my greatest gap yet. That's my sweetheart!

Testfire CategoriesResult
Most Common StageWalleye Warehouse
Stage with Most WinsWalleye Warehouse
Rounds Completed in Session 112
Rounds Completed in Session 213
Rounds Completed in Session 314
Rounds Completed in Session 48
My Highest Score in a Match1,073 pts
Best SessionSession 3
Worst SessionSession 4
Weapon of ChoiceSplattershot Jr.

So the final stats before the release of the game this Friday… essentially it shows little changed in this category but despite Walleye Warehouse being the most common yet again, I can speak on behalf of Saltspray Rig that it did show up more often this play session than it had in the previous ones. My highest score in a single match was a mere 33 points smaller than before. There's room for improvement sure. Technically my most recent round was my worst but it's hard to really consider that significant when I played 4-6 less stages. There are only so many ways you can divide the number 8. I explored the Splat Roller more but the Splattershot Jr. was still my claim to fame. I'm really excited to dive deeper into the various weapons. Hopefully I can be good at a couple presets. So that all said,… it's time to finally wrap up this two-part-article (or two particle if you will). I've got a podcast to finish editing and my new copy of Puzzles & Dragons SMB Edition won't be playing itself. I leave you all with the following awesome (subjectively) commercial for Splatoon, releasing this Friday on May 29th (in the U.S.). Enjoy.

Posted by 
 on: 05/27/15, 04:47:15  - Edited by 
 on: 05/27/15, 04:50:04
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