Next week, Australian development studio Nnooo, headed by Nic Watt and Bruce Thomson, will release Spirit Hunters Inc., an Augmented Reality RPG on Nintendo DSiWare and Nintendo 3DS eShop.
To celebrate the launch, Aussie-Gamer once again caught up with Creative Director Nic Watt to chat about Spirit Hunters Inc., its concept, and some secret tips for getting the most out of the game.
This is the fourth and final part of our epic Nnooo interview series, which you can start reading from here.
Aussie-Gamer – How did the idea for Spirit Hunters Inc. come about?
Nic Watt – The idea for Spirit Hunters Inc came about when I was on holiday doing some really nice nature walks near Montauk Point in the USA. One thing which struck me is that a lot of people drive up to the car-park for a nature walk, eat some sandwiches and then at most spend five minutes walking near the car-park and then drive home. I wondered if you could create a game which encouraged kids to want to explore the real world and hopefully spark their imagination to such a degree that they want to go and explore these beautiful parts of the world!
The idea originally started as a game where you would take photos of insects and plants and then use them to battle each other. I quickly realised that for us to work out which insect was which would be really hard… It wasn’t until a Nintendo Developer Conference that the idea leapt to the next stage. At that conference they were talking about all the cool things you could do with the Nintendo DSi and one of those was using the camera to work out the colours which are around you. Hearing that immediately sparked my imagination and I thought “Wow! We could use that system in an AR game…”
From there I thought a lot about what you would be hunting and battling and Spirits seemed like a really good choice. Everyone already knows about ghosts and spirits and the fact that they are potentially all around us and invisible so it seemed like a good fit to be hunting them down.
Ghostbusters definitely had some inspiration as I was a big fan of it as a child. However I wanted to make sure we used the concept of hunting, battling and capturing spirits in our own way and not something that just felt like a rip off of another franchise. To that end we spent a lot of time working on the battle mechanics and touch interactions.
We feel that AR is unique in the way that you are directly interacting with something in the real world. So instead of just moving and firing bullets at the spirits we really wanted to make you feel like you were interacting directly with the spirits. This is why we have abilities which allow you to flick fireballs, tap and hold on them to drain their life, slash them with a frozen slash and so on.
Aussie-Gamer – How is Augmented Reality used in Spirit Hunters Inc.?
Nic Watt – The AR is used to hunt down and battle the spirits. The player uses the AR firstly to scan for spirits. They look around them and depending on where they are, the colours around them, the time of day and their level different spirits will spawn. These spirits take the form of puffs of smoke which the player can tap on to start a battle. If the player waits too long the puffs will disappear and new ones will appear.
When the player starts a battle the spirit will fly around both on and off the screen and the player must use the AR to keep them in sight and then use their abilities to battle and either defeat or capture the spirit. As each spirit is aligned to a particular element the player must use strategies to defeat them, particularly at higher levels.
Aussie-Gamer – There are two versions of Spirit Hunters Inc. – Shadow and Light. What are the main differences between the two?
Nic Watt – Each version has a slightly different story, particularly towards the end. They also have some unique spirits which cannot be captured in the other version. To obtain all of the spirits players will have to use the Challenge code system to exchange spirits from the other version to theirs.
Aussie-Gamer – There are 96 Spirits to hunt, what are some of the key tips in making sure players can capture them all?
Nic Watt – Make sure you explore places with different colours (try your garden, near water, sunny areas and shady areas for example). Also try revisiting areas at different times of the day and when you are higher level. Each spirit has particular colours and times of the day where they are most likely to appear.
The idea originally started as a game where you would take photos of insects and plants and then use them to battle each other…
Also pay attention for Silver and Gold spirits. They are much harder than the normal ones but will reward you with extra XP and Ghoulders (the in-game currency). The Spirit List also tracks which spirit you have defeated as well as captured and which normal, silver and golds you’ve found too.
Finally make sure to use the Challenge system to exchange spirits with other people and in particular to get the spirits from the opposite version of the game to your own.
Aussie-Gamer – One of the game modes in Spirit Hunters Inc. is “Challenge Mode”. Can you please tell us a little about this mode and its concept?
Nic Watt – Yep! As I have just mentioned, the player can create a Challenge code to give that exact spirit to a friend. Each time they defeat or capture a spirit they can make one Challenge code from it. Just enter your friend’s in-game name (make sure you spell it correctly) and then ‘hey presto’ a Challenge code is generated. Give them that code by email, text, facebook or good old fashioned pen and paper and when they enter it into their game they’ll get that exact spirit!
The Challenge mode is also where you will take on high level rank battles. Every 10 levels Spirit Hunters Inc will set you a rank battle which you need to complete to be able to keep levelling. As you do so your title will change from Scout to better and better titles!
Aussie-Gamer – Spirit Hunters launches on November 22nd in the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia – it certainly has universal appeal, are there any plans to release in Japan?
Nic Watt – Not at the moment. Unfortunately to release games in Japan we need to have a registered office there and at least one Japanese speaking employee. We don’t have that yet but maybe one day!
Aussie-Gamer – What do you think the future of Spirit Hunters Inc. is?
Nic Watt – If it is successful we’d love to make a wide variety of sequels, some of which expand the formula and some which focus on particular aspects of Spirit Hunters Inc and its history. If I were to dream I’d love to one day see a cartoon, film and toys made!
Aussie-Gamer – To mark the release of Spirit Hunters Inc, do you have a message for our readers and your new customers?
Nic Watt – We really hope you enjoy the game and look forward to hearing your thoughts on this and our other games! We are still a really small company and really appreciate each and every one of our customers and fans!
Thanks so much for reading and good luck battling and capturing all of those spirits!
Spirit Hunters Inc. hits Nintendo DSiWare and Nintendo 3DS eShop on November 22nd for AUD$12.00. Stay tuned to Aussie-Gamer.com for an upcoming review of the game!
We’d like to extend a very big thank you from the whole team to Nnooo for putting up with our questioning and providing some very awesome answers! You can check out the other parts of this interview series below!