Snipperclips Afterwords – What It's Like To Create A Launch Title For A New Nintendo Console
The Switch only launched with a few games. The most notable titles were 1-2-Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and a little downloadable game called SnipperClips - Cut it Out, Together. Zelda was (and continues to be) the Switch's undeniable juggernaut, and 1-2-Switch was the opposite of a juggernaut (a system soiler, some would call it), which left an important hole for Snipperclips to fill in the Switch's shallow library. We, along with many others, liked the game and it sold well. As of April, the game has sold over 350,000 copies. We spoke with technical director Tom Vian and creative director Adam Vian of developer SFB Games about the development of the game, if they mind that people assume the game was made entirely by Nintendo, and what is going on with the game's fiction.
Game Informer: How early were you made aware of the Switch hardware?
SFB Games: We found out about the Switch around June of 2016. Nintendo showed us a short presentation, which explained the various features of the Switch and the Joy-Con controllers. It was really exciting, and a massive privilege to find out so early, but our heads were quickly full of thoughts about how best to use the new controller layout. It was fun keeping such a big secret to ourselves, all through the year.
Why those shapes? One side round, one side cornered?
You need sharp corners for some cuts, and a round shape for others. For example, using the round side to cut a "bowl" shape to carry balls on your head. That particular idea came to me very early on, so it felt like a good reason to keep that shape. Also, having a flat shape across the top of the characters was very useful once we realized characters needed to stand on each other.
What did the earliest versions of the game look like?
The earliest version of the game was called Friendshapes, this was after only two weeks of prototype development, before Nintendo got involved. It looked fairly similar in concept, but there was very little animation on the characters. It had the same basic idea for background art - the school desk, with rulers, pencils, etc. That seemed like a natural fit for the game, even from right at the beginning.
Did it start as a Wii U game?
Sort of, but not really. We developed it as a prototype on PC, to begin with. Wii U was the assumed hardware, but we never developed any features specific to the Wii U - such as making use of the screen on the GamePad. We knew Nintendo was working on new hardware, since the "NX" had been announced in some capacity. But our goal was just to make a fun game, regardless of what hardware we were using.
Eventually we moved over to Switch, and it seemed like the appropriate hardware for the game, especially given the two Joy-Cons.
Was it difficult to develop for new hardware? Was the development pace expedited? Was making launch stressful?
It was difficult, as there were a lot of unknown factors, especially on the technical side. When we starting developing the game, we didn't know a single thing about the Switch.
As for making launch, everyone had to work hard. But the goal of making a game for the launch of a new Nintendo console was so exciting, it was a very good reason to try hard and make it happen.
What is the fiction of Snipperclips? Is there a story? Who are the paper cutouts and what are their goals?
Hmm, good question. Well...the characters are named Snip (red/pink) and Clip (yellow), they're pieces of paper, and they love solving puzzles together. That's about it for now!
Originally there was an idea to set the game specifically in a school. That's why the worlds are set in places you'd find in a school. (Desk, Computer room, Science Lab) Eventually we kept that side of the game quite simple and minimal. I feel like the focus is more on the two people who are actually playing the game together. They embody the characters and the story of the game is about their friendship, and their ability to work together.
Many have assumed that the game is first-party Nintendo. Is it flattering players are making that assumption?
That is very flattering! SFB Games is a small independent company. Our actual development team here in London was only 6 people, at its largest. But, for Snipperclips, assuming it's first-party Nintendo is not entirely incorrect. Nintendo did directly help develop the game in addition to acting as producer and publisher. The game is a collaboration between SFB Games and Nintendo.
Why include the “Cut it Out, Together!” subtitle?
I think the goal was to mention "cutting" directly, and also suggest that this was a co-op multiplayer game, since that is the biggest strength of Snipperclips. Also, it’s really interesting to see how that subtitle was translated differently for all the different languages.