Hunicke: Aim for Wattam is to ‘celebrate collaboration and togetherness’

It is going to be a lot of fun by the looks of it.

wattam

Wattam looks so much fun. Seriously, since its reveal at PlayStation Experience a year ago, it has shown itself to be absolutely stupid silly fun in the best possible way. After all, the father of Katamari and Noby Noby Boy Keita Takahashi is attached, so it’s no surprise. But fun is only one core tenant of the meaning of Wattam. There’s another aspect to it too: togetherness.

“I think we really want to build a game that celebrates collaboration and celebrates togetherness in its experience all the way through, from the mechanics of the game all the way to the experience on the couch,” Funomena CEO Robin Hunicke told My Favourite Game.

“We want people to be able to feel free to explore and kind of express themselves through the choices they make while playing and not just feel like they have to grind for points to unlock stuff. Overall, our goal is to make games that bring people closer together and also promote spending time together in a meaningful way.”

In Wattam, after an argument between the Queen of Planet Earth and, in Hunicke’s words, “a horrible monster in space that’s a bad guy”, the Queen self-destructs Earth by taking off her crown – underneath which is a bomb – which sees all the pieces of Earth scattered across the four parts of the universe. The game sees you as the player introduced to the Mayor of Planet Earth, who can’t remember the events that precede the game because of it being a baby at the time.

You as the Mayor must find the other characters on the piece of Earth the Mayor is on. When other characters are discovered, the Mayor has a special ability in which he’ll remove his hat and have a bomb explode after making friends by either holding hands with fellow characters or stacking together. The explosion will then act as a beacon of sorts that is “so joyful and fun that other pieces of the Earth hear it and come down to play,” according to Hunicke.

Ahead of the release of her episode, the first part of the season finale, in which she talks of her favourite game Katamari Damacy, Hunicke said games should have a lot more to them than just “winning and getting revenge”.

“I think it’s in our nature, and especially in Keita’s nature, to design things that are not serious. And when you go not serious, you end up in the place of childhood and play and exploration and fun. And the more we worked on it, especially at PAX, we had so many people come by: couples and kids and parents.”

She added: “And it’s just really fun to sit down next to someone on the couch and see what happens. And we both believe that playing like that – exploratory play, open-ended play, curiosity – it isn’t just values we share, they’re good to practice. And I think we should be making games that celebrate that in addition to winning and getting revenge which tend to be the things we focus on in games.”

Wattam is currently without a confirmed release date on PlayStation 4, but Hunicke did say it may be the end of 2016 or possibly “a little bit after” before it comes out, insisting Funomena would “keep working on it until we love it.”

Listen to Robin Hunicke’s episode on Katamari Damacy on Thursday from 6pm GMT. I promise, this’ll be worth a listen for how fun the episode is. You can find a preview snippet from the episode below, which shows just how much of a Katamari fangirl Robin is. It never fails to wipe a smile off my face listening to how unashamedly fangirl-like she is in it.

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