Sakurai: "Players don't know how hard we work"

Smash Bros. designer Masahiro Sakurai adds that the pain of the "life-changing struggle" of development goes away with time.

Smash Bros. lead designer Masahiro Sakurai believes gamers don't fully understand how much time and effort is invested into a project like Nintendo's iconic fighting game series.

"The players don't know about how hard we work. That's not a problem because that's the case for any product, but it's important to remember that you can't take anything for granted," Sakurai said in his latest Famitsu post, translated by Nintendo Life.

His comments came as part of a columna regarding the development process for the Smash Bros. series, specifically the amount of work that goes into creating each game's roster. Sakurai has spoken of this challenge before, saying in June that choosing the roster is stressful "almost to the brink of death."

In his Famitsu post this week, Sakurai said much the same thing, but explained any pain he feels during development is eased over time.

"Projects take a while, and you run into difficult and painful times," Sakurai said. "Some people have to bow out of it. To be honest, I've sometimes thought about what I'm earning for myself, going through all this life-changing struggle. But the pain I feel at the time goes away over time, and yet the game itself always remains. Players talk about the fun and so forth behind the game for years to come, and they still play it."

Sakurai added that he is often asked by media if he feels pressure to deliver when creating a high-profile project like the new Smash Bros. game for Wii U and 3DS.

"Like I've written before, on a personal level, I don't feel anything like pressure. It's really fun work," Sakurai said. "Sometimes you have to resign yourself to the fact that things will work out the way they're meant to work out. But you need to funnel your regrets to the next project and work as hard as you can on that. The pain goes away, but your work always remains."

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS are expected to launch in 2014. There will be no cross-platform play between the two.

Earlier this week, Nintendo confirmed Luigi as a playable character for the game. He joins previously announced characters Pikmin & Olimar, Villager, Mario, Donkey Kong, Mega Man, Wii Fit Trainer, Link, Samus, Kirby, Fox, Pikachu, Bowser, and Pit.

For more on the new Smash Bros. game, check out GameSpot's interview with Sakurai.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

389 comments
tcll5850
tcll5850

Sakurai... take it from a programmer who's one of your biggest fans.


I've been homeless and spit on by the gov't who tried to separate me from my mother due to my autism.

but you know what... among those stresses,

I've still looked forward to give people what they want, and the best experiences from my programs.


I do understand how hard you work and applaud you for it.

heck the only reason I got a Wii was because of Brawl...

though I was one of the best Pichu players in Melee and wish he would've been in Brawl. ;_;


the nerfs in brawl aren't too much of a big deal, though it does hurt the experience,

as I'm sure you've figured out by now... heh


I'm just here to tell you, ignore all these other people who are trying to bamf you and keep pushing foreward :)

I hope this will be a better game than Melee. :)


brawl had a few things I like over Melee...

for example, I REALLY like the AI, how it seems to learn from fighting with it over time :D


the unlockables, I'm not too worried about...

I just like the story modes and the scores... I really miss the scores that were in Melee ;_;


anyways... SSB4 is already pretty much made, so I'm not asking for changes now XD

I just hope alot of the stuff removed will be put back :)


and I hope I'm an inspiration for you to keep going.

if you don't make it by the release date, oh well...

the longer it's in development, the better it should turn out. :3

alot of people need to realize and understand that, and stop being impatient for certain features.

otherwize, you get what you get, and you have to live with the crap you demanded to see.

Mo2JDfs71KtHlas
Mo2JDfs71KtHlas

Sakurai: "Players don't know how hard we work"

Competitive players (on Brawl nerfs): "Sakurai don't know how hard we work"


Funny how his whining makes more sense when applied right back to him. Whereas his whining is just that, whining.

This is coming from a fellow game dev too, so I DO know how hard he works. Whereas he has NO CLUE about anything competitive works and how hard players work at it, prefering to cater to mashers and the like.

So right back at you Sakurai. Stop whining.

btstlouis
btstlouis

Sakuri is the biggest baby in the whole gaming industry. You brought it on yourself when you made that embarrassment of a game called Brawl.

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

I'm not even going to pretend to know how hard it is to make a video game, but maybe Sakurai should take a vacation and let someone else head the next Smash Bros game to be made. I sometimes wonder what a Smash Bros game designed by a woman would look and play like. You can't please everyone, and I'm not as angry about the lack of story mode now that I know it wasn't actually developed and then yanked.

I hope the controls are tighter this time. A lot of times I felt like I wasn't actually in control of my character in Brawl.

kreegan64
kreegan64

 Hopefully one of those "regrets funneled into the next project" is a playable Ridley.

JJW199
JJW199

My List for Super Smash Bros. for 3DS & Wii U

• Metal Sonic (Sonic) • Burning Gundam (G Gundam) • Master Gundam (G Gundam) • Young Link (Majora's Mask) • Ganondorf (Ocarina of Time) • Black Shadow (F-Zero) • Knuckles (Sonic) • Shadow (Sonic) • Wing Gundam Zero (Gundam Wing: TV/EW) • Hulk (Marvel) • Thor (Marvel) • Kat And Ana (WarioWare Inc) • Pucca (Pucca: Funny Love) • Guru (Pucca: Funny Love) • Tobe (Pucca: Funny Love) • Samus -Fusion Suit- (Metroid Fusion) • Dark Gundam Final Form (G Gundam)

AXE325XXEXE
AXE325XXEXE

I may like the franchise, but I'm sorry, right now Sakurai sound like a whining spoiled brat everytime he gets interviewed.  I feel for him, I remembered when he was developing Brawl, he was stressing out most of the time.  I understand how hard it is, but he also need to understand that to some extent, consumers will not care how it was develop, only the end result.  That is what a consumer's job is, to evaluate the end product to see if its worth their hard earn money.  The's business. I have nothing against Sakurai, but sometimes he rubs me the wrong way.

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

I was gonna get this till I learned there's no story mode so the hell with this game

Klagmar1
Klagmar1

Why does Nintendo keep trying to temper our expectations with this game? It's getting me worried.

tightwad34
tightwad34

I haven't heard about people saying this game isn't hard to make. Wonder where that came from, or I must be missing something.....

gosushi
gosushi

what's with the 'DaM'......have a cry, you skirt :D

MichizaneFFXI
MichizaneFFXI

When that guy from Activision said that the whinners give a bad name to the rest of the gaming culture, the comments below is what he was talking about.

hadlee73
hadlee73

Sakurai has started wearing dark eye shadow, because no one understands him. :(

scoobdog02
scoobdog02

WHAT IS LUIGI'S MOVESET?! RELEASE MOVESETS ALONGSIDE CHARACTERS PLEASE!!!

lorider25
lorider25

Nintendo has been bitching quite a lot lately and I would be too. Wii U anxiety attacks are no laughing matter....Bah, who am I kidding!  It's Hilarious! 

BA-DA-BA-BA-DA-BUP!  SUPERMAN!

Art3Zero
Art3Zero

Clearly not hard enough when they made brawl.

serphtensei
serphtensei

Correction: Players don't know how hard we work on the endless sequels instead of new IPs.

Fixed.

MrRyubusa
MrRyubusa

The truth is game developers do work extremely hard, and you know what? You SHOULD care. You should know how hard these developers work to put out these games, you should know how simple features can take thousands of cumulative hours to create. Why wouldn't you want to know? Then maybe it would be easier to understand why certain features are cut out of games, why lingering bugs exist and how difficult it really is to make a polished, AAA title. If you're a gamer you need to understand the medium. It's not about whether you like this game or that game, you can check reviews before you purchase a game to make sure it's good anyways, it's easy to do. However, simply being aware of what goes into the creation of a game allows you to appreciate and understand them more, opposed to being negative about the first feature that wasn't included in that new "had to be perfect" sequel. Honestly, you cannot truly appreciate video games if you're completely oblivious to what goes into making them, so why wouldn't you want to know?

corrus
corrus

Maybe that means that they want more money for the game

Hurvl
Hurvl

Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you work really, really hard, but if I don't think your product is good enough I won't buy it.

korvus
korvus

It's been a couple of weeks since the last "Gamers just don't understand" comment from someone Nintendo related. I was starting to worry that they had quit their whining...

hiphops_savior
hiphops_savior

Not so much how players don't know as how many people simply don't care. It's a thankless job that frankly, should have more appreciative customers. In the case of Sakurai, he earned that right.

ziqi92
ziqi92

It's hard to understand how hard it is to make a game unless if you're a programmer yourself, and I can assure you that object oriented programming can be one hell of a pain in the ass to debug.

Fighting games are probably the hardest to design of all genres because having balance is so important to the gameplay, and that requires a lot of play testing.

Rayzakk
Rayzakk

Don't know and don't care. 

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Regrettably, because he is not a friend or loved one, I am unable to compensate or even appreciate him for how hard he works. His value to me as a consumer does not extend beyond products or services rendered. He should, of course, seek what he considers fair compensation for his work. I am not obligated to buy his games, and he is equally free to pursue more rewarding professions.

I don't take my games for granted at all, I sometimes pay very good money for them. At the same time, it's a little ludicrous that he should be stressed almost to the brink of death. I don't think any amount of compensation is worth that, and he isn't going to get it on a game dev's salary; I certainly don't want to pay for that kind of sacrifice. Before appreciating his hard work, I think I can do more for our soldiers and law enforcement civil servants. If he's strained near death, he might consider joining those professions, though he will assuredly earn considerably less.

Mordaeniis
Mordaeniis

I dunno man, making games ain't easy, but come on. This guy seems a little down on the process. He sounds like he's on the border of being worn out on the industry. That's fine, I just don't know how to take his tone. Other than at least a bit of an exaggeration. Or more likely, a shitty translation. He probably just said "man, it's tough and I'm anxious about the fan reaction!"

Articuno76
Articuno76

So where exactly is the whiny, holier-than-thou attitude here?  It looks to me like some commenters are reading that nuance into what he is saying.  All he said was that it was a hard work and that he found it difficult (though 'stress' isn't the word he'd use to describe it).  

The question is 'why' is that nuance being read into his comment?  What is the sentiment that fuels those kind of comments and where is it coming from?

mohuz123
mohuz123

@AXE325XXEXE you should take the fact that his health is bad right now into consideration -.-

Mraou
Mraou

@grasshopper6 There's still single player content a la melee, just no Subspace Emissary type thing - which wasn't all that great anyway.

NimbusStev
NimbusStev

@hadlee73 That's not eye shadow, those are bags under his eyes from not sleeping.

mohuz123
mohuz123

@Art3Zero brawl had SD graphics and Sakurai was in good shape back then, now he barely sleeps and has a horrible arm injury

00J
00J

@serphtensei 

LoL Millions of lines of code hundreds of thousands of dollars, and years of development, and you'd hope you can get more than one use out of a proven title... 

For example, I'm REALLY looking forward to Saint's Row 4 and GTA 5, I really enjoy those games and look forward and excited to play them. 

That's another reason I also want developers to keep pressing DVD's and BlueRays, games are more than just some mere toy, they are like a piece of art and you can interact with it...

Has anyone played RAGE? Have you seen the graphics? What about Crysis 1 2 and 3. 


MrRyubusa
MrRyubusa

@serphtensei Yep, because it's really easy to develop successful new IPs 9 years into a console cycle...

JacketsNest101
JacketsNest101

@MrRyubusa And that is exactly why I want to go into the information technology/gaming industry, to gain a deeper appreciation for the art that I love so much.

00J
00J

@MrRyubusa Even more is when a person who has developed games themselves see a really impressive game that does all sorts of amazing tricks. That's when you as that person that knows how difficult even a very simple game can be to develop and polish really stands in awe. 

Like when the developers of Left for Dead explained the Zombie A.I. and how the Zombies can actually "see their environment" and climb over obstacles and navigate in real-time. 

Or how Skyrim can generate dynamic quests. 

Or in GTA 4 how the characters actually step up and down ledges and grab onto objects realistically.


xiiraveniix
xiiraveniix

@hiphops_savior Your thanks for your job is your paycheck. 

What's more, why isn't he thanking the consumers who keep buying his games? Instead he expects their sympathy as if he has some cross to bear for them.

korvus
korvus

@Articuno76 I think the problem here is that a few months ago we would have a "gamers just don't understand" article every week and it was ALWAYS someone from Nintendo, like they're the only ones working hard in the industry...

Yeah, so WII U is not doing great, nobody else wants to develop for it, but taking time to say players don't understand (or care) is not how you sell more. Working is hard, you just have to deal with it. Think non-gaming programmers send letters to their clients (or most likely to people who didn't buy their products) saying users are ungrateful and don't understand how hard they work?


It's unneeded and comes across as overall whining when there are professions out there with a lot more emotional stress, physical/legal risk, far more pressing and paying a lot less. If you work on the gaming industry, either count your lucky stars or quit.

kreegan64
kreegan64

 @Mraou @grasshopper6 It was the best addition brawl brought to the table besides final smashes.

unknowen9000
unknowen9000

@00J@MrRyubusa Erm, as a programmer, I'm going to disagree on the randomly generated quests being impressive. It isn't.

MrRyubusa
MrRyubusa

@00J @MrRyubusa Exactly! Which is why I  wish more gamers understood the magnitude of some of the accomplishments these developers have achieved. AAA game creation is art and science combined into a single, absolutely astonishing medium. Game development and programming is some of the most abstract and difficult mental work in the world, combine those people with the highest caliber of artistic minds and everyone in between and that encompasses game development. They're some of the most intelligent people in the world, but that doesn't mean they're perfect either, and that sure as hell doesn't mean they don't work hard. People expect way too much and appreciate way too little from games these days, because they don't take the time to develop some awareness into what kind of work goes into something they personally enjoy on most likely a daily basis, which is really unfortunate. 

MrRyubusa
MrRyubusa

@xiiraveniix If you think money is simply enough reward when you create ENTERTAINMENT for a living then you're dead wrong. They likely don't give a shit how much they're making, there's plenty of higher paying jobs that they're qualified to do. The reward for making games is creating outstanding experiences that people enjoy for years, which he made clear in the article:

"
But the pain I feel at the time goes away over time, and yet the game itself always remains. Players talk about the fun and so forth behind the game for years to come, and they still play it."

He's not expecting sympathy, he's wants gamers to stop taking things for granted as that's a big deal when you make games for a fucking living.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@shadowriku3 There are actually countries where soldiers or police officers earn more than a game dev in Sakurai's position?

Articuno76
Articuno76

@Korvus85 @Articuno76 

These comments made by Sakurai aren't an attempt to sell something, just to illuminate how much work goes into making these games.  

He never said users are ungrateful. He said that they 'take things for granted'. That is to say they (the users) have an assumption that getting the content created and into the game is a far easier/automatic process than it really is.  Sakurai then goes on to try and emphasize just how tough things are, and that they are anything but inevitable, automatic results. 

He isn't even complaining about his situation (he even admits it is an eventuality of working on any product).  

He isn't whining either for two reasons:

i. He isn't trying to get change in a situation that is inevitable (i.e. he isn't 'running' away from reality).

ii. He is even trying to get change.  He doesn't have a problem with the work load or the stress (again, he admits a lot of the work is common in any product roll-out) but is simply highlighting just how tough it really is.

In fact given that he has almost 'worked to death' it is a little surprising just how mellow and matter-of-fact he is about things.  He's nowhere near campaigning for change.  In fact he comes across as relatively chilled-out.

The last of part of that post is somewhat problematic. Or rather the sentiment is. That line of reasoning is being used in the games industry by publishers to essentially terrorise and extort game developers into unfair and even illegal working practices (which the developers are pressured into for fear of not only losing their jobs,but their entire career).

So to repeat my original question.  If none of the accusations of whining or complaining are in Sakurai's comments, what is it about the posters here that compels them to read that dimension 'into' what Sakurai is saying?

MrRyubusa
MrRyubusa

@xiiraveniix @MrRyubusa For fucks sake it's in the article title and all over the page. He's not asking for sympathy. The reason he's relating games to the people who play them along with describing the hardships in his work is because gamers actually DONT understand how hard game developers work, and it's a problem. Even if you're getting some faint idea that he's grabbing at sympathy, it wasn't the intention of the article or the intention of his words at all. 

"
I'm sure Wii U owners expect games like SSB to come out for the system: they take that for granted. It is an expectation that when one buys a Nintendo system, that eventually Nintendo is going to release some fucking games for it, and Nintendo and Sakurai are not doing anything special by releasing them; it's their job and their company and livelihood depends on it."

This comment proves that you yourself need to research game development. THIS comment encompasses the problem Sakurai is highlighting in the first place. You don't understand how games are made, so you make a ridiculous comment stating how Nintendo should just magically pump some polished software out. It's hilariously ironic, because if Nintendo did release SSB right now, it would probably be shit on by the "gaming community", and an IP would probably be lost or heavily damaged in the process. 

Also, you're misinterpreting the "taking things for granted". He's not using that phrase from a games existing or not view point, he's describing the lack of appreciation, value and understanding of video games and their development.


xiiraveniix
xiiraveniix

@MrRyubusa @xiiraveniix He IS asking for sympathy if he is trying to relate how hard he works to the people who play his games. That's what sympathy is: acknowledgement and concern of another person's emotional hardships. Isn't that what he wants by telling us these things, about how hard he works, and how players shouldn't take him or his games for granted?

I'm sure Wii U owners expect games like SSB to come out for the system: they take that for granted. It is an expectation that when one buys a Nintendo system, that eventually Nintendo is going to release some fucking games for it, and Nintendo and Sakurai are not doing anything special by releasing them; it's their job and their company and livelihood depends on it.

Talking about taking things for granted implies the threat of taking things away, as if he is saying "what would happen if we didn't make these games?", as if they think customers should be more thankful. It's a business and Nintendo would perish if they did not release these games, so they are not doing anyone any favours except for themselves. 

Could you imagine the response if Microsoft or Sony or Apple told its customers that "you shouldn't take us for granted, or we just might not release anymore products"? 

Articuno76
Articuno76

@Korvus85 @Articuno76 

In this case the choice to see things as a whole isn't the issue I am getting at here; What I have an issue with is that some people seem be forcing inconsistent, disparate articles (disparate in that, as mentioned earlier, they are told from different perspectives and in differing contexts) together and treating the end result as if it is a representative whole.

If I am right then there is no representative whole to begin with so the choice to try and 'see things as a whole' doesn't make sense (not the effort to attempt to, but the insistence on seeing a whole where one may not exist is what doesn't make sense).

Granted, I've haven't read all the Nintendo articles in the past, but I do highly suspect that this is what is happening.

xiiraveniix
xiiraveniix

@Articuno76 C'mon, talking about almost being "worked to death" is complaining about your work, and exaggerating beyond belief I might add (strangely enough, you seem to think he is actually serious). And he is whining because he isn't trying to change the situation. If it was really that bad, he'd want to quit. 

korvus
korvus

@Articuno76 And that is YOUR opinion; you're not acting any different than anybody else. You're just choosing to isolate this interview from all others, that is your choice, just like it's other people's choices to try and see things as a whole. 

I gave you my view on things, you can either take it or leave it, but either way I don't think it'll make any difference for either of us, and I'm sure Sakurai doesn't care either =P

Articuno76
Articuno76

@Korvus85 @Articuno76 I'm not 'compelled' I'm reading the words on the screen as they are and interpreting them in a way that makes sense:

i.In the context of the interview (difficulty within game development)

ii From the perspective of the interviewee (developer)

I'm not interesting in if Nintendo is doing this elsewhere as taking those articles into account here just confuses things because those comments could have been made in very different contexts (being apologetic towards shareholders, responding to interviews that pushed the issue of why the Wii U is not doing well, prompts on future practice) and from different perspectives (marketing, retailer relations PR, public PR) than those in this interview.

All I see here is an interview with a developer being candid about the difficulties of making a game.  No whining, no complaining, nothing of the sort that people are saying it is.  You said the posters here are simply stating their views on the matter...that's precisely the point I take issue with; they aren't talking about the article at all; they are responding to some phantom whiny developer that was never interviewed.

korvus
korvus

@Articuno76 Like I said, why is it always people from Nintendo that have to keep mentioning "how hard the industry is"? It's like they have it worse than everybody else. I'm sure his situation is not uncommon outside Nintendo, yet other designers/devs/etc just do their jobs instead of feeling like they should give interviews like this...Maybe GS just features this sort of articles from Nintendo related people more than articles of the same type by people from other gaming companies, but in the end I don't see the relevance for this speech being constantly the reason for an interview.


You keep saying "what is it about the posters here that compels them"...I don't know, what compels you to do the opposite? I think we're all just stating our views in the matter.