Sakurai - The process of creating a character for Smash Bros. takes over a year

A portion of a Nintendo Life interview with Masahiro Sakurai...

NL: Roughly how much time goes into designing and balancing each character? What do you need to be mindful of when creating a character in a fighting game of this type?

MS: I get the planning for each character done remarkably quickly. For example, after learning about Greninja and its abilities one evening, by late night I had already completed the design for that character’s moves and features.

The process, however, of actually creating a character often takes well over a year, where we are constantly working on the model, the animations, the audio and the balancing. For the game balance we have a testing team playing almost every day and we make adjustments based on their results. I was working from morning to night with my responsibilities as director, so I was only able to spend Wednesday evenings and weekends on the balance.

One of the important things for me was having a large difference between the characters, which I call their “dynamic range”. In a typical fighting game where you just square off against an opponent, other things like the environment have less of an impact, so even small differences between characters can be very noticeable. With Smash Bros., however, I want to bring out the individuality in the characters and I think it’s rare to see a game with such a wide dynamic range as this.

So although it may end up that some characters are stronger than others due to way the game works, we have focused on allowing a lot of “accidents” to happen in a party game sort of way – resulting in things that make players laugh – so the emphasis is on variety rather than making Smash Bros. into a sport.

Full interview here

Smash Bros 3DS/Wii U - No Transforming Characters Due to 3DS Limitations

Below is a quote from a Famitsu interview with Masahiro Sakurai translated by Siliconera

“It’s basically due to the 3DS’ limitations,” said Sakurai, when asked why Zelda and Sheik, and Samus and Zerosuit Samus, are different characters. “It was impossible to have both characters exist together [as one] on 3DS. However, reaching that limit can sometimes lead in good directions. Transforming characters had the drawback of ambiguous tactics and such, and I believe that they have become more fresh now."

Check out the full details here!

Multiple publishers turned down Bayonetta 2, says Kamiya

Coming from Hideki Kamiya...

I think I have discussed this many times before but here goes… First of all, we [Platinum Games] are developers and receive support from publishers by making games that they request or suggest. As for Bayonetta, we developed the game after signing a deal with SEGA. Later it was decided to also develop the sequel, so we started working on Bayonetta 2.

When development had progressed to a certain degree, in SEGA’s situation it turned into “This isn’t a good plan”, so development halted temporarily.

Without funding we didn’t have the possibility to continue development, but we wanted to get this partially developed Bayonetta 2 available to the public one way or another. So we offered it to various publishers, but as it is a big title, we couldn’t find a partner company. Finally, Bayonetta 2 was about to get terminated completely, when…

Nintendo came in and lent a hand and we were able to restart the development we so desired. Finally the game was released last week, so in five years, we were able to make Bayonetta 2 available to the public.

Knowing those circumstances, if someone is still angry for heading towards Nintendo, I wonder what’s the reason for that, wouldn’t you tell me in a way that is easy to understand?
As I have said earlier, if you want Bayonetta 2 on PS4 or Xbox One, how about trying to ask Nintendo… If Nintendo doesn’t say yes, it’s not going to happen… While you’re at it, try asking for Mario and Zelda too…


The Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was almost given away in a Nintendo Power contest

Here's a crazy bit of information for you. Nintendo almost gave away a copy of the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 in an issue of Nintendo Power. Exactly one copy was made for the NES, which was going to be part of a promotion/giveaway to draw attention to Nintendo Power. Eventually the decision was nixed as Nintendo was afraid the promotion would confuse consumers.

Can you imagine if someone actually got their hands on that copy today? It would have to be the most valuable NES game in existence!


Sakurai says lack of processing power is why Circle Pad Pro isn't supported in Smash Bros. 3DS

Coming from Sakurai...

Supporting the CCP requires the use of some of the CPU's processing load. From the information received during the development of Kid Icarus: Uprising, this is a quite large load at around 5%. Kid Icarus: Uprising and Smash both use the maximum capability of the device, so we had to abandon the idea of CCP support. With the New 3DS, we were able to support the C-Stick as the processing power is increased and it is not a peripheral device.


Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire NicoNico Livestream to Air Oct 2nd

It is also worth noting the Stream is expected to last 7 hours

Wii U firmware update 5.2.0 U - folders added

Version 5.2.0 U:

Released September 29th, 2014

Changes to the Wii U Menu:

Folders can now be created in the Wii U Menu to hold and organize software icons
A Download Management icon has been added to the Wii U Menu

Changes to Quick Start Menu:

The Quick Start Menu will now display when the Wii U is powered on from the Wii U GamePad TV Remote
Options have been added to Power Settings that allow users to hide certain software from the Quick Start Menu

Changes to the HOME Menu:

The design and layout of the HOME Menu has been updated

Changes to the Nintendo eShop:

Disabled usage of characters not used when redeeming Nintendo eShop cards (O, I, Z, etc.)

Improvements to system stability and usability:

Further improvements to overall system stability and other minor adjustments have been made to enhance the user experience


Koei Tecmo EU says that Fatal Frame 5 is a JP title only

This week's European downloads - October 2 (Smash Bros. 3DS, 99Seconds and more)

Nintendo eShop (3DS)

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo, available on October 3) - €44.99/£39.99
Famous names from favourite Nintendo franchises and guest characters come together in a portable fighter filled with spectacular action. With unique modes, online multiplayer, the ability to customise your fighter and the series' biggest roster of playable fighters ever, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS is truly a clash for the ages! The basics of Super Smash Bros. are simple. Use your chosen character's unique attacks and special moves to damage your opponent, then hit 'em with a smash attack to send them flying off the stage! The higher your opponent's damage - represented as a percentage - the farther they'll fly when launched, so pummel away until you see them steaming, then unleash your strongest smash attack and watch your target skyrocket off the stage! Take on nearby challengers in local multiplayer, or bring the battle to faraway friends and foes in online matches.

Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (Capcom, NES VC) - €4.99/£4.49
Ken from the Street Fighter series becomes a bionic warrior, out to avenge the death of his friend, in this spin-off side-scrolling shooter. Aliens have stolen a superhuman serum so, with his newly enhanced abilities, Ken must battle across the planets to stop them Use your weaponry and athletic skills to liberate each planet, and seek out specific target enemies to clear the stage. Ken can backflip to evade damage, which can be upgraded to perform a powerful kick. It's time to take the fight from the streets and into space!

Special offers
Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai (Shin'en Multimedia) - €5.99/£5.25 (Ends October 23, normally €8.99/£7.66)
Tappingo (CIRCLE Ent.) - €1.99/£1.69 (Ends October 16, normally €2.99/£2.49)

Nintendo eShop (Wii U)

99Seconds (EnjoyUp Games) - €2.49/£2.29
The saga continues after 99Bullets. Now your problem isn't the number of bullets, rather the amount of time. 99Seconds, a fun, retro-style video game, where you can modify time to avoid all kinds of dangers. After finishing off Black Eye, V-99 entered a mysterious zone called Bit 8, without knowing why V-99 could modify time!. But everything became complicated with the appearance of the BLACK VECTORS: mysterious beings that aim to destroy any intruder who reaches Bit 8.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 (Capcom, SNES VC) - €7.99/£5.49
Street Fighter Alpha 2 explodes onto Virtual Console with its trademark lightning-fast gameplay, Custom Combo System and innovative Alpha Counters. Push your talents to the limit as you discover new moves and counters for every attack. Neutralise your opponents' attacks with high and low Alpha Counters and execute Custom Combos to create your own rapid-fire assaults. All your favourite warriors are back, including previously hidden characters Dan, Akuma and Bison, plus new fighters including Rolento, Gen and Sakura. This is the US version of the game.

Xeodrifter dev diary #9 - Enemy design, movement, checkpoints and bosses!

Please make sure to check out the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth installments of the Xeodrifter dev diary, which you can find here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Aloha Diary!

This past week has been a very busy one! We have all of the enemies functioning in the game. Some of them have artwork, and some use just placeholder boxes to show their size and position. The enemy process starts with jotting ideas down in a doc, usually accompanied with a simple diagram to help illustrate the enemy size and behavior.

[Rough enemy diagram]

Once I am happy with that, I pass it over to Matthew who then presents his thoughts on issues that he sees or new ideas that improve the enemy designs. Once we’re both happy with the enemy designs Matthew will either implement them using placeholder art and/or I will start creating final art for the enemies.

[Final enemy art]

Often times we proceed with placeholder artwork because I am tied up with level design/art and do not want to slow Matthew down. Matthew always implements the enemies in such a way that their core parameters are exposed and editable in a text document, which I can mess with. Editable parameters include movement speed, rate of fire, speed of shots, health, damage, and so on.

[Editable Enemy Code]

Adjusting the “fx32 shotspeed” parameter, listed above, can produce dramatic results in the game. As you can see above, it is currently set at 3, which is fairly fast. To give you some reference, the player in Xeodrifter moves at a speed of 2, whereas Max in Mutant Mudds moves at a speed of 1. Making the enemy’s bullets travel faster or slower can make something more or less challenging.

Another parameter that can produce a noticeable difference is “int pausetime”, which is the time between shots. Right now it is set to 80 frames (at 60fps, 80 frames = 1.33 seconds). Lengthening or shortening this time affects how easy or challenging it can be to avoid the enemy’s shots. You’ll notice there is a line included, “;int pausetime 60”, with “;difficult” listed above it. The “;” symbol means the entry is ignored by the game. This is a reminder for myself I left in when I found 60 to present a difficult challenge.

So, now I am finally able to run through the game and experience the enemies for real, which is an amazing milestone and extremely impactful. I usually experience a mixture of emotions and thoughts that range from, “This game is awesome!” to “Damn, my design ideas are sh*t, this game sucks!” I try not to worry too much, though, as I know this is normal. I have been through the process enough times to logically realize that I need to experience these things in order for me to feel motivated to make the game the best we can make it.

In addition to getting the enemies functioning, we also have the saves and checkpoints working. It is really starting to feel like a finished game now – sort of. This is the point where the baby gloves come off and the… grown up gloves go on? Whatever the analogy, I can now start making final determinations of game difficulty and the player’s experience through the game. This involves the difficulty of enemies and the placement of pick-ups to try and make a challenging but fair journey through the Xeodrifter labyrinth.

[Somewhere to explore in the background]

[Scan this QR code with your 3DS and see the new screen in 3D]

The final big piece of the puzzle that remains are the boss encounters. The design is fairly flexible and enables us to create six boss encounters from one focused development effort. There will be a sense of repetition with each encounter, but I am hoping that the new, unique additions presented with each of the six encounters provide a fresh and entertaining experience.

[Empty boss room viewed in level editor]

Thanks for checking in on our progress with Xeodrifter. Keep on playing those games. I hear there’s a couple of excellent eShop titles that are on sale in North America right now! One is Moon something, and the other has Mudd in it.  Happy gaming.

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