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Sakurai shares his thoughts on the pandemic's impact on the game industry, and general thoughts on Animal Crossing

Wise words from a wise man

Sakurai's most recent column in Famitsu is all about answering reader questions. In particular, Sakurai touches on the pandemic and how it's impacted the games industry, along with general thoughts on Animal Crossing. Check out some tidbits below, as translated by Kody NOKOLO and the Source Gaming team.

Pandemic

- handheld game consoles have had a revival during this period
- mobile games are declining
- downloadable games are being delayed
- there have been large-scale layoffs
- there are predictions that the market is going to change, but Sakurai says he's going to continue making the games he wants

Animal Crossing

- Animal Crossing was never made to be popular, and it all comes down to people's tastes
- Animal Crossing doesn't have a clear goal, the freedom of open world games, narratives, features of PVP/team-based games
- Animal Crossing is for people who want a long experience
- Sakurai feels it's important to have diverse kinds of experiences like this

Masahiro Sakurai shares his thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077

Fan, or fed-up?

Cyberpunk 2077 has been on of the biggest stories in gaming for weeks now. Weeks before launch were mostly about excitement, but the weeks after have led to refunds, complaints, and a lot of disappointed fans.

People from all over the industry have shared their thoughts on the situation, and now Masahiro Sakurai has joined in on the commentary. He shared some thoughts in the latest issue of Famitsu, and you can read them below. This info is courtesy of Ryokutya2089/Siliconera.

“Dealing with refunds is something that makes even me feel deeply moved. This kind of sincerity was never heard of before. When I tried it on the PS4 Pro, I could play it without problem (as of December 20, 2020). It was mostly running at 30 frames per second. I played it on PC in the beginning. I encountered bugs multiple times. Cyberpunk 2077 is a dream game. I wonder how much planning and production was needed. Having a multi-platform release for an AAA title is at a level where that’s enough for me to say that it’s wonderful. I support this game from the bottom of my heart for sincerely dealing with [the refunds].”

Sakurai shares his final Smash Bros. Ultimate picture for 2020

Sending 2020 out with a bang

Masahiro Sakurai recently said that he's going to a 5-day schedule for his Smash Bros. Ultimate pictures in 2021. Believe it or not, we're now officially less than one day away from 2021. To wrap up the year, Sakurai has released one more picture from his development build of Smash Bros. Ultimate. There's usually some sly references in these pics. Can you figure this one out?

Sakurai to cut back on on daily Smash Bros. Ultimate pictures in 2021

Get the picture?

Sakurai has been sharing Smash Bros. Ultimate pictures on his Twitter account for about a year now. Every single day, outside of holidays, Sakurai has been sharing pics straight from his dev build of the game. In 2021, he's going to be doing less of that.

According to Siliconera, Sakurai has taken to Twitter to announce that he's going to cut back on pictures in 2021. He's not stopping by any means, though. He still plans to tweet out one pic for every weekday, so there will still be a ton. Sakurai has said that he'll be cutting back because he's running out of pictures. He's going to have to take some more, but he does have a stock of over 100 right now to work with.

Smash Bros. Ultimate "Mr. Sakurai Presents: Sephiroth" presentation airing Dec. 17th, 2020

Let's see what Sephiroth's got!

Want to learn more about Sephiroth's appearance in Smash Bros. Ultimate? Dec. 17th, 2020 brings us a video presentation from Mr. Sakurai himself, and he'll be running through everything Sephiroth has to offer at 5 PM ET.

Sakurai originally wanted to use Minecraft stage imports in Smash Bros. Ultimate, but the idea was abandoned

Talk about lofty goals!

Sakurai's next Famitsu feature is available, and this one is all about the addition of Minecraft content to Smash Bros. Ultimate. You can see a complete breakdown of the feature below, as translated by PushDustIn and Sephazon.

- the concepts for the fighter and stage came relatively easily
- Sakurai is very familiar with Minecraft, and understands the game well
- the more that Sakurai relies on the original game, the more difficult it was to actually make new fighters fit in Smash
- the team had to balance what was possible to create, while making Steve unique
- the team wanted to make sure Steve wouldn’t lose the charm from his original series all while not making him unbalanced
- while Minecraft is owned by Microsoft, the developer and department in charge for the characters differed from Banjo-Kazooie
- when the idea was presented to Microsoft, they were very pleased
- Steve might be a bit difficult for new players to handle at first
- as Minecraft has a wide fanbase, Sakurai considered increasing the fighter's accessibility a bit
- if the Smash team did that, then it wouldn’t feel like Steve came from Minecraft
- since Minecraft is a complex game, it seemed fitting to make the character more dynamic to match
- while Steve may be considered as one fighter, he is composed of 4 unique characters – Steve, Alex, Zombie and Enderman
- the additional characters are basically color swaps, and there are no differences in their hitboxes or other characteristics
- main elements derived from the original game, such as mining, crafting and placing blocks, were utilized
- Steve’s stage incorporates the concept of biomes from the original game
- originally, Sakurai wanted to create a level editor that would let players create a stage in Minecraft and import it into Smash
- he gave up on the idea pretty early, simply because it was “impossible”
- due to “various circumstances,” the original songs could not be used in Smash
- a few songs were abandoned mid-arrangement
- Sakurai feels the overall atmosphere of the tracks used fit well with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- recording the “How to use Steve/Alex” presentation was difficult
- Steve was also developed entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, making development difficult
- Sakurai is happy to be involved with various IPs and to continue working on the next DLC

Masahiro Sakurai laments the "rough" comment sections of the internet

Truer words were never spoken

If you've been around the internet for roughly 1 minute, you've no doubt seen that comments from strangers the world over are usually horrible. There's a few nestled in there that are kind, nice, or constructive, but the vast majority are horrid in all sorts of ways. It's something that impacts anyone traveling across the web, and that includes Masahiro Sakurai.

In Sakurai's latest Famitsu column, he talks about his experience watching TGS 2020 Online. Most of the presentation was streamed on various YouTube channels, and Sakurai popped in to see what was being shown. While Sakurai had a bit of trouble actually tracking down the segments he wanted to see, he had no trouble finding vile comments about the presentations, games, and presenters. A comment from Sakurai about this can be seen below, as translated by Siliconera.

“I felt like the comments tend to get rough. I had the impression that people instantly started to mount and self-assert. I couldn’t stand it, so I did things like closing the comment bar. Unfortunately, there are practically no solutions to this.”

The last part of Sakurai's statement is extremely depressing, but equally true. There's really nothing you can do, other than closing the comment section and opting to not participate. A sad state of affairs, but it is what it is.

Masahiro Sakurai showcases some of his creations in Dragon Quest Builders 2 (translation by @Sephazon)

Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, has decided to showcase some of his creations in Dragon Quest Builders 2, a game that utilizes both Dragon Quest and Minecraft elements. Sakurai concludes his footage and Tweet by stating "I can easily drive into the garage!"

Sakurai discusses the importance of fun in game design, explains how he arrived at the idea for Kirby's Air Ride

Can we get a sequel, please?!

Sakurai is back once again with his latest Famitsu feature. This time he takes a look at game design and sussing out fun mechanics. You can read a summary of the interview below, courtesy of PushDustIn and Sephazon.

- conceptualizing a unique idea for a game is the difficult part
- it's even more difficult figuring out how to express the fun factor of the game in the planning process
- in some cases, games will capitalize on the same game style as their predecessors
- for the purposes of this feature, Sakurai decides to explore how you can make drifting fun in a game with vehicles
- if you start with the notion that drifting can’t be fun, then you hold back the potential
- the fun factor is easy to mess up
- if you were to think about why drifting is fun on a fundamental level, it’s because there is a risk
- you could potentially make drifting more fun by adding in greater speeds, but this approach is a bit too basic
- you could make it possible to accelerate by gathering power while drifting and then releasing it all at once at corners
- this is the thought process that led Sakurai to Kirby Air Ride
- Sakurai says that understanding why it feels good to control an air board or glider is key to the process
- these concepts combine to create a balanced design
- devs should dig deep to understand what makes an element fun, and then rebuilding based on that in order to make a concept
- the person who plans a video game is the director, but it’s important to understand what makes the video game fun at the start
- when you build a game around the element of “fun,” many obstacles and challenges become clear
- in order to separate the project from other titles, Sakurai believes understanding what makes different games fun is crucial

Masahiro Sakurai and Tekken's Katsuhiro Harada had a chat about the challenges of implementing online play

Great minds

Back at the beginning of the month, Masahiro Sakurai shared a column in Famitsu magazine that was all about online play in Smash Bros. Ultimate. Sakurai put a lot of thought into online and how it functions, which lead to some decisions that fans aren't crazy about. At least Sakurai had his reasoning, and it's clearly something he still thinks about to this day.

We learned that just recently, Sakurai spoke to Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada, and they chatted about online play. Harada had actually discussed the online play for Tekken 7 in great detail in a live-stream event, and it turns out Sakurai watched that. Following the stream, Sakurai reached out to Harada to discuss the the topic of online play.

"I spoke recently with Mr. Sakurai who worked on Super Smash Bros. and he showed keen interest in our conversation about online features. He even asked me whether he could use what I said about the ratio of wired and wireless players."

Turns out Sakurai did end up using part of that conversation and its data in the very same Famitsu feature we mentioned above. That makes it quite clear that Sakurai is always thinking of ways to improve the online experience in Smash, while also explaining the decisions he made.

Thanks to Mr. Racoon for the heads up!

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