Video: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai talks about some types of games that don’t rely on game essence for fun

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai has started a new YouTube channel called “Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games.” Check out the latest batch of uploaded content via the embedded videos below:

Fun Beyond Game Essence

We’ve talked about “game essence” before, but game essence isn’t the only thing that makes games fun!

In this video, I’ll talk about some types of games that don’t rely on game essence for fun.

The possibilities for fun in games are endless.

Sorry for the wait:

From this episode onward, the jingle at the start will be slightly quieter, and the titles of other developers’ games will be displayed on-screen.

I took so much footage for this episode…

Make the Tempo Match the Game

For the first video in the Audio category, I’ll be talking about tempo.

When I’m supervising music composition, I find myself requesting tempo revisions quite often. Composers don’t always have a full picture of a game’s progression, so it’s up to people like the director to step in and make sure everyone is on the same page.

#I_Audio

Exercise While You Game!

It’s time for another grab bag!

For game dev work and for concentration in general, physical fitness is vital. A little exercise can go a long way, after all. I think about this topic often, so I’d like to share how I make exercise a bit more fun.

#M_GrabBag

Keeping Rewards in sight

This episode is a bit like a note-to-self about a topic I wish I’d been more proactive about in the past.

Rewarding players is a big part of what makes games fun, but how do you do that effectively?

#C_Planning_GameDesign

Name Files Logically

I’ve also prepared a Programming & Tech category—though I’ll do my best to keep things simple.

Given the confidential nature of tech, not to mention the vast variety in people’s work environments, I think it’s best to avoid getting too technical and instead focus on more general topics.

This time, I’ll be talking about file naming and labeling, an important consideration in any development project.

#K_Programming_Tech

Try Telling That to the Player

Working with computers can be a real headache at times. You have to tell them everything in precise detail, and even then, they don’t always behave how you want them to. But in the midst of this, there’s one thing you should never forget. Find out what in this second video in the Work Ethic category, which applies to all kinds of work—not just games!

#A_WorkEthic

Kirby Super Star

In my latest Game Concepts video, I’ll be taking a look at Kirby Super Star and breaking down the two major themes it was built on. By the end, you’ll understand exactly how I came up with them.

#N_GameConcepts

Giving “Weight” to Buttons

When I was a kid, I was blown away by how I could use my hands to move things around on-screen. We play games by receiving information with our eyes and ears, then sending information back with our hands—making the feel of the controls vitally important. I always try to keep this in mind when programming, designing, or setting parameters.

#D_DesignSpecifics

Clarity vs. Style

UI—short for user interface. In this category, I’ll be talking about the on-screen elements of UI in games, such as menus and other display information.

Clarity alone doesn’t necessarily make for good UI, and today, I’ll explore that concept in more detail.

Just Let Them Play!

When I’m making games, I try to be sensitive about how long players have to wait before they actually start playing. People tend to get annoyed when they can’t jump right into a game, so don’t keep them sitting around—just let them play!

Make It “Pop”

In the Effects category, I’ll be discussing some of the myriad special effects used in games.

Additive blending and glare, when overused, can make a game look unrefined, don’t you think? It depends on what you’re going for, of course, but in general, it’s best not to overdo it.

Assigning Animations

In the Animation category, I’ll be sharing some of the tricks we use to express character movement.

In this episode, I’ll talk about how I communicate my vision for a character’s movements to the art team when directing a game. You might even catch a glimpse of some Super Smash Bros. Ultimate design documents!

Game Awards

It’s Grab Bag time again—the category where you never know what you’re going to get. (Though I’ll try to keep it related to games.)

Despite being involved in the Game Designers Award for the Japan Game Awards, I feel conflicted about it. Why do game awards exist, anyway?

Presentations Are All About Speed!

Watch this video, and you’ll have what it takes to make your presentations a one-hit KO!

If you want to get your proposals approved, the most important step is to trim the fat.

Kirby’s Adventure

In the Game Concepts category, I’ll be looking back at how I came up with the ideas for each of my games. For this second entry, we’ll look at Kirby’s Adventure.

Kirby’s Adventure is the first game where Kirby had the power to copy enemy abilities. I’ll talk about where this and some of the other ideas in the game came from, and touch upon the circumstances that led to its creation.

Draw the Light, Not the Asset

In the Graphics category, we’ll talk about making art for games. I won’t be sharing tool tutorials and such, but rather practical points to consider when creating game visuals.

Hmm, that last image of a forest could’ve used a little more emphasis on the shadows…

Squeeze and Release

Isn’t it strange how games stress you out in order to make you feel good? What’s going on there??

Lots of games draw inspiration from other works, but rather than just mimic the rules of other games, wouldn’t it be better to understand what makes them fun at a fundamental level and then use that to create something truly new and innovative? This is what I try to do, at least.

Down with Lag!

In the Grab Bag category, you never know what you’re going to get. Here, we’ll delve into topics that don’t quite fit neatly into any of the other categories—though the conversations will still be largely focused around games.

Today we’ll be talking about how to enhance your game-playing experience by improving your home setup. I hope it makes gaming more enjoyable for as many of you as possible!

Game Development Isn’t a Game

In the Work Ethic category, I’d like to talk about the ways we approach and prepare for our jobs. How we think and feel about our work is important—we’re not robots, after all.

The topics in this category are recommended for all lines of work, not just games!

This time, we’ll be talking about what it means to be a professional.

Risk and Reward

In the Game Essence category, I’ll explore the thinking behind “game essence” and how it impacts the push and pull at the heart of games.

In this episode, we’ll look at a theory I’ve discussed numerous times over the years. It’s become somewhat well-known (at least in Japan), but as the framework for this category of videos, I’d like to take this chance to reintroduce it for those who are unfamiliar.

By the way, the term translated as “game essence” (geemu-sei in Japanese) was a tough one for the translators, and led to a number of long debates. It seems there isn’t a perfect match in English, but I hope you’ll be able to pick up the meaning through context while watching these videos. The fact that a specific word doesn’t exist for it means it’s a concept worth exploring!

Frame Rates

In the Planning & Game Design category, I’ll talk about topics to consider when coming up with game ideas and mechanics.

In this first entry, we’ll explore frame rates, which are the frequency in which a game’s screen is redrawn and a basic concept everyone should understand.

Frame rates can sometimes play an important role in measuring time in games, too, though not as often as in years past.

Kirby’s Dream Land

In the Game Concepts category, I’ll be looking back at how I came up with the ideas for each of the games I worked on, in release order.

I have lots of memories associated with these titles, but I’ll try and focus on the inspirations and thought processes behind them.

We’ll start with my debut game: Kirby’s Dream Land. Have you heard of it?

Stop for Big Moments!

Have you ever heard of something called “hit stop”? The thinking behind it can be applied to more than just hits—in fact, it’d be a waste to only use it there!

By the way, an extra point regarding those additional effects shown at the end of the video: using slow motion only briefly and then returning to normal speed would make the effect even more impactful.

Masahiro Sakurai’s Creative Works

This video offers a brief introduction to my major creative works as of 2022. I’ve been involved in numerous other projects as well, of course, but for games in particular, I chose to only include works that I’ve directed personally.

When you hear the word “director,” you might think of someone managing teams or providing general oversight, but in addition to that, I also come up with ideas and work on the actual game design, too.

About This Channel

Join me as I kick off my new channel, “Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games,” with an overview of the kinds of things I’ll be talking about.
Why am I making a channel, exactly?
You’ll find out in this video.

Source: Masahiro Sakurai

16 thoughts on “Video: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai talks about some types of games that don’t rely on game essence for fun

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