Sakurai Comments on Smash's Esport Status

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In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai was asked about his thoughts on Smash’s competitive scene and its status as an esport, as well as how he’s taking this into account while developing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Early on, when asked whether he would prioritize the tournament scene or a more casual audience, Sakurai responded that catering to any specific audience is not a major concern of his, saying "I feel like a game, at the end of the day, is about playing the game. But if we focus too much on the top level players - or the audience - then the game skews a little bit too much on the technical side."

The article delves into Nintendo’s reluctance to embrace esports to the same degree that other publishers have, and when asked for his thoughts as to why this is the case, Sakurai simply said "The philosophy behind them doesn’t go in line with Nintendo’s philosophy in that some of these players are playing for the prize money," elaborating that he thinks this goes against Nintendo’s idea of what a game should be.

He later gives something of an explanation as to why, despite going in a more fast-paced and technical direction than with the previous two titles, he and his team have opted not to bring back some of Super Smash Bros. Melee’s advanced techniques for Ultimate. Sakurai explains that "I think a lot of Melee players love Melee. But at the same time, I think a lot of players, on the other hand, gave up on Melee because it’s too technical, because they can’t keep up with it."

Sakurai also brought up how several Melee players have developed tendinitis from the stress the game puts on high-level players’ hands. Though he didn’t name any specific individuals, Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman and Aziz "Hax" Al-Yami immediately come to mind. Knowing that Sakurai himself suffered from tendinitis throughout the development of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, it seems likely that the idea of players developing the condition from playing one of his games doesn't sit well with him.

The original article with Sakurai's full thoughts, as well as a deeper look at Smash's status as an esport, is available on The Washington Post.
 
Blaise "Scribe" Camacho

Comments

#41
I don't know how you can call brawl more polished with it's janky physics and even more prevalent glitches(infinite dimensional cape, several characters having infinite chain grabs, diddy's banana glitch, mechanics that actively punish the person who goes on the offensive, etc)
I love when nerds defending Brawl call Wavedashing an exploit and then casually forget about the DACUS, a popular exploit in Brawl. Toppest of keks.
 
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#42
"I feel like a game, at the end of the day, is about playing the game." What an idiotic tautology.
How is it idiotic? It makes sense if you see where he is coming from he never intended it to become an esport I honestly think most of these comments dissing him like "he still doesn't get it," how about this you make the game then watch it become like smash then come back to me when you actually see from someone's else's point of view. An actual game, not some indie game.
 
#43
How is it idiotic? It makes sense if you see where he is coming from he never intended it to become an esport I honestly think most of these comments dissing him like "he still doesn't get it," how about this you make the game then watch it become like smash then come back to me when you actually see from someone's else's point of view. An actual game, not some indie game.
What separates an actual game from an indie game? Is Undertale, for example, not an actual game?
 
#44
I don't know how you can call brawl more polished with it's janky physics and even more prevalent glitches(infinite dimensional cape, several characters having infinite chain grabs, diddy's banana glitch, mechanics that actively punish the person who goes on the offensive, etc)
Don’t bother it was clear after that last post he’s a troll, just put him on ignore and move on, it’s what i did. You could explain all day until you’re blue in the face pointing out every single glitch that is part of brawls metagame , and he wouldn’t listen.

Rather than get into a huge argument just put him on ignore.
 
#46
I hate to say it so bluntly, he's right. Focusing too much on any subsection of your audience is a bad idea when making a game that's suppised to be approachable to everyone.
I second that; we already know about the post-states of certain Smash games these days and to name 3 of them:

- Melee was unintentionally super competitive, making a lot of casuals hid away.
- Brawl was super casual, making a lot of competitive players hid away, also making the gameplay repetitive as hell to watch (At least in my eyes).
- Smash 4 balanced it out, which explains why Smash 4 became big as it is, however the game a bit defensive and it has a few other inconsistencies, gameplay-wise.

And now for Smash Ultimate, while the game ain't even out yet, it's looking more aggro than Smash 4 with some new tech and some similar ones back in Melee, while making the game fun and accessible for the casuals. A good-old easy to learn/get into, hard to master. And I'm usually alright with those types of fighters. :)
 
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#47
Sakurai: "I think a lot of Melee players love Melee. But at the same time, I think a lot of players, on the other hand, gave up on Melee because it’s too technical, because they can’t keep up with it."
on one hand, I can understand why those players had trouble keeping up playing Melee. yes, it's technical, but from what I can tell, it's also very precise as well. as I'm sure many people already know, there's no buffer whatsoever in Melee, so if I want to have even a chance of moving as much as I hope to i will have to recognize that hitting a button too soon is the same as doing nothing... and while Project M does have buffer available, allowing for newbies to manage some advanced tech more easily from the get-go, it's typically turned off by default in competition and apparently frowned upon to turn it on (I, for one, don't really understand why, the better skilled player still wins in the end... but questioning it gets me the stink eye from others, and nobody really gives me a direct response)

on the other hand, I don't see the harm of bringing back Melee's techniques within this current system, because while they will be usable, they're still effectively nerfed, so there's not really too much that would be highly difficult for some newcomer to try out, nor would these tricks be something so immensely helpful that not using it has them left behind. plus, since Brawl and onward has buffering as part of the overall engine, all Sakurai and his team would need to do (should they choose to do it) is implement a couple more tweaks to streamline it. they already did that with some techs, such as implementing a shortcut command to do a shorthop aerial... sort of like putting on training wheels for a bicycle. if the player wants to compete, they'll learn there's more options available by doing things manually, otherwise, it's not like it takes away from their fun

THAT BEING SAID, there are a couple of features Ultimate brings to the table that do make some of Melee's techs kind of redundant at face value, such as being able to cancel a run with any tilt or smash attack, eliminating the need to use it as a punishment option. DACUS can still be argued as a burst option, however, because some examples allowed a fighter to slide faster than they would running normally... such as Link, Snake, or Sheik in Brawl/PM. I also feel the more hotheaded segments of the competitive scene could stand to relax a bit around casual players, they're not that set to be taken seriously, so just roll with it... grab a couple of drinks if you think it helps. (lowkey want to see a drunk smash party, add a couple of tame items to get some people to laugh)
 
#49
This guy somehow doesn't realize it's because his game's default control scheme is suboptimal, and it didn't include a custom controls menu.
So this is a total non-argument.
This is not the only reason that Melee can lead to hand injuries. Even the most optimized control scheme requires repetitive button inputs at a very, very high rate on a controller that requires, at minimum, some degree of thumb and pointer finger movement.

Melee at top play with Fox or Falco averages six inputs per second, or one input every .16 seconds.

And this is for a relatively limited range of possible inputs, which means we're dealing with very repetitive movements. This can lead to repetitive strain injuries, which is an umbrella term for injuries caused by repetitive movements, including: edema, tendinosis, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, De Quervain syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, intersection syndrome, golfer's elbow, tennis elbow, trigger finger, radial tunnel syndrome, ulnar tunnel syndrome, and focal dystonia.

Something with as much variation as typing can cause all this, and a controller is always going to have more limited options for input possibilities than a keyboard does. This means movements are by definition more repetitive on a controller.

Mind, all games that use controllers (which includes all the Smash games) have the potential to cause these issues. However, inputs being faster means a higher possibility of complications, especially since we're talking about a competitive game that has to be played regularly for optimal performance. I'm sure there are examples of SSB64, Brawl, and SSB4 players who also have repetitive strain injuries, but Melee is the most intensive game on the hands, easily.
 
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#50
People should just go play Project M, god damn.
Legalizing arcade-style controllers is also a legitimate move. The Gamecube controller itself isn't perfect.

Phoenix502 Phoenix502 I think the way Project M handles these kinds of settings is almost complete, except that it didn't implement a system like how traditional fighting games handle handicaps, where one player can enable certain settings for themself that the other isn't required to. That would make such a good game.

Even the most optimized control scheme requires repetitive button inputs
Says you.
a controller that requires, at minimum, some degree of thumb and pointer finger movement.
To be precise, the index finger is going to be used very little: either in claw grip with right hand (which won't be necessary with a custom controls option [except in my case, where its necessary on my setup in order to DACUS]), claw grip with left hand, or right index on the :GCZ: (which should be fine).
The middle fingers are going to used for the :GCLT::GCRT:, where they can rest in place, not having to travel except forward and back.
So "some degree here" for non-thumb fingers is really a small degree, or much smaller than the thumb, at least.

Melee at top play with Fox or Falco averages six inputs per second, or one input every .16 seconds.
This makes it sound worse than it is, especially than it would be with custom controls. Here's an example.
I'm Falco against Fox. Fox is shielding while I'm a little out of shieldgrab range.
1. I wavedash in. That's 1) :GCY: 2) :GCDL: 3) :GCRT:
2. I shine on the shield. That's 1) :GCD: 2) :GCB: 3) :GCY:
3. And I decide to grab since he's still shielding. That's 1) :GCZ:

The first sequence requires only one right hand thumb input, and everything else is done with separate fingers.
The second sequence does require that the right thumb make two inputs, and it has travel quite a way.
On my setup, the second sequence could actually be done using :GCRT: for the special button, and :GCA: to jump, which means only one right thumb input again.
And the whole thing is finished off with pressing :GCZ:, using the completely idle right index finger---though on my setup, I need to press :GCX:, that becomes a quick swipe from :GCA: to :GCX:, as opposed to a more strenuous movement like bending the thumb from :GCB: to :GCY:.

I'm not sure whether those inputs all fall within a second, but I think they do. That's 7 inputs, as an example of what Fox or Falco might do in a second in technical play, and I've shown that on the default scheme, you only get one potentially strenuous movement, in jump-cancelling the shine, while on a modified scheme, you can offload the work to other fingers beside the thumb, and reduce the amount of work the thumb needs to do.

Now, I'll give you an example more in your favor: short hop laser. On my scheme, I use :GCA: to jump, and then I of course :GCD:, and use :GCY: to execute a special. My thumb has to go from :GCA: to :GCY: to :GCA: to :GCY: and so on. Yes, that's repetitive, but I think one would agree I'm putting less strain on myself to execute this with this scheme than having to travel from :GCB: to :GCY:, because it's a much shorter distance.

So I disagree with your claim that even an optimized control scheme necessarily is going to lead to hand injuries when playing a game like Melee, if that's what you were trying to say. You have to assess the needs of your character, and shuffle the inputs around so that the technical things are easy to perform. Peach, for example, would definitely benefit from having a trigger or :GCZ: be assigned to Jump, so that floating is much easier. Hungrybox, reportedly, already uses :GCZ: for aerials, so a Jigglypuff player of similar taste could make that their attack button. Their technical needs would be very different from a Star Fox character player's.
 
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#51
I think the way Project M handles these kinds of settings is almost complete, except that it didn't implement a system like how traditional fighting games handle handicaps, where one player can enable certain settings for themself that the other isn't required to. That would make such a good game.
best way to do that, IMO, would be to have a small settings menu in the Controls. nothing too fancy, just have a little box off to the side, and selecting it would allow for those handicaps and tweaks to be turned on. perhaps to discourage complacency in those handicaps, there could be a setting somewhere that disables those handicaps, maybe something for a tournament mode or something... *shrug*
 
#52
Legalizing arcade-style controllers is also a legitimate move. The Gamecube controller itself isn't perfect.
Indeed. Fight sticks are good in ways that GC is definitely not (although they come with some other disadvantages), and IMO GameCube controllers are awkward in the shoulders and trigger button department, which can be important for people that prefer to not jump with X and Y. I prefer shoulder buttons to jump and grab myself.
 
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#53
This isn't an opinion on my part. A gamecube controller, by virtue of being a controller at all, is going to require repretitive movements.
To be precise, the index finger is going to be used very little: either in claw grip with right hand (which won't be necessary with a custom controls option [except in my case, where its necessary on my setup in order to DACUS]), claw grip with left hand, or right index on the :GCZ: (which should be fine).
The middle fingers are going to used for the :GCLT::GCRT:, where they can rest in place, not having to travel except forward and back.
So "some degree here" for non-thumb fingers is really a small degree, or much smaller than the thumb, at least.
I am aware that the thumb is used more than the index and/or middle finger. That doesn't refute my point.

The point I'm making is that the act of using a controller at the speed Melee requires is inherently harmful to the hands without proper stretches and exercise. This isn't just my opinion. To quote Hax from that article,
Hax said:
Any character in Melee puts me on a timer when it comes to my hands. Fox may be the most intense on the left wrist, but Melee in general is pretty intense.
This makes it sound worse than it is, especially than it would be with custom controls. Here's an example.
I'm Falco against Fox. Fox is shielding while I'm a little out of shieldgrab range.
1. I wavedash in. That's 1) :GCY: 2) :GCDL: 3) :GCRT:
2. I shine on the shield. That's 1) :GCD: 2) :GCB: 3) :GCY:
3. And I decide to grab since he's still shielding. That's 1) :GCZ:

The first sequence requires only one right hand thumb input, and everything else is done with separate fingers.
The second sequence does require that the right thumb make two inputs, and it has travel quite a way.
On my setup, the second sequence could actually be done using :GCRT: for the special button, and :GCA: to jump, which means only one right thumb input again.
And the whole thing is finished off with pressing :GCZ:, using the completely idle right index finger---though on my setup, I need to press :GCX:, that becomes a quick swipe from :GCA: to :GCX:, as opposed to a more strenuous movement like bending the thumb from :GCB: to :GCY:.

I'm not sure whether those inputs all fall within a second, but I think they do. That's 7 inputs, as an example of what Fox or Falco might do in a second in technical play, and I've shown that on the default scheme, you only get one potentially strenuous movement, in jump-cancelling the shine, while on a modified scheme, you can offload the work to other fingers beside the thumb, and reduce the amount of work the thumb needs to do.

Now, I'll give you an example more in your favor: short hop laser. On my scheme, I use :GCA: to jump, and then I of course :GCD:, and use :GCY: to execute a special. My thumb has to go from :GCA: to :GCY: to :GCA: to :GCY: and so on. Yes, that's repetitive, but I think one would agree I'm putting less strain on myself to execute this with this scheme than having to travel from :GCB: to :GCY:, because it's a much shorter distance.

So I disagree with your claim that even an optimized control scheme necessarily is going to lead to hand injuries when playing a game like Melee, if that's what you were trying to say. You have to assess the needs of your character, and shuffle the inputs around so that the technical things are easy to perform. Peach, for example, would definitely benefit from having a trigger or :GCZ: be assigned to Jump, so that floating is much easier. Hungrybox, reportedly, already uses :GCZ: for aerials, so a Jigglypuff player of similar taste could make that their attack button. Their technical needs would be very different from a Star Fox character player's.
I'm not making it sound worse than it is; that's just the mathematical average for a high level Fox player. Yes, there are less mechanically intensive characters (Marth, Puff), but Melee in general is demanding on the hands.

Even different control schemes don't fix the problem. Yes, you can move inputs to be less intensive on the thumbs (which is the biggest problem), but that requires putting other fingers to work as well, which puts them at risk.

One thing I want to emphasize is that I know that those inputs don't all require the same movement. But consider how often you need to l-cancel and wavedash, shine, or grab in any given match. That's still repetitive even if it's a set of inputs. It's also still repetitive if it's easy, like pressing a button.

Again, typing is an example of something that can lead to repetitive strain injuries too, and all fingers are being used for that, and the act of pressing a key isn't difficult.

Doing everything with the thumb doesn't help because it just puts all the stress on that finger. Doing everything with varying fingers also doesn't fix the problem because you're still doing repetitive movements.

The only thing that can prevent hand injuries in Melee (or with any competitive game) is hand stretches and exercises. That's the professional opinion of doctors like Dr. McGee in the article I linked you.


Finally, I want to bring the point back to the article at hand. Sakurai is well aware of the damage that repetitive movements can cause, because he had calcific tendinitis himself.

Making the inputs less intense on the hands and slowing down the pace of the game relative to Melee isn't a fix, but it sure helps. And Smash Ultimate has a custom control option just like all the Smash games since Brawl. The primary point I'm making is that Melee was too intense on the hands for Sakurai to be comfortable with making another game like it.

Even if you don't agree with me and medical professionals on the risks of regular Melee play, Sakurai does.
 
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#54
I already did. Look at all these comments crying in rage because people like to play other games too, and Sakurai keeps them in mind.

Anyway, at this point, I'm convinced no other game than Melee will satisfy its fans, but I wish they'd stop complaining. Smash For barely had any good single player content and Ultimate seems to be even more competitive. But Melee fans are still victims, go figure.

EDIT: To all, claiming Melee was easy to pick, just google "Melee is too fast/difficult".
Melee fans are whiny and entitled to the point that much of the FGC still remembers them as a blemish on competitive gaming to this day. They are the pariah of gaming communities and are only loved and celebrated by themselves. It's a glorified circlejerk.

Want to prove my point? Let's see how many top Melee players jump ship and decide to play Smash Ultimate competitively. If a mass exodus occurs in the Melee community, it will solidify my point. It will prove that your common Melee fan values elitism, inclusivity, and above all, power. If their Melee idol leaves the game, they will simply follow suit because they have no mind of their own.
 
#55
This is a touchy subject but attacking a group of players who love a game isn’t considered constructive conversation. Let’s stick to the actual topic instead of negatively lumping players together into one group and throwing around words meant to incite and offend them. Contented posts in that manner will be warned/infracted as well as subjected to removal.
 
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