Super Smash Bros. Ultimate developer Masahiro Sakurai shares his message for his fans through Famitsu Column.
Masahiro Sakurai says:
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a highly confidential project and should be well protected. However, while that doesn’t worry me, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is imperative to encourage less contact between people. We absolutely should cooperate and survive together.
So far, our telework has been quite successful. There are many staff who should be commended for their work. Of course, there is no time needed for commuting. Some were commuting two hours one-way! This is much more effective, right?
So, what are my first impressions of telework? First, the air is much cleaner! Busy offices usually have dirty air. The heater always made me sweat every day too. But, in your own room, you can be as comfortable as possible! You can control both the temperature and humidity.
Furthermore, there’s an advantage to seeing natural light. The office had many windows, but we had to close them for secrecy. Being able to see the morning and evening light from the sun is very pleasing.
The temptations to play or sleep are common. However, it’s not a big deal. When you have a job in front of you, your hands tend to continue working. It’s bad to keep people waiting, so it’s similar to quickly replying to emails you receive, even if you’re commuting to work.
I continue to reply to such correspondence and work, even until midnight. However, my breaks for eating are more consistant now, and I have an even better sense of time.
It’s been a process of trial and error to improve the current working environment. I oversee almost everything the team does, so the work they do is always pouring in.
There are various things that need to be corrected, tools and other elements needed to support developers, however, right now, it’s just not possible to gather everybody together and explain like I could before.
Of course, the basic response is to simple respond via email. Inevitably, due to the complexity and importance of the information, the amount of words and responses grow and grow. That’s unavoidable, though, and if that’s all it takes, it’s not really a problem.
In some situations, it’s necessary to give live feedback. In a video conference, we can share our thoughts and opinions live. This feels outdated since we have to set aside a specific time to have these calls. If you have a family with children, it becomes even more difficult.
I bought a microphone and a capture unit, and built a studio to play the game and assist in development live with the team. When I make a voice call, I show the video of the gameplay or PC I’m supervising, record it, upload it to the server and have team members download it.
Although it’s a new system, it’s going over very well with the team as it’s easier to see and hear what we’re working on, especially when compared to taking footage with a camera. We are continuing to research what works best and minimizing file sizes to not waste bandwidth.
For the time being, we are proceeding without any problems, so far. However, we’re only developing DLC at the moment. For example, it would have been very difficult to develop Super Smash Bros. Ultimate early on if we were in this situation.
Beyond video games, many creators are facing difficulties. However, I continue to work hard, not only to increase the amount of free time to play at home, but also, of course, so when the threat of COVID-19 subsides, we can enjoy being outside in the sun once again.
Sakurai is going to show us his ARMS in June.
(the actual caption to the photo is: It’s not related to work, but I bought an adjustable dumbbell so I could stay fit at home)
Thanks, Sephazon for translation.