“The Act of Balancing” Sakurai’s Famitsu Column vol. 480

translationtheactofbalancing

Today, Source Gaming is bringing you the full translation of Sakurai’s latest Famitsu column, “The Act of Balancing”. This is brought to you by the efforts of Masked Man, Soma, X Kan from Kantopia and myself.The reason I brought on so many people for this translation is because I’m fully aware that this is a controversial topic within the Smash community. Furthermore, I wanted multiple opinions on word choices to ensure the best possible translation. Special thanks to かるび on Twitter for the scan.

Think about the Video Games, Vol. 480

June 11th, 2014

The Act of Balancing

When it comes to Smash, every once in a while people will wrongly direct their anger towards me. They accuse me of things such as giving preference or strength to the characters that I’ve worked on in the past—in other words, the Kirby and Kid Icarus series characters. Oh my.

However, if I had worked on the Mario series, people would say, “You’re favoring Mario too much,” wouldn’t they?  The same would hold true for Fire Emblem, Pokémon or Starfox. The truth is, though, I put a lot of work into all the characters. It’s a mix of labor, love, and fine tuning.

I mean, what could I possibly get out of only buffing the characters I’ve worked on? A sense of self-satisfaction?  That’s simply not the case; after all, I’ve worked on all of these characters through Smash.

For example, there are two characters I can’t seem to get the hang of: Pit and Palutena. I personally feel those two are below average in terms of strength. If I further adjusted the game’s balance for myself, I would make them stronger, but that’s not what I’ve done.

And, given that I am still making adjustments little by little, I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss the act of balancing.

Generally speaking, the most important resource for balancing is the report we receive from the playtesting team. While the playtesters don’t ever appear in the spotlight, I’m confident they’re skilled enough to perform quite well in a tournament.

In addition to the playtesters’ daily impressions, the team also considers results from online battles, as well as opinions they find about characters on the Internet. Then, using all of this data, they propose balance adjustments.

Of course, I don’t approve all of their proposals right away. There’s no point in making the game more balanced if it decreases the fun factor. To give an extreme example, I could make all the characters perform similarly to Mario and achieve perfect balance. However, that probably wouldn’t be very fun at all. We work together by making adjustments while trying to preserve the characters’ individuality, then testing out the characters again. I consider all the data the playtesters collect on all the characters and eventually finalize the changes.

In other words, although I am the one making the final decisions, we are all trying to remain objective as possible. If I don’t agree with the playtesters’ opinion, then no adjustments will be made.

The playtesting team is only composed of several people. After all, truly skilled players are hard to come by. Moreover, playtesters have individual playstyles—as well as personal strengths and weaknesses—that will come out during the testing process.

Another problem we have to consider is that battles can take on many formats in Smash. There are moves that are completely useless in a 1v1 battle, but in a four-player free-for-all those moves might prove quite useful. Therefore, if I played only one kind of battle, the game would feel very slanted towards a particular style of play.

Furthermore, if I went with what is fair according to advanced players, the beginners wouldn’t be able to keep up. For example, Kirby’s Stone attack probably won’t hit a player above intermediate skill level, but if I made it more powerful, it would destroy beginners.

At the end of the day, I’m aiming for intermediately-skilled players to be able to properly enjoy the game.  Fundamentally, my goal with Smash has been to create an “enjoyable party game”. If you want to enjoy thrilling tactical gameplay, you might be better suited for other 2D fighting games.

Recently, there was a tournament featuring the top Japanese and American players. In 1v1s, the natural tendency is to use low risk moves to gradually deal damage to the opponent. Smash attacks rarely came out, and the matches were prone to becoming long, drawn out affairs. When considering the variety of ways Smash can be played I think this is a waste, but the winner was certainly decided by skill.

Just as surely, people who play the game this way enjoy it from the bottom of their hearts, and make many friends playing this way. Because the game accommodates a wide variety of playstyles, it’s only natural that it captivates so many people in a variety of ways.

調整の現場

「スマブラ」において、見当違いの怒りをぶつけてる人がたまにいます。わたしの作った作品のキャラクターについて、「扱いや強さで優遇している!」と。つまり、「カービィ」や「パルテナ」シリーズでしょうか。おやおや。

しかし。わたしがもし「スーパーマリオ」シリーズを手掛けていたら、「マリオ」ばっかり

ひいきして」と言うのでしょう?「ファィアーエムブレム」でも然り。「ポケモン」でも「スターファックス」でもそう。けっきょく、どれも力を入れているということなのでしよ。手数や調査や愛情を注いでいます。

そもそも自分の手掛けたキャラクターを強くすることに、何のメリットがあろうかと。いい気分になるため? いや、みんな自分が手掛けるキャラなのですけれど。

わたしが個人的に苦手な、うまく使いこなせないキャラクターの一例として、ピットやパルテナがいます。つまり、わたし自身は”ピットやパルテナは平均より弱い”と感じているということです。このうえで自分なりに調整したら、これらはより強くなってしまいますが、そうはしていませんよね。

いまも少しずつ加えている、バランス調整の現場の話をします。

原則的に、いちばんの参考軸になっているのは、モニターチームの大戦レポートです。彼らは表に出ることはないけれど、大会などに出たらいい線いくのでは?と思える技術は持っています。

彼らに毎日プレイを重ねてもらい、オンライン大戦の総合戦績,ネット上の意見なども踏まえ、調整提案をしてもらっています。

提案を鵜呑みにするわけではありません。バランスを取るためにおもしろさを減らしたら意味がないので、極端に言えば、全員がマリオの性能に近づけば、大戦バランスだけは取れます。しかし、それは圧倒的に楽しくないでしょね。持ち味は殺さないように調整し、またモニター

してもらい、釣り合うようにします。すべてのキャラクターはモニターチームの戦績を見解から現状が妥当と思われるのでいまに至るわけです。

つまり、バランス調整しているのはわたしだけど、客観的に判断する組織があると。かれらの見解と合致しない調整はしません。

ただ,チームには数人しかいません。うまい人ってそんなに多くないですからね。おのずと戦法の傾向や、得手不得手が出てきます。

それと別に大戦形式が多いゲームであることも問題です。2人大戦でまったく使えないワザが、4人大戦では主力になることはザラ。よって同じ大戦形式ばかりで遊ぶと、偏りを感じるでしょう。

また、上級者にとって公平なことを前提にすると、初心者がついていけなくなります。たとえばカービィのストーンって、中級者以上ならまず当たらないけど、強くしたら初心者キラーですよね。

けっきょくのところ、中級者がほどよく楽しめる程度の狙いになっています。基本的には、”楽しいパーティゲーム”として作っているつもりです。ひりひりするような駆け引きを楽しみたい場合、ほかの2D格闘ゲームのほうが合うのではないかと思います、が。

先日、「スマブラ」の日米対決大会がありまして。1On1だと、どうしても低りスクワザで

削り合いになるのですよね。スマッシュ攻撃などはほとんど出ず、長期戦に陥りがち。ゲームが持つ幅から考えるともったいないだけど、技量の差で勝敗が決まるのも確か。

それで心底楽しんだり、友だちを増やす層がいるのも確か。ふり幅の大きいゲームだからこそ、いろいろな捉えかたをする人がいるということでいかがでしょうか。

PushDustIn
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PushDustIn

PushDustIn is the founder and administrator of Source Gaming. Being obsessed with the history and development of games isn’t easy. Building a reputation on his research, translations and article write ups, PushDustIn fully encapsulates the meaning of data-miner. PushDustIn has studied Japanese for over six years, and has lived there for over four. The name PushDustIn comes from a garbage can in Osaka (Push Dust In). He lives with a very spoiled cat named Kuma.

Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)
PushDustIn
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10 comments

  1. I think the problem with his view is that Smash as a party game isn’t that great, since when people look for a party game they prefer titles such as Mario Kart or Mario Party. I know this from expierience.

  2. Smash is a great party game! That’s what it was specifically designed for, and I think it works great. I have played casual Brawl for years without getting bored before I got into the competitive scene.

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