Hello, this is PushDustIn from SourceGaming.info. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Brendon Wilson from ssb4dojo.com. Many users in the speculation scene will remember ssb4dojo as it served as one of the unofficial hubs for information during the development of Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS/ Wii U. So, Brendon why don’t you give us a quick introduction.
Thanks PushDustIn for this opportunity. My name is Brendon Wilson and I have been running SSB4Dojo.com for about 2 years. I am not really part of the Smash competitive scene as I never really wanted to put the time in to learn everything to the minuscule detail but I had many fun nights in college playing with friends and just having fun as a sort of competitive casual. I am happy though even though I am not part of the competitive scene, the Smash community as a whole has been welcoming for what I have had to say.
So you say you aren’t a competitive player…when was your first experience with Smash?
My first Smash experience was on the N64. Now, I was a stupid kid and picked getting SimCity 2000 over a Hey You Pikachu N64 so I never personally owned the game but that is what next door neighbors are for. My neighbor was about 1 month younger than me and back then we were extremely close so many times I would go over to his place, down to the basement, and play Smash for hours (and Goldeneye when his parents weren’t home). It was just amazing seeing all the Nintendo characters I grew up with (mostly through Game Boy games) fighting on the big screen. The love of Smash was born there but really didn’t become what it means to me until Melee.
Even as a young age, you were a gamer then?
My mom was playing Tetris on Game Boy while she was on bed rest waiting for me so I think you could say gaming has always been a part of my life. I started playing Super Mario Land and Tetris on the Game Boy when I was 2 and didn’t have a real console until the Playstation in 1997 and no Nintendo home console till 2002 with the Gamecube. That doesn’t mean I hadn’t made lots of good friends to keep playing the Nintendo games which were out.
What got you interested in the Internet…like speaking with people on the Internet. Were were you active in forums, other online communities?
SSB4Dojo was my first real time discussing with the internet. I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Smashboards and GameFaqs but rarely did I ever use them. It was more for me keeping tabs on things rather than me actively being a part of the community.
What’s it like to capture your first “audience”? Were you expecting the site to blow up?
When I started SSB4Dojo, it was a slow start. I had maybe 5-10 people after the first week including my girlfriend and best friend as two of those people. Slowly but surely it began expanding to about 1,000 after 5 months. Luck was on my side though as Tumblr decided to make SSB4Dojo one of the special promotion blogs for the next week. Where I had 1,000 followers at 6 PM on that day in November 2013, I came back from a concert to 3,000 followers at 9 PM that night. The blog really exploded and got up to 9,000 within the next week and over the next 1.5 years, the site is approaching 16,000 followers. Having an audience that big really isn’t something I ever expected. Yes, I knew Smash was a big topic people liked discussing but never thought I would see as many people as I have. My dad was probably more surprised (and a little mad) since a Smash blog was something he initially didn’t approve of.
Does he approve of it now?
He does in a sense. The whole reason I really started SSB4Dojo was where I was in my life. I had just graduated from University the month before E3 2013 and that meant less opportunities to talk to friends. My memories mostly go back to Brawl when I was in high school and talking with my friends over all of the details shared every morning. The blog seemed like a potential outlet since I wasn’t going to see my friends as often. So I brought the idea of starting a blog up to my dad without saying exactly what the topic was. He was really excited thinking I was going to do an engineering based blog. When I told him it was about Smash, he was stunned, thinking I would be wasting my time when I could be reading about engineering things and “bettering” my life. The next day I started SSB4Dojo and showed it to him and what I was attempting. He didn’t 100% approve yet but at least he could see I was passionate about it. Over the years, he has grown to appreciate it as he can see I am enjoying doing what I have been doing but also sees that people actually read the blog and what I have to say. Don’t think the engineering blog would have been nearly as fun to make and probably wouldn’t have cracked 100 followers in the 2 years.
Engineering is definitely a niche topic. Do those guys even read blogs for fun? (I kid, I kid) What role do you feel that SSB4Dojo fills?
My goal with SSB4Dojo was to give people the news and give them consistency with the message the site was trying to make. SSB4Dojo is a one man production which at times is an impossible task. Some sites have multiple people but sometimes that creates a clouded message for the site as some people say Robin is impossible where others say Robin is possible but for SSB4Dojo, it is a singular message/stance on everything. I also tried to be as fact based as possible when hypothesizing about what could be happening in Smash. It helped a lot being fact based as my site become one of the biggest Smash question sites getting around 200-300 questions a day during the peak run from E3 2014 through release. By being fact based with everything I said, it made it easier to always have a consistent message and when someone would attempt to fight me because they didn’t agree with something I said, they were talking from a fanboy perspective and typically couldn’t back up why they were against the facts without saying “Because I said so” or something to that affect.
200-300 questions a day is really impressive. Do you have any that stick out to you?
It depends. A lot of it stems from an issue I say that resonates with fans. Like when I said Impa wasn’t likely, I got hate mail for days on that topic because of her recent release in Hyrule Warriors. I mean, when Hyrule Warriors was just being conceived, the Smash Roster was close to being finalized so I thought it was strange to think Impa in Hyrule Warriors would have any impact on Smash. I even found someone who completely disagreed with me and found the post they made trashing me because I wouldn’t listen to their fan boy explanation. The one that might have been the worst though was when I switched from Chrom to Robin after Ike’s reveal. People thought I was the stupidest person in the world and were giving me reason after reason as to why Robin would be a worse character than Chrom. Now there is no denying Chrom’s popularity but there was nothing that would make him any different than a combo of Marth/Ike. For a series with bows, lances, horses, dragons, knives, magic and staves, it made no sense to constantly hold the series hostage to solely the swordfighters. The day that Robin was revealed was quite possibly my favorite day running the blog. Now beyond the hate mail, I have received many messages from fans that have enjoyed my work and I actually have kept every message that they have sent. It just gives me a good reminder that people have enjoyed what I have done and keeps me going.
Is your overall impression of the Smash fanbase positive?
Overall it is very positive. Of course the negative ones stick out more in your mind similar to you remembering more the times you try and open a door by pushing on the wrong side but they make up maybe 10% of the messages I get (besides a couple of days). The non-anons have been very supportive and of course, what they discuss/say means more because I can actually know who I am having a conversation with rather than just anonymous person. Through the blog, I have made some good friends as well and play them in Smash online from time to time and have conversations with them everyday. Really, it has given me a greater appreciation of the Smash community and has opened my eyes more to the tournament scene.
Do you see yourself continuing the blog post-DLC?
It depends. I have dedicated two years of my life to running the blog, it is sort of like a child with how much time/effort has been put into it. Once we get past the DLC though, it might be it for SSB4Dojo. A lot of it will be dependent on the community, if they keep asking questions, I will be there for as long as they keep coming in as once the DLC is officially done, it seems like there won’t be as much to discuss/talk about.
As I previously mentioned, SSB4Dojo has severed as a hub for leaks information. What was the most memorable fake lake?
It depends. I made a fake leak just to see the reaction and see how long it will last. I named Gematsu Plus which set the world ablaze as I was more trying to say that it was Gematsu + more characters but then people thought it was real Gematsu when they saw it on my site. Found the people on Gamefaqs and while talking to me (and not realizing I was SSB4Dojo), they were joking about how SSB4Dojo made their leak way more popular than intended. Really though, some of the later ones with concepts like the Tower of Smash were amazing and I really hoped they would be real. The most amazing thing is also looking back at some of the super duper vague early leaks and seeing how long they were able to survive.
A lot of the super early ones last for so long because we lacked any details to outright deconfirm them. I guess it’s safe to say that you enjoy fake leaks, right?
My main thing I like from them is the discussion. It is great listening to the ideas people create and even if 99% of them turn out to be fake, it is just incredible thinking about the potential of a Tower of Smash or of Petey Piranha as a playable character. Now the bad thing is when people bring the fanboy-ness with them and every time Ridley is mentioned you get people saying the leak is fake purely due to Ridley’s inclusion (prior to being announced as a boss on Pyrosphere) or things of that nature. Again, till a fact was actually false, no matter how small it might have a chance of being true, it stayed alive.
Is there anything you would like to personally see added to Smash?
The thing that would make Smash Wii U feel even more complete is some adventure mode. Having a Melee styled Adventure Mode would be incredible and lots of fun. With the amount of characters/series now, it might take a lot longer to accomplish but that was still one of my favorite things to do in Melee even if the route was more or less identical save for some special battles based on timing. Also, a real classic mode with a race to the finish (and ability to play outside of classic) and Break the Targets (back to N64/Melee standards of a unique layout per character) would be an amazing topper.
Would you remove anything from the games?
The part I find least fun is Smash Tour. I think had Smash Run been done on both games and each player given a portion of the screen on the Wii U and could interact with each other, that would be a lot of fun. Smash Run just reminds me of City Trial from Kirby Air Ride which might be my all time favorite racing game mode. I have put days into City Trial and anything being inspired by it makes me extremely happy.
What is your impression of Sakurai?
As someone that follows Smash closely, I try and listen for everything people say about Sakurai and from everything I have heard, he is one of the most hard working people in the world. He knows what Smash means to people and wants to do what he can to make his games experiences people will never forget. From his start with Kirby to Smash to Kid Icarus, Sakurai always is pushing the boundaries and doing things to give people the most complete gaming experiences and at the same time, potentially putting his health at risk. His injuries have been reported for years, most seemingly due to Smash and yet this guy still works hard to create amazing products. This man really is putting all of what he can into every game he is in charge of and it shows. Hopefully Sakurai gets a nice break now with DLC being less intensive and then gets to pick a new project that he can sort of sit back a bit and lead slightly from afar as he heals. My biggest hope is this guy doesn’t stop for a while, from the checklist creation in Kirby Air Ride, to a complete story mode in Brawl (which wasn’t completely necessary but greatly appreciated), to a very cool new interpretation of weapon classes in Uprising to adding seemingly inconsequential modes that have taken up loads of time like Master/Crazy Orders in Smash 4, this guy keeps making things and keeping his games feel fresh. Hopefully he gets to tackle another forgotten IP like Kid Icarus and bring this same breathe of fresh life to whatever he tackles next.
If you were a professional video game critic what would your ratings be for Smash 3DS? How about Wii U?
To me, it is very difficult to put a singular score on them. Because yes, there are features that I wanted in both that are missing (like more than 2 songs on the 3DS stages or something not Smash Tour on the Wii U) but those are such minor things in the grand scope which is Smash 3DS and Smash Wii U. The roster blew away my expectations thinking closer to 45 instead of the 51 we ended up with as well as not any major padding of the roster with clones. The stages were so clever but having some series lack new representation on one console or the other was sad but still, many classic stages returned which was amazing and at least most series had representation on both consoles. Really though, for the money you are paying for the base game at $40 for Smash 3DS and $60 for Smash Wii U, they are complete insta-buys. You get so much bang for your buck and it is just pure fun. Besides what I might “want” or “prefer”, the games are perfect and really hard to say anything bad about the product we got.
Who do you think is likely for ballot-choice DLC?
It depends on how many Sakurai decides to go for. With 2 spots left on the Wii U menu, that might be it. If he were to expand, I couldn’t see any more than 6 in total with the 4 new spots created by changing the Wii U menu slightly to fit 4 more characters. I think a DK character will happen, either Dixie Kong or King K. Rool. Even with the costume, K. Rool isn’t out of it yet. I also think we will see 1-2 Nintendo Newcomers from Inklings, Wonder Red, Isaac being characters that would add a new series to Smash. Now some people think we won’t see a Star Fox character like Wolf but I still think Nintendo will have in an October Direct a teaser for Wolf coming out around the same time Star Fox Zero hits shelves with a possible cross promotion. I also wouldn’t be shocked if a Mario character was added as well such as Paper Mario or Captain Toad being added to Smash. With regards to the 3rd party, it is so hard to determine who is possible. Personally, I wouldn’t be shocked if Ryu was it for 3rd party DLC but trying to choose who else has a shot, they either have a seeming problem with their inclusion or are too low to justify them being added. That really is a mystery that will just have to play out over the next several months as Sakurai showcases the DLC.
Do you have any final comments?
Just want to thank the Smash Community for their support over the past 2 years. It has been a lot of fun bringing you the news from SSB4Dojo and can’t wait to see where Smash continues to go moving forward. Also, thanks for the opportunity to get my story out there on how SSB4Dojo came to be.
No problem, it’s been a pleasure having you as such an integral part of the community!
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)