Sakurai’s Famitsu Column Vol. 495: People Are Free to Criticize. But Don’t Lose Faith

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Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation. For additional information, please read this postThis translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai.

This column was originally published on December 17th, 2015. It is the column that was published before Three New Characters, as Diverse as Possible.


 

By the time this column has been published, the final Smash special presentation should have debuted, offering some new information. But, as of my writing this, nothing has been announced. Please watch it!

Around the same time, the new Star Wars film is going to premiere, something I’m also anxiously waiting for. I’m so excited! However, George Lucas is not directing it. He’s not even a producer. Lucasfilms, and the rights to the movies, were purchased in 2012 by Disney. This time, J.J. Abrams is directing. The reason for the buyout was “to protect Star Wars and Lucasfilms.”

Separate from that, in an interview in the American edition of Vanity Fair, Lucas himself apparently said “you go to make a movie and all you do is get criticized. And it’s not much fun. You can’t experiment.”

I personally enjoyed Episode I a lot, but there were some that didn’t feel this way.
I personally enjoyed Episode I a lot, but there were some that didn’t feel this way.

A truly serious problem….! He’s such a big name, and to hear him leave this franchise that has impassioned so many fans, a person who worked on the originals with his own hands, is incredibly sad and frustrating. Personally, George Lucas’s work is the work I would really like to see.

However, I truly understand his feelings. You could say my body is filled with these feelings. Making something, and completing it is a huge undertaking, and there are a lot of places where fans can’t see. It’s like building a house, but people focus on a single painting that’s hung up on a wall in one room, and fixate on it, and keep listing off their complaints of that painting. These situations are very common.

For me, a familiar example would be…in Smash, Cloud recently became a playable character. And there were people that strongly criticized that, saying “Stop adding non-Nintendo characters!” This is completely ignoring the fact that I’ve added many, many Nintendo characters to Smash. It also ignores the many fans who were overjoyed at Cloud’s addition. Looking at the big picture, I am on the receiving end of countless amounts of truly trivial statements.

However, I think that’s okay. Different people value different things differently, and they should stay honest to that. For example, even I, as a fan (?) have my complaints with Star Wars. I honestly dislike Episode VI’s long-winded pacing and how easily the Empire Stormtroopers fall to the Ewoks. I think that the re-releases are redundant and superfluous. But, more than that, I am grateful that they showed me these various worlds, and let me enjoy them. Normally, I just don’t have the opportunity to vocalize my feelings of gratitude.

It’s particularly easy to voice criticisms, and opinions are very strong. When people yell loudly, it also invites mob mentality and conformity. It’s easy for negative opinions to be amplified, while positive opinions are quieted. People don’t understand the circumstances and state of affairs behind development, and it’s not allowed for creators to make excuses. There are even people who feel emotionally battered and quit working.

Some players might think “If you’re going to lose to stuff like that, maybe you shouldn’t be a creator?” But, creators are people too. It’s not that we’re ignoring the feelings of the people who play our games. But criticisms can become slander that’s focused on being an attack, and if you take those hits upfront, then it chips away at the power of production.

From the beginning, I have thought “the people who don’t raise their voices are important.” I created my first game, Kirby’s Dreamland, a game you could say was designed for beginners, because beginners don’t usually raise their voices. I think that it is necessary to really look at these people, understand them, and work patiently and persevere and build on my work.

I don’t want people who are involved in ‘creating’ things to become disheartened by criticism. Just being able to impart ‘fun’ to a lot of people is a blessing, after all.

There’s even a documentary called The People vs. George Lucas. It’s full of criticisms towards him, and I cannot agree with it.
There’s even a documentary called The People vs. George Lucas. It’s full of criticisms towards him, and I cannot agree with it.

 

Soma

For Famitsu scans, please check out Japanese 3DSor follow Bri Bri on Twitter.

 

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24 comments

  1. Ah geez, I can already see people taking the Lucas comparisons in the totally wrong way.

    He does raise a great point about how certain negative complaints tend to end up as overblown or are inconsiderate of other opinons though. One of the worst things about discussing stuff in general, IMO.

  2. By the same token, a refusal to criticize perceived “sacred cows” creates as bad of an echo chamber as an abundance of trivial criticism.

    1. I agree! I discussed this issue a long time ago (I think the article was called “Our Dear Leader”) this was before Source Gaming published a lot of the translations, and there was a LOT of hate for Sakurai.

      I argued that it was important to understand the person’s intention before critiquing/ criticize them. This is exactly what I did in my “Corrin Controversy” article.

      Total hate and total admiration are a waste of time and aren’t having a discussion.

  3. “It’s particularly easy to voice criticisms, and opinions are very strong. When people yell loudly, it also invites mob mentality and conformity. It’s easy for negative opinions to be amplified, while positive opinions are quieted.”

    Lol, this quotation is the exact opposite of reality. Anybody who criticizes the roster is labeled as “ungrateful” or “salty”, making dissension on sites like SmashBoards a rare occurrence. Why, the Reddit thread for this article is literally entitled “Sakurai discusses criticism(being salty)”, because God forbid people don’t worship the ground he walks on. Sakurai has become a sacred cow in many circles of the Smash community. While personal attacks are never justified, merely suggesting that the roster could have been better will cause you to get dogpiled faster than you can say Zero Suit Samus. I’m sure the “beginners” in question are such big fans of the Fire Emblem series. The petulance from Sakurai himself is worse than anything I’ve seen here.

    I find the best creators are the one who take criticism in stride. Instead of trying to understand and empathize with the Smash fanbase, Sakurai brushes off legitimate grievances because “people fixate on a single painting instead of the entire house”. Here’s an analogy for you, Mr. Sakurai. I hire a developer to build me a house. He agrees to do so, and I patiently wait for the construction to finish. It has a lot of stuff in it, but it uses cheap materials. The interiors are painted the wrong color. Certainly not what, I, the buyer, asked for. The basement is fully developed and looks fantastic, but the kitchen is dilapidated and wasn’t constructed with care. Certain areas of the house were neglected, while others were given the royal treatment. When questioned, the developer blames me for being “insatiable”, and calls me ungrateful even though he’s the one who’s working for me.

    All Sakurai does is cram as much stuff into his games as possible, often at the expense of the gameplay itself, then points to the amount of stuff in the game when certain consumers aren’t happy with the finished product. “Why are you complaining? Look at all of the stuff. Sure, it may be crummy stuff, but there’s a lot of stuff!” The George Lucas comparisons are apt. Both men are arrogant, can’t handle criticism, and are out of touch with reality. I’m half expecting a Melee remake with Wario hastily added in as an unlockable fighter, complete with PS2 era CGI. And the intro will be rectonned so Fox shoots Wolf first.

    1. Well, I was agreeing with you until just about the last sentence or two before the last paragraph….

      To start off, I’d like to point out that this interview happened before the final direct occured, and while it can be said that Corrin doesn’t fit with the “beginners” in mind…..who would? That isn’t already in the game that is? Aside from having the biggest of the biggest stars, the roster, in general, can not be made for “beginners” because they won’t know the obscure Nintendo characters that some people want in the game. And that’s coming from someone who would have preferred any one of those obscure characters over Corrin.

      I’d also like to say that people take negative criticism much harder than they take positive comments. To a content creator, it often does feel like people are out to get you for no reason, even if they’re not. If you can’t learn to take it in stride, as he seems to explain here, it will tear you apart.

      Your analogy was also pretty all over the place, and doesn’t fit too well into the scenario. *Most* people are ok with Smash as a whole, but they do have complaints about things here or there. While saying that people are complaining about a specific painting may undermine the situation a bit much, I feel a better analogy would be to say that it is a single house layout that has to be made identically for millions of people to reside in. Furthermore, every person has a specific room in the house that they hate. The issue here is, it’s not always the same room, and it’s often too late to fix the room after it’s made anyways. When millions of people are telling you that a different room in the house is wrong, you can’t just tear the whole house down and build from scratch, especially when each of those people like the house as a whole.

      Honestly, I feel that this is a very realistic look into the eyes of a famous content creator. A few viewpoints may be a tad skewed here or there, but from the eyes of the creator, it is just how things are, and I can respect the honesty in those words.

  4. If I could talk to him directly, I’d really let him know that the criticism for Cloud should be ignored, and in atleast the US its overwhelmingly positive.

    Sometimes I think he should spend more time in the states at our conventions and so forth were hes more appreciated.

    1. I agree he should attend western conventions too. That way he can have more ideas of what to do next by listening to the western community.

      1. I am sure the Sakurai is already aware of that, and it would also be a great opportunity for Source Gaming to conduct an interview with Masahiro Sakurai about his life as a game designer in general and the future endeavors of Smash Bros. When there is more translated content about Masahiro Sakurai along with other Japanese developers, they will be better respected in a new light.

        You should also purchase volumes 1 and 2 of The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers because they are the very few books that uncovers the life and times of Japanese game industry.

        Also please use Patreon to donate money so Source Gaming can get bigger and better.

    2. If he spent time at the American video game conventions he’ll receive a lot of negative attention from the hardcore, competitive Smash community. They heavily despise Sakurai for “ruining” Super Smash Bros. when he made Brawl and expect him to make Super Smash Bros. to be more like Melee or Project M even though Sakurai lowered the gameplay speed and removed those glitches to make the game easy to play for everyone. It’s best for Sakuari to stay away from American video game conventions.

      1. Yes, it may be your opinion, but in recent history, Sakurai has embraced more of the western side of the video game industry in this iteration since he attended more western game conferences, included a few trophies from the west, including Rayman from France and CommanderVideo from USA. I would strongly believe that when Nintendo fully achieves support from around the world, the next iteration of Smash Bros (aka Smash Bros 5) would very likely feature a few special guests that represent video game companies from the West (primarily North America and Europe) to join an ever-expanding all star video game character-centric fighting game. Rather than telling that person to cower, its better to be constructive and respect the crators so they are more likely to reach out beyond Japan.

        1. I understand what you mean. But if you have seen how rabid they [the hardcore, competitive Smash community] can become (especially with the take-down of Project M), you’d be solely disappointed in these people. It’s even worse if one of them simply walks up to him and says out loud that Project M is better than any of the Super Smash Bros. games that he makes (especially when that said mod was made to “correct” one of his own games). I probably should’ve rewrote this but I have problems typing on this website alone. It’s nice for Sakurai to reach out to the world (if he didn’t, we wouldn’t have Fire Emblem or Lucas), he just needs to avoid the very people [the hardcore, competitive Smash community] that he and the Nintendo company have been trying to steer clear from since the development of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I’m not trying to sound rude or anything, I just don’t want Sakurai or Nintendo to be persuaded by the the vocal minority into turning Super Smash Bros. into the platformer edition of Street Fighter or to not make Super Smash Bros. ever again through death threats or any cruel behavior that some like to portray.

          1. Thanks for the clarification, and the developers know that they can steer clear of the vocal minority since they prefer to create a memorable experience based on the bigger picture: a video game character-driven free-for-all.

            Of course Sakurai is very likely going to attend more western game conventions, especially the big ones like E3, Comic Con, EVO, and PAX. It might also be possible for Sakurai to fly over to other companies and studios in North America and Europe for interviews, or vice-versa with Western game industry representatives of developers and publishers fly to Japan and interview Sakurai, so the interviewed are more likely to show interest in contributing to Smash Bros and Sakurai is more willing to take a gamble with adding Western video game characters.

            I strongly believe Smash Bros will become the global phenomenon when major game characters, made by countries around the world beyond Japan, get added in.

            If you like what Source Gaming does for articles, you are encouraged to make a monthly pledge through Patreon though the site’s tab “Support Source Gaming”. If more people donated to this, then Source Gaming can tackle more ambitious projects, such as compiling interviews with Masahiro Sakurai and other Japanese game developers first-hand.

  5. More than anything, Sakurai has a level of awareness that showed just how intelligent he is when it comes to creating his games. Although we don’t always agree with the decisions he makes (personally, I’d want to see him become as interested in Pokémon as he already is in Fire Emblem, heh), everything he does shows that he truly cares about his work and wants to make it shine as brightly as he can.

  6. “You’re free to criticize, but don’t lose faith”…nice quote. But for the bad part in reality, people criticize AND lose faith at the same time because their character never included in Smash. For example, someone I know is a huge Krystal fan, but lost faith and quit playing Smash because she wasn’t in there. Another says they quit playing and began to hate Smash because Cloud’s in it. Honestly, whoever quits/hates Smash because of that is really wasting their time as becoming a pathetically boring person, not having any common sense at all. Seriously, can’t really show respect to them as they don’t have respect to anything else except their own selves.

    What Sakurai said is right…”Creators are people”. They’re not genies nor gods to wish upon. They will listen to fan’s voice whether that’s a suggestion or requests, but they can’t promise to do it for them. They have their own limits to stand against, rules that they must follow, and ideas that must be discussed to his team before taking action. If this was MUGEN, then they’re free to do whatever they want because there’s no rules and limits to that game; it’s meant to build up more trash and lose its direction of its purposes. Smash is in the different dimension of that level; Sakurai brings characters to Smash with a purpose. Popularity and iconic isn’t enough, but needs uniqueness of what that character can do while others can’t. He also needs cooperation with other staffs and companies to approve the usages of those characters, and to make the game great. And eventually, he is listening to fan’s voice as he’s still learning. As a living being, people need to learn everyday by their successes, by their failings, by every experiences they’ve achieved so far. Of course criticism is painful, but at least he’s taking it as a new subject on how he can improve more than what they complain about. He may not promise anything because he don’t want to make anybody disappoint anything unexpected, but he can create more possibilities of what he can do to make the next game more successful than before as what he learned from his accomplishments and mistakes. Besides, Sakurai’s will be taking a long vacation now, and if he plan to make Smash 5, I think he’ll have a lot of free time to think of what he’ll bring to the next Smash and improve more better than the previous.

    Audiences on the other hand are meant to be ignorant and greedy among things of they wanted the most than what the creators want. If they don’t get something what they want in that creation, they’ll simply attack by criticizing while holding pitchforks and torches. However, if that criticism is something understandable, then that creator will take credit for its next step. But if that’s something meaningless as being too childish, then it should be ignored as its helpless. And to understand, words are harmful sharp objects like swords and knives; if they don’t use it carefully and wisely, they can accidentally (or purposely in full hatred) kill it instantly, which of course no creators want that to happen to their productions or even themselves.

    But even I wrote this, I may be wrong as I’ll be criticized too. Not everybody is agreeable, but it’s something that shouldn’t be taken seriously as an opinion. Either way, I still think Sakurai did his best creating this Smash with his full force, as I still the final roster even though my predicted characters never made it in the end. I can still have faith for the next one if possible, but that’s all up to Sakurai to make decisions. Anyways, great article!

  7. So, they did let us vote for our favorite fighter, they collect ideas and are supposed to consider them, they possibily see which realizable characters most people wanted to see in and then he says something like “the loudest ones are not always in the majority”?

    I just recently realized, that I fail to see the point of the ballot, unless people are right and it was actually more or less for the mii fighter costumes. If I would be one of the quiet players/customers I may not give a **** about additional fighters, since I might not play smash enthusiastically, but rather as one of many games occasionally.

    But those who really want to see certain characters, are having intense discussions on blogs, forums, reddit, youtube etc and are usually the paying customers, those who enter the eshop immediately, once new content – specially new fighters – are available. Are we not supposed to be the most important customers, those who exceed the purchase of the base game, but rather take care, Nintendo can earn extra cash?

    So I think, this was bull….
    Somebody might correct me please, if I did not get what he wanted to say.

  8. Apparently I saw this article posted on Sakurai’s twitter and yet I didn’t read this.

    “It’s easy for negative opinions to be amplified, while positive opinions are quieted.”
    This is very true, unless there are cases like… Double negatives. Referring to the case mentioned above, people are blamed “salty” if they criticize the roster, it’s only people being negative about people being negative about things. They aren’t necessarily even positive about the roster, some of them just like blaming stuff for fun. Or in other words, something something SJW, something something apologist, something something defenders. Not like any of these are complimentary terms, and I can say I do not like these kind of people who run around calling people salty and stuff.

    “It’s like building a house, but people focus on a single painting that’s hung up on a wall in one room, and fixate on it, and keep listing off their complaints of that painting. These situations are very common.”
    Not sure how characters are described “paintings in a house”, because things like Smash Tour, intro, cut scenes would fit more on this metaphor, and characters are way more influential to this whole “House”. Whatever mode you play, whatever feature Smash has, it MUST involve the characters, or at least it’s the inclusion of the characters, that made these things happen (Songs, stages, Mii Costumes(?), Masterpieces). It’s way more visible than just a painting on one wall of a room. Either this painting is hung up everywhere in the house (or as wallpapers because this makes more sense), or the whole house surrounds the topic of this painting.

    It’s understandable that developers have their pressure on criticisms on them, as for *how many* articles Sakurai has written revolving this topic already. Though not sure about whatever he’s referring, I always do find the analogies very weird and objectionable. Not that I have too much problem with the game tho.

    Also, still no explanation on Wolf.

  9. I have to say, here, I agree with Sakurai, somewhat. He is doing a job here. Creating Smash and running it is an incredibly hard job, but it is still a job. He is getting paid to do these things, and enjoys a reasonable level of fame and prestige. However, it isn’t necessarily equal. For example, the references made above about people who quit the game when their character doesn’t make it in. For those people, the entire game and everything it represents means nothing if their character isn’t in it. For others, the small mechanics like inclusion of tripping or elimination of wave dashing mean the game is worthless. Those people look at the staggering amount of content and the titanic work required to create, program, pay for, include, market and release the game and dismiss all of that as garbage when there are things they don’t agree with. Think about anything you’ve ever put out and how anxious one gets when its received. When we do pay for our copy of these games, we are only buying a copy. These games aren’t intended for one person, they’re intended for a global audience, including those who’d never go online to discuss a video game. Asking a company to develop a game for only the intense, online competitive fanbase is asking them to hemmorage money, and that isn’t fair.
    But, there’s a catch: we did pay for these copies. We as a public, are allowed to criticize the things presented to us, expecially if we paid money for these things. To some of those criticizing the game, they paid for their copy with their money, often times with expectations. Hen they didn’t enjoy the product, they’re going to feel disappointed or angry. Part of releasing a piece of fiction is getting a broad range of opinions.
    I guess my comments about Lucas and Sakurai boil down to this: they need to understand the vocal internet presence isn’t everything, and toughen up a bit. But for us as fans, we need to understand that the people involved with creating the game often read comments about how its received. We need to get a better sense of empathy and realize blind hatred and trashing on a game is stupid and only serves to piss everyone off, with no positives. Sakurai put his heart and soul into something. No one ever thinks that you aren’t allowed to criticize something you bought and didn’t like, or a decision you didn’t agree with. But all these people want is for the fans to be aware of their hard work, for the fans to remember what went in to creating this massive thing.

  10. I think this is the reason why Episode VII is what it is. Abrams probably looked back at the prequels and just saw the criticism stick out much more than the positive reception, hence why Ep VII is exactly like the original. Like it or not there’s a massive part of the fanbase that loves the prequels, but unfortunately the haters just stick out like a sore thumb.
    What Sakurai has said here is really interesting, he has a very mature and respectful view on this

  11. im glad cloud is in the game. and i hope i can speak for everyone else whos glad hes in smash also. hes a few youtubers who are overjoyed at cloud being a smash chaaecter. Shofu, Black Nerd Comedy, Tyrone Magnus, That One Video Gamer, or just look up cloud smash reactions, dont stop putting 3rd party’s characters i,n its awesome

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