Posted on October 30 2014 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Sakurai is well known to be extremely dedicated to his work as a video game developer. While other top minds around Nintendo, such as Miyamoto, Aonuma, and Tezuka, are almost always busy making games year round… they don’t push themselves to have their fingers into every possible aspect of each game they make. Sakurai is the complete opposite – he wants to do everything himself… or at least have his hands on everything. This is well known, as he famously worked 13 months straight on Melee without a single day off. This time around he pushed himself again, which was harder than before since he’s gotten older. Here’s what he had to say in a special feature in Famitsu. These excerpts come from Kotaku:
“In his latest column in Weekly Famitsu, Sakurai took a moment to reflect on the development of the games. “Making things like this takes its toll.” Sakurai wrote. “Developing Smash Bros. destroys a lot of one’s private life.”
And how. As director of the game, Sakurai essentially oversees everything in Smash Bros. – a job that is made even more difficult due to the simultaneous development of two versions of the game. “I constantly consider leaving part of the work to someone else, but there’s just too much to see and handle.” Sakurai said. “As a result, I work from mornings to late nights, even on weekends and holidays. I hardly have any free time, let alone time to play other games.”
“This sort of work schedule is not a new thing for Sakurai. For Smash Bros. Melee, Sakurai noted that he worked for 13 months straight with not a single day off. “Towards the end, there were instances where I would work for 40 hours straight and then take 4 hours off to go home and sleep.” Sakurai recalled. Fortunately, for the latest Smash Bros. games, Sakurai hasn’t had such a heavy routine. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the workload itself was any lighter – quite the opposite, in fact. “I’m not young anymore so I can’t push myself like I did then, but I feel that the busyness due to the sheer amount of features [in the games] was much greater this time around. My routine was trying to complete my daily work every day while doing my best to maintain my health day after day.”
Sakurai noted that if there is to be another game, he definitely needs to reassess the workload. “I’ve passed my limit long ago.” Sakurai wrote. Even after the Wii U version of the game comes out, Sakurai still has follow-up work to do. “I wish I had time to think about what I want to do from here, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to be the case.”
Despite any momentary reassessments of his existence in this world, Sakurai is well aware that working on Smash Bros. is an opportunity he has been given that few others have. “I believe I should be thankful that I am given such funds to be able to use such iconic characters and content that represent Japanese games with such freedom, and have multitudes of people across the world play with them.” Sakurai admitted that his frank somber tone and somewhat grim reflection of the game development process in his column may not be a very smart move on his part, but he hopes that what he writes may serve as a reference for people who may be interested in working in the games industry. Sakurai concluded, “I’m not depressed and I continue to remain healthy and positive, but developing Smash Bros. is beyond hard.”
It’s good knowing that Sakurai is doing well and we all appreciate his dedication. Just like last time, we’ll all be hoping he gets some time off. Still, with DLC coming this time around, he doesn’t feel he’ll be getting that time off anytime soon. We appreciate his sacrifices. I can only hope he can move on to a Miyamoto role some day, but I don’t know if Sakurai will ever allow himself to be like that.