Smash Bros. Director Sakurai launches money-losing YouTube channel to talk about game design

Full English subtitles for series that starts with a 37-year-look at an important detail that often goes unnoticed.

As the director of the Super Smash Bros. video game series, Masahiro Sakurai has been a very busy guy for the last few years. The most recent entry, Super Smash Bros. Ultimateis the most ambitious entry is the series so far, starting with a huge roster of characters upon its release in 2018 and receiving multiple batches of new content since.

With Ultimate Finally adding its last DLC character late last year, there was speculation that Sakurai might retire from the video game industry. He’s said that’s not likely, though, and while he’s yet to start working on the development of a new game, Sakurai does have an exciting new project he’s just begun, as he’s launched his own YouTube channel!

To clarify, this isn’t Sakurai appearing in a series of videos at the behest of Nintendo, published of Smash Bros. and Kirby, the other series Sakurai is known for. The Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games channel is an independent project the 52-year-old game creator has started all on his own so that he can talk about the joyful art of game design, with the goal of “help[ing] make games around the world a little more fun.” As an especially cool touch, each and every video will be available with English subtitles.

Right off the bat, Sakurai acknowledges that “good design” and “fun games” are a matter of personal opinion ad perspective. He does, however, feel like there are some underlying principles and techniques that can provide a sort of universal appeal to games, and it’s those core concepts he wants to focus on. By his own admission, he won’t be delving into nitty-gritty technical aspects of programming, both to avoid revealing sensitive trade secrets and also to keep his videos accessible even for people without a background in technical fields.

▼ Part of Sakurai’s inspiration for starting the channel was a desire to reach a broader audience than he can with lectures given at technical schools and trade conferences.

Speaking of keeping things easily digestible, Sakurai says that he aims to keep his videos in the two-to-five-minute range. “Won’t that make it hard to monetize them?” you might be wondering, but that’s not a concern for Sakurai, since he won’t be placing any commercials in his videos, and is in fact fully intending to go into the red making them, explaining “Since I have to pay video editors and translators, I’ll lose more money the longer the series runs, but I want to do it anyway. I think of it as an investment in the video game industry.”

▼ As the director of the industry’s biggest crossover hit, Sakurai is all about showing love for other people’s games.

As long time fans already know, Sakurai is famous for his deep and broad appreciation of classic games, and he says he’ll be featuring several in his videos. Just how far back is he going? Well, in his first lecture, on the importance of using “stop effects” for dramatic effect and better communication from the game to the player, he draws a design link between Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Kirby’s Adventure, Fantasy Zone, and Defender, a span of 37 years of video game history.

▼ Sakurai, showing his love for stop effects and also helping gamers understand, 35 years later, one more reason why R-Type was so hard.

Sakurai also mentions that he’s gotten permission to share some behind-the-scenes looks at the development of games he helmed, such as early builds and design sheets for Smash Bros. games. The primary focus, though, is going to be on what sorts of design elements can make games more fun, and it looks like it’s going to all be presented with the positive and welcoming personality he’s become known for.

▼ And yes, he hosts the series from his highly coveted couch.

“I hope this can someday lead to more game creators down the line. That, in turn, will lead to more fun games for all of us to play,” Sakurai says in his introductory video, but even before that, it looks lie the series is going to be extremely interesting to watch.

Source: YouTube/Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games via Jin
Top image: Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games
Insert images: Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games (1, 2)
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