If you were to give advice to a developer on their future games, say Yoko Taro, what you say to them?
Yoko Taro? I have no idea besides learn to balance attack strength and don’t make melee attacks such shit and so boring. Now Kenji Saito or Hideki Kamiya, I have some really simple comments. Keep the damn combo list limited. Introduce more command moves. Bring back hard lock. Allow fast weapon switching.
Aonuma, increase enemy aggression, add more attack types, cut down hitstun, increase knockback on hit, increase variety in enemy movement patterns. Add more enemy types that damage on hit or that charge into you, damaging on hit. Also, seriously, focus more on combat, less on puzzles. Add more solutions to the puzzles you do have. Take some inspiration from Tetris.
Hideo Kojima, he’s alright.
Whoever directs half life at this point, stop putting in so many damned interactive cutscenes. Vary the enemy types more. Vary the weapon types more Include more wacky physics glitches that don’t overshadow existing forms of movement.
Miyamoto, go back to the mario sunshine secret levels. Make new levels that are as focused, but still open to interpretation as that. Skip the putzing around, scavenger hunt, and collectathon elements. Also put more effort into a 2d mario game than NSMB.
Warren Specter, stop being so obsessed by choices and focus on how simulation can create compelling dynamic challenges.
John Romero, don’t expect people to want to buy your game just because your level design is good. People need to be interested in the mechanics too.
Koji Igarashi, pump up the level design, tone down the RPG elements. Increase the lethality of enemies and the player.
Sakurai, quit eliminating glitches or techniques in the name of making a game appeal to all audiences. Maybe include less pointlessly complex subsystems and focus on the primary mechanics more.
Fumito Ueda, capitalize on the natural physics interactions to create dynamic climbing challenges instead of stupid puzzles.
Suda 51, focus on substance instead of just style.
Itagaki, don’t make another devil’s third.
Sakamoto, Fuck Off.
Shinji Mikami, please make another Vanquish or God Hand or some type of crazy action game again.
What pointlessly complex subsystems were you referring to when talking about Sakurai? DI, vectoring, something else?
No, things like trophies, achievement grids, crafting, stickers, equipment, wacky stages. A tetris style grid for equipping extra abilities. Custom Moves for every character. Random items with all sorts of zany effects. He kind of lost the plot after brawl (and sort of with brawl too, he had the achievement grid, sticker system, etc). Kid Icarus was loaded with way more stuff than it needed to be.
Sakurai seems to want to give the player as many options as possible for everything to the point of overload.
His gameplay systems are usually fine though, and benefit from the extra complexity until he patches it out because hardcore players are the literal devil.
What are you thoughts on how much a game director influences a game vs the studio? think of people who say that 64/Melee were good because of HAL working on those games, as opposed to Sakurai/Tri-Ace/Namco making Brawl/4…do you think it’s Sakurai being inconsistent, or does studio matter more?
My thoughts are that corporate environments vary a lot from company to company. I have a guess that the opposite is true for platinum, which I’ve gone into detail before, but for Sakurai’s games that might be true. Also Satoshi Iwata himself went into crunch to debug melee before release. There were a lot of factors at work, and Sakurai seems to have changed in mentality between melee and brawl, so it’s hard to say what the real story is. It’ll remain a secret unless we have more of a window into the development process.
Who do you consider the best two or three game designers working rn?
No one. Everyone’s too inconsistent for me to pick a best or even a favorite. Except I think Sirlin is really consistent, but he didn’t make my favorite games.
Sakurai made melee, but also brawl and smash 4.
Miyamoto doesn’t work anymore practically.
Hideki Kamiya didn’t make DMC3 and 4, and I’m not really excited for scalebound.
Kenji Saito is still unproven
Shinji Mikami will probably never make another crazy action game.
Itsuno’s DMC3 and 4 had drawbacks in enemy design, and dragon’s dogma is probably alright but doesn’t seem as good as DMC3/4, nor competitors like dark souls.
Itagaki is a cookie. Also Devil’s Third was unfortunate.
Igarashi doesn’t really know what made castlevania great besides nonlinear design.
Inafune is a con man.
I guess Hidetaka Miyazaki is alright since the B team did Dark Souls 2, which was still pretty good. We’ll see what’s up with him in whatever follows.