In his video series introducing aspiring developers to the basics of game development, Super Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai recommends viewers give VR a try to understand what it does uniquely well.
Masahiro Sakurai has had an illustrious career in game development. Though best known as the creator and director of the Super Smash Bros series, the first game in the series was actually his fourth game. He first got his start back in 1992 with another franchise you’ve probably heard of… Kirby.
With 30 years of experience under his belt, Sakurai recently started up his own YouTube channel to share his game design philosophy with the world. The series, straightforwardly called Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games, covers everything from game pitching to game design to managing a dev team—all in bite-sized videos that are short, sweet, and geared toward aspiring developers.
Sakurai briefly touched on VR in one of his recent videos that focused on choosing the right field-of-view for a given game. Speaking of both VR’s strengths and weaknesses, he ultimately encourages his viewers to give VR racing games a try to understand what a VR headset brings to the table in terms of field-of-view and immersive first-person perspective.
In racing games, a cockpit viewpoint would probably feel the most realistic. And yet, I feel like most developers tend to go for something different [like a third-person point of view]. [First-person] can make the game hard to play, since the screen space available for actual gameplay ends up severely decreased [because of the limited view out the car’s windshield].
You could try playing VR instead, but the lower resolution will make distant objects too blurry to really see. That’s a problem when the player is using it to see more. And when driving in real life, you can glance sideways like this… but the only way to do that in VR is to turn your entire head.
Still, I recommend you overlook these downsides and give VR racing a try, even just once. Motion sickness is always a possibility, but for games that separate your viewpoint and direction of travel, VR is truly the perfect fit. Back to the topic at hand…
Despite clearly appreciating the unique experience that a VR headset can bring to a game, Sakurai hasn’t created any VR content himself. According to NintendoLife, back in 2015 Oculus offered to contract Sakurai to create a VR game, but ultimately he declined, citing the medium’s small audience size.
While the VR audience is still far from the size of mainstream gaming at large, it has no doubt increased significantly since 2015; I wonder what if Sakurai would make of the VR landscape today.