Within his Weekly Famitsu column, Masahiro Sakurai has shared a short excerpt from the last email that he received from late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.
That paints him as a man that “very rarely offered compliments or flattery,” but had commended Sakurai on his ability to recreate any image that he pictures in his mind.
“The president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, passed away on July 11th of last year,” Sakurai writes (translated by Source Gaming). “But until the end of June, we were still exchanging emails. This ended up being my last email from him, but I’ve decided to show you all an excerpt from this email.
“‘Sakurai-san, your ability to make the final image of what you want in your head ‘move’ is a very special thing you have. Actually, in this respect, you’re a rarity among even the entire games industry.’
“Mr. Iwata very rarely offered compliments or flattery. However, he excelled at conveying the true essence of something to other people in a simple, comprehensible way. Getting back to the main topic now, when you are making a game, having a strong grasp of what you want your finished product to look like is not easy. Mr. Iwata has worked hundreds, or maybe even thousands of game developers, so this is a statement that’s backed by his instincts, cultivated over his long work in the games industry.
“However, I think that it’s obvious, even normal, that the person behind the project plan would put a lot of thought into it from the beginning. Otherwise, you end up having to put in a lot of trial and error, and you put a larger burden on your development team. Costs pile up, completion seems to grow ever farther, and nothing good comes of it.
“For my projects, the project plan is usually very close to the final product, that fact can be seen in some of the information I’ve revealed in my columns or books. That doesn’t mean that I don’t change things during development, or that things go without a hitch, but most of the gameplay does not largely differ from what I had decided on in the beginning.”
Sakurai went on to continue to discuss the challenges that he faced as a developer, and how those in such role often risk “over-rationalising their work” by starting development before sufficiently planning for it.
He also touched on Iwata’s belief that programmers can solve even the most insurmountable problem, but that the game’s director must utilise their team’s chemistry and potential.