Community Council: The Builders

When you gaze around the room in any platform fighter event, you see the pros and their throngs of fans, the casual players grinning at their first tournament, and of course setup after setup, each crammed with competitors. There are also those who you don’t see – those whose work happens between events, those who tirelessly grow the scene, and those who live behind the curtain of the main stage.

As we sought the best and brightest for our Community Council, we knew we needed those voices as well. Today we'd like you to meet Arda and Sesh, the community builders who are shaping development.

Meet the builders

Arda “Ish” Aysu
Arda is quietly everywhere. Starting in New Jersey with the release of Super Smash Bros: Brawl, he relentlessly advanced the metagame for his favorite character, Wolf, both in his local scene and through online forums. Along the way, Arda learned Brawl backwards and forwards, eventually leading ambitious community projects such as the character match-up chart.

With the release of Smash 4, Arda has shifted his attention towards encouraging new players and tournament organizers to build a lively local scene in his current region, NorCal. Arda’s extensive knowledge of the more recent platform fighters makes him a powerful complement to the more Melee-focused members of the Council.

Sesh “Sesh” Evans
As a passionate competitor and an advocate for women in the scene, Sesh works tirelessly to grow the platform fighter community for everyone. To Sesh, helping new players join the scene is the best way to create diversity, strength and solidarity within the community. She knows the game is competitive at all levels – especially high levels. But for beginners, it's more about playing rather than just winning. Everyone has to start from somewhere.

Plus, Sesh literally knows how to put on a show. A film industry veteran, she sees gaming as a media production designed to delight the viewing audience. As eSports continues to drive a collision between videogames and media production, folks like Sesh are critical to creating experiences that engage both players and spectators.

eSports Are About the Players

Companies don’t build eSports. Players do. Arda and Sesh, along with Charlie and Hugo, have spent years building their respective communities, crafting them into grassroots engines that grow all on their own. This time around, we’ll see what they can do with full developer support behind them.

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Smash 64’s Re-Emergence Means Big Things For Platform Fighters

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It’s fitting that a tournament named Genesis would set the stage so well for the next era of Platform Fighters. Much has been written about the historic tournament series, which helped revitalize competitive Smash in 2009. By all accounts, the third installment set a new bar for grassroots tournaments. This time, it also hinted at just how high that bar can go.

We went to Genesis to learn more about how a new Platform Fighter can break into the tournament scene. We wanted to know how players train, why they chose that particular game, and what drives them to attend tournaments in the first place. With the genre poised to break out in 2016, what will it take for a new title to join the giants, Melee and Smash 4?

We found one answer in a surprising place: the original Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64.

The Smash 64 Moment

At 238 entrants, Smash 64's Genesis 3 event stands alongside the largest Melee tournaments up through 2013. By comparison, in 2011 the Smash 64 tournament at Genesis 2 had just 22 players. We wanted to find out what was motivating players to turn out in spades.

We expected many of the Smash 64 players we spoke with to say they came to see Isai, and indeed many players cited the reclusive legend as what inspired them to get into competitive 64. With Genesis 3 happening on Isai’s home turf, we knew he would drive turnout. (We even designed our wristbands after his famous advice.) However, the previous Genesis was also held in the Bay Area, and didn’t see nearly the same turnout.

When we asked what prompted players to attend this tournament, the most common answer was “the community.” There is a pervasive sense that the community is just getting started, thanks to the meticulous efforts of sites like onlinessb.com. An official Genesis 3 crowdfunding campaign flew out some of the best Japanese players, and a grassroots player fund raised an additional $3,300 to bring players from Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Australia and Canada.

With their Hori controllers in hand, Smash 64 fans told us origin stories of witnessing the game, through YouTube videos or in person, played at a much higher level than they thought possible. A thriving online platform allows players to spar even if they don’t have a local partner, and online tournaments regularly break 150 entrants. 

Players cited Smash 64’s approachability, relative to Melee, alongside the feeling that the competitive scene was just starting to hit its stride. These players relished the chance to ramp up their skills and compete on a new stage.

With Smash 64 joining Melee and Smash Wii U, we witnessed three thriving, but very different, Platform Fighters celebrating their communities at Genesis. Each Smash game at Genesis was as distinct as Street Fighter from Mortal Kombat, with unique strategies and play styles that appeal to very different players.

There was a time that the Smash community believed just one game could support a competitive scene at a time. We’ve proven that to be false. Our community has grown to cherish the different nuances of each game, from the acrobatics of Melee to the daisychained finishers of Smash 64

As we look to see just how big Platform Fighters can get, the dazzling attendance numbers of Melee and Smash Wii U lead the way, but Smash 64 proves this is a long term, sustainable trend. As new entries join the fray, the audience – and the genre – will flourish.

Huge thanks to everyone who chatted with us at Genesis. We have a lot more to share.

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Community Makes The Best Games

Today we want to introduce you to a team that helps us stay true to the community. The fittingly named Community Council is a formal body of players teaming up with us to shape the game we all want to play.

The Council includes leading minds from throughout the community. We’re proud to announce two of the seven members today – two players you’ll probably see a lot of on stream this weekend. 

Announcing Our First Council Members

Hugo "HugS" Gonzalez – We were eyeing Hugo for our dream team from the moment we started the project. An active smasher since 2004, his relentless work ethic earned him a top-20 MIOM ranking in 2015, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Charles “Cactuar” Meighen – The game moves in slow motion for Charles, a.k.a. Cactuar, a.k.a. Cactus. The 10-year Melee veteran combines a deep knowledge of the game’s mechanics with detailed research in competitive psychology, which have made him one of the most respected coaches in the scene.

HugS and Cactuar help us spot the hidden nuances that drive high level tournament play, and to better understand the implications of a wide range of design decisions.

We’re excited to share the remaining Council members in coming weeks, along with content directly resulting from their involvement. Follow our trip to Genesis at @WeWavedash, and wish Cactus and HugS luck.

Time to run off to our pools!

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Let's Make a Platform Fighter

The rumors are true! We're proud to announce that we're building the next great Platform Fighter, one inspired by Super Smash Bros., engineered for eSports, and crafted by the community.

Early in 2015, we had a feeling we just couldn't shake: that the Platform Fighter community was ready for something new, and that we could build it. We owe our professional existence to Super Smash Bros. After getting our start through Smash tournaments, we went on to build game industry careers with the hope to one day create a title that affects others' lives the way Smash affected ours. With Platform Fighters about to hit the mainstream, now is the time.

 Tournament victory poses are way better than company headshots

Tournament victory poses are way better than company headshots

We spent the better half of 2015 interviewing, researching and testing with everyone we could corner, hitting events like Super Smash ConParagon LA, and Big House 5. You shared the same vision that had been keeping us awake at night. A developer-supported, grassroots-powered platform fighter. Free-to-play, in the same mold as the current most popular eSports, that grows the audience by an order of magnitude. Short, intense, endlessly watchable combat that thrives in the Twitch era. A game that is tournament-ready, with both online and offline events. One that has the character archetypes you've come to master, but brings something new to challenge you.

Production has begun. Join us for the journey by following us on Twitter, as we'll be discussing development, eSports, and the many things necessary to make a community-built game.

Join Us At Genesis

January 15-17, we will be at Genesis 3 to conduct research, interview players, and, of course, compete. If you're attending, we'd love to hear from you!

Tweet at us to set up a friendly. We'll even have some schwag to give out. Tell us what you want in a Platform Fighter, and have a voice in the next era of eSports.

We'll see you there. Let's play.