In the column he regularly writes for Famitsu magazine, Masahiro Sakurai (creator of both Kirby and the Smash Bros. series) mentioned pain in his right arm and hand last month. This week, he reported on the full diagnosis, and from the sounds of things, it's an enormous pain.
"I think the one word I've said the most this year, by far, is 'Ow!'" he wrote. "Not only am I getting calcific tendonitis, but they've also found what are apparently several ruptures in the muscles. My upper arm hurts, and there's this chronic dull pain in my elbow joint as well. On the lower arm, there's this feeling of fatigue around the flexor muscles that turns into pain when I use a keyboard or game controller with my fingers.
"There's no instant cure for it, so all I can do is either block the pain with injections or put my arm in a cast to keep the ruptures from spreading. I was told that the important thing was to keep my arm as rested as possible. In order to get it fully healed, the only thing is to not use my right arm or hand. So not only am I using a trackball with my left hand; now I'm using it to eat, brush my teeth, wash my hair, and even drive as much as I'm able to."
Being without the use of one arm for an extended period of time is not exactly conducive to leading a software project, especially one as high-profile as the next Smash Bros. "As a director, I don't have much time in the weekdays to proceed along with my own work," Sakurai explained. "The entire day is spent overseeing other people, holding meetings, working on other proposals, making visits elsewhere and so on. If I can get everything squared away, then I can work on my own stuff, but most of the time there's just an overwhelming lack of time. Often I go in on my off-days to catch up on my own work, but with my body going on me like this, I have to cut these extra days out of my schedule and even with that I can't use my right arm very much to control things. If this disorder lingers, or if it never gets fixed, there's no telling what impact that would have on the project."
In addition to lamenting that the current pain is preventing him from playing Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Sakurai noted that, until his right arm gets better, he's forced to gnarl his left hand around a game controller in order to do any sort of playtesting work on the current version of Smash Bros. "I've had to control two characters at once in a lot of game projects up to now," he said, "so as long as I keep it to simple moves, this works well enough. It doesn't go that easy with the Nintendo 3DS version, though, and the debug camera is pretty hard to control. Still, now I realize how important it is to have your health. I'm glad I'm still in good enough shape to work."