Most secret “developer rooms” in video games come in two varieties. Either they’re filled with fun development trivia (Pokémon, The Stanley Parable) or bonus bosses whom players can defeat as an easter egg (Diablo III, Vampyr). The secret room in Sports Story is neither of these. Instead, players will find a room filled with developers who hate each other, their project, and possibly themselves. It’s hauntingly cynical, and perhaps the most accurate portrayal of the game’s rocky development.
You can access the room by entering the “Lens” store and pushing the leftmost cardboard boxes in the order shown in the video embedded above. After running through the walls, you’ll come across a colorful room filled with game developers. All of them are extremely honest—maybe a little brutally so.
Sports Story is an RPG follow-up to 2017’s Golf Story that was originally supposed to release in 2020. It finally launched on the Nintendo Switch last month, and the reviews were mediocre. Players who bought the game at launch reported issues with being stuck in certain parts of the world, and the developers worked on a patch during the holidays. After seeing the clusterfuck happening inside of the developers’ room, it seems that at least some of the developers knew about Sports Story’s faults all along.
“Our new game will be coming out any day now,” says the businessperson who is presumably in charge of the game. One of their staff immediately cuts in: “You said that a year ago!” Unperturbed, he continues: “You might say that we’re experiencing a troubled development.” The programmer doesn’t let them off easy. “You might also say somebody kept requesting new features and my original vision no longer exists.” Someone in the corner is clearly feeling left out of the conversation: “One might even venture to say we should have made the game work instead of adding features,” they say. The developers in this room are working on a fictional game called Galf, an obvious nod to Golf Story.
The discord doesn’t stop there. Two game writers start fighting over who is better at writing characters. The team’s sole programmer starts to have what seems to be a mental breakdown, but that doesn’t stop the other developers from blaming them over cut features. I feel so bad for this programmer. I just want to reach out and tell them that everything will be okay. Will their hard work impress critics? Not really. But at least their suffering will eventually end.
Kotaku reached out to Sidebar Games to ask how many members of the development team knew about the secret room, and why they implemented it in the first place. We did not receive a response by the time of publication. Personally, I’m guessing that the people who are being lambasted probably didn’t sign off on it.
The conversations aren’t one-sided mudslinging, though. Nobody in the room looks like the “good guy,” and the avatars even acknowledge it. “We both made mistakes,” said the cinematic writer. “It’s not as if one of us is right and one of us is wrong.”