Zelda: BotW GI interview: Getting away from Zelda traditions, making dying fun, what games Aonuma plays & much more

The following information comes from a Game Informer interview with Eiji Aonuma...

On stepping away from the usual Legend of Zelda development process

In the recent years, Zelda games have become like a development order and workflow that we followed. We wanted to create something that wasn't that. We wanted to go off the rails a bit.

On stepping out of the Zelda comfort zone

We had to redefine how we develop games. In the past we took an approach where we would create small areas and patch them together, but then we realized that we couldn't do that with this huge world. When we created this huge world, we first had to figure out what we needed to place on the map. So we figured that out, and then we would play the game every day and revisit it, and figure out if those elements we placed would actually work in those areas.

We would have (the staff) play the game over and over repeatedly and really have them take the time to understand what they were creating, as well as understanding the whole entire world as we were creating this game together.

We created a rather huge area where people can explore, but we soon realized that when you restirct these areas and create a boundary, then people always want to go outside of it and wonder, "What is out there? What is on the other side of the boundary?" I realized that I had to take out the boundaries and create this area where players will be able to freely roam around.

Fun in dying

I wanted to create a game where users could have fun dying. If you wanted to, you can go fight the final boss from the get-go, you don't have enough power or stats, so you can't defeat the boss. But through trial and error, we want the user to figure out when they may be ready to battle the final boss and know when that time is, which they can decide on their own.

If there is a little spike of difficulty, you can always go around it and avoid it until you are stronger or you are ready to fight it. You can always revisit that difficult area you may have encountered.

Link the loner

Link is kind of a lone wolf in this game. I wanted to create that feeling so that whenever he encounters somebody, he has the element of, "Oh, I just saw somebody!" and the warmth that you would feel.

Companion characters in the past have always navigated and showed the path, and because we wanted players to choose their own path, we didn't want the companion element there to distract the players.

Aonuma on playing other games and their influences

In the past, I didn't play many video games. Then I realized this isn't right. I have to. So nowadays, I actually play a lot of overseas titles. I played Skyrim. Grand Theft Auto? I'm not really into violence that much, so I don't play it. I also played Witcher and Far Cry. While playing those games, I do find some ideas, but it's not that it connects directly to Zelda to where I would take something and use it in Zelda. It's more of something I keep in the back of my head while developing the game.

On letting players figure things out on their own

I heard that American users are more eager to figure things out on their own, rather than having to go and find certain items in certain places. I am actually the same way. I wanted to add that element to Breath of the Wild.

On telling the staff about the Switch port

Asking the staff to change it was difficult for me. I actually went back and created a proposal for my staff that said, "Hey, if you do this, then maybe you can fix this area," and I had to make that proposal to the staff and beg them to do it. Those changes are gameplay related, so they are reflected on both platforms.

Aonuma on finding surprises right at the end of development

Right before we completed the game, I actually started from scratch with a new game. I was trying to explore areas I remembered from my memory, but I kept finding these new elements, and I realized how huge a world I had actually created. That was right before we had finished the game, so you could tell I was surprised.


Omg I can't wait to play this game on the 3rd.

<3 Jeez I really feel like the bigwigs at Nintendo are in a fantastic mind set right now. Give us a new Nintendo golden era before the new kids on the block have their turn.

They really do all have a noticeable confidence in what they are saying. It goes beyond PR.

Zelda, the Mario Kart Port, and Splatoon directors have all seemed genuinely enthusiastic. Even Kimishima has a certain swagger in how well the Switch will do.

Much different from their Wii U, Federation Force, Mario Tennis Wii U and Paper Mario personas.

Wed Feb 08 17 08:22pm
Rating: 1

I agree with you whole-heartedly just like I did with your comment about Kimishima.

Every time Aonuma opens his mouth about Breath of the Wild, I get re-hyped all over again. Nintendo seems to have reclaimed their swagger and I'm enjoying the ride!

I know it's important to have a new generation of leadership ready to lead Nintendo one day, but the older guys definitely still have a lot left in the tank.

hmmmm the lone wolf quote is concerning. i really dont wanna wander a super sparse world.

I don't think he was referring to the emptiness of the world so much as he was referring to Link not having a Midna, Fi, or Navi guiding the way this time around.

well that does make more sense. I didnt think of it that way.

No Tat'l ???


Wed Feb 08 17 10:12pm
Rating: 1

Haha Thank you! I was trying to think of what that fairy's name was! Sad thing is, I just replayed MM3D not that long ago.

Wed Feb 08 17 11:56pm
(Updated 1 time)

This is the Zelda I have been waiting for. I want to explore the world and not be hand-held the whole way. I can't wait for March 3rd!

Dying in games has always been fun when done right. Dark Souls made dying really enjoyable, and Fire Emblem and XCom made death matter in a way that tied you to your characters on an emotional level. The same is true for "losing". Losing can be very fun with the right mindset. A lot of more casual gamers appear to find offense to a game having a high sill ceiling, which I disagree with. Of course, if you go into it thinking "Losing sucks", not only will you never enjoy the game on a deeper level, but you are asking for fun to be taken away from those who actually want to master the game mechanics. Losing is fun when you look at it as a learning experience.

Then what happened to Skyward Sword, for ya? lol I'm just messin.

Losing's fun when you can understand what mistakes drove you to losing. When it's your character having a stroke on screen, wailing at an electrified enemy when you are perfectly still, I admit, it gets frustrating. Honestly, there's an art in making difficulty fun.

Yeah, I know it wasn't perfect but it worked pretty well from my experience and I finished it. Efficient enough to where most times I got hit I felt it was more my fault for not changing angle quick enough but there are times I know it wasn't me.

Dying in Dark Souls was pretty nice because the only things you lost were your souls (and humanity, if you had it). Then finding your Souls created a new challenge. Shovel Knight took this same approach and even added a risk-reward system for dying.

Dark Souls 2 ruined this by making you lose some of your Max HP every time you died. Seriously, how is that fun? That just makes things more frustrating.

If I remember correctly, the creators of Super Meat Boy had a great write up on difficulty and fairness in death and fairness in punishment.

Actually, the lost HP comes from Demon's Souls. I wa sokay with it since you can always reset that HP back with humanity.

Still, I think it is fun to be totally destroyed by a game, so long as you don't perceive that you've been cheated out of valuable time for it. For example, I'm fine getting killed in Ikaruga since the run itself was quite fun. I'm fine being beaten by a better Melee player since I'm actually still progressing skill-wise. When I recently tried Fire Emblem Heroes and saw the stamina system that limits how long you can play the game, losing in that game is infuriating. Losing means that not only you didn't make any progress, but you are blocked from making further progress for quite a while.

Furthermore, there's also the skill factor. A loss must be felt as if they were deserved. For instances, in Mario Maker stages, all obstacles must be seen in advance. You can't have leaps of faiths. If you can't see the platform below, you got to have a trail of coins guiding your jumps. I think level editors are a nice way to learn about balancing difficulty.

While I am super hyped for this game, and I believe it has a big chance to become one of my new absolutely favorite games ever, I WILL be sad if we never get a more traditional 3D Zelda as well. I still love them lots, and I would hate to completely lose them.

I hope that, in the very least, the next 2D/Top Down Zelda will be more traditional (though a slightly more open world than ALBW is fine).

Thu Feb 09 17 06:31am
Rating: 1

But this is traditional. This is more like the very first game that came out O-o

XD I meant more, like, 'traditional 3D Zelda', rather than just traditional Zelda. ^^ I love the first Zelda, and I love how this game does what it did, but in glorious 3D. I'd just miss the games like Ocarina, Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Smile

Someone knows what version the latest footages are from? Specially the trailers.


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