Update: the full recording of the panel is now available on YouTube!
Yesterday, at the Game Developers Conference 2017, Nintendo held a panel about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, called “Change and Constant: Breaking Conventions with Breath of the Wild”. The following people were there in order to talk more about the development of this very unique Zelda game:
- Hidemaro Fujibayashi (Director)
- Satoru Takizawa (Art Director)
- Takuhiro Dohta (Technical Director)
Unfortunately, the presentation was not streamed live, but it was recorded, with the recording to be uploaded on YouTube at a later date. Also, Nintendo did share some of the juiciest tidbits yesterday on Twitter, like they did for previous panels at other expos / trade events.
First, Nintendo showed what seemed to be a rather peculiar version of the original The Legend of Zelda game. What is it for? Well… keep reading!
One of the things the developers asked themselves during development was this: “How do we take a “passive” game, and create an “active” game?”. According to them, the existing conventions of the Zelda series were for “passive games”, which is why they had to get rid of them in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
In previous Zelda games, you had:
- impassable walls
- predetermined sequence of events
- predetermined experience
… and you could easily find the solution on the internet.
With this game, the development team looked at the boundaries of previous Zelda games, and designed around them. This gave birth to a new freedom of expression and gameplay. And by allowing players to interact with objects, and having those objects react to the world, they made The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a much more active game than its predecessors.
Remember the peculiar version of the original The Legend of Zelda game mentioned above? Well, turns out it’s a 2D prototype that was created in order bring these ideas to life and present them to the team. It was the quickest way to do so. Fun fact: that protytpe was actually 3D, running the game’s physics and “chemistry” engine in the background!
Speaking of Physics and Chemistry, those two are the main elements of the game. Naturally, the first one refers to the physics engine, while the second is about all the reactions being connected to the world (and of course, Link).
With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the developers really gave players a high degree of freedom. They can do whatever they want, including… rolling a boulder all the way to the final boss, if they want.
Takuhiro Dohta, Technical Director, said the following about the increase in freedom and complexity:
My excitement was coming not as a developer, but as a player.
One of the thing they really wanted to do was for players to have moments where they could think “Wow! I”m a genius!” after interacting with the world.
After that, we were shown two emails from Eiji Aonuma to the development team, where he announces that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would also be released on the Nintendo Switch… and at launch to boot. You can see the emails in the gallery below! One thing the development team was really impressed: the portability of the Nintendo Switch.
When developing the game, the team came up with some pretty wild ideas, such as Hyrule Wars, or The Legend of Zelda: Invasion with… an alien invasion. The ideas for Link’s design were also pretty wild: the designers came up with Biker Link, Tracksuit Link and even rockstar Link!
About the art-style, the team used The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD as a base, with the following slogan to “guide” them: “Refreshing and full-flavored!”. Here’s how Satoru Kitazawa (Art Director) summarised the game’s art style: “The reconciliation between the concepts of playability and reality”.
With this game, he wanted to “to impress “Gutto Kuru” upon a player: “To stir the soul.””, and to do this, it was necessary to break the conventions of the Zelda series.
Here’s pictures from the presentation:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U, Switch) comes out on March 3rd, worldwide.