The Development of Majora’s Mask

DaveyNovember 25th, 2012 by Davey

An older interview that was recently translated by our friend, GlitterBerri, reveals the dynamic of the Majora’s Mask development team. Though some of the details are surprising, the way the final game turned out very much reflects the attitude of the team. Though Majora’s Mask is a unique Zelda game in that it was developed very shortly, this interview shows just how a Zelda game comes together. Hit the jump for more!

Firstly, what I find most interesting about this interview was that it took place on May 17, 2000, just after the Japanese release of Majora’s Mask but far before the North American and PAL releases, so the developers didn’t have a huge grasp of how the public would respond to the game, but they seemed to know it would be successful.

The overarching theme that Koizumi, Anouma, and Miyamoto expressed throughout the entire interview was that Majora’s Mask was put together in separate parts and had at most six directors focusing on different elements of the game. Because they worked off what the team had already done in Ocarina of Time, once development started the directors seemed to not collaborate together.

Aonuma: No, we don’t really talk about things like that. In short, I basically figured “Well, if Koizumi’s thinking he’ll do that, then I should be okay to do this.” Because we had the same team on both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, we already knew how things would turn out, even if they were never discussed.

This is not saying that there was no planning. Before staring any work developing the game, the directors came together to discuss concepts and form an idea of how the game was generally going to work. For Majora’s Mask, this process was about two to three months.

The basis of the game came from Miyamoto wanting to make a short Zelda game- something that could be completed more quickly than in the past, but inspired the player to replay the game over and over getting a more in-depth experience each time. Kind of “like a movie.” Because of this, Majora’s Mask was limited on dungeons (having only four, compared to the eight main dungeons in Ocarina of Time), and had much more side quests and extra experiences that would be discovered with subsequent play-through.

This is only the beginning of what the actual interview has to offer, though. To read the full text, head on over to the translation on GlitterBerri’s website. Keep in mind that this is only one of two parts that GlitterBerri has released so far!

What did you think of the interview? Did this give you a new perspective of Majora’s Mask? Tell us in the comments!

Source: GlitterBerri

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  • Linkfan99

    I would say first, but that would be an asinine thing to do.

  • Linkfan99

    Wow, I never thought of playing it through multiple times. That certainly would have helped me discover more of the sidequests. I had to go to a walkthrough to find all the masks, because I found it VERY challenging to discover all the secrets in one playthrough.

  • ZeldaFan4569

    Its interesting that the idea of Link being chased by the Deku was inspired by a dream Miyamoto

  • fanofzeldaa

    i think its a great idea….also i think that they should create a master quest for the game and add a new dungeon and a new world with some new masks….

  • Darkgreyfire

    Every Zelda game needs to have the deep and numerous side quests like Majora had. Character development was huge in that game too. you weren’t just doing quests for some random person, you knew their entire story.

    • hot apple Fi

      The Anju and Kafei side quest was the greatest side quest ever. That’s proof MM did it right.

    • Guest

      Goodness, I loved the Anju and Kafei quest. Can’t do a playthrough of MM without helping them. I’d like to see something of this depth included in another Zelda game sometime.

      But, I think sometimes you don’t need such an in-depth sidequest to get a sense of development or personality for an NPC. Consider in OoT, the soldier at the foot of Death Mountain in Kakariko Village. Guy just wants a Keaton mask for his son and asks you to get one for him, since he can’t leave his post. If you bring it to him, he’s very grateful, saying how happy his boy will be while humorously calling you Mr. Hero. Through that one very short sidequest, you learn that this soldier is a dedicated father, sticks to his duties, and actually has a rather sweet sense of humor. It’s no Anju and Kafei quest, that’s for sure, but it does transform the soldier from random person to more memorable character.

      • Linkfan99

        My perception on it was that was his excuse, but he really just wanted it to himself (seeing as he wears it all the time.)

    • fdfsd

      I agree with this very much so. I think this method of overworld design achieves what I want in a game. There is a main quest which is central to the game, yet a lot of the game is done when and how you want. These sidequests are not merely coincident occurences within the game world but an actual part of the story which is being told, not only allowing for player autonomy but also providing a larger more dynamic world to play in.

      Perhaps 5 and a bit dungeons with the same level of sidequests would be ideal for a Zelda game. Regardless i think Zelda games need more player autonomy and a change of themes and stories in the games.

  • Flamebolt91

    I think zelda should revisit termina

  • MiniJen

    I think that Majora’s Mask by far has the best side characters in an Zelda game. In other Zelda games, I find that the main characters of the game that you’re required to converse with (such as Tetra from WW, Ilia from TP, Groose from SS, ect.) are very well developed but all of the optional side characters involved in sidequests are for the most part largely uninteresting. But in Majora’s Mask, everyone has a story to tell. The sidequests are deep, intricate and often times emotional. I love the Anju and Kafei sidequest as much as anyone, but my personal favorite of them is the Romani and Cremia sidequests. Thoughout them, you come to learn the problems of these two sisters and it just feels so good when you help them. I can only hope that Nintendo makes another Zelda game with such well-thought out characters like those in Majora’s Mask.

    • Jordan DiPalma

      Watching the relationship of Cremia and Romani is simply awesome, especially seeing the different outcomes of how you help/don’t help them. Like Cremia’s attitude when you fail to protect Romani; she’s steeped with regret over choosing not to listen to her sister when she turned out to be right.
      Or, best of all, if you talk to them as they’re going to bed on the night of the third day. Cremia knows they may not wake up in the morning, but Romani is blissfully unaware and is simply excited to get her first taste of Chateau Romani… which her sister is probably only giving to her so her senses can be dulled when the moon hits. Powerful stuff.

  • orome the huntsmen

    I just want to know, who’s the director that was responsible to the Ikanana canyon region?

  • Oziel

    Pretty cool, thanks for translating!!