Integrating Multiple Transportation Styles

HanyouJanuary 5th, 2013 by Hanyou

Pretty much anyone who’s played a Zelda game in the last ten years should know what a transportation overworld is. After Ocarina of Time, which introduced the non-essential but compelling Epona, the series as a whole gravitated toward worlds designed around transportation.

It started with Majora’s Mask, with sections of the overworld requiring either Epona, Goron Link, or Zora Link. They each offered their own form of transportation that regular Link could not access. Majora’s Mask’s tighter overworld made things more interesting.

The Wind Waker, of course, followed suit, with the King of Red Lions being required to traverse long stretches of ocean. Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword were, like The Wind Waker, clearly defined by the transportation choices made by the developer. I’ve gotten the sense in this community and others that people are growing tired of these overworlds. While I’ve never personally minded it, I’ve always wondered if Nintendo could do anything different with it.

The answer is obvious: an overworld integrating multiple forms of transportation, many of them non-essential, might flow more freely, feel more realistic, and better allow for exploration. As I said before, we’ve already seen the multiple transportation options in Majora’s Mask. Rather than feel limiting, that game often felt liberating, even if they were all essential.

How could it work with actual forms of transportation and not just masks? Imagine trotting to the coast of a sea, hitching a ride on a boat (an alternative to swimming, which is an option, but is much slower), sailing to an island of giant gulls, taming one on the fly, and soaring to a floating city–all without interruption. It might be hard to integrate, but it might just be worth it, as seamlessly-flowing overworlds were a staple of the Zelda series before Ocarina of Time.

With better technology comes more options, and I’d like to to see developers using the opportunity to take some conventional ideas that they once had to place at the center of games and expanding the range of possibilities. In this way, transportation could be liberating, not restrictive, and could infuse the series with more freshness than the separate, one-at-a-time approach to overworlds. Given the developers’ experiments with transportation, most of which have been successful, combining and incorporating them into a more natural environment seems like the logical next step.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001759639093 Kristin Laflin

    Non-essential transportation is cool, I just like having warp points/songs. Fast travel is awesome like that.

    • DICKSUCKER

      Tell me about it! XD

    • Midnafan

      Anyone else aim for their fastest time getting somewhere or playing an ocarina song?

  • The Hylian Monolith

    this could fail miserably if Nintendo messes up, which would be petty easy to do. But if they’re successful, then it could make the game so much more interesting and realistic. Other than that? Um…

    I’m tired. I don’t feel like typing. Go away.

    • Midnafan

      It’s kind of weird, all the ways we know Nintendo can mess up. We still love ‘em anyways. :D

  • lan lan cow

    Moo. Why not ride a cow?. Moo. Just as heroic as Epona, and you get free milk for healing. Mooooooo.

    • zombie_eat_flesh

      Are you sure you’re not that cow stuck in a hole on Death Mountain?

      • Midnafan

        Took me forever to figure out where the hell that mooing was coming from…

      • Jeredendonnar

        Or the one stuck in Gibdo Well?

    • Midnafan

      Ma. Why not ride a goat? Ma. Just as ornery as Epona, and you get free hypoallergenic milk. Maaaaa. :P

      • Gyorg’s company waddle doo

        anybody else thinking about the bokoblins who ride the Ordon goats in link’s crossbow training?

        • Midnafan

          that’s awesome.

    • Gyorg’s company waddle doo

      A cow….No..What we need is a bull!!!or a mamoth……one of those….oh and a wolf might do the job….but no orange eating carrot beast please…

      Madam Jones.

      • soul

        just make it……so link himself can fly!

    • h41O F4n 8oY

      How about a UNSC M-12 Force Application Vehicle(a.k.a “Warthog”)?

      • Marzo

        Yeah, I wouldn’t mind this. Then we could play Zelda games co-op, and have our friend on the turret.

      • DeaderHand

        No. Gawd just no.

    • zombie_eat_flesh

      Why exactly do we keep thumbing this guy up, besides this time when he has an actual point?

    • Link_The_Ultimate_Chronomancer

      Eat Mor Chiken.

    • Dark Majora

      Moooooooo?

  • firecrb

    I actually don’t mined large over-world’s and transportation as long as there’s a lot to explore and and stuff to get

    • Midnafan

      yeah, but i think the problem people have is half the time, there isn’t any of that stuff. Take ST for example. I hardly consider bunnies and blowing up rocks a lot to do.

    • Tired

      Except there’s never that stuff. WW maybe a bit, but TP and SS both were empty to the point of tedium when exploring.
      Unless you consider searching every crevice to find bugs “a lot to explore and and stuff to get”.

  • Spaghettilover

    Many different types of transportations over the years of zelda gaming. Here is to 27 years of Legend of Zelda greatness and to zelda years onward!

    • Midnafan

      (/o.o/) woo!

  • Midnafan

    Honestly, I could do without transportation again. One of my beefs with ST is that there was NO exploration in between the destinations, and that’s half the problem with transportation focused games: the focus becomes the destination, not the journey. I enjoyed TP because there were so many nooks and crannies to explore along the way, which can hardly be said for the transportation games. Part of what makes Zelda so great is the exploration, and getting rid of this transportation focus could bring that back. Isn’t the fun and the experience in the journey, not the destination? I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t get much out of starting to sail, and having nothing better to do but either sit there and wait or walk away from the TV. -_-

    • Link_The_Ultimate_Chronomancer

      “Sit there and wait and listen to the music” you mean. But that was the point of WW’s overworld. It’s supposed to give you that feeling of an endless ocean. There was exploration with the massive overworld WW gave you, too. Granted, there wasn’t much to do BUT explore. They hid the same amount of pieces of heart and such in an overworld what, 5? times the size. Matching your explored areas of the map to treasure charts helped (sort of).

    • DeaderHand

      Yeah, when I first saw the trailer that showed the world that link was now going to be conducting a train, I buried my face in my hands and moaned “Why nintendo? WHYY??”
      It still turned out to be a decent game though, despite the fact that it was a hand held Zelda title. Handheld games have never held a candle to console games when it comes to exploration though.

    • jollyroger919

      I love how you say Zelda needs more exploration and then go on to bash the game that employed more of it than ANY Zelda game to exist. You’ve clearly never played Wind Waker.

      • Midnafan

        Well i don’t think you get what i mean. yes, WW had a lot of exploration. but approximately how much of that exploring were you actually doing anything? collecting something, finding a treasure, searching a hidden cave, blowing up rocks for some extra cash or just finding new shortcuts? while I’ve just barely started WW myself, from my understanding there’s almost none of that while traveling, and i certainly didn’t see any in PH, ST, and the sky in SS didn’t have much to show either. that’s why i like Hyrule Field in TP and OoT, because there was all that stuff to do, more so in TP.

  • BunniHood

    Pokemon Silver had a subway, routes between all the cities, a ferry, and fly. Skyrim had fast travelling, horse-carriages, and probably some other stuff. Runescape had god knows how many forms of travel, from fairy rings to magic spells. All of these games gave a pretty great sense of a real, bustling world. If Zelda could implement these features, it would have this feel too. I see where you’re coming from, Hanyou!

    • Omenya

      Zelda games aren’t sandbox games, if you had fast travel you could finish the games in half has much time and would just ruin them.

      • guest-ZeldaBoy

        It would ruin all the fun…Heck, LEGO creator was (possibly) the first LEGO game, it was sandbox, and hecka fun, but put it too a storyline…it’s just too easy.

    • Tired

      Pokemon has hours upon hours of typical RPG leveling to fill the time.
      Skyrims fast traveling was complete bull, there’s absolutely no consequence for doing it and all you had to do was find the city, shouts or magic involved? Not a chance! The players just randomly get it for free! It was already tried in Zelda with TP anyway.
      Runescape is a MMO. An M-M-O. IE bloated oversized world for 15 million players. No duh it needs a better form of travel.

      I don’t get why in the last 3 games the devs haven’t looked at themselves and asked “Why do we even need a massive overworld?”

      Both MM and OoT weren’t large at all, and yet they’re the best of the 3D series, WW was a novelty but after that it was just annoying. Which reminds me, I seriously hope that rumor of them saying “(Wii U Zelda)’s the LARGEST Zelda overworld YET!!” isn’t true. I’ll go into deep depression.

      Koooiiizzuuuummiiiii why did you leeeeeeeeeaaave………………………..

    • Gyorg’s company waddle doo

      how dare you talk of a terrible game like runescape in a place like this where us zelda fans go to post random comments about forks of fatness!!!

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      There is a stark difference between “transportation” that you the player control…. and “transportation” that serves as more of a warping mechanic.

      In Gold/Silver you don’t control subways, or ferries, ect…. they just zip you from one city to the next. An realistic mechanic to serve as a warp… but it’s not the same as how you ride Epona, or control the King of the Red Lions, or fly your loftwing….

  • Omenya

    I hope they’ll just stick to one by game (and eventually some kind of teleports with the game’s instrument but only to certain locations).
    I mean look at SS, the bird is just there because someone had to do the job, nothing interesting about flying aimlessly (contrary to WW for example), you don’t even need to find secondary island, they are all on your map, and they lose any meaning once you’ve looted them.

    As for primary islands, once you’ve walked around the map for a while you can just pop up anywhere you want without actually flying there.
    Flying is literally useless and you can cover the whole map in 5min.

    As for the ds games that are really built around the transportation, I feel that is just adds to the linearity of the game, while in OoT and WW, you really get the feeling of a open world.

    So I’d rather prefer Nintendo to stick to a single transportation mean, than f*** the next game in the fashion of the previous one. Of course I’d like to be surprised, but still, when you try to do casual you get casual…

    (btw, isn’t Epona required in OoT to get past the Gerudo Valley ?)

    • Ravn

      The longshot, my friend.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000711072942 Spencer Tinnin

      You can use the longshot to get into Gerudo Valley

    • Hero of Time

      The answer to that, is you can, but you can also use the Longshot to do that.

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      Epona is actually a side quest really… you can go the entire game without ever getting her.

      On my first play through ever I didn’t even know Epona could jump the gorge…. wasn’t my first thought to try running towards a cliff on horse cause in basically every other situation Epona would stop and turn around.

      Meanwhile there was clearly a wooden sign to latch onto, and I knew a longer hookshot would be needed.

    • Omenya

      It’s funny how I’m writing a pamphlet about my opinion on the matter and the only replies I get are about a trivial question x)

  • Lord Carlisle

    I pity anybody who hasn’t played a Zelda game in the laset ten years.

    • IgosDuIkana

      I’m glad somebody does because lately Zelda has been in the dumps, haven’t had a truly great title since MM or really the oracle games

      • Gyorg’s company waddle doo

        I honestly think oracle of season and ages are really non-original and that majora’s mask,wind waker and skyward sword were steps in the right direction (MM for its interesting characters and its sidequest,WW for its huge overworld and its sidequests again and SS for its inovating gameplay).

      • gamer

        Finally, someone who agrees with me. They just don’t feel the same. SS made me want to vomit. (watch the dislikes pile up over that last sentence, but it’s true)

        • DeaderHand

          It’s okay to be a hater.
          Sometimes

          • c4LL 0f dU7y f4N 80y

            Like Call of Duty; if you hate it, you suck!

          • DeaderHand

            I guess I suck then. Preach to a different choir. This is a Zelda forum.

        • Link_The_Ultimate_Chronomancer

          Your loss.

        • Never

          Exactly, SS is just… ugh, objectively bad.

          The land areas are too confined and unexplorable, the Sky is barren and to top it off it takes forever to get anywhere, ALL the enemies are just Simon freaking Says (except the Final Boss at the END OF THE GAME, see what’s wrong there?), the dungeons were simplistic to the point a toddler could do them (I want to get stuck, and figure it out, not once did that happen in SS, not even for 5 seconds), you can’t even slash at the bushes well anymore since you make a dead stop for 2 whole seconds when you swing it’s just ugh, and the “Link to the game”, the LARGEST immersion factor itself, was a complete imbecile making asinine faces like he’s on a Japanese sitcom or something.

          Nothing good about that game, nothing. But the people like me and you aren’t going to care anymore in a few years so by the time the next Zelda comes out only the people who actually liked this pile of garbage will be talking about it- at which point people scream “IT’S THE ZELDA CYCLE GUISE THE ZELDA CYCLE!”

      • Link_The_Ultimate_Chronomancer

        I repeat my above (or probably below now) comment. (the looong one)

      • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

        Personally there are only two recent Zelda’s that have been truly disappointing. Phantom Hourglass and Twilight Princess.

        Skyward Sword, Wind Waker, Spirit Tracks and Majora’s Mask, Minish Cap… all fine entries in their own right.

        • Gyorg’s company waddle doo

          I don’t think TP was so dissapointing,actually i see it as an ocarina of time remake,of course it was not original but sometimes its nice to see a more classic zelda with new gameplay and characters then another zelda in wich there is almost no exploration,TP is actually the game I played the most out of the bunch (simply because its my first zelda game and I could not set my hands on a another one).

          • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

            There was no exploration in TP… it was a collection of empty corridors.

            Big empty plots of land are pointless when there is nothing to find. That’s a major disappointment.

            Also viewing TP as a “Ocarina of Time remake” is precisely why the game is extremely disappointing. It didn’t offer up anything significantly exciting, or refreshing or new. It literally was “more of the same”.

            TP was fan service for Ocarina of Time fans, and personally Ocarina of Time is not my favorite Zelda game of all time. I’ve spent a lot more time with other entries in the series.

          • MidnaDE

            Finally! Someone who doesn’t crap all over TP

    • SecondGear

      Ya, that sure sucks for them.

      • Lord Carlisle

        I was actually making fun of the typo in the article’s first sentence.

        • zombie_eat_flesh

          And it’s still up there.

        • DeaderHand

          LOL just made all of the replies for naught.

  • Lord Carlisle

    These articles are starting to get more unoriginal by the day. I’m tired of reading articles that repeat the same ideas… transportation, the dark nature of majora’s mask, etc.

    • Cmaster

      Yah, it like dejavu, haven’t I read this same just re-worded article like three times in the last month or so.

      • gamer

        I was thinking the same thing (I think we need another three on SS controls). We need some info on the new games, but that won’t happen until E3. They’re just trying to dig up stuff to keep posts going, but it gets hard after a while I’m sure.

    • butt naked moblin

      Don’t forget SS’s controls…

    • http://twitter.com/ThomaseDurnad Thomas Durand

      I agree we need something new I don’t check here much anymore because everything is the same. I have some good ideas but I’m not staff :(

  • Roth

    If you ask me, MM successfully integrated so many modes of transportation because they were really just expanded item abilities. For example, being able to roll off ramps as a goron is like crossing a ditch with the hookshot. The difference is, you can’t use the hookshot to get around anywhere besides those places designed for it, while Goron Link can exercise his abilities as freely as the regular Link. Compare that to a boat or a bird, and your definition of “overworld transportation” may narrow more in the direction of such self-contained, independent systems. A train takes you off your feet and thus off the explorable landscape; a piece of equipment or species transformation merely specializes your field of adventure.

  • Tehlul

    But what if link is really fat and needs exercise

    • Cmaster

      Link never gets fat, no matter how many potions that he drinks he never gets any bigger. Hmmmmm XP

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000711072942 Spencer Tinnin

        That would be a great new game! The Legend of Zelda: The Fork of Fatness! You would find a magical fork and you can eat 5 different foods in different orders to manipulate people’s weight!

        • Hero of Time

          xD that would be epical.

      • SecondGear

        Maybe he’s on steroids……

  • iKhan

    That is exactly what Tales of Symphonia did. You had normal land travel, you could ride an animal called Noishe, you had boat travel, and you had sky travel. Thats probably why Tales of Symphonia has much better exploration than modern Zelda games do.

    • Guest

      Many role playing games do that. Best combination IMHO lies in Wild Arms 3: You get a teleportation orb, a dragon, a sand craft, a horse, and the Exodus Orb!

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      This is more a mechanic to make re-treading an easier affair, especially when you are doing nothing but crossing overworlds. The over worlds of most RPG’s are just fields with various enemies…. places for leveling up…. where the detail in locations is saved for points on the map that you enter.

      Once you are in these places (whether forest, town, dungeon, ect.) you can’t use that method of transportation, it’s left at the entrance so to say.

      Transportation in RPG titles is different from a Zelda game which is a fully detailed world, not just a map hub kind of deal.

      Noishe is simply given to speed up land travel for those who don’t want to engage in battles, and the Rheairds are given close to the end of the game to speed up traveling across the expansive world… this makes up for no warp system. The vehicles in the game don’t really add or take away anything from the experience of exploration.

      Anyway just pointing out that what works in one game may not be the best choice for another.

      • iKhan

        True, Zelda’s not an RPG, so of course it would be integrated a bit differently. But my point was more referring to the fact that ToS has locations in the sky and in the ocean that can only be accessed by the Rheaiards and the Boat respectively. Noishe sort of works like Epona does in the Zelda games.

        • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

          Noishe is used for one purpose and one purpose only. Speeding up traveling from point A to point B.

          Epona is a much deeper element of the Zelda world. Epona is a story element, has events surrounding her… Epona is also used in games and events. The horse race to free Lon Lon Ranch from Ingo, the Horse Back Archery game in Gerudo. Also Epona is a key component in accessing area’s of Adult Hyrule earlier.

          If you want to visit Lake Hylia and Gerudo Fortress early in the game you need Epona to do so.

          Noishe doesn’t change or affect what locations you can visit in Tales of Symphonia in any shape or form…. and there isn’t any mini games involving him, or any events were having Noishe affects game play in any significant way.

          The Rheairds do in fact give you access to new area’s of the game…. but at the same time, this happens at the end of the game. Basically just serving as a gate item to now give players access to area’s related to side quests at the end.

  • Mr.C.Brown

    That would be awesome.

  • Link_The_Ultimate_Chronomancer

    This is why I don’t analyze games. If I try and find out what specifically what a hated about the game, it becomes a pet peeve. I hate it when ZD keeps on putting out these articles about “why this game is bad” or “why this game is great.” I know I like the games the way they are, and I also know no matter what I post here or get my expectations on what I want for the next game will matter. The guys behind Zelda don’t even know English, and if they did, they wouldn’t look here for ideas. Don’t get your hopes up for a certain way you want the game to be. That’ll just make that one part of the game irritate you, and then you can’t enjoy the rest of it. I know no matter what they do for the next Zelda I’ll enjoy it. [Insert more rambling that no-one cares about here]

  • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

    No… simply no.

    Why? It’s hard enough for a Zelda game to integrate one mode of transportation…. trying to include multiples usually end with watered down results.

    Each mode of transportation provides it’s unique set of rules, and designing the landscape properly means keeping the rules of that transportation in mind.

    I mean the reason why you can’t fly beneath the cloud barrier in Skyward Sword is obvious… there would be no way to keep the player in the right areas (great for freedom of exploration, not great for keeping story elements in line).

    Hence the divided overworld.

    Also I’d just rather see a single mode of transportation done well over a bunch that are half realized. I want the mode of transportation to feel important and integral to my adventuring experience. Not an after thought.

  • the_flaming_raisin

    Exactly what I want.

  • the_flaming_raisin

    Yes.

  • Omega

    to do multiples you would need an app store like system

  • lonlonmilkman

    It would be nice to see alternative methods such as trains to traverse to a few places a great distance away. As I’m writing this I’m getting loads of ideas like archery through a train tunnel, using boats to get across lake Hylia (imagine the Twilight princess lake Hylia just with a little rowing boat you can get into and speed up the journeys across the lake). Epona of course would be included. Kind of unrelated, but lots of little scenic places with hard to find entrances and also dungeons littered across the overworld ,kind of like Skyrim.

    I got carried away there apologies…