Interview:Iwata Asks: Ocarina of Time 3D (Original Development Staff - Part 1)

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Iwata Asks: Ocarina of Time 3D (Original Development Staff - Part 1)


June 16, 2011




Iwata takes us behind-the-scenes of the development of the 1998 N64 game, with staff reactions to the 2011 remake.


The Game that Changed Destinies

Iwata: Thank you for joining me today.
Everyone: We're glad to be here.
Iwata: Today, I have gathered the core development staff for the Nintendo 64 game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which was first released (in Japan) in November of 1998. Please introduce yourselves, telling us what you did back then.
Osawa: Okay. I'm Osawa from the Special-Planning & Development Department. When development of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time began, they called me in to the Entertainment Analysis & Development Division (EAD) and put me to work. This project had a lot of directors, but I was the oldest, so I was a sort of general director.
Iwata: About how many directors were there?
Osawa: Five altogether. I listened to each director's opinion and coordinated them, saying, "Alright, alright, I get it. This is what we'll do." I also worked on the story and script.
Koizumi: I'm Koizumi from the Tokyo Software Development Department. Recently, I've been making the Super Mario Galaxy series and Flipnote Studio in Tokyo, but when I try to remember when I was in Kyoto and making 3D action games one after the other - from Super Mario 64 to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - I was working on so many different things that I can't really remember what I did. About how many directors were there?
Iwata: You were involved in so many things that you can't sum them up.
Koizumi: Right. I was involved with environment construction for 3D games, camera design, making the player-character Link, making items, and a little with event-related matters.
Kawagoe: I'm Kawagoe from the Software Development & Design Department. I was originally in charge of camera programming for Super Mario 64, so they brought me in to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time project so I could make use of that know-how.
Iwata: At the time, you were in charge of camera programming?
Kawagoe: Yes. But SRD, which Iwawaki-san belongs to, was in charge of camera programming for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so I participated as an advisor. However, Osawa-san's script was starting to become huge, so lots of cut scenes were necessary.
Iwata: At first, you were an advisor, but suddenly you were in deep.
Kawagoe: Yes. I became involved in the development of a tool for making the cut scenes, and before I knew it, I was working on storyboards and in charge of the movie parts.
Iwata: Currently, you mainly lend your support whenever the need for a cut scene arises somewhere in-house and a request goes to you at the movie production group. Could we say that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the game that started your involvement in such work?
Kawagoe: Yes. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first time I clearly operated as a member of movie production.
Iwata: So Osawa-san's huge script changed your destiny.
Kawagoe: That's exactly right! (laughs)
Osawa: Oh, really?
Kawagoe: Yeah! (laughs)
Iwata: Looking back, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a project that determined the future work of a lot of people.
Osawa: That's right. Several people were like that.
Aonuma: Yep, yep. (laughs)
Iwata: Aonuma-san, you're a prime example of someone whose fate the game determined. (laughs)
Aonuma: Uh-huh. That's very true! (laughs)
Iwata: Would you please introduce yourself?
Aonuma: I'm Aonuma from EAD. I am producer of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which is still under development for the Wii console, but the first game in the series that I worked on was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64 system.
Iwata: Today, your name is always mentioned in the same breath as The Legend of Zelda, but before then, you did a variety of work.
Aonuma: Yes.
Iwata: About the time you had just joined the company, we worked together.
Aonuma: That's right! (laughs) Unfortunately, though, the game we made together never made it out into the world. I spent a lot of time developing games with external companies. But I really wanted to develop inside Nintendo. I pestered Miyamoto-san about it and he said, "We don't have enough people for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so come on in for a spell." Of those of us here today, I joined the project last.
Iwata: You didn't participate early on in development?
Aonuma: No. When I joined, the script was somewhat established, and they were rapidly turning out the content. I designed a total of six early and mid-stage dungeons, most of the enemy characters, and enemy and boss battles.
Kawagoe: You also drew storyboards.
Aonuma: Oh, that's right. Back then, anyone who could draw storyboards was drawing them.
Osawa: Me, too! (laughs)
Iwata: The boundaries between different jobs were vague back then. Most of the time, if you noticed something that needed to be done, you did it yourself.
Aonuma: That's right. I doubt many of the staff who were involved with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - not just those of us here today - could say clearly where their work began and where it ended.
Kawagoe: For today's "Iwata Asks," I pulled out some old materials and was reminded, "I even drew up specs like this!" (laughs)
Iwata: You were surprised at yourself. (laughs)
Kawagoe: Yeah! (laughs) I was surprised at the breadth of tasks I was involved in.
Iwata: Iwawaki-san, if you would, please?
Iwawaki: I'm Iwawaki in charge of main programming at SRD. Like Aonuma-san, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was my first game in the series.
Iwata: What were you working on until then?
Iwawaki: I had been working on the Super Mario Bros. series for quite a while. I had worked for some time with Koizumi-san on Super Mario 64, so that's how I came to work on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Aonuma: For a long time, all we did was cause you trouble with the most impossible demands.
Iwawaki: No, not at all! (laughs)
Aonuma: You played an important role in realising all the ideas we came up with. That must have been hard.
Iwawaki: No...
Iwata: You made irrational demands?
Iwawaki: Well, you might say that. (laughs)
Iwata: So not just the boss specs, but most of the demands that Aonuma-san came up with were irrational.
Aonuma: They were! (laughs)
Koizumi: No, I had been working with Iwawaki-san all the way from Super Mario 64 to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so when it comes to irrational demands, I don't lose to Aonuma-san! (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)

The Legend of Zelda with Chanbara-style Action

Iwata: We just talked about how Koizumi-san made lots of irrational demands all the way from Super Mario 64 to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but to go back to the beginning, Super Mario Bros. came out (in Japan) in September of 1985 and The Legend of Zelda came out immediately afterward in February 1986. I feel like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda are often made as a pair. The challenge with the Nintendo 64 system was to turn those two titles into 3D. Koizumi-san, I think you were the person closest to Miyamoto-san during development then. What was on your mind?
Koizumi: I do think they are often made in pairs. They both fell into the category of "3D open-world action games." I didn't really see the difference between them.
Iwata: If you were to state the difference, it would be how The Legend of Zelda is the one you don't press a button to jump in.
Koizumi: Even when it comes to that, you had to press a button to jump when we first started making The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Iwata: At first, it didn't have auto jump.
Koizumi: That's right. There was no way we could take jumping out of a Super Mario. Bros. game, but when we actually tried making Super Mario 64, the action hurdle was a high one. For example, if you tried to beat an enemy in front of you, the axes weren't aligned, so it was hard.
Iwata: Yes, that's right. When I was at HAL Laboratory thinking about how we could make the Kirby series for the Nintendo 64 system, we wrestled with that.
Koizumi: Oh, yes. (laughs) As we were making Super Mario 64, we were thinking about The Legend of Zelda the whole time, and started talking about decreasing the action element in The Legend of Zelda and increasing the puzzle elements.
Iwata: You were thinking about them both at the same time.
Koizumi: Yes. Even as I was making Super Mario 64, I would write down memos of what I wanted to achieve with The Legend of Zelda. Then when I started making The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I whipped out those memos and consulted them.
Iwata: What kinds of things had you written down?
Koizumi: All kinds of things, like battles using a sword and battling lots of enemies. The Super Mario 64 project had passed by incredibly quickly, so a lot that I wanted had gone undone and I wanted to pour all those leftover ideas into The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Iwata: In the end, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time eventually became a massive project that mobilised nearly everyone who belonged to EAD at that time, but how many people did you start with?
Koizumi: Three.
Osawa: Before Koizumi-san joined, (Jin) Ikeda-san and I started it just the two of us!
Koizumi: Oh, is that so?
Osawa: Koizumi-san, you were still working on Super Mario 64 then, weren't you?
Iwata: Oh, so you joined after finishing Super Mario 64.
Koizumi: Yes, that's right.
Iwata: Osawa-san, how did you become involved in development of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?
Osawa: I was asked if I would be the director and I immediately replied yes. I had no idea it would turn into such a colossal task! (laughs)
Iwata: I suppose you just replied casually. (laughs)
Osawa: But it's definitely worth it, right?
Iwata: Yes, for sure.
Osawa: Since I was working at Nintendo, The Legend of Zelda was a title I wanted to work on at least once. Luckily, that opportunity had come along, so I put my hand right up. But before we became involved, (Takao) Shimizu-san made a chanbara (sword fighting) demo video.
Aonuma: Oh, that's right. If I remember correctly, the demo video we showed at the E3 in 1996.
Osawa: Right. But Shimizu-san became involved with other work, so he said, "The rest is up to you!"
Iwata: Was that other work Star Fox 64?
Osawa: Yeah. So I took it over, and Shimizu-san told me some things he wanted me to do. He wanted me to make a Legend of Zelda game with chanbara-style action.
Iwata: When people talk about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, they mention various things like an epic story, solving puzzles, trotting across a gigantic field on a horse and how cool Link is, but it began with the single theme of making a Legend of Zelda game that included chanbara-style swashbuckling!
Osawa: Yes. I started writing the script with chanbara at the front of my mind. Then Koizumi-san joined us, and there were three of us.
Koizumi: It was true of Shimizu-san as well, but I really liked The Adventure of Link.
Osawa: So much that you wanted to make it yourself?
Koizumi: Yeah. You might say that, but before Super Mario 64, I had actually been making Zelda II: The Adventure of Link in polygons with Miyamoto-san.
Iwata: Before Super Mario 64... You mean for the Super Famicom System?
Koizumi: Yes. We were experimenting with a thin, polygon Link seen from the side and fighting with his sword. Chanbara was a pending issue at the time. We couldn't really bring Zelda II: The Adventure of Link into form at that time, but I kept that desire to achieve a sword-fighting Legend of Zelda game until I joined this team.
Iwata: So a Legend of Zelda game with chanbara action had been a theme for quite some time.
Koizumi: Yes.
Iwata: As you joined the staff as the third member, what did you work on first?
Koizumi: First, I talked with Miyamoto-san about how we should make The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo 64 system, and he asked, "How about making it so that Link will not show up?"
Iwata: Huh?! Miyamoto-san said that?!
Koizumi: Yeah. He wanted to make it a first-person game.
Iwata: Oh, he wanted to make an First-Person Shooter.
Koizumi: Right. In the beginning, he had the image that you are at first walking around in first-person, and when an enemy appeared, the screen would switch, Link would appear, and the battle would unfold from a side-on perspective.
Iwata: It was said that making one character and making all the backgrounds carried an equal burden with the Nintendo 64 system.
Koizumi: Yes. And from my experience making Super Mario 64, I knew that displaying a character constantly running around on a large field would be incredibly difficult. But - while it wasn't very nice of me toward Miyamoto-san - I didn't try a first-person scene even once!

"Let's Go to Toei Kyoto Studio Park!"

Iwata: Why didn't you experiment with a first-person perspective game?
Koizumi: I was making the model for Link, so I couldn't stand to see my Link not appear.
Iwata: Oh, I see. In first-person perspective, you wouldn't be able to see him.
Koizumi: Right. Link is cool, so I wanted to always be able to see him.
Iwawaki: But...I do think we tried out first-person perspective a little.
Osawa: I think we made something to try it out, but decided it wasn't interesting visually and abandoned it right away.
Koizumi: Oh, is that right? (laughs) So we had Link appear from a third-person perspective, but it was really hard to get the art to connect right. I remember making the most impossible requests to Iwawaki-san.
Iwawaki: No, no... (laughs)
Iwata: You went straight to making irrational demands. (laughs)
Koizumi: Yes. (laughs) Thanks to him, we were able to show Link the whole time, but it got really hard in ways that would have been extremely easy in first-person view, like how to handle the camera and battles.
Iwata: You tied your own noose.
Koizumi: Yeah. In order to solve those problems, we had to create a bunch of new devices, one of which was Z Targeting.
Iwata: How did Z Targeting come about?
Osawa: In Super Mario 64, for example, when you tried to read a sign, sometimes you would just go around it in circles.
Iwata: The axes wouldn't match up.
Osawa: Right. We wondered what we could do about that, and when Koizumi-san joined the team, I said, "Since we're going to include chanbara-style action, let's go to Toei Kyoto Studio Park!"
Iwata: Huh? Going to Toei Kyoto Studio Park...because you were including chanbara-style action?
Osawa: Yes.
Iwata: I don't get it. (laughs)
Osawa: We thought if we went there, we might get some ideas. We got our boss's approval, and Koizumi-san, Ikeda-san and I went. It sure was a hot summer!
Koizumi: Yes. Very hot.
Osawa: As we went along looking at everything, it was so hot that we ducked into a playhouse to cool off. They were doing a ninja show. A number of ninja were surrounding the main samurai and one lashed out with a kusarigama (sickle-and-chain). The lead samurai caught it with his left arm, the chain stretched tight, and the ninja moved in a circle around him.
Iwata: And... that led to Z Targeting?
Osawa: Yeah... I think so, if my memory serves me correctly.
Iwata: So it wasn't like the chain led to the idea for the Hookshot?
Osawa: No.
Aonuma: Huh? Everyone looks confused! (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)
Koizumi: I don't think that's quite right. (laughs) The way I remember it...
Iwata: Yes? (laughs)
Koizumi: With regard to Z Targeting, I believe we started talking about how we wanted a good way of hitting opponents in front of you when we were making Super Mario 64.
Iwata: But you couldn't do it.
Koizumi: Right. Then, when we were making The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I thought up something when we were making the camera system for fighting enemies. What caught my attention in the studio park was the sword fight. They regularly put on shows in which the hero defeats ruffians. Watching that, I thought, "Hmm, that's weird." That was because there was no way one person could fight and win when surrounded by 20 opponents.
Iwata: Because he's vastly outnumbered.
Koizumi: I thought there must be some kind of trick, so I watched very closely, and it was simple. It's a sword battle, so there's a script and a certain setup. The enemies don't all attack at once. First, one attacks while the others wait. When the first guy goes down, the next one steps in, and so on.
Iwata: It's arranged so they attack one-by-one, in order.
Koizumi: Right. One thing I had been trying to figure out with regard to Z Targeting was how to fight multiple enemies. If I just made it like normal, the enemies would swarm the player all at once, so it would be a mess.
Iwata: Yeah.
Koizumi: Watching that show at the studio park was a clue toward solving that problem. Z Targeting flags one particular opponent, telling the other enemies to wait.
Iwata: Your opponents go on standby as in a staged sword fight.
Koizumi: First, you have the other enemies wait while you fight with the first one, and the moment you beat that one, you can switch the Z Targeting to the next opponent.
Iwata: So when it's one against many, you fight one-on-one over and over again.
Koizumi: Right. Like that. We actually made something. Do you remember that, Iwawaki-san?
Iwawaki: Yeah. A battle against two skeletons...two Stalfos.
Koizumi: Yeah. There's a place in the Forest Temple where you fight against two Stalfos. We were only able to pull off that scene because of that show we saw at the studio park.
Iwata: So if you hadn't gone to the studio park?
Koizumi: If we hadn't gone, we wouldn't have hit on the system for fighting multiple opponents. But I think Osawa-san and I were each seeing it a little differently.
Iwata: Osawa-san focused on the kusarigama.
Osawa: Yeah, that's right. Watching the kusarigama show, I hit on the idea of making a kusarigama that you can't see when you use Z Targeting.
Iwata: A kusarigama you can't see?
Osawa: When you use Z Targeting, I would make it so something like a kusarigama you can't see exists between Link and the opponent. If you push the analogue stick forward, you can close in slowly, and if you move it to the side, you can move to the side in a circular motion, getting around behind your opponent, seeking for an opening.
Iwata: Then do a jump attack.
Osawa: Exactly! (laughs)
Iwata: I see. Different people notice different things even when they see the same thing.
Koizumi: Yeah.
Iwata: I'm glad the studio park is here in Kyoto.
Koizumi: Yeah. It was incredibly helpful.
Osawa: We just went into that playhouse by chance.
Koizumi: Because it was hot. (laughs)
Osawa: To cool down because it was so hot! (laughs)

Where the Name "Navi" Came From

Iwata: The first problem that all kinds of people involved in making games in 3D encountered, and had lots of trouble with, is the axes not aligning when two characters go to face each other. But the two of you found a solution when you went to Toei Kyoto Studio Park.
Koizumi: Yeah. I remember something else with regard to Z Targeting. When we were making a prototype of battle targeting, we wanted to make it easy to see which enemy you're targeting, so we made a marker.
Iwata: Right.
Koizumi: An upside-down triangle.
Iwata: Like the one appeared above the targeted opponent's head.
Koizumi: Yeah. But I was a designer, so I didn't want to use such a simple marker. I wanted to make something else, so I came up with a fairy. After all, it was The Legend of Zelda.
Iwata: So first you went to make a marker, and later you made the fairy?
Koizumi: Right. Usually, if you were to make a fairy, you would make a cute girl, but that wasn't possible with the Nintendo 64 system, so I just made a ball of light with wings.
Iwata: I see.
Koizumi: I called it the Fairy Navigation System, took it to Osawa-san, and asked, "How's this?" He immediately said, "Let's name it Navi." Because she navigates! (laughs)
Iwata: Osawa-san called on his simple naming sense. (laughs)
Osawa: Navi - from "navigation". (laughs) The Legend of Zelda games have a lot of names that show their origin. Link means to bind together. We give a lot of names that serve as functional symbols.
Iwata: Functional symbols are important to Miyamoto-san.
Osawa: I think so. I didn't just name her Navi out of my simple sense for naming. Rather, I thought I should name her that way out of respect for the Legend of Zelda naming tradition.
Koizumi: But when I heard the name Navi from Osawa-san, I was really happy. I had thought of it as a system, but...
Iwata: Naming it had breathed life into what had been an impersonal marker.
Koizumi: Right. I thought, "This is Navi," and ideas started coming to me one after the other. Like being able to tell by colour whether the person you're facing is good or bad, and if Navi talked, she could be an important guide for the story. So naming the system Navi really helped it grow.
Osawa: Navi also gives strategy tips.
Koizumi: So the text that Osawa-san had to write increased a lot.
Osawa: (laughs) Yeah. (laughs) The addition of Navi had merits with regard to the script as well. We were able to expand the story around the idea of meeting and saying goodbye to a fairy.
Iwata: Ahh, I see!
Koizumi: And not only the script, but the game mechanics benefited as well. The first location is Kokiri Forest. The village has lots of trees and lots of people live there, but it was difficult to display them all at once.
Iwata: The Nintendo 64 system had limitations making it difficult to display many characters at the same time.
Koizumi: I came up with the idea that each person living there be followed around by a fairy. That way, even if we just showed the fairies...
Iwata: I see. If you see the fairy, you know its owner is there, too.
Koizumi: Right. We solved the problem by having it so that the owner appears when you get close to the fairy.
Aonuma: It also led to the scenario surrounding Link not having a fairy at first.
Osawa: Which led to the whole idea of meeting and parting from a fairy - in which you start by finding a fairy and in the end you say goodbye.
Iwata: Hmm, I see.
Koizumi: We didn't determine most of the settings at first, but just made them up as we went.
Iwata: Yeah. (laughs)
Koizumi: But I think that is an important part of our work.
Iwata: With regard to that, it is often said that when it comes to making a Legend of Zelda game, the game mechanics come first and the script later. Osawa-san, thinking up the script was your job, right?
Osawa: Yes.
Iwata: For example, was the division into Young Link and Adult Link something you were thinking about from the start?
Osawa: No, at first there was always Adult Link.
Iwata: Only Adult Link showed up?
Osawa: Yes. At first, we were just going to have him in an adult form. If you think about the chanbara element, that only made sense. With a child form, the sword would be small and his reach too short, so he would be at a terrible disadvantage, especially against large enemies.
Iwata: And it wasn't like you could just make the enemies small.
Osawa: Right. But partway through development, Miyamoto-san and others on the staff started saying they wanted to see a cute little Link.
Iwata: That would change the script a lot.
Osawa: Yes, we thought about how we could have both the child and adult forms appear in the same game and came up with the device of going seven years into the future by drawing the Master Sword and then returning back to his child form when he returns it to the pedestal.
Iwata: He travels back and forth in an instant.
Osawa: Yes. That was a scenario we added later.
Iwata: It's amazing that such a big change didn't cause the whole project to collapse.
Everyone: (laughs)
Iwata: Huh? You're all laughing. Does that mean it did sort of collapse? (laughs)
Aonuma: It didn't exactly collapse, but we did have some heated exchanges!
Osawa: We got into it every day. I would write the script and everyone would point out problems, saying, "This is weird," and "That's impossible." Then I'd come up with a revised script and say, "I changed this. What do you think?" I remember going around showing it to each and everyone to get their okay.
Koizumi: Huh? I don't think you went quite that far, but...did you?
Aonuma: You didn't go quite that far.
Osawa: Huh? I thought I did, but...
Aonuma: You just feel like you did! (laughs)
Iwata: Perhaps your memory has been overwritten! (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)
Osawa: Hmm...
Koizumi: Everyone back then was busy with what was right in front of them. When it came about that the Young Link was going to appear, what caused the most trouble for me was the modelling and animation for Link.
Iwata: The amount you had to make doubled.
Koizumi: Right. My work doubled. I was the one making him, so I was like, "What am I going to do?"
Iwata: When did talk of making Young Link come up?
Koizumi: I think it was about the second year after development started. Do you remember, Iwawaki-san?
Iwawaki: Yeah, I think it was about one and a half years before release.
Iwata: Oh, so that's when it was.

What We Couldn't Do with Ocarina of Time

Iwata: Part of the way through development, one and a half years before release, you had to do modelling and motions not just for Adult Link but for Young Link, too. Koizumi-san, how did you solve that?
Koizumi: We solved it with a simple trick. We realised that by applying a scale of a certain value to Adult Link's model, we could double-up use of all the same things.
Iwata: You realised that you could use the motions of Adult Link for Young Link, too.
Koizumi: Yes. We could solve it technologically, so I said, "We can make Young Link," and gave it my approval.
Iwata: But moving from Adult Link to Young Link, you couldn't just use everything without any changes, right?
Koizumi: No. I had to rework Young Link somewhat, so I had to make 1.5 times the animation.
Iwata: In the end, how many basic motions did you make for Link?
Koizumi: About 500 patterns. Add to that the programming combinations, and there were even more. One reason we were able to put so many patterns in was the Nintendo 64 system's ROM cartridges.
Iwata: You were originally developing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64DD.
Koizumi: Yes. Miyamoto-san said he had some ideas, like leaving behind all of Link's footprints.
Iwata: Yeah. (laughs)
Koizumi: At first, we were making it for the Nintendo 64DD. But reading data from the magnetic disks was...
Iwata: ROM cartridges don't have moving mechanical parts, so you can retrieve motion data in an instant wherever it is, but with a magnetic disk, it takes time to move certain mechanical parts, so depending on where the data is, it takes time to retrieve it, so you couldn't make Link move. If there weren't many movements and you could fit them in the memory, you could read them to memory from the magnetic disk beforehand, but there were 500 patterns.
Osawa: Right. Koizumi-san said, "I can't move my Link on the Nintendo 64DD."
Koizumi: Yeah. But in the end we decided to release it on a ROM cartridge rather than for the Nintendo 64DD. I think some people were disappointed, but some were happy - none more than myself! (laughs)
Iwata: Because you would be able to move "your Link" however you wanted. (laughs)
Koizumi: Yeah. (laughs)
Iwata: So Young Link was going to show up. Riding Epona is also a distinct characteristic of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. How did the idea for a horse come up?
Osawa: It just arose all of a sudden.
Koizumi: No, I don't think it was sudden. Actually, we'd been talking about a horse even during the development for Super Mario 64.
Osawa: Oh, I didn't know that.
Koizumi: But it didn't happen for Super Mario 64. I was certain we would do it for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so I got ready. By the way, Epona was a girl.
Aonuma: Why is she named Epona? Weren't we calling her Ao at first?
Iwata: Ao from Aonuma?
Aonuma: No, no. (laughs) Ao is the natural name for a horse.
Iwata: Huh? (laughs)
Koizumi: I was the one who named her Epona.
Osawa: Right! (laughs) Koizumi-san named her first. He said, "We're going to call this horse Epona." I didn't even have time to think of a name! (laughs)
Koizumi: Epona is the goddess of horses and fertility in Celtic mythology, so I used that. When you name something, it increases your affection for it, so I worked hard to make her a good horse.
Osawa: I had Miyamoto-san explain Epona, but at first he only talked about the camera work. He said that when the horse jumped, he wanted to see it from below. And that was all he said! (laughs)
Aonuma: Yeah, that's right.
Osawa: He said we should have it jump over a chasm and show the jump from the bottom of that chasm, against the light, so the light would break through.
Aonuma: It's unusual for Miyamoto-san to make requests regarding such aspects of presentation.
Osawa: Yes. That was the only time he's ever said, "I want to see visuals like this, so make it happen."
Aonuma: Maybe he's interested in horses.
Koizumi: That's probably from Western movies. Miyamoto-san really likes country music.
Osawa: He reflects his personal interests in his work.
Kawagoe: Do you mean the scene in which Epona jumps across a broken bridge? There's also that scene when it escapes the ranch.
Aonuma: Yeah.
Kawagoe: There isn't just one exit from the ranch.
Aonuma: So we had to make a cut scene for each exit.
Kawagoe: That's right... (laughs)
Osawa: But when she jumped over a barrier, she jumped on her own.
Iwata: The horse had auto jump, too.
Iwawaki: Right.
Osawa: The reason the horse jumps automatically is Miyamoto-san said that a Legend of Zelda game doesn't need any difficult actions.
Koizumi: Nonetheless, the Carrot System went in.
Osawa: Right. Miyamoto-san did that. (laughs)
Koizumi: Miyamoto-san said that just riding around on a horse wouldn't be very fun game-wise. He wanted to put in some sort of action, so he added carrots. When you crack the whip, a carrot icon disappears, and Epona goes faster, but if you use up all the carrots, you lose the ability to crack the whip for a while and can't jump over barriers.
Iwata: Game operation was a little difficult there.
Koizumi: Yes. But isn't there a contradiction between cracking the whip at just the right timing and not requiring any difficult game operation? (laughs)
Iwata: Yeah. (laughs)
Koizumi: But Miyamoto-san was the one who put that in. (laughs)
Osawa: Once you achieve the goal of being able to ride a horse, you might want to try out something further.
Koizumi: That's why he started saying that if Link was going to ride a horse, he wanted to include mounted archery and one-on-one battle. (laughs) We were able to include the mounted archery, but not the one-on-one battle.
Iwata: But later you included it in Twilight Princess.
Aonuma: Yeah.
Iwata: Miyamoto-san is the kind of guy to stick with an idea once he's thought of it. (laughs)
Aonuma: That's right. Apart from the horse, ever since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Miyamoto-san has said that he wanted Link to raise his sword over his head.
Osawa: He said that to me, too. We couldn't do it on the Nintendo 64 system.
Iwata: But you can raise the sword in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, right?
Aonuma: Yes. It uses the Wii MotionPlus technology, so we've finally done it.
Iwata: After 13 years, you've fulfilled another wish.
Aonuma: So to Miyamoto-san, all the games in the Legend of Zelda series are connected.

Finding the Right Spot for the Opening Sequence

Iwata: In addition to the sword, a variety of items - such as a Bow and Arrow and the Hookshot - appear in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. How did you make those?
Koizumi: With regard to the items, we made each one because we thought, "It would be nice to have something like this." I'd say, "The Hookshot is done, so feel free to use it," and everyone would say, "Well, where shall we put it?"
Aonuma: Yeah. (laughs) Even if we had an item, we wouldn't know where to put it. We decided the number of items at the start. But that ended up causing us trouble.
Iwata: You had to match up with the number of items you had set at the beginning.
Aonuma: Yeah. And after I'd designed the early dungeons, a new item would be done and someone would tell me, "Make sure there isn't any trouble when Link enters the dungeon with this item." I thought, "Come on! You should have told me that at the beginning!" (laughs)
Koizumi: Sorry about that. I was making the items, so...
Aonuma: No, don't worry about it. (laughs)
Koizumi: If you just make whatever you want as you go, you're sure to run into trouble sometime.
Aonuma: But on the other hand, if you decide the items you're going to put in from the start, it doesn't mean everything will go well. I don't think such a variety of distinctive items would have come about that way. We were making something unprecedented, so we couldn't see what would be right to make or where the goal should be.
Iwata: It was unprecedented, so no one could say exactly what plan to follow.
Aonuma: Right. Earlier, when we talked about the script, we talked about whether the whole process would crumble, but as we were making it, we didn't really know whether it was falling apart or not. (laughs)
Iwata: (laughs)
Aonuma: It was a mess right up to the end.
Koizumi: We didn't know what kind of game it was until all the parts came together.
Iwata: You made The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time without knowing what kind of game it was until the various parts came together. How did that feel for you Kawagoe-san as you made the cut scenes? (laughs)
Kawagoe: What should I say about that? (laughs) Even after the game was basically done, a lot had to be switched in. For example, "You know that item in that one dungeon? Well, we need to use that in another dungeon."
Osawa: You're like, "Hey! You should have told me sooner!" (laughs)
Kawagoe: And that stuff tends to concentrate around the end of development. The script changed in one way after another...or rather, it changed drastically.
Iwata: (laughs)
Kawagoe: How far we could adapt to those drastic changes was a way for us to show our skill.
Iwata: Sometimes Miyamoto-san makes drastic changes, too.
Kawagoe: I was always worried about what might come up. But I thought something like that might happen, so I prepared a tool to make such changes easier. We were making real-time in-game cut scenes, so even if the clothes or items changed, I could switch them into the scene.
Iwata: Back then, pre-rendered cut scenes - which were prepared ahead of time - were common, but the cut scenes in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time were rendered in real time, so the clothes or mask you were wearing at the time would show up.
Kawagoe: Right. There weren't many problems in that regard.
Osawa: Miyamoto-san doesn't really like cinematic elements anyway.
Koizumi: This may be overstating it, but Miyamoto-san probably doesn't need any cut scenes at all.
Aonuma: Hmm, maybe not.
Koizumi: He says they can do without them, but if we're going to have them, he wants a way to redo them over and over.
Iwata: The last excuse he wants to listen to is, "I can't fix it, because the cut scenes have already been made."
Koizumi: He says it's all right to make cut scenes, but we have to be able to change them up to the day before completion.
Iwata: Ooh, that's rough. (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)
Koizumi: That way of thinking had been drilled into me ever since Super Mario 64, so pre-rendered cut scenes were never an option. Kawagoe-san had diligently made a way to create real-time demos, which paid off in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Iwata: Among the real-time demos, the opening scene is particularly striking. How did you make that?
Kawagoe: Today, you can use a CG tool to move the camera, but back then we couldn't do that because of how the game was constructed, so we asked to make the system to enable Nintendo 64 console to move the camera and we used that.
Iwata: First there was the music by (Koji) Kondo-san, and you made the images to match that?
Kawagoe: No, the music came later. The landforms of Hyrule Field weren't originally made for cut scenes, so even if you think, "I want to film a scene like this..."
Iwata: The right place for it might not exist in the game.
Kawagoe: Right. So I moved the camera around, like I was walking across the landforms on my own two feet, thinking, "Is this a good spot?" and "How about over here?" I went around looking for a place that would look good, just like searching for a location to shoot a movie.
Iwata: You looked for a location virtually.
Kawagoe: Right. At the beginning of the sequence, there's a scene in which Link is riding around on his horse. I thought that spot was good and waited for a while, and then the moon slid down into view.
Iwata: By chance?
Kawagoe: Yeah. "That's it!" I thought, and decided on that spot.
Iwata: It was too good to be true! (laughs)
Kawagoe: I think a lot of chance happenings contributed to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but I suspect that Miyamoto-san still thinks that real-time cut scenes are easy to change.
Aonuma: Yeah. He definitely thinks so. (laughs)
Osawa: But it really isn't that easy! (laughs)
Kawagoe: So I'm always worried what will come up. Even now! (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)

"Now That's The Legend of Zelda!"

Iwata: My own impression is that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time firmly established the “essence of Zelda.”
Aonuma: That’s right. That’s why it’s been hard to make anything ever since! (laughs)
Iwata: Yeah. (laughs)
Aonuma: Something I always think as I work on the series is how hard it was to make The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but it was also a great time. As mentioned earlier, we were making something unprecedented.
Iwata: There wasn’t anything you could compare it to.
Aonuma: We didn’t know where the finish line was! (laughs)
Iwata: Without knowing a due date, time dragged on... (laughs)
Aonuma: Yeah. Sorry about that. (laughs)
Iwata: I was at a different company at the time, so no need to apologise to me! (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)
Aonuma: As we went through a process of trial and error and watched it take shape each day, it was really fun working on it. Each day we said, “Oh, look at what we did!” and that built up.
Kawagoe: For example, we were really impressed when the sword was able to cut a sign.
Aonuma: Yeah. Miyamoto-san put that in when everyone was exhausted. (laughs)
Koizumi: (Kazuaki) Morita-san at SRD programmed that. You don’t just cut the sign, but float it in the pond. When Miyamoto-san saw that, he burst out laughing and said, “Now that’s The Legend of Zelda!”
Iwawaki: Yeah, he said that. (laughs)
Koizumi: I remember it clearly.
Iwata: Aside from cutting the signs, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a game with lots of forms of gameplay that players were experiencing for the first time and that must have made them think, “What’s this?” and “What’s going on here?” Kawagoe-san, why do you think you were able to make a game like that?
Kawagoe: In some ways, I think it was because of a certain fearlessness on the part of the staff. We were just getting acquainted with the Nintendo 64 hardware and began development in a state of excitement over all the possibilities. As a result, our feelings and behaviour packed a lot into the game out of a sense of “Well, if we can do this, then let’s do that, too!”
Aonuma: That’s right.
Kawagoe: Put another way, it’s like we were plunging into a pathless, misty expanse and thinking, “I’m sure we can do this!”
Iwata: I think that fearlessness was indeed a big factor. You were a group of people who hadn’t learned before you began how hard it could be or how long it could take. (laughs)
Aonuma: We really hadn’t.
Iwata: The group believed that anything was possible with the Nintendo 64 system, plunged ahead, discovered a lot of interesting stuff, omnivorously adopted it, and threw it all together in a way without any friction, resulting in a dense concentration of material.
Kawagoe: But as with the moon sliding into view, which came up earlier, a lot of things fell into place by chance.
Aonuma: That is true.
Osawa: We’d be feverishly working away at it and all of a sudden realise, “Oh, we did it!”
Aonuma: We’d get a lot done that we hadn’t even imagined.
Kawagoe: I feel like we encountered a lot of those happy chance occurrences.
Iwata: So the developers could get excited about the daily discoveries.
Osawa: Almost every day, I would think, “You made that?! Well then, I'm going to...”
Aonuma: Each day, I experienced the reward of seeing the practically empty world that I had first designed with only squares and triangles rapidly become more real as various people added their input. I was incredibly happy about that.
Kawagoe: I suppose we could do that because we were all young.
Aonuma: Yes. There’s nothing I can say in reply to that! (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)
Iwata: Koizumi-san, I think you’re the youngest among the team members here today. How old were you when you made The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?
Koizumi: I was about 26 or 27. How about you, Aonuma-san?
Aonuma: I was in my thirties without doubt.
Koizumi: (looking serious) I was the youngest among those of us here, so I was ill at ease (laughs) and couldn’t really say what I wanted.
Aonuma: No way! You always said the harshest things! (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)
Koizumi: Did I? (laughs) I think it will show up in the next session of “Iwata Asks,” but the designers (Yoshiki) Haruhana-san and (Satoru) Takizawa-san were in their early twenties then, and they kept up their enthusiasm. The development period was two and a half years.
Iwata: And it was a particularly intense two and a half years.
Koizumi: When it’s that long, you should run out of breath, but we never did.
Aonuma: Nope.
Koizumi: It wasn’t hard at all for me to work until or past midnight every day.
Kawagoe: Yeah, we were all young. (laughs)
Osawa: It was fun how each day was different.
Koizumi: It sure was.
Iwata: You raced along for two and a half years, experiencing immense changes each day.
Aonuma: That’s right.
Koizumi: Work is generally fun, but that may have been the most satisfying time. I was able to make a lot of selfish demands, so I think we caused everyone trouble...but it was fun.
Aonuma: We weren’t selfish - we were dedicated.
Koizumi: My mistake.
Aonuma: No problem. (laughs)
Osawa: I think if the same team ever had to make the next The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, it would probably be fun.
Koizumi: No... let’s not! (laughs)
Aonuma: Osawa-san... that’s no joke! (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)

Thirteen Years Later

Iwata: Lastly, I’d like each of you to say a few words regarding the return of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 13 years after its original release. Shall we start with you, Iwawaki-san?
Iwawaki: Sure. I actually tried out The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the Nintendo 3DS system and felt that big world of The Legend of Zelda drawing me in.
Iwata: That immense world was in the palm of your hand.
Iwawaki: Yes, just like that. I felt like that world was right there. I hope everyone else will enjoy the world of The Legend of Zelda to the fullest.
Aonuma: As mentioned earlier, it was really fun when we were making the original game, because each day we made rewarding progress and the world in the game rapidly came together. I think the players could sense the fun we had.
Iwata: You feel like the developers’ feelings reached the players through the game.
Aonuma: Right. Our feeling 13 years ago is even further amplified in the Nintendo 3DS version. I hope the players will sense that. If you go on an adventure in that gigantic world in the Nintendo 3DS version, new discoveries await.
Iwata: Some who played the Nintendo 64 version may not have played it to its fullest.
Aonuma: That’s right. We put in all sorts of weird stuff (laughs), so I hope everyone will find those things.
Kawagoe: The Nintendo 3DS version is a remake, but there are different directions to take with a remake. I don’t think simply spiffing up the graphics and making it more luxurious would inspire the same moving experience. But this remake takes advantage of the stereoscopic 3D, allowing players to experience the splendour of the Nintendo 64 version from a new perspective. I think that’s great.
Iwata: Kawagoe-san, have you played the Nintendo 3DS version?
Kawagoe: Yes. I was surprised to see what the landforms we had created were like!
Iwata: You didn’t know until seeing them on the Nintendo 3DS version?
Kawagoe: No. On the Nintendo 64 version, I sort of knew what they were like by filling in their real forms in my head, but on the Nintendo 3DS version, like when looking at Hyrule Field, I got a much clearer sense of what the landforms and distances were like.
Aonuma: That surprised me, too.
Iwata: You were surprised even though you had made them.
Kawagoe: A discovery 13 years later!
Iwata: I see. How about you, Koizumi-san?
Koizumi: I’m really scared to play the Nintendo 3DS version. That’s because I feel like if I encounter my work from 13 years ago, I’ll find a lot of stuff to make me cringe.
Kawagoe: I was the same way. (laughs)
Koizumi: But they’re making the Nintendo 3DS version in Tokyo, so they asked me to check it. I hesitantly tried it out (laughs) and was pleased to see how handsome Link looks!
Iwata: Uh-huh. (laughs)
Koizumi: I changed the character design for Link a lot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. At first he had a button-nose.
Iwata: Yeah, he had a distinctive nose.
Koizumi: My wife said, “All of Nintendo’s characters have funny noses. Don’t you have any handsome ones?” I was shocked.
Iwata: (laughs)
Koizumi: Then when we were making The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I was in charge of Link’s character design, so I made him a little better-looking.
Aonuma: Huh? So Link is your wife’s type?
Koizumi: Yes. (firmly)
Everyone: (laughs)
Iwata: The truth comes out 13 years later. (laughs)
Koizumi: I cut back on his sideburns and made his nose a little stronger.
Iwata: It’s narrower.
Koizumi: And I pierced his ears, making him sort of cool. But it wouldn’t suit Nintendo if he were too cool, so he wears that long underwear. (laughs)
Aonuma: Huh? Is that long underwear? (laughs)
Koizumi: Yeah. He wears that green tunic and cool gloves, but underneath, it’s long underwear. (laughs) But when I saw Link on the Nintendo 3DS version, I was pleased by how incredibly refined he looked. So I want everyone to check out that even cooler Link!
Osawa: I haven’t laid hands on the Nintendo 3DS version yet. That’s not because I’m scared like Koizumi-san, but because I want to buy it myself and play it like any other gamer. I’m really looking forward to seeing how what we made 13 years ago has changed, and I’m glad what we made 13 years ago has had new light shed on it by someone else, so I can enjoy it too.
Iwata: I suppose you’ll feel like you’re opening a time capsule.
Osawa: Yes. The only Legend of Zelda game I’ve ever worked on was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so I felt like I had done everything I could. But today, 13 years later, I even want to enjoy looking at it again and noticing places where I could’ve done better, so I can’t wait for the release date.
Aonuma: (with feeling) I’m envious...
Everyone: (laughs)
Aonuma: I’ve been involved with every game in the series since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so I don’t feel that way. I’m like, “Tch!” (laughs)
Osawa: Well, that’s your job.
Koizumi: Aonuma-san, want to switch with me on Super Mario Bros. sometime?
Aonuma: Hey, that sounds good... Or maybe not!
Koizumi: I’ll make the next Legend of Zelda game. Then you can enjoy playing it.
Aonuma: No way. (firmly)
Everyone: (laughs)
Iwata: Today sort of felt like a class reunion. (laughs)
Osawa: It really is one! (laughs)
Iwata: I enjoyed hearing everything you had to say today. Thank you for taking so much time.
Everyone: Thank You!