Interview:Zelda Dungeon E3 2014

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Zelda Dungeon E3 2014


June 10, 2014


Eiji Aonuma
Yosuke Hayachi
Hisashi Koinuma


Mases Hagopian (Zelda Dungeon)
Ben Lamoreux (GenGAME)


Aonuma and the Hyrule Warriors team talk about said game and what became Breath of the Wild



Mases Hagopian: Shigeru Miyamoto is the father of the Zelda series but nowadays he seems to have stepped away from the series a little bit. Can you talk about his involvement with the series and in particular with the upcoming Zelda for the Wii U.
Eiji Aonuma: So with the new Wii U Zelda that we are working on, I work really closely with the director day to day on developing it and then we meet with Mr. Miyamoto once a month and present to him kind of where we are, and kind of what are next steps are. At that time we get his feedback, his thoughts on what we should do or what we should change. Just his feelings on how things are going. That process hasn't changed.
Ben Lamoreux: We know that Zelda Wii U has been in development for some time and you've mentioned that you were close to showing it at a few past events but you couldn't because you had other priorities. How long has it been in development for and what are some of the ideas and themes that formed the starting point for the games development?
Aonuma: During the digital event, I talked about how this was open world and we really wanted to provide fans of the series a new way of playing and experiencing the Zelda universe. In order for us to get it to a place where we can show something to the public, it just took a lot of time for us to develop the game because there is so much content that needed to be in place first.

What you saw in the digital event wasn't cinematic. It was actually in-game footage. So you saw, when I was sitting there with the mountains in the back. If Link gets on his horse, he can actually travel to those distant mountains.
Mases: You mentioned Link. His character looks a bit different from what his character has looked like in the past. Is this the same character of Link that we've seen before?

(Room erupts in laughter)

Aonuma: When I say Link, it's not one specific character. It is the protagonist in the Zelda game. Please understand.
Mases: So with A Link Between Worlds that came out, you aimed to change the conventions of Zelda a lot. Such as getting the items in different order, or playing the dungeons in a different order. Is this something we should expect to see carrying over in the upcoming Zelda game for the Wii U.
Aonuma: Yes (laughs)
Ben: Majora's Mask has always been one of my favorite Zelda games and one of my favorite games overall. One of the things I liked so much about it is that more so than other Zelda game and a lot of games at the time, your actions can directly influence the events of the story and can change how the characters around you act. Can we see something like that return on a larger scale in Zelda Wii U or future Zelda titles?
Aonuma: The impact of the player character on the environment is something that has been, and really, having the player experience that impact, is something that is consistent through all versions of the Zelda games, but I want to continue to have the players experience that and even build upon that experience. In traditional Zelda games there is kind of an order in which you do things. You can't do 3 until you do 1 and 2 for example. But with the new Zelda game, I really want to open the opportunities up for players to really make an impact on their environment and to give them a little more freedom to choose their path that the story takes.

I'd like to also talk about Hyrule Warriors.
Mases: Of course! Hyrule Warriors is sort of a spin-off, not part of the main series. Does it have any connection directly with the story with other games from the series?
Yosuke Hayachi: Even more than a spin-off, some might consider Majora's Mask kind of a spin-off of the series. Hyrule Warriors to us, it doesn't belong as part of the Zelda Timeline that most speak about. We consider it a celebration of the history of Zelda. What we're trying to achieve is giving players an experience that is something that they've always wanted to do with the Zelda characters that they've come to know and love, and within that, also include a story as well.
Mases: I got to play the game. I got to play as Zelda and Link, but we also saw Midna and Impa. Is there any plan to perhaps introduce characters that are not part of the Zelda world. Perhaps something from the Dynasty Warriors games. A crossover character?
Hayachi: So in Hyrule Warriors, there is inevitably going to be a connection to the Legend of Zelda world. So because of that connection we have characters like Midna that appear, and Link, and Princess Zelda. As part of this world, there are also original characters that will be introduced soon. I'm hoping everybody is looking forward to seeing them.
Mases: I grew up playing the original Nintendo and the original Legend of Zelda. One of the things I enjoyed about the games in the late 80s and early 90s is that they were much more difficult than the more modern games. Even with Zelda nowadays, there is the hero mode for more advanced players during a second time through, but the first time through has been easier for veteran gamers like myself. The balance, is that something you think about while developing the games, and is it a hard medium to reach?
Aonuma: Yes, and I mean that by not specifically making enemies harder or easier to take down. As developers we certainly have to think about context in which people are playing and the lifestyle that most people live. I think now it's harder for people to carve out large chunks of time to sit and play a game for hour-long stretches. I think we always think about the playability of a game, and when I say playability, I don't mean the difficulty level necessarily, but just the amount of time they invest in one sitting, or how easy it is to pick up and then put down and then continue later. I'm always thinking about, again not specifically about difficulty, but also about making it possible for players to continue playing, given the demands of their day.
Hisashi Koinuma: As a developer of the Dynasty Warriors games, we certainly do take into consideration the different lifestyles that people have. That's why we include things like difficulty settings so that there are certainly options for people who want to really get into the game and deep dive, and spend significant periods of time playing, but we also need an entry point that is more accessible to casual users. So when we developed the game we certainly tried to put those in place.
Ben: The trailer shown off for Zelda Wii U during the Nintendo digital event was very impressive and very intriguing, especially because there seemed to be a theme of technology with the monster with the mechanical arms and the lasers, and then the high-tech arrow at the end. What can you tell us about the theme or prevalence of technology in the upcoming Zelda?
Aonuma: It's not as though this environment is more high tech than past Zeldas. If you remember, we've had statues in the past that had beams that shoot out of their eyes. The hookshot is something that is actually really really high tech. We probably couldn't even make one now if we wanted to. So I wouldn't say this new Zelda is going to take place in the more distant-future, or even the near-future for that matter. But one thing we have to do as developers, you might be thinking ‘but then you are not rethinking the conventions of Zelda', but I am rethinking the conventions, and as a part of that, we have to continue to have these items evolve and change their presentation and make sure that it's still new experience.
Mases: Two years ago you showed the tech-demo for Zelda. It had more of a Twilight Princess look and Hyrule Warriors has somewhat carried that same design. Twilight Princess though was one of the most traditional games, but it was also one of the most successful games. Does a games success, in terms of sales numbers, does that affect the type of Zelda game that you personally like to create?
Aonuma: I don't look back. (Laughs)

I always want to create something unique, and the reason for that is not just because it makes for a more fun game experience once the game is completed, but as a creator it also makes things more interesting for my team and myself. Images and expressions and all of those things, in order to make those unique, we don't start with a plan that is set in stone from the beginning, it's definitely an evolution. We may have a basic concept in the beginning, but as we are working through those concepts, they are going to evolve, they are going to change. So that's how that particular tech demo that you saw early on has evolved to what you saw in the trailer.
Mases: So Tingle… (laughs)… Can we see Tingle in Hyrule Warriors?
Hayachi: I really like Tingle. I've played all of the Tingle games.
Aonuma: Do you like Tingle?
Ben: Of course!
Mases: Yes! I played Freshly Picked Tingle's… the one that was in English, but the others were only in Japanese.
Aonuma: I heard a lot recently that American's don't like Tingle.
Mases: They don't. I'm the exception I guess.

(Room erupts in laughter)

Aonuma: (To Ben) – Do you not like Tingle?
Ben: Oh no I like Tingle, I think he's great.
Ben: We know from the playable demo and the trailers that we've seen that there is going to be a lot of different items in Hyrule Warriors. We've seen the bombs and fire rod. Will we see any of the more legendary items from the Zelda mythos, like the Master Sword or Sacred arrows, or anything like that. Can we expect to see prominent items from Zelda lore in Hyrule Warriors?
Koinuma: Hyrule Warriors is a celebration of the Zelda franchise so we will definately see some of the more traditional items from the series.
Mases: Hyrule Warriors is now just a few months away and I imagine things are wrapping up with the development. Are there ideas that you've come up with in which you've run out of time and cannot finish to put them into the game. Things that you might want to do sometime in the future, perhaps in a future collaboration?
Hayachi: Zelda has a long story, its got a long history. There is certainly many many things that we could have put into the game. As I've mentioned before, the team is full of Zelda fans that all have ideas of what should be included. I don't have any specific instances, but I'm sure that among the team members there are great ideas that we couldn't bring to fruition.
Aonuma: Early on, there was actually a version that had a dungeon in it that had more traditional Zelda like puzzle solving elements to it. After looking at that piece and that stage, and realizing that it was so far away from what a Dynasty Warriors game is, they decided to eliminate that.
Ben: Princess Zelda herself will be playable in this game. How was that decision reached and did fans influence the decision at all?
Hayachi: One of the main basic concepts of the Dynasty Warriors series is that you have a large roster of players to play as. The same is true with Hyrule Warriors. Initially our thoughts were that Link and Zelda had to be playable characters. From there, again, Zelda has such a long history, there are so many vibrant characters in the Zelda universe that we could have chosen from. So we took ideas from the team and we listened to opinions of fans. We definitely did our research. Another thing that we thought about was is which player would be fun to play as. You probably saw on the show floor, the roster. There are many many open spaces. Those will be filled in and we're hoping that you are looking forward to see them. I think there will be some in there that you will be surprised.
Mases: Tingle!

(Room erupts in laughter again)

Mases: Thank you for your time. We got through almost all of our questions. We had more to talk about Zelda Wii U, but I know you can't talk too much about it.
Aonuma: Next year. (laughs)
Mases: Yes, next year.