Interview:Iwata Asks: Skyward Sword (Volume Five: The Dense Sky and Town)

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Volume Five: The Dense Sky and Town 1. Inspired by Course Selection in Super Mario 2. The Producer Trap 3. A Town Designed to Function 4. The Secret to Extreme Density

Iwata: This is our fifth time to discuss The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in "Iwata Asks." I've gathered you all here today to talk about the sky and the town. Thank you for coming.

Everyone: We're glad to be here.

Iwata: Aonuma-san, you're sitting in a different place than usual. (laughs)

Aonuma: I feel a little out of place. (laughs)

Iwata: You usually sit at the end as if to say, "I'm the producer," so why are you sitting at Fujibayashi-san's left today?

Aonuma: I was the planner for the sky game field.

Iwata: So you took orders from Director Fujibayashi? (laughs)

Aonuma: Yes. (laughs)

Iwata: Later, I would like to ask in detail about what kind of work you were in charge of. Everyone but Aonuma-san and Fujibayashi-san is new today, so please introduce yourselves.

Iwamoto: I'm Iwamoto from the Entertainment Analysis & Development Division (EAD). I was in charge of overall planning for the sky and town. I worked on composing the introductory sequence, subevents involving the townspeople and Link, and scenes of riding the bird (Loftwing) through the sky.

Fujibayashi: Iwamoto-san was the "sky gang leader."

Iwata: You talked about the "gang leader system" in our third session.

Iwamoto: They also ironically called me the Sky God. (laughs)

Iwata: Ironically?

Iwamoto: Well, perhaps I put in a little too much effort on it, so…

Iwata: I'll hear more about that later. (laughs)

Hisada: I'm Hisada, also from EAD. I provided overall coordination of the landforms. Together with Iwamoto-san, I mainly worked on the sky and town. I put forth a direction for what kind of landforms to use and coordinated the style of the backgrounds and artwork.

Iwata: That's an incredibly important role in generating the atmosphere of the game world.

Hisada: Yes.

Mizuta: I'm Mizuta from EAD. I worked on sound. I worked on the basic system to generate background music and sound effects, composed some sound effects myself and coordinated the overall sound works for the game. I also worked on the musical instruments and specific ideas that utilize them. Sounds are in all the game fields, so I didn't just make sounds for the sky and town, but this seemed like a good chance to talk about the sound, so I'm participating this time.

Iwata: How many people made the sound this time?

Mizuta: Ten.

Iwata: That many?

Mizuta: Yes. Five worked on the sound effects and sound system, and five were composers, for a total of ten.

Iwata: That's quite a lot. Why were so many people involved?

Mizuta: For about the first one year and a half, composer (Hajime) Wakai-san and I prepared instrumentation and made a general sound base.

Iwata: I plan to have Wakai-san participate next time. He worked on pulling together the overall sound for this game.

Mizuta: Yes, that's right. At first, it was just the two of us, but as we got a sense for the number of stages and the scale of the events, the staff grew. It was impossible for just the two of us to handle the sound, so I talked to (Koji) Kondo-san about increasing our numbers.

Iwata: So you just jumped straight to ten people?

Mizuta: No, not all at once. The staff gradually grew. The last sound effects person came in this year.

Aonuma: That's right. We didn't always have ten people.

Mizuta: The sound work always concentrates toward the end, and there was a lot this time, so the increase in personnel was large as well.

Aonuma, Fujibayashi and Hisada: Yes, yes… (nodding exaggeratedly)

Iwata: No game developed in-house at Nintendo has ever had a sound staff of ten people before has it? Because of the dense content of this game, the number of things increased, necessitating a large sound staff.

Aonuma: That's exactly it. The soundtrack is orchestral this time, we made sound effects for each individual scene, and then there were the voices for the characters, so this time the sound work was quite varied.

Iwata: I see. How many designers were there, Hisada-san? I'm afraid to ask! (laughs)

Hisada: Let's see… All together, drawing the line at backgrounds, there were 22.

Iwata: For just the landforms?! That's enough people to make a whole game!

Hisada: It was quite a lot.

Everyone: (nodding together)

Iwata: That's the most ever for The Legend of Zelda.

Aonuma: Yes. It's the most ever for The Legend of Zelda…and for a game made by Nintendo.

Iwata: So the number of designers was "dense" as well?

Aonuma: Indeed it was. (laughs)

Iwata: Aonuma-san, you worked on the sky as a planner. What exactly did you do?

Aonuma: First, allow me to talk about what led us to make a sky game field.

Iwata: Oh, yes. Please.

Aonuma: Usually, when we make a Legend of Zelda game with a continuous body of land, we need an overlapping part to join one game field to the next. This time, we made all kinds of gameplay for the forest, volcano and desert areas, and needed to create roads for going back and forth among those places. Every time, it was quite a struggle to figure out how to handle those roads.

Iwata: Roads are particularly essential to a game like The Legend of Zelda.

Aonuma: That's right. But the first thing we thought of this time was that perhaps we didn't need those roads.

Iwata: What do you mean?

Aonuma: Well, Fujibayashi-san and I talked for a long time about how, if we could make the gameplay in each area dense, then we wouldn't need to physically join them. Then the question was "How do we design it?"

Iwata: And what did you think of?

Aonuma: Course selection in Super Mario games.

Iwata: Course selection?

Aonuma: Yes. In Super Mario games, there's a course selection screen, and you waltz on over to it and hop in.

Iwata: You wanted something unreasonable for the world of The Legend of Zelda again! (laughs)

Fujibayashi: Yes! To me, Aonuma-san is the chief of unreasonable demands! (laughs) So I couldn't simply say, "All right!"

Iwata: As I listen to you talk, the stage selection music from Super Mario is playing in my head. It doesn't fit the atmosphere of The Legend of Zelda! (laughs)

Fujibayashi: We're fine with that for Super Mario, but we talked for a long time about how we couldn't do it exactly the same way for The Legend of Zelda.

Aonuma: While we were turning it over, the idea came up of having the starting location be floating in the sky. When I heard that, I thought that structure-wise, it was possible to have Link jump down from there.

Iwata: You certainly wouldn't need a road for that! (laughs)

Aonuma: That's right. But then we were like, "So how do we have him jump down?"

Iwata: Was having him jump down your idea, Fujibayashi-san?

Fujibayashi: Yes. I remembered seeing something on TV or somewhere in which a woman passed out in the middle of skydiving and another more experienced skydiver noticed and swooped over to her, held onto her, opened his own parachute, and landed with her.

Iwata: You saw that and thought you wanted to do that sometime.

Fujibayashi: Yes. I wanted to do it in a game sometime, but I thought simply starting in the sky would never get approval.

Aonuma: That alone is too vague.

Fujibayashi: So for a time we had the idea of jumping from a tower.

Aonuma: Oh, that's right! (laughs) The land was a basin with a really tall tower standing in the center. You would climb up and jump down and climb up and jump down and…

Fujibayashi: And the higher you climb, the further you can fly. But…that's pretty plain. (laughs)

Iwata: And that's why you decided to jump down from the sky?

Aonuma: Yes. But something about falling from the sky just wouldn't come into focus for me. How would the sky and the world below relate to each other spatially? As we considered various things, we started talking about how it was impossible without some sort of transportation.

Iwata: And that's where Iwamoto-san comes in as the sky gang leader.

Iwamoto: Exactly! (laughs)

Iwata: Fujibayashi-san, why did you appoint Iwamoto-san to be your "gang leader" for the sky game field?

Fujibayashi: About that time, development of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, which Iwamoto-san had worked on as director, was finishing up. I heard he would join our team, so I didn't waste a second asking him to be the sky gang leader.

Iwata: Iwamoto-san, what condition was the sky in when you joined?

Iwamoto: When I joined, it had been decided that there was one big island in the sky and you would jump down to earth through a hole in the clouds. We thought of different methods of moving around, but since it's a sky, a bird only seemed natural. We tested a number of things and wanted to make it so you could fly anywhere you wanted.

Aonuma: But we could see that being able to fly the bird around freely would raise a bunch of other problems, like "How far can we allow it to fly?" I kept telling Iwamoto-san that it would be fine if you just arrived at your destination the moment you jumped on the bird.

Iwamoto-san has really slaved over transportation like the ship in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and the train in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, so I didn't think he would jump into the fire again, but… (laughs)

Iwamoto: Well…yes. I decided I had to. At the end of a process of trial and error, it turned out the way it is now.

Iwata: It's surprising how course selection in Super Mario led to that bird.

Aonuma: In addition to course selection and being able to fly the bird wherever you want, Iwamoto-san put lots of islands in the sky and packed in all kinds of gameplay.

Iwata: So that's how the sky ended up dense, too.

Aonuma: Yes, it really did.

Iwata: Aonuma-san, what was the reason you became a planner?

Aonuma: It came about when, thanks to Iwamoto-san's participation, what we discussed earlier about the sky had settled down.

Iwamoto: Oh no it hadn't! (laughs)

Aonuma: No? (laughs) Well, thanks to the hard work of the designers, the island in the sky, named Skyloft, gradually came together. This time, Link is going to the Knight Academy and is living in the dormitory. It's a somewhat elaborate setting, so I wasn't sure it would be all right, but when it had come together somewhat, I had Iwamoto-san show me the game from the beginning. And to be honest, it was no good at all!

Iwamoto: (laughs)

Aonuma: Usually, at the beginning, just by talking to the other characters, you imagine the drama that will unfold and get really excited, but that wasn't true at all. And it wasn't clear whether the people who appeared were Link's classmates or what. I pressed him, saying, "Come on, you got to get this part right!" and he said, "Well, I'm busy with some other stuff right now."

Everyone: (laughs)

Iwamoto: Aonuma-san, you cut the story too short!

Aonuma: Did I? I believe that's how things were. (laughs) And I said, "So when will this start to make an impact?" and he said, "When everything else settles down."

Iwata: Like, "I'm busy with that bird right now!" (laughs)

Aonuma: Yes, like that. (laughs) But I could see that if it hadn't come together to a certain extent by that point, when Miyamoto-san came in, he would be like, "What have you been doing all this time?!" I was worried.

Iwata: Oh, I see. (laughs) Miyamoto-san is strict when it comes to the beginning. No matter how great what comes afterward is, if the beginning doesn't grab the players, then he tells you flat that the game is no good.

Iwamoto: Yes. I've experienced that multiple times.

Aonuma: You see? (laughs) So the situation was coming to a boil. But even when I said, "Get on top of that!" there wasn't anyone to do so, so I was like, "Then I'll do it myself!"

Iwata: You raised your hand and volunteered to be a planner.

Aonuma: Yes. But half of me simply wanted to do it! (laughs)

Iwamoto: Um, I'd like to offer an explanation.

Iwata: Yes?

Iwamoto: An important point this time is how Skyloft is one big hub from which you descend to the various game fields and to which you must then return. At that time, we had to create the overall image of Skyloft and the sky and I just couldn't get around to the beginning.

Fujibayashi: If I may add to that, you play Skyloft multiple times just as much as the other game fields, so it had to be dense too. That's why Iwamoto-san couldn't get around to the beginning.

Iwata: I see.

Fujibayashi: But we did have to make the beginning grab you, and only someone who really knows The Legend of Zelda can do that. Something I kept saying was "Use whoever's available, even if it's your parent." (laughs)

Everyone: (looks at Aonuma-san)

Aonuma: What?! (laughs)

Everyone: (laughs)

Fujibayashi: Actually, before you volunteered, night after night, Iwamoto-san and I had been devising a plan—like, "You know, a certain someone around here really knows The Legend of Zelda…"

Aonuma: Huh? Really?!

Iwamoto: And our plan went off without a hitch.

Aonuma: You…trapped me! (laughs)

Iwata: (laughs) Shall we name this section "The Producer Trap"? (laughs)

Everyone: (laughs)

Aonuma: Well, everyone really did look like they were having a hard time.

Iwata: And you just couldn't overlook it?

Aonuma: That's right. I've worked on The Legend of Zelda all the way up till now, and not one time has it not been difficult, but more than ever before, this time, everyone was saying, "This is hard!" Part of me wanted to experience for myself just how hard it was.

Iwata: How was it once you dove in?

Aonuma: Hard. Harder than ever before.

Iwata: Why was it so hard?

Aonuma: We used a special tool for development this time so planners could do all sorts of things. Before, planners would ask the various people in charge to work on character dialogue and the timing of events, but this time the planners could, to a certain extent, take care of such things themselves.

In other words, what we would usually ask the programmers to do, we could do ourselves. But that way, since you can do anything yourself, you're alone up till the very, very end, taking pains over it.

Iwata: In other words, you can't ask someone else to tie it up all nice and neat for you.

Aonuma: Once you embrace it, it's really hard.

Fujibayashi: We adopted that system for The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS system, and it was really handy. We thought we'd do it for this game, too, and made it at first, perhaps unfortunately. (laughs)

Aonuma: It is extremely difficult to say whether this way of doing things is good or bad, but it does have the merit of drastically reducing loss during debugging. On the other hand, it makes dividing up the work difficult, so the burden on each person gets really heavy.

Iwata: You can do anything yourself, but for that reason you have to do everything yourself.

Fujibayashi: Exactly. As director, I had seen that coming, so I asked Iwamoto-san, who has lots of experience, but the sky and town turned out to be a lot of work. And as Aonuma-san mentioned earlier, I knew Miyamoto-san would be coming in to check on it before long, so in order to get past that gateway, I thought I would take Aonuma-san, another big gateway, as my ally! (laughs)

Aonuma: Oh, so that's why you accepted so easily when I said I would do it! (laughs)

Iwata: You managed it so you would automatically pass through the first producer gateway. (laughs)

Fujibayashi: Yes. In addition, there was no one more suited to making the beginning.

Aonuma: Later on, though, Miyamoto-san did correct a bunch of stuff I did—like, "Aonuma-san, you've put in too much text!" (laughs)

Iwata: But Fujibayashi-san's strategy was successful.

Fujibayashi: It was a major success! (laughs) Thanks to that, the beginning turned out really good.

Iwata: Aonuma-san, as a planner, how satisfied are you with the parts you worked on?

Aonuma: In the end, Miyamoto-san corrected a lot, but I think the characters who appear toward the beginning turned out to be quite vivid. I'm glad I did it.

Iwata: You could do the school drama that you wanted? (laughs)

Aonuma: That's right. We were able to properly portray the characters who appear at the Knight Academy, so I hope players will enjoy the school life there with such a variety of characters appearing.

Iwata: At first, the sky functioned like a course selection screen, and later it became a town called Skyloft and changed form into a hub for adventures. Iwamoto-san, as the "sky gang leader," why would you say that happened?

Iwamoto: Skyloft is basically a place where you prepare for adventure. We wanted to make it a kind of home base that you always came back to after having accomplished something.

Iwata: A place you stop by more than any other.

Iwamoto: Yes. But it wouldn't be fun if all you did was prepare for an adventure and then head out again. By adding in involvements with all kinds of townsfolk, it became a place somewhat apart from adventure that you can explore in a more laid-back fashion.

Aonuma: The most distinctive gameplay in Skyloft is bringing back to town the treasure you have collected on the world surface below and changing it to different things.

Iwamoto: That's right. With treasure, you can do things like power up items and customize your equipment. And there's a Item Check where you can shuffle around the contents of an Adventure Pouch.

Iwata: What's an Adventure Pouch?

Fujibayashi: To explain it simply, the players think about what kind of Link they want to play when they head down to the surface for a particular adventure and make selections for the items in their pouch accordingly.

Iwata: There are different kinds of Link?

Fujibayashi: That's right. If you stuff in a bunch of potions, you'll play a tough Link. If you put in a bunch of medals good for collecting various things, lots of treasure will appear.

Iwamoto: But there's a limit to how much you can put in your pouch, so when it's full, you have to take out what you don't need.

Iwata: And there's a place to store them in the Bazaar, right?

Iwamoto: Yes. There are all kinds of shops necessary for your journey there. You can do all sorts of things like buy items, mix potions, or store items. We made the Bazaar so you can do all those things quickly in a single place.

Iwata: Ah, so that's why it's called the Bazaar.

Iwamoto: Yes. Hoofing it all over town would take time and be a hassle, so we made it in the center of Skyloft.

Hisada: There are multiple entrances so you can access it from anywhere, and we put shops near each other that would be more convenient.

Iwata: The town is designed with functionality front and foremost. Now I have a question for Hisada-san, who coordinated landform design. Did you get lots of unreasonable requests from the planners?

Hisada: Oh, yes… Oh, yes! (laughs)

Iwata: So much that you have to repeat it twice?! (laughs) How did you interpret those demands and how did you respond to them?

Hisada: When there was an outrageous request, I would first be like, "Huh?!" but then we would all talk it over, and once I understood the essence of what was being asked, I could find a way to achieve it. For example, if someone said, "We want to make a town floating in the sky," at first I would have no idea where to start.

Iwata: Because no one has ever seen such a thing. (laughs)

Hisada: But once the goal became clear—that Link jumps down from there, whistles, and Loftwing swoops in, and he can go all sorts of places—I thought, "Then we need places for him to jump from," and prepared jump-off spots here and there around Skyloft so it would be easy to jump down.

Iwata: In our interviews so far, lots of people have said that the designers made lots of useful suggestions from their point of view.

Fujibayashi: Along those lines, early on, when we weren't that busy yet, the designers drew up concept images for the sky and proposed all sorts of ideas.

Iwata: What would be a good example of something that came about because of the designers' opinions?

Hisada: Let's see…

Fujibayashi: Batreaux, for example.

Hisada: Yes. Batreaux is like the surviving member of a clan of demons who wants to become human. A landform designer came up with a concept image for an interesting townsperson, and when we saw that, we were like, "It would be interesting if there were someone like this." Batreaux came from that.

Iwata: Is there something unusual about him?

Hisada: Yes. I can't go into detail here, but there's a gap between how he looks and his personality.

Fujibayashi: I first saw Batreaux at Iwamoto-san's desk. He didn't appear to fit The Legend of Zelda at all!

Hisada: Yes. (laughs)

Fujibayashi: I thought maybe he was working on a different game than The Legend of Zelda! (laughs)

Iwata: That's how unusual Batreaux is.

Fujibayashi: Yes. He lives in a weird place like an attic.

Hisada: But if you grant his requests, he'll give you all sorts of stuff. Iwamoto-san, the character designers and I all came up with lots of ideas for subevents like that.

Iwamoto: We put forth ideas, and when it was time to bring them together, I didn't know whether there were a lot or a little, but when I actually checked, there were a ton.

Fujibayashi: Maybe enough for a whole game.

Iwata: Huh? Were there really that many?

Fujibayashi: So above the clouds is dense, too. (laughs)

Iwata: I see. (laughs) Now, on to sound designer Mizuta-san. Thank you for waiting.

Mizuta: Not at all.

Iwata: What did you pay special attention to this time when making the sound?

Mizuta: From early on in production, the first thing I wanted to treat with importance was the sound of the wind.

Iwata: The wind is only one word, but there are actually many different kinds.

Mizuta: Yes. There are lots of different kinds—in the sky and towns to begin with, environment sounds in the game fields and dungeons, the satisfying sound of cutting the air when the bird dives, and so on. There were five people working on sound effects, but we split them up for different kinds of wind.

Iwata: You divided up the work just for the wind?

Mizuta: Yes. (laughs) Different people were in charge of different areas. Another important one was the sound of the sword. The action of swinging the sword is more important than ever this time, and the title of the game is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, so I thought, "We better pay close attention to the sounds that the sword makes."

Iwata: A lot of games pay attention to music, but pouring lots of energy into sound effects is one characteristic of Miyamoto-san's teams.

Mizuta: That's right. We always kept that in mind as we made the sound. I also tried to make sure that the staff who joined later also treated the sounds of the sword and wind with care so they would share the same attitude.

Aonuma: And shouldn't we mention the new musical instruments?

Mizuta: Oh, that's right. This time, you can play the harp.

Iwata: The Legend of Zelda series often features musical instruments.

Mizuta: Yes. You can play the harp as you walk, and play along with the background music, so I hope people will enjoy playing it all over the place.

Iwata: I'm looking forward to that. To discuss the sound a little more, what kind of hurdles did you face with regard to making the sound?

Mizuta: First of all, there was simply a ton of things to make sounds for, so that was a big hurdle. We had Mario Club Co., Ltd. record all the event scenes and watched those, checking each one.

Iwata: You mean that you watched the videos to check whether the sounds were appropriate.

Mizuta: That's right. And when I found events that didn't have sounds, I listed what music or sound effects were necessary, and used them to discover, for example, what sound wouldn't fit someplace. Being responsible for the sound, I wanted to manage the quality of the whole thing.

Iwata: I would suppose so.

Mizuta: But despite all that, it still turned out that there were too many.

Iwata: Ten people still wasn't enough. (laughs)

Mizuta: Yes. (laughs) So then I asked the planners to select and apply sounds for conversations.

Aonuma: It was my first time to add in my own sounds.

Iwamoto: If you used the tool we mentioned, a planner himself could create a simple demo.

Mizuta: Which created another problem. A lot of the time, the content would change while you weren't looking, or new events would come into being.

Hisada: That's right! All of a sudden, there would be more!

Iwamoto: All of a sudden, there would be new objects sitting there.

Iwata: All of a sudden? (laughs)

Iwamoto: Yes. Sudden events! (laughs)

Iwata: It's amazing that you were able to make something on such a scale with new methods. Mizuta-san, why do you think you were able to create such high density without the game falling apart?

Mizuta: Once a week, we held a leader meeting. I think having such occasions was one big factor. And Wakai-san and I participated from the sound team. We didn't just discuss the progress of development, but also picked up all kinds of new information, so it was really helpful. The reason we could pass on correct information to the staff who joined partway through was because we had such opportunities to exchange information.

Iwata: Even as the team grew large, you were able to communicate effectively.

Mizuta: Yes. Another big factor was how in addition to gaining information, we were able to convey the state of affairs with regard to sound.

Iwata: How about you, Hisada-san?

Hisada: Well, I do think the leader meetings were very important, but the contents of the game changed daily, so in order to adapt to those changes I was walking around asking about the game all the time. I thought that was all there was to do.

Iwata: Doing the footwork, like in a police drama. (laughs)

Hisada: That's exactly right. Then it isn't long before my intuition kicks in.

Iwata: The police detective's intuition! (laughs) (Editor's note: The idea of a police detective's intuition is and idea that was made popular in Japan by classic TV detective dramas, where the detective would follow a lead without concrete evidence based on his "intuitions", which of course almost always led in him solving the case.)

Hisada: Aonuma-san's seat was near mine, so as soon as I heard something important, I would dash over and say, "Aonuma-san! What is the meaning of this?!"

Iwata: (laughs)

Hisada: And not just me, but the whole landform staff was walking around. If the placement of enemies changed just a little, the way to make the landforms might change a lot.

Iwata: Ah, I see. That's different from Mizuta-san's impression because you needed to take different approaches from how Mizuta-san created his sounds.

Hisada: I think so. Even a small change might mean that those in charge of the landforms had to make an incredibly big change, so I always had to keep my ears pricked. It's such a big project that changes were bound to occur somewhere while you weren't looking, so if I got even a little suspicious or uneasy, I would go ask about it right away.

Iwata: You then had to dash to his desk and ask, "Aonuma-san! What is the meaning of this?!"

Aonuma: Yes. (laughs)

Hisada: And rather than wait to hear about it, I tried to check things out by taking what was done and actually testing and playing it.

Iwata: You wanted to check with your own eyes.

Hisada: That's right.

Iwata: How about you, Iwamoto-san?

Iwamoto: I think the reason we were able to pull of such a big project without it breaking down was because each person on the staff was highly motivated and tackled it with a spirit that said, "Let's make something solid!"

Iwata: But no matter how spirited you might be, it's quite difficult to keep your concentration across a period spanning almost five years. How were you able to do that this time?

Iwamoto: I think there was extremely positive mutual reinforcement, whereby we thought, "That person is making something super cool, so I better work hard too!" There was an atmosphere of helping each other out if they ran into trouble.

Iwata: After all, a producer raised his hand and volunteered to be a planner. (laughs)

Iwamoto: Yes. (looking at Aonuma-san) Thanks again for that.

Aonuma: No, I wanted to do it! (laughs)

Iwamoto: Sometimes you made unreasonable demands, and sometimes you let things slide, and when it came down to something important, you backed us up.

Aonuma: I can't tell if I'm unwelcome or if they're grateful. (laughs)

Iwamoto: No, thanks to that, we were able to get through it! (laughs)

Iwata: All right. (laughs) Fujibayashi-san?

Fujibayashi: I feel about the same way that everyone else does. First, we prepared a list of who was in charge of what area to stick with to the end. Each section had its own designer working as a designer, but sharing information across sections developed naturally, which I think is great.

Iwata: And are you satisfied as a director?

Fujibayashi: Yes. Completely. (laughs)

Iwata: And last, Aonuma-san?

Aonuma: I think we were able to keep such a big project together because the game world this time is structurally simple. We talk about all these "dense" places, but structure-wise there are only four—forest, volcano, desert and sky.

Iwata: That's right.

Aonuma: Those four worlds were independent, and the goal with regard to each one's volume came into view, so I think we could do it because each staff member had in mind a prediction like "If we work hard in this direction, this Legend of Zelda game will turn out great!"

Iwata: It's such a big project, so there were lots of teams, and everyone concentrated on their own work, but each individual staff member working on the four worlds shared with the others a sense that this Legend of Zelda game would be awesome, and that led to completion.

Aonuma: I believe so. If the world had expanded too much and the areas to be worked on had been larger, no one might have been able to keep up and development might have collapsed. But we focused on four worlds this time, so we were able to dig deeply into each one.

Iwata: Each person had his or her own position.

Aonuma: Like, "We can dig deeper into this," and "We can dig deeper into that, too!"

Iwata: And you said things like, "We dug into this and came up with something cool, so anyone want to use it?"

Aonuma: That's right. I feel like being able to do that may be what was most different this time compared to making previous Legend of Zelda games.

Iwata: I see. That's one reason why, asking about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, I felt like it is incredibly dense.

Aonuma: I think so, too.

Iwata: Well, this is the last session of "Iwata Asks" covering the different stages. Starting with Iwamoto-san, I would like each of you to mention something on behalf of all the developers for the sky and town to the fans.

Iwamoto: Okay. I think everyone has a strong image of The Legend of Zelda games that involves adventuring through game fields and dungeons, but we made the sky and town that we have talked about this time with an image of Link coming back from his adventure, taking some detours, and strolling around aimlessly. We made a lot of stuff for it, so I hope players will come back, talk to all kinds of townspeople, and enjoy conversing with them.

Iwata: What about the bird Loftwing that you worked so hard on?

Iwamoto: You come back from the surface, take a little detour and explore all kinds of places, so we put a lot of work into making it feel really good when you're riding Loftwing. The programmers and designers really applied themselves to the precise movement of the wings, the feeling of soaring through the air, and the feeling of buoyancy, so please experience that to the fullest.

Iwata: After all, you worked so hard on making Loftwing such a comfortable ride that you had Aonuma-san work on the beginning of the game. (laughs)

Iwamoto: Yes, sorry. (laughs)

Iwata: Fujibayashi-san, we have now introduced the four stages. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Fujibayashi: While each of the four stages has its own density, we really polished this up into something with distinct tastes that you can really sink your teeth into, so please enjoy the taste that you like.

Iwata: The more you sink your teeth in them, the more flavor comes out.

Fujibayashi: That's right. As you come and go many times, you will make new discoveries.

Iwata: Hisada-san, you worked on the landforms. Do you have anything to add?

Hisada: Yes, a lot, but we worked hard to make a fantasy world that would be enjoyable and easy to comprehend. As someone who worked on the landforms, I would be thoroughly pleased if players wander all over and experience the atmosphere of the distinctive areas.

Iwata: I see. Mizuta-san, you worked on the sound. If you would, please.

Mizuta: Okay. As one who worked on the sound, we recorded an orchestra this time, so I want players to enjoy the impact of the live sound. Personally, after getting to be present for the recording, I poured even more strength into the production so as not to lose out against the soundtrack. We also tried to imbue the sound with a playful spirit right up until the end so as not to lose out to the developers working on the other components. Please play it thoroughly and to the very end.

Fujibayashi: It feels as if we mastered various fields for a deeply satisfying dish. The three great world cuisines are, or so I've heard, are Chinese, French and Turkish, but—as if to add Japanese food to that list—I hope players will eat their fill of these four delicious game fields!

Iwata: Each one tastes different, but they are all rich.

Everyone: (laughs)

Aonuma: Well, we can't knock out dense games like this all the time, so I hope lots of people will try it out.

Iwata: I really think so, too. Our discussion today reminded me of how incredible it is when many unique staff members come together, putting all their energy behind the single goal of making something great. Thank you, everyone.

Everyone: Thank you!