Ask the Developer Vol. 9, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom—Part 5
This article has been translated from the original Japanese content.
The images shown in this interview were created during development.
Check out the rest of the interview:
Part 5: If players think they can do it, they can!
You mentioned that every player will have a different experience with this game. However, given this degree of freedom, some of the abilities may be used in ways contrary to the developers' intentions. Do you have any concerns about that?
Fujibayashi: I wouldn’t worry too much about that. The programmers have made sure these features won't cause issues on the system side, and the gameplay is designed so that players can freely create whatever comes to mind, just like an experiment. We'd rather our players surprise us by creating something we've never even thought of.
Dohta: This can also be said for the previous title, but we've placed more importance on creating a game that enables players to do exactly what they think they can do, rather than how we want them to play the game.
Fujibayashi: Because once we define how we want players to play the game, it ends up becoming more and more linear. We once had a place with stacks of crates that couldn't be moved, but we decided to make them movable because we knew our players would definitely be disappointed if they couldn't move them. Since then, for any objects we don't want players to move, our designers have put ropes around them or covered them with a cloth to symbolize that they can't be moved. A lot of attention has been given to details like these.
Dohta: By the way, we've placed a lid on every single unbreakable jar. (Laughs) The more you play a game, the faster your brain processes it, so after a while, your brain starts to automatically sort out what's an enemy, what not to touch, and what to take. For parts of the game that require players to look and make decisions, our designers did a good job creating rules and signs, so I think players will understand what they should do intuitively, even without any explanation.
You mentioned that you worked on this game from the perspective of enabling players to do exactly what they think they can do. I recall players of the previous title playing in lots of different ways. Do you ever watch fan-made gameplay videos?
Aonuma: There was some talk about them among the development team. The direction of giving players the freedom to do anything in this game came about precisely because of the reactions of people who played the last game.
Takizawa: Even though it's been six years since the last title was released, many fans still post drawings, comments and videos on social media. Especially when the team is facing difficulties during development, these things light up the eyes of our staff and make them think, “Alright, let's show 'em what we've got!” I really want to thank all our fans.
Fujibayashi: I totally agree. Our fans have motivated us so much in the development of this game. Thank you so much!
Everyone: (Gives a big nod)
Aonuma: I've seen some fans say that the Legend of Zelda™ games make them feel like they're the only player to have solved the puzzle, and that's what they like about the series. I think letting players come up with their own solutions to puzzles gives them a stronger sense of being the only one to have figured them out than if we got them to use pre-defined solutions. In a sense, this is something unique to the Legend of Zelda series, and I think it's something that's brought out even more in this title.
Thank you very much. I feel your passion for the development of not just this title but also the series in general. Now, to wrap up the interview, could you tell us what you want players to pay close attention to and what you've particularly focused on in this game?
Wakai: For me it's the expression of realism in the game. For example, the sense of distance created as a player moves away from a nearby sound and it becomes increasingly hazy and echoey, disappearing into other ambient sounds. Ever since the previous title, we've been developing our games to provide a surround-sound experience, and you can enjoy it with headphones or stereo speakers. We hope you'll notice these details. I heard some of our development staff saying, “Just chilling by the sea makes me feel relaxed... I wish I could listen to that sound forever...” (Laughs) We hope you'll have fun playing around and finding your own way to enjoy the game's sound, like in this example.
Takizawa: As for the design and art for the core elements of this title, such as the new civilization, the motifs have been completely redesigned from those of the previous title, which were inspired by ancient Japanese culture. At the same time, all our designers have focused on once again building completely original, supernatural imagery, while creating a mysterious atmosphere that's existed in Japan since ancient times. We'd like you to take time to enjoy your adventure in this new and different world that's filled with this somewhat mysterious yet refreshing energy. And please look forward to a Hyrule that's both familiar and changed since the previous game, including its expanded new world. Also, don't forget to check out new characters and enemies, as well as how familiar faces have changed and grown. We hope you'll enjoy interacting with various elements created around the theme of “hands” that we discussed earlier in the interview.
Dohta: As was the case with the previous game, the best-case scenario would be for players to start playing at the same time, and when they get together later, they realize that they don’t know what each other is talking about because each of them is experiencing something completely different. Even though they're enjoying the same game, they're taking different routes, doing different things in their own ways, and when they ask each other how far they've gotten, each learns for the first time about what the other is playing. I hope there'll be conversations between players like, “I never knew there was such a thing!” or “I didn’t know there was such a place!” again in this title.
Fujibayashi: In the early stages of development on this title, we received comments from fans saying that they wished they could forget everything about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and play it for the first time again. The feeling you get when the game starts and the world opens up, the moment you're about to embark on an epic adventure, the encounters with powerful enemies, and the excitement when you reach the ending. In The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, we've tried our best to ensure players can experience those feelings as much as or more than in previous titles.
I'm confident fans will recapture that same feeling, and hope you'll look forward to that.
Last but not least, Aonuma-san, do you have any comments for the fans?
Aonuma: I wonder how many times I’ve played the game to debug (8) it... I've played this game from start to finish about 20 times, and I can say that it's more fun with detours, even more so than in the previous game. When testing the game, I sometimes needed to rush ahead to clear the story, but later on, as I started to go off on side paths, I realized... it's a whole different game! (Laughs) Some discoveries made me think, “Wow, you can even do this at this point in the game?” Even when sticking things together, there are so many different combinations that even I don't know all of them. I even discovered something new the other day while shooting the gameplay demonstration video. So, it may take some time, but as you take detours and try out whatever you can at the time, I think you'll be able to enjoy the game in your very own way. So don't head straight for the ending! (Laughs) I've cleared the game many times myself and never felt bored once. You have my word!
(8) The process of playing in-development games for quality assurance and investigating issues with programs.
I look forward to discovering lots of new things in the further expanded land of Hyrule. Thank you very much.