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Eiji Aonuma Talks Zelda Ideas and Development

Posted by Trevor Chan

Pace of Zelda development "in some ways a problem"

Having been an integral part of the Zelda series since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Eiji Aonuma was naturally one of the key people Nintendo turned to in order to visualise how a Zelda "experience" might look on the Wii U.

Speaking to IndustryGamers, Aonuma recalled being involved with early Wii U meetings to determine the direction the console would take as far back as two yeas ago, and the unique perspective he brought to the discussions:

The way I was involved in many ways in the project was as the representative for how Zelda will evolve with this new console. That was the perspective I brought to those meetings. Obviously, Zelda is one of those games in which a lot of the gameplay is centered around the idea of items and tools that the player uses in various ways in their environment. And so, so far it’s just been me examining how I’d like to use that new controller on the interface there to allow additional control or easier control over the toolset that’s given to the player as well as how to open up new possibilities.

The Zelda Wii U tech demo that was showcased at E3 2011 wasn't necessarily what a Wii U Zelda game would look like, but it was more of an insight into what could be done on the console and the type of user interface that would be possible thanks to the Wii U controller:

Well, one thing I want to emphasize here, when talking about the Wii U Zelda HD experience, is that we really built it specifically to be an experience. The idea is using Zelda as the backdrop for one of these HD experiences, what kind of representation Zelda can make there. But this is really just to show people what kind of things the console can do. And so, it’s not necessarily the case that we would use that graphic style or depiction the same way we would in a new Zelda, when there is a new Zelda for the Wii U. Just like the map functionality that was also implemented in that experience - it’s simply us giving an objective look at the kinds of things that can be done with the HD hardware. And Zelda happened to be the filter through which we view it in that experience. So nothing is defined right now as far as how we’ll proceed.

As one of Nintendo's most popular and successful franchises, gamers undoubtedly want to see a Zelda game next to all the other popular first-party titles as part of the software line-up whenever new console launches. Noting that it takes approximately three years to develop a Zelda game, Aonuma concedes that it's not always possible to time the release of Link's adventures with the launch of new hardware.

And, naturally, I realize that it is in some ways a problem that Zelda games take as long as they do. I would like to get them out faster. That’s something that I consider a personal challenge and it’s something that I look into.

With typical Zelda development taking so long to get from start to finish, it's perhaps understandable that Aonuma some times wishes he could work on some thing else. No matter what new idea or concept he comes up with, it seems the world of Zelda always draws him back:

Yeah, the truth of it is I always want to work on something new. It just turns out that as I’m coming up with these ideas along the way, I realize, “Y’know, this could really work on a Zelda game.” And it sort filters back into it and in the end, we come back into another Zelda project. So in some ways, it’s a bit of a challenge for me personally that Zelda ends up becoming this pool of my ideas and it keeps absorbing the ideas I have and they get integrated back into Zelda games. But that’s just sort of the way it’s flown for me.

[via industrygamers.com]

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User Comments (27)

CorbsAdmin

#1

Corbs said:

I like this guy. He's a very talented game developer. Of course as popular as the Zelda series is, it would be difficult to let go of it to do something unproven. :D

Kid_A

#3

Kid_A said:

You know, if Aonuma wants a break from Zelda, there's this lovely little studio in Texas that I'm sure could take the series off his hands for awhile...

turtlelink

#6

turtlelink said:

Everyone gets tired of doing the same thing for a long time. I wonder if he'll end up developing something new.

DestinyMan

#7

DestinyMan said:

One thing that I'm sure he realizes is that even if it takes a long time to make a Zelda game, you should never rush. With long development time comes better quality, and the game wouldn't become as good as it could've been if they wouldn't tweak it here and there to make it as good as it could be. But that is an interesting thought. I wonder what franchise he would work on besides Zelda?

FonistofCruxis

#8

FonistofCruxis said:

Its good that he said that the Zelda wii U tech demo shown at e3 won't definitely be like the first Zelda on the console, while it looked beautiful I would prefer a Zelda wii U game in the style of Wind waker or Skyward sword.

Bloodysaber

#9

Bloodysaber said:

I'm still waiting for another Four Swords Adventure game and this time with a controller that has a built in screen, I just don't see any excuse!

DarkLloyd

#12

DarkLloyd said:

well dont let OOT and twilight princess be the only games with darkish nonreal realistic art style

id like to see that tech demo into a fully developed zelda game and crank as much as they can out of that wii u :P cuz it looks pretty to me

of course a wind waker style couldnt hurt either but i hope theres a balance between the overuse of cartoony and realistic graphics when future zelda titles come out

JebbyDeringer

#13

JebbyDeringer said:

I thought all recent Zelda games were just generated automatically by a computer. There are actually people still making these games?

TKOWL

#14

TKOWL said:

One of the more-smart developers out there, he doesn't let his franchise fall short like so many others (besides Link's Crossbow Training, but that doesn't even count).

eviLaTtenDant

#16

eviLaTtenDant said:

Take your time with development for Zelda titles. Don't make another game that speaking in Zelda standards feels as empty as Phantom Hourglass.
@Kid_A: I like your train of thought here. :)

NiaLovesNinty

#17

NiaLovesNinty said:

I like this guy, too. It'd be interesting to see what else he is capable of other than Zelda, though.

Expa0

#18

Expa0 said:

Zelda has been completely void of ideas and innovation after Wind Waker. Also I hate that guy, probably the most annoying Nintendo japanese employee after Sakurai.

JimLad

#20

JimLad said:

I think one day they should try a Zelda game with expansions. Like have the main quest, but once it's over have new side quests introduced in the form of downloadable content. Set in the same world, it would mean they could develop new ideas and put them out there quicker.

SunnySnivy

#21

SunnySnivy said:

"it’s not necessarily the case that we would use that graphic style or depiction the same way we would in a new Zelda, when there is a new Zelda for the Wii U."

WHYYYY. It looks so good. I hope they do use the graphics style... but as long as the story and gameplay is good, I won't mind.

Wait- are we really anticipating Zelda for the Wii U, when Skyward Sword hasn't even been released yet?!

Rapadash6

#22

Rapadash6 said:

My only hope for this new Zelda is that it's released before the end of the Wii U's lifecycle. Assuming they start on it right away, even with Nintendo's polishing procedures, it should be done in time. I think Nintendo should just make Zelda a once a generation thing, and only a console experience. This might give Aunoma more time to work on other fresh projects and it will also prevent the series from becoming over exposed, which it's definately in danger of at the moment.

fishman100

#23

fishman100 said:

I mean, I've never seen/played a bad Zelda game.

I'm sure that even if this was only meant as an experience they can somehow transform it into another great game in a legendary series.

Somehow I think this was the case with TP/PH, with the innovative controls, etc.

TheGreenSpiny

#24

TheGreenSpiny said:

@20 Jimlad: That's a great idea. Though I'd like to see more than just side quests. Something like the stuff they did for GTA4.

@18 expa0: You obviously didn't play Twilight Princess. That game was radically different from the rest of the 3D Zeldas.

Expa0

#25

Expa0 said:

@24
Twilight Princess... radically different? As in how? I mean if you picked one of the DS Zeldas you would at least have something of a argument, but Twilight Princess? That game was exactly the game I was thinking about when I said "Zelda has been void of ideas" it's the epitome of unoriginality, it was too afraid to try anything new, like Wind Waker did, and that's why the game ended up sucking.

Henmii

#26

Henmii said:

"One thing that I'm sure he realizes is that even if it takes a long time to make a Zelda game, you should never rush. With long development time comes better quality, and the game wouldn't become as good as it could've been if they wouldn't tweak it here and there to make it as good as it could be"

Yeah, he probably meant that they can't do it quicker without losing any of it's quality. Quality takes time. And I am good with that. I don't want to see a Zelda every year.

But on the other hand: I don't like it having to wait a entire console lifespan for a new console Zelda. Twilight princess came at the Gamecube end. And now Skyward sword comes at the Wii end. Why can't we have a console Zelda again in, lets say, the third year of a home-console's lifespan?

motang

#27

motang said:

The only game I am looking forward to on the Wii this year, since Nintendo use a big umbrella on operation rainfall.

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