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.