News Article

Aonuma Explains His Quest to Have Improved the "Overall Game Flow" of The Wind Waker HD

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Also states that Skyrim has not been a direct influence on the next Zelda

Development of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is now complete, with manufacturing on physical retail copies no doubt underway and members of the press happily playing through to work towards producing their reviews. It would seem like a good time, therefore, for Eiji Aonuma and his team to take a rest, though as he's explained to USgamer in an interview, he's had "no sort of break" due to ongoing work on 3DS title The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

Leading one of Nintendo's most treasured franchises is a high pressure job, and there may be additional stresses when remaking a title that, for some, stands tall as one of the best and perhaps under-appreciated entries in the series. It had — like almost any game — its share of flaws, however, such as momentum breaking quests and moments of relative tedium, depending on your gaming sensibilities. In this interview, Aonuma admitted that his memory of the game and what it actually included didn't always match, as would be expected of a busy mind with a lot of Zelda to remember. Nintendo's subsequently made much of its tweaks and balancing with this re-release to improve these areas, and the famous producer explained how he played through the whole experience from start to finish in order to improve the overall flow from a consumer's perspective.

I think there really are a lot of different cases you have to look at. I don't think there's any set rule for how to determine what is something you want to improve or smooth over and what you want to leave as it is. I think the important thing for us as developers is to start at the beginning and play and really get into the flow of the game and put ourselves in the player's shoes. If you just focus on one thing here, one thing there, and you look at those objects individually, outside of the context of the whole game, and make changes to them, you're not doing a service to the player or to the game itself. You're taking them out of their context.

So again, it's really important to look at the overall player experience and look at the game through the player's eyes. That's very important, to look at it with fresh eyes and make sure you're feeling what the player feels. When you hit a point in the game that's too difficult or maybe too easy, you're seeing it in that overall context, and not just as an individual instance or individual experience. If something is too tough and gets the player in a mood like, "This is terrible, I can't do this," then of course that's something we want to look at. If it's so easy that we're just going to breeze through it and not remember having solved that puzzle or overcome that challenge, that's something we want to look at and possibly revise as well.

But again, the important thing is to look at the overall game flow and try to experience it from the player's viewpoint, so you're impacting the whole experience, and not just those single instances or single events.

The impression with Aonuma is that he's continually trying to improve the momentum of Zelda titles, though sought to correct an impression that he'd cited Bethesda's Skyrim as a source of inspiration for the new Zelda Wii U title.

I just wanted to say, I've been a bit surprised by the focus on my comments about Skyrim. I started playing Skyrim because the name was so close to "Skyward Sword" and I wanted to see what that was about. [laughs] I didn't pick it up because it was popular or because it was getting good reviews or anything like that. I just wanted to take a look at it. "Oh, okay, this is what this game's about. There are some things in here that are sort of Zelda-esque and maybe some things that aren't."

But there was no inspiration taken from Skyrim. It didn't impact what I was thinking about for future Zelda titles. I'm always thinking about, "Okay, next time, what are we going to do with the next one?" As a producer, whenever I can find more time to play games, I'm taking that free time to go out and play other games just to play them and see what's out there.

As far as whether or not those are inspiring me or influencing my decisions, I guess it's probably the same way as when I talk to young developers or new people on our staff, or when I read interviews with other people saying, "Yeah, this game was influenced by my experience playing Zelda as a kid." Or, "Zelda really impacted my design decisions going forward." I think the problem with that is that everything you play influences what you're thinking, but I'm not looking at other games to try and find inspiration. If it happens, it's a natural process.

With The Wind Waker HD getting closer, how important is balancing and a smoother sense of momentum and progression in this re-release? Do those of you that played the original see major areas for improvement in that respect?


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User Comments (50)



RedRocBoy said:

Can't wait. Would love to see the first Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Zelda 2 remade on the Wii U. Really excited to jump back into thr world of Wind Waker. Really hope Zelda Wii U looks like the tech demo.



MutantlX said:

I cant wait for this game. I loved it on my GameCube and can't wait to relive it in full hd. Love the graphics style and most of all the music.

I love the fact the producer played skyrim its nice to know they see what's going on in the world of rpg these days. So they don't fall behind and keep things fresh!



swordx said:

I'm happy it's NOT inspired by Skyrim. Skyrim was boring. Oblivion was wayyyyyy better.



ueI said:

It doesn't say what they've done to improve the flow. >_>



BlatantlyHeroic said:

I was hoping for a more character driven story that wasn't just a bunch of fetch quests, but I guess I can just get rid of that dream. :/

I'm not sure if I want to play the next Zelda. After seeing Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, I'm not sure if I like how the main console series is progressing. They're all missing the majesty that games like WW, OoT, and MM brought.



GraveLordXD said:

@RedRocBoy couldn't agree more I would love to see the first two get a remake also I hear that the new Zelda u game is going to have graphics similar to skyward sword not like the tech demo unfortunately



GraveLordXD said:

@swordx what really? I thought that morrowind was the best over all but I enjoyed skyrim more than oblivion actually to me morrowind was better than skyrim and oblivion combined



NImH said:

@BlatantlyHeroic I disagree. It's what was "missing" from those games you listed that made them epic. The lack of story left room for our imaginations to fill in the blanks. The lack of character detail left room for endless personal interpretations of how Moblins really look. The intentional omission of voice acting that everyone whines about gives Link his own distinct voice in my mind.
It's not what they're "missing" that's changing it... it's what they're adding.
BTW I love where they've taken the Zelda series.



Bass_X0 said:

I'd like to see a 3D remake of the first game. The controls would be modern, while the maps would be full 3D instead of viewed from above. The graphics would also be modern with each area recieving their own distinct theme. The maps would be the same as in the first game - no changing the order or location of anything either.



R_Champ said:


TBH, I love the direction too, so far. Everyone whines about TP and SS, but personally I thought they were great. Sure, I'd like to see the series take another turn soon, but every time I hear someone say MM was better than TP and SS I just cringe because I couldn't disagree more.



DerpSandwich said:

I know I'm in the minority, but I really did not mind the stuff that they're "fixing" in WWHD. Everyone thought that the Triforce quest at the end was like, the most terrible and boring thing in the universe, but I never would have even thought of it as a problem if so many people weren't so vocal about it. I love treasure hunting in the ocean, and I loved having something to spend all my rupees on, and I really didn't mind the break in the "flow" of the game. It's weird; I just really didn't mind it at all.

Same with the sailing speed. I thought it was a lot of fun, and the slow speed made it more interesting and rewarding somehow. And right when it would have gotten a little too tedious, you get the ability to warp.

But I guess if these are problem for most people, it's good that they're changing it. Though I wish I could choose to have more of this stuff the way it was before, beyond just not buying the new sail.



EarthboundBenjy said:

There is a way to have the game play how it was before all the changes - it's to just find the GameCube disc and play that.



sr388survivor said:

@Bass_X0 I've had that exact wish ever since the Wii U came out. Exactly the same game but with new controls and with an over the shoulder view. Challenging combat and secrets that are almost impossible to find without help.

@DerpSandwich I completely agree with you. I was actually disappointed when I found out the "fixed" the Triforce quest. And not needing to change the direction of the wind seems silly since, you know, that's a huge part of the game. lol.
But anyway, just wanted to let you know you're not alone out there lol.



HappyHappyist said:

i'm really on the fence for buying this game. on one hand, it's a remake, and i already have the original. that should be enough not to buy it, but on the other hand, i still want to play this with the gamepad. i've been shifting whether to buy this or not for months, not even kidding.

see, i don't really support remakes or rereleases. i think it's a GREAT way to play classics, but that's easily doable with Virtual Console. what i mean is this: without a remake, people have to hunt down an old game online, then they have to pay lots of cash, depending on how old it is (and then, if you want the original box and manual, you might have to pay a lot extra). so in that respect, a remake is a good idea, right? well... not for me. nintendo can ALWAYS put the game on Virtual Console, then you might only have to pay a couple bucks for the game, whereas in contrast, if you bought the original it would cost a LOT more. so Virtual console kind of defeats the purpose of a remake for me.

all that said, you might think i dont even want to buy this, ESPECIALLY since i already have the original. but on YET ANOTHER HAND, i will buy a remake, provided it's done right. a game like Halo:Combat Evolved Anniversary is a good example of a GREAT remake. the game gives you the option to switch back and forth between the older graphics and the remastered graphics, so you can see how much the game has actually evolved from the original, if that makes sense. i already owned the original copy of Halo: CE, but that option made it a must-buy for me. i just wish nintendo did that with OoT3D or with WWHD, otherwise i wouldn't be constantly switching back and forth between whether i want to buy this or not.

and if you read all that, congratulations. say what you will about what i have to say, call me an idiot, whatever. that's how i feel on the current situation.

OH! and if Aonuma really should draw any inspiration from Skyrim, it should be the size of the overworld, and that alone, IMO. Skyrim was HUGE, and i had fun exploring even without a current objective. in all honesty, cant imagine myself playing a zelda game exactly like skyrim though. i want ZeldaU to have the Size of skyrim (and this overworld should be filled with lots of people, don't make it barren. sidequests should be made available in the new zeldaU too), but that's about it.



BlatantlyHeroic said:

@TheOneHacker What about being able to start interesting side quests just by wandering off? That's where a lot of the fun is. It adds more to the game after you complete it. That's what the next Zelda game needs. It needs to make you feel more attached to the game. I want everything I do to affect the people around me. I want to be able to do things for people that aren't simple fetch quests. I want to become immersed in the beauty of the world around me.



HappyHappyist said:

@BlatantlyHeroic true. when i mentioned a larger overworld, i thought it went without saying that i didn't want it to be barren. clearly not though, so i'll go ahead and edit the post



TingLz said:

@ueI They added a faster sail, apparently shortened the time for a treasure chest to surface, and decreased the number of triforce charts (I'm assuming that they've been replaced by actual Triforce pieces)



HaNks said:

the start of the interview is a bit odd and pretty sad. dude really needs a holiday! professional life in japan is intense, poor guy (& his family).



Asaki said:

Only sort of balance I would like to see is a hard mode that actually presents a challenge. I liked WW a lot, but I didn't die once, and I wasn't even trying.



Senario said:

@swordx It took a bit of thinking but I did like oblivion better even if the magic class wasn't as crazy or easy to use as in Skyrim. It simply felt like the better game.



jayclayx said:

wow Aonuma give a lesson to all that fanboys who dont play anything beyond their favorite brand, it gives you a wider perspective as a gamer or developer in this case.



MitchVogel said:

Glad to hear it! This was easily my favorite Zelda game, so it's nice to see it getting an HD coating and more improvements.



DualWielding said:

My guess is that they have really not done much to the game except giving it very minor graphical retouches



DualWielding said:

My guess is that they have really not done much to the game except giving it very minor graphical retouches



Technosphile said:

That's really too bad that the Wii U Zelda is not being inspired by Skyrim. Or Dark Souls.

See, what Zelda needs is to be less like Zelda. Skyward Sword was so samey and been-there-done-it that the Zelda formula finally felt stale. It was boring.

I really, truly hope that those rumors of the U one being multiplayer or more open world with even less linearity are true. This franchise needs a shot in the arm, bad. But knowing Aonuma, we'll get more of the same, and reviewers will once again call it a masterpiece when it is anything but.



Mytoemytoe said:

@Asaki There IS a hero mode, no random hearts (in grass or in containers) and enemies do double damage.

So you get the faster sail, the less annoying TriForce quest, HD visuals and a brand new coat of paint, and the Game Pad as your menu and map.

Sounds awesome to me.



Mytoemytoe said:

Also, I'm sorry that older Zelda fans want the game to become more "hardcore", but Zelda's not for you, it's for kids. You were probably a kid when you started playing it, although there are surely some older gamers out there, too.

The hero mode featured in this Wind Waker remake (and one would presume it will be in the new game, too) is a decent compromise.



Pod said:

Aonuma is pretty damn cool, and never subjugates his interviews to simple spin, petty banter, distanced irony, or flinging of contemporary buzzwords.

Though he's usually quite vague, this is still Nintendo, he always manages to be inspiring.



Kirk said:

The only thing I think he should take from Skyrim is the idea of it being an open world experience, much like Wind Waker is anyway but with more actual land to explore as opposed to mainly see*, and the concept of actually having voice acting for all the non-player characters in the game. Outside of that Zelda games are better in pretty much every respect already so there's no need to copy any of the other elements.

In a Zelda game however I expect if they have far more land to explore that it will still be really well designed with proper gameplay in mind rather than just being dull acres of generic land with not a lot of actual gameplay designed into them, as in Skyrim.



Asaki said:

@Mytoemytoe Awesome. I thought the hero mode in Skyward Sword sounded like fun, but I haven't tried it yet.
Also, I don't want Zelda to be more "hardcore", but WW was probably the easiest game in the series; I didn't die once, and I think I only used one, maybe two fairies.



Darknyht said:

If the story is compelling enough, the progression and mechanics won't matter as much. Most games at their core are nothing more than a string of fetch quests, or doing a few things in ever increasingly complex manners. It is when the story is flat that these mechanics show up and people realize they are just doing repetitive chores. Zelda generally has compelling both a compelling story and built up game world, and that carries them past the mechanics.



TheRealThanos said:

@RedRocBoy I'm sorry but it is not going to look like the tech demo. That is already known. They just put that together for E3 2011 in a very short period of time with an older version of the Unreal Engine to show of some of the capabilities of the Wii U, but it will never be more than a tech demo. Supposedly they are also going to use another engine (maybe even Retro's new engine, who knows?)
@MutantlX Aonuma does not need to look at Skyrim so that they 'don't fall behind and keep things fresh' because Zelda does not adhere to the standard RPG rules, it is it's own game series and THEY decide where the series has to go. Aonuma already said he was going to change the series direction somewhat because he didn't enjoy it that much himself anymore.
@triforcepower73 and @NImH well said, and agreed.
@Bass_X0 Sounds like a great idea, call Aonuma or email Nintendo. Better yet, let's start a petition.
@TheOneHacker good points and I agree with you on the Halo CE remake and what ideas of Skyrim could be used in the new Zelda. I read your whole comment and suffice it to say that I don't think you're an idiot.

" ...except giving it very minor graphical retouches"

WTF? With all due respect, but that struck me as 'I don't know what kind of meds you're on' because the difference is actually quite large and pronounced so I can't understand someone not seeing that. And you double posted...
@Technosphile Are you on the same drugs as ferthepoet? But in all seriousness: the Zelda series definitely isn't perfect but Aonuma already said he wanted to do things differently and that interview has been posted on several sites so no need to speculate upon doom scenarios with no basis in reality.
@Mytoemytoe Oh boy, the kiddie card again. Zelda is NOT for kids, people should really stop saying that. Even though the games are sometimes simple fun they also contain lots of quests and loads and loads of text to read through which hardly gains it any favors with kids, especially with the impatient youths of today, and kiddie comments in general is EXACTLY what keeps people from seeing Nintendo as a good brand to buy when you're older. Well I am and I see right through all that crap and still enjoy the kind of entertainment they bring, which by the way does NOT mean that I cannot enjoy other games or consoles as well. As far as digital entertainment is concerned I've never been a one-brand kind of guy anyway...



TheRealThanos said:

@DerpSandwich I get your point, but I don't think it's going to be that intrusive or have such a negative effect on the game, so I wouldn't worry too much. After all, it's being done by people that care about the franchise and love to offer their audience a great experience.



Dogpigfish said:

Zelda obviously inspired Skyrim and the elder scroll games. They started off as first person open world games, but I think are now preferred 3rd person. The combat and movement focus in 3rd person is very close to Ocarina of Time. That was the first open world quest cinema.



DarkKirby said:

You know what would really "improved the "Overall Game Flow" of Wind Waker"?

The other half of the game that wasn't developed.



erv said:

Wind waker is awesome. I don't know if my wallet can take it, but it sure is awesome.



BlackStar9000 said:

@NImH finally, since I have been playing since I was 4,I grew up on zelda, I love the old and new, say that MM is the most interesting, but I love SS the most for actually changing gameplay elements, swordplay was fantastic, but I miss the multi lock boomerang of WW, the dark tone of TP, and mounted combat really needs to be fleshed out more, the flying in SS felt like two steps back, but the story was the best, so much personality, especially for zelda, giving link a voice is still a bad idea tho



jgibson75 said:

The Wind Waker is one of my favorite Zelda games (In order of preference, they are A Link to the Past, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword, Minish Cap and the original. Zelda 2 and Majora's Mask I have sort of a love/hate thing going on with them... the other handheld titles are all pretty solid as well, but Minish Cap is my favorite of the handheld games).

That said, of course it had it's issues, pacing at times being one of them... so I'm very excited to see how they tackled these issues with the HD remake.

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