News Article

Aonuma Demonstrates the Challenges of Creating a 3D Environment Based on A Link to the Past's Overworld

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Video of Comic-Con presentation includes additional game footage

Eiji Aonuma has often resisted describing The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds as a sequel, though it is of course set in the same world as the iconic Super NES title A Link to the Past. Over recent months we've seen a number of comparisons between the two overworlds, typically showing how close a match they truly are, so fans of the 16-bit epic are sure to be feeling a tad nostalgic

Nintendo has now released a video of Eiji Aonuma's recent presentation at the New York Comic Con. Many of the included answers have been covered already, but there are some interesting snippets and footage that provide some additional insight. A particularly intriguing segment (pictured above and below) outlines how Aonuma-san initially had to attempt to recreate the overworld himself while the team was tied up on other projects. In the early development and concept shots, it was shown how creating the top-down environment in 3D led to characters and landmarks being slanted.

The video below is well worth a watch, and even includes the moment when Aonuma teases Majora's Mask information that can be found in the 3DS title.

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User Comments (51)



AlexSora89 said:

I'll say, the polygonal version of Johto worked stunningly well, and Kalos is even better in that regard. I say the ALTTP world might be ready for the 3D leap.



NintyMan said:

I saw this last evening; it was amusing how Link and the objects around him were slanted backwards. I'm no game developer, but I imagine making 3D maps out of flat 2D maps of the classic Zelda games would be difficult.

Also, my sister has that Toon Link plush Aonuma had on his podium.



Nintenjoe64 said:

I'd love them to re-create this Hyrule and Dark World in the style of the 2011 tech-demo and give us a LttP HD remaster with Skyward's controls. Would prefer a brand new world though.



Kirk said:


I'm pretty sure if you just built the world in full 3D and then tilted the camera to the correct angle that you wouldn't have to slant the world as seen in those screens.

That just seems like a strange way to go about it.



Souflee said:

The hype level for this in me is off the charts. 3DS the gift that keeps giving



Goginho said:

I do hope the 3DS will get the priviledge to see another full 3D Zelda game down the road. I've seen this video yesterday, and immediately I was surprised by the method they went about with the top-down, 3D illusion. Well, during the footages, I kind of suspected something odd in the fact that we get to see the faces of characters and structures, despite the camera, which is pointing straight down, being perpendicular to the ground.
In that regard, I have to agree with Kirk, that they could have made the camera point downward, but slightly at an angle, so that it wouldn't be necessary to slant anything. I mean, I'm no game dev, but that's just my say at this.
Since one can clearly see in the footage, that the game will use a dynamic camera, especially during cutscenes, I can't help but wonder how that all ties in, and what happens to the structures and characters during these events and transitions (such as wall merging). From what I've seen, they all look normally positioned when cutscenes play.



Warruz said:

I think we are starting to see Nintendo's strategy with Zelda play out a little more where we have a New Zelda followed by an enhanced older one.



ToniK said:

I think the visual style has a certain simplistic charm to it. Pre-ordered and can't wait.



Blast said:

Wow... The way Aonuma laughed and smiled when he was asked about Majora's Mask... That pretty much confirms its coming...and I really think its coming to Wii U AND 3DS.



Morph said:

@Kirk that wouldn't fit the design concept though would it, which was to do a 3D top down version in the style of ALTTP, if you created the world in in 3D and then tilted the camera it wouldn't be directly top down anymore, and might as well just be another 3D zelda



Kirk said:


Well you could do it just like Pokemon X & Y basically (during the standard wandering around the world parts), with the 3D graphics and a tilted camera (although you'd want to zoom out a bit more), and that would fit with the A Link to the Past.

Not saying you'd do it EXACTLY like that obviously but they could certainly have done what everyone would consider a proper 3D version of ALTTP and realized it better than what they have done here.

The main thing that made ALTTP "look" the way it does is really just the isometric perspective and the nice clean bold sharp pixel/sprite and tile art. The new game has the perspective but totally loses the nice clean sharp bold look of the original.

That shiny plasticky dirty rendered look just isn't very good and it's certainly not mimicking the original's artstyle. In fact it just looks very cheap and dated. This games visuals will not stand up over time well at all.

Pokemon X & Y actually does a far better job of realizing old 8bit-16bit style pixel art into full 3D in that respect.



mudmask said:

While they seem to have most of the world built out... and maybe this is just wishful thinking (aka the awakening of the 5 year old in me, dialoging with the 26 year old that I am today), wouldn't it be pretty mind blowing if they included a link to the past in 3D? As a second quest of sorts? I mean, they're getting back to their roots, here... the second quest added a ton of replay value to the original NES release.



Blast said:

@Guitardude7 Its possible but I doubt it. I think Zelda U will draw inspiration from Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time and various other open world games. I.... don't think it will be a MM sequel.



Shworange said:

My bet is that at the end of A Link Between Worlds, the darkness of Lorule will be stripped away and the kingdom will be renamed "Termina". A wild shot in the dark, but remember me if it comes to fruition.



Morpheel said:

Slanting background objects and characters to help create perspective is a common practice in top-down 3D games.



SubZer023 said:

people need to Stop telling him MM for WiiU its for 3DS yall already have WW and an HD zelda it only makes sine to Make it for 3ds since it has the same engine as OOT and MM is the sequal and ALBW is after or between both! soo Stop!



Morph said:

@Kirk i'd have to respectfully disagree, I think the way it's been done is necessary to maintain the perspective, you make it in the style you suggest then you are looking at everything from about say a 30% angle and then it no longer holds the same perspective as LTTP, it was after all born out of Miyamoto's idea to just remaster LTTP in 3D



Morph said:

As for MM i'd have thought it's a logical step to re-release it for 3DS, Grezzo already have the knowhow from Ocarina of Time, personally I think it's just a matter of time



Kirk said:

Well I respect your right to disagree but you are in fact wrong.

The exact degree of the viewing angle isn't what makes A Link to the Past what it is or even what it looks like in the slightest.

That kind of thinking is exactly why we've ended up where we've ended up with A Link Between Worlds; with a fugly looking game that clings to an aspect of the old game that is far less important than multiple other aspects in capturing what made the original looks so timeless and appealing in the first place and gave it it's particular look.

As per usual with these types of debates you'd clearly have to see it done the way I'm suggesting before you got it.

I had a similar debate with some dude on YouTube who was adamant you couldn't make the map from ALTTP one single seamless map with no screen scrolling or loading between sections (which once again they force on us in ALBW for no good reason other than clinging to the way it was done in the past, even when it makes no good sense any more), basically full open world, and that he knew the map inside out. He was adamant the map couldn't be made into one big single map. Here's the kicker...IT ALREADY IS.

Note: Any areas that don't look like they join directly to another area are simply joined by cave entrances or ladders that just lead off the screen, sometimes through an interior sections, but wouldn't stop it working as a big single open map in the slightest. Any other parts where the tiles just stop on sharp edges etc and don't look like they join properly are simply parts the player can't reach and would never be visible on-screen so they simply didn't make the tile sets join because it wasn't necessary.

He just didn't know what he was talking about.

Same principle applies here.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Kirk Hm? I thought the sliding action and delay were to deal with any issues in loading, sort of like how the Metroid Prime series does it with doors (especially 3).

You sure that they aren't doing that because the system can't handle a seamless open world without frame rate issues?

Pokemon is doable of course, due to the fact most of the action isn't on the overworld (also 3d isn't used on the overworld). However, the game lags in battles with the 3D effect on.

If they have to factor in the 3D effect on the overworld, they might actually have to do it this way, to prevent poor framerates (or loading times) with 3D effect on, especially since Zelda doesn't have battle specific conditions on cameras like Pokemon does.

I like the art style, however I do agree it doesn't look like LTTP.



AyeHaley said:

Love how they give you kinda a look into their kitchen! They should do this more often.

off-topic: That guy with the blue cat-ears is friggin' adorable <3. I am in love with someone for the 3rd time today.



linkdeku7 said:

I lol at how people on here are questioning this design concept of designing everything slanted in the game world. We're talking about top of the industry game designers such as Aonuma. I think they have pretty good reasons for how they are doing things. They kinda know they're doing.



Gioku said:

Wow, that's really funny! I had no idea everything was just tilted backwards like that, lol.



Morph said:

@Kirk no im not wrong and i'm not saying the way you have described is not possible for making a game because it obviously is, im saying your way doesnt meet the design requirement set out at the start if it did aonuma would have done it that way wouldnt he rather than slanting everything, you think he made it that way for a laugh?



JebbyDeringer said:

@Kirk Exactly! Nintendo needs some better artists and 3D modellers that's for sure. They are so worried about camera angles when their art just plain sucks. It's SO generic it could have easily been automatically created by a computer conversion process. There's no personality or style at all.

The 3D look they have been applying to games like this and New Super Mario Bros. looks cheap and much like early pre-rendered art assets. It looks like a budget game. I mean at least systems like the N64 were low-resolution and played on blurry TV's in 240p.



DarkCoolEdge said:

@Kirk your arrogance is annoying and disturbing. How do you dare to think you know more than some of the finest developers in the industry?



Kirk said:

Well if they could do a massive open world game like GTA 3 on PS2 or a huge game like Xenoblade on Wii or indeed a top down fixed perspective open world 3D game like GTA 2 on Playstation then I'm sure they could do an isometric fixed perspective 3D Zelda with one big open map that doesn't require blatant pauses and forced scrolling between sections on 3DS.

Or how about Body Harvest on N64 or even...Zelda 64 (already on 3DS)...and then just imagine that with the camera locked in an isometric view...



Kirk said:


The assumption you've made here is that they've done things the way they've done them because they couldn't be done any other way rather than understanding they've done them this way simply because of convention and some bad decisions.

I don't have to know more to know they could have made different and better decisions in certain aspects but how dare you assume I don't know more just because you know who they are and know about their games yet know nothing of me or what I'm capable of.

See how that works.



Kirk said:


No I think he made it that way because he's human and like most humans he doesn't always do everything in the ideal way.

The flaw in his thinking was thinking the EXACT same perspective, even down to some of the incorrect perspective of the original due to it being created in 2D tile sets at the time, was the highest priority above all others in getting the look of the original in 3D.

He just made an error in judgement.

The final result is proof of that because the game looks 'off' and pretty fugly, nowhere near as visually appealing as the original, despite his best efforts to make it just like the original but just in 3D.

If he had managed to to actually capture the look and style of the original properly in 3D we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Instead I'd be saying how awesome it looked and that it totally captured the look and feel of the original but now in 3D.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Kirk If I remember right OoT 3D was capped at 30fps. i wouldn't be surprised if the 3D will be capped at 30fps and 60fps without 3D.

There doesn't appear to be many 3DS games that can stay at 60fps in 3D.

You keep saying the game is "fugly" but you do realize that is subjective right? A LttP had it's own issues like looking washed out.



WaxxyOne said:

@Kirk: Seriously, Aonuma decided he wanted to create a Zelda game that exactly recreated the look of ALttP, and he decided that one of the most important things was to keep the same perspective. You can call that an error in judgement all you want, but it was his call to make and I (and a lot of other people I'm sure) think the results look just fine. Keep in mind he was under no obligation to provide this glimpse into the development process and if he hadn't we wouldn't be having this discussion either.

Also, I don't want to burst your bubble or anything, but your ability to form a dissenting opinion and post it online doesn't make you special, as that is in fact what everyone arguing with you is doing. The core difference is no one else seems to be arrogant enough to refer to their own opinions as fact or belittle someone else for not sharing your world-view.



Morph said:

@Kirk i'm not going to say anything more on the matter after this because im sure people dont want us clogging up the comments. You see it your way, I see it mine and I tend to fall on the side of the developer, i think its a clever way to address the problem of maintaining the look, as someone else said before if Aonuma hadnt come and and told us about it no one would be any the wiser and we wouldnt be having this discussion. Your issues seem to be about the graphical look of the game which is fair enough, i'll make my mind up when ive played it, which im very much looking forward to.



Volmun said:

@WaxxyOne well id say you just hit the nail on the head good job - im very mutch looking forward to this game (Pre-orderd the GAME exclusive Colectors Edition) also the slanting is rather comon for 3D effects (go look up haw ppl draw 3D pictures) and if it dose not affect my enjoyment of the game i couldn't ceare less.



ozgood said:

How about a remake of the original - open world, not "boxy" in layout but contemporary? Then call it Zelda U?



Kirk said:


I have eyes so I can see when something doesn't look right.

Edit: I mean compare the quality of the grass, rock, ground etc texture work, even the edges where the textures meet, in the following two screens...

One looks like generic sh*t and the other looks how you should realize 2D pixel or cartoony art in 3D.

It's obvious to anyone with eyes and taste that texture art in the new Zelda looks bad (dated, generic, rushed, almost like programmer art in places) and it really could and should have looked much better.



luckybreak said:

@Goginho I played the demo at SD Comic Con. When you transform to drawing link, the dungeon switches to a 3d perspective that looks fine. I don't get the thing about it looking slanted, it looks fine in game. Also 3D looks really nice.



luckybreak said:

@Kirk It does look dated! Nobody else seems to see that.

What I liked about the first game was that the low amount of pixels served as an artistic strength to the game. Every single pixel and color was so well done and perfect looking. I loved the way everything, from the circular trees to the way the statues looked, to the way the cliffs and water was done. You could tell they had a vision and translated it to the medium (SNES). This has nice colors as well, but its not 8 bit so it can't be retro.

Missed opportunity.



Kirk said:


Well I don't think it needs to look properly 8bit, or more precisely 16bit (ALTTP is 16bit), to look right in 3D but what they have gone for here just doesn't look great and they certainly could have realized the original art and style much better in 3D than they have done.

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