It's always interesting when a game developer reminisces and talks a bit about his or her roots. This industry moves so fast that it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the fact that it's powered by the hard work of real people. Though breaking into game development may seem like a daunting and intimidating prospect, it's good to keep in mind that even executives such as Eiji Aonuma started out small.
In a recent interview with Game Informer, Eiji Aonuma opened up a little about his past and explained how he got to where he is now. Initially he got his start as a character artist, designing and creating characters for a broad variety of games. It was after playing through The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that Aonuma was inspired to begin making his own games.
After joining Nintendo, I originally worked as an artist, doing the design of characters like Mario in pixel art. I went on to character design for lots of different games. I eventually reached the point where I wanted to make my own game. This was around the time A Link to the Past had come out. Playing that game really made me realize there were lots of different sorts of feelings you could convey in a game; it opened up some new horizons.
Aonuma began directing a couple of non-Zelda games after this, notably a Japan-only release called Marvelous: Mohitotsu no Takarajima, that had distinct elements and ideas from Zelda games. Shigeru Miyamoto eventually took notice of him, offering him a spot on the The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time team; the rest is history.
I directed a few different titles before I worked on my first Zelda game, but what's interesting is that a lot of those games had a very Zelda-like feel to them. Perhaps it was because I had been so influenced by my recent playthrough of A Link to the Past, but it was something Mr. Miyamoto noticed in the work I had been doing. He said, “You know – if you want to make a Zelda game maybe you should come over to that team and make a Zelda game." That is when I joined the Zelda team that produced Ocarina of Time.
So there you have it, all it takes is hard work and a little bit of timing and good luck. As Aonuma-san's story can attest, he who can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.
What do you think of all this? Have you ever considered a career in game development? Share your thoughts in the comments below.