Eiji Aonuma On Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Team Size, Skyrim Inspiration, Development Time And More

The master mind behind Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Eiji Aonuma, has divulged some interesting information to French website Le Monde. In this interview he goes on to explain how Skyrim influenced the new Zelda title and also states that it took 4 years of development to complete. You can check out some snippets of the interview below (potential spoilers within):

  • Team consisted of about 300 staffers
  • 4 years of development
  • Listens to Japanese fans in particular for feedback due to it being his native language, but looks to consider feedback worldwide
  • Aonuma points out that North American players aren’t big on upgrading abilities to progress similar to Monster Hunter
  • Nintendo was criticized for the lack of freedom in the past, with different areas being connected by small paths
  • The player now has freedom similar to the original Zelda
  • Aonuma believes Breath of the Wild will be a key entry in the series
  • Experience points and leveling up was never considered rather Nintendo decided to implement the weapon system
  • To obtain high-level equipment, players need to be smart about how they approach the game
  • Link’s speed is adapted to the pace of the game
  • There are many things that are hidden in the world, and you can run at full speed, but you may miss a lot by doing so
  • With Skyrim, he likes how when you enter a new town, it feels different from other ones you’ve visited. He wanted to create something like this, but in a different way and this is why you can climb anywhere
  • On Shrines: having them all of them long/complex means players wouldn’t complete the game quickly
  • Nintendo made Shrines to be rewards rather than actual trials
  • Shrines are very different from those of previous Zelda, though some are much larger and have a boss at the end similar to traditional dungeons
  • Nintendo has done away with dungeons that have a particular theme
  • Even if you come across a shrine located in a forest, it won’t necessarily carry that theme
  • Architecture not based on specific real life locations
  • Inspired by different pieces of architecture from around the world
  • For Zelda: Ocarina of Time, this was an exception in creating the Temple of Time
  • Aonuma wanted to have more islands in Wind Waker, but hardware limitations prevented that
  • Criticism from that game didn’t inspire Breath of the Wild, including the art style
  • Art style was chosen so that objects could be more easily seen in the world
  • Artists have also been brought up on Japanese animation
  • Aonuma stopped leaving messages to his son in his games since his son told him that he had grown up, and didn’t need them anymore
  • Aonuma wrote the lines for the old man you find at the start of the game

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31 thoughts on “Eiji Aonuma On Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Team Size, Skyrim Inspiration, Development Time And More

    1. To be fair, he is probably just embarassed by it. I’d feel flattered if Aonuma did something like that for me, but I’d feel embarassed if my dad did that.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “Aonuma points out that North American players aren’t big on upgrading abilities…”

    Where did he get this idea? Not that I want upgradable abilities in Zelda. I actually think that Zelda works better as an action-adventure game than it would as an RPG; but if Americans aren’t big on upgrading abilities, it’s news to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love upgrading abilities if the upgrades are more than just stat changes. But if it’s just stat changes, I can do without upgrading them. In the Witcher 3, upgrading your abilities allowed you to do different things with that ability. Of course, it was limited to a skill slot thing so you couldn’t actually power Geralt up to a god mode with having access to every single upgrade & it’s capabilities. It added some strategy elements to the game, though, that’s for sure.

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    1. The game was unveiled in 2014 with a expected release in 2015, assumedly Holiday 2015. If the game really had a four year development time, that means development started in early 2013. I guess it’s POSSIBLE that Nintendo really thought it could complete BotW in three years, but I think that would have been irresponsibly optimistic.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe we’ll see some floating islands at some point. It’d be nice to revisit Skyloft from Skyward Sword, for instance. I wonder what it will look like if this game takes place sometime after Ocarina of Time. Probably mostly ruins… Unless some people remained there even after the events of Skyward & kept the place in good condition.

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  2. -“With Skyrim, he likes how when you enter a new town, it feels different from other ones you’ve visited. He wanted to create something like this, but in a different way and this is why you can climb anywhere”

    Sounds good, but when the hell does climbing have to do with towns being diverse? Strange way to put that.

    -“Nintendo has done away with dungeons that have a particular theme”

    Well I’m ok with not having the formulaic Forest Temple, Fire Temple etc., but I hope this doesn’t mean the dungeons will all feel aesthetically “samey”. Maybe it will be like Link to the Past’s dungeons, which weren’t strictly “themed” per se, but still had lots of personality?

    -“On Shrines: having them all of them long/complex means players wouldn’t complete the game quickly”

    Not in any way suggesting that this game won’t have enough content, but I’m preeeetty sure the decision to make the Shrines short and simple had more to do with the time required to DEVELOP the game, not to play through it. Especially since I highly doubt all the Shrines are mandatory.

    Overall though, I’m so stoked for this game. If it’s as good as I think it will be, it will make up for a whole lot of disappointments over the past few years, at least for me, personally.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Please do consider feedback from around the world & not just Japan. This crap of barely listening to those outside of Japan has really got to stop, damn it. Sony & most other Japanese 3rd party developers/publishers listens to people outside of Japan & it has done them plenty of favors over the years.

    As I said to RidleySlayer, I fucking love upgrading abilities as long as it’s more than just stat changes. Something similar to how The Witcher 3 handled upgrading abilities. Oh & Witcher has done very well across the globe which includes North America so I don’t know where the hell Aonuma got that from. Maybe from fanboys that haven’t left their Nintendo cave?

    Key entry in what way, though? That’s the real question here. Gameplay, story, what? Not very specific. If he means story wise, that is totally dependent on where in the timeline it takes place. If it’s in a branching timeline, it’ll depend on if Nintendo means for that timeline to be the most important of the timelines. If he means gameplay wise, oh yeah. This title will be a key entry just like Ocarina of Time was 18-19 years ago.

    I’m fine with no level up system. The weapon system seems to fit Zelda’s action/adventure theme more anyway.

    Aww. I loved having a particular theme for dungeons. Me no likey this change. *shrug* Oh well!

    Are they hinting at the prospect of there being floating islands? Or is there going to be a huge ocean area in the game with tons of islands? Or is this Aonuma simply telling us the next Zelda will possibly be water based instead of land based? I’m so up for an open world taking place on an ocean since I enjoyed that about Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m definitely looking forward to this long awaited game but man….4 years, 300 staffers involved at one point or another? I really hope Ninty has it together and has a good grasp of HD development and i hope the next iteration or new massive IP doesn’t take nearly as long to develop. The Wii years though money makers seemed to hurt when it came to obtaining experience in HD and the new gen of development

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  5. I don’t like the idea of “doing away with” themed dungeons all together.

    While it is easy to get caught in traps of generic Ice, Fire, Water, Forest, Desert locations … each of those environments also bring with them distinct aesthetics and environmental rules that create much needed variety in exploration and adventure.

    100 challenge dungeons that are irrelevant to the locations you find them in dies not sound Better. This is actually some of the most discouraging info I’ve heard about this game. The shrines sound like they will lose their appeal long before I get through even half of them. If there are not roots growing through the forest shrines, Ice in the Mountaintop shrines, and Lava in the Volcano shrines … that is not a positive … thats a HUGE negative.

    Countless Ruins and Caves that were indistinguishable from one another were some of the most annoying aspects of the Elder Scrolls Games I’ve played. That is not a feature to be imitated. It’s a flaw to be improved upon.

    I LIKE the Water Temples and Fire Temples etc. I think they have become misguided on this point. They’ve taken something that works and was good, thrown it out, and replaced it with something gamers have known was broken since the copy-paste shrines of ESIII:Morrowind … from 2002. A 15 year old game.

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