Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 11, 2017

The Big Aonuma Interview Continued

I only went through the first page of the big Aonuma interview. Pardon my haste. Let us continue onward.

First of all, I must ask you whether you ever doubted the essence of LOZ was to solve the puzzle from the beginning.

The initial LOZ or “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (AOL)” have lots of action and “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (LOZLttp)” had puzzles both inside of the dungeon and out. Did you feel that they were the things that made it more like Zelda?

Fujisawa:
To be honest with you, all I remember is that there were puzzles in the game. That’s all.

――After hearing what you said, I think the action RPG element, fighting against the enemy actually stands out more.

Folks, they are reading this blog. I don’t think there is anyone on the Internet who has really hammered the issue of ‘Puzzle Zelda’ like ‘ol Malstrom.

It is a reason why I am taking so long to write my article(s) on the Open World. Need to make sure it is right.

But here is thing. Regardless of what is said and done, look at Zelda BoW “Wow!” sales and social phenomenon. THIS is what Zelda is. THIS is what Zelda ought to do. Zelda games should create great excitement among ALL gamers, and the game should sell the hardware.

I may try doing another playthrough of Breath of the Wild but this time put all my hearts into stamina. This way, I can move around faster, and the game will be harder. I think on my original character, I got so powerful that the game got boring. I had no reason to go back after that.

Open Worlds are great. But there is a REASON why we are in that world. For Zelda BoW “Wow!”, the reason is to kill Ganon. When you can do that and have done it, the player has little incentive to be in Hyrule. This is fine as the game has to have an Endgame. I just don’t see any reason to get all the shrines and seeds. Game becomes too easy after a point.

So if we think about when it was that solving puzzles became the key element of the game. It is probably from “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (LOZOOT)”.

The reason is because I was in charge of designing every dungeon in “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (LOZOOT)”. At that time, I thought I wanted to make puzzles in the game. It was not like Mr. Miyamoto asked me to make it or it was decided that LOZ was a game with puzzles and battles.

Man, what am I going to talk about now? Nintendo is already adjusting.

If I might add, for us, the act of solving puzzles is to give the players a sense of accomplishment. When the player clears a puzzle, he can feel the sense of accomplishment and he repeats it for that good feeling.

For the structure of the whole world, we used to have it with just few puzzle elements and the player could move around in the fields and in the dungeons where many puzzles are placed. However, in this product, simple puzzles are scattered [across] the field. So we thought that even when the player was running on the plains, he would stop and try to solve a puzzle if he finds a suspicious looking place or an object that looks like it’s linked to a puzzle. So we placed more than 100 “shrines” in the field and hid simple puzzles in the shrines.

OK, here’s the problem with this. What puzzles are brilliant for is to offer a form of progression that doesn’t involve combat. The puzzles don’t really offer progression because they are not truly immersive. For example, the maze of the Great Palace in Zelda 2 was a ‘puzzle’ in a sense. No one thought of it that way. It was the final dungeon. Bombing walls in LoZ offers this progression because you are not bombing walls, you are breaking open the dungeon.

Good puzzle – Following the direction of the torch smoke in BoW “Wow!”.

Bad puzzle – The statue jump and hop game right in front of the Master Sword in Twilight Princess.

Why? The bad puzzle has no immersion with the world. The bad puzzle is not truly part of the world. It feels like someone just threw it in there.

Good puzzle makes sense.

Remember the ‘lost woods’ of the original Legend of Zelda? The ‘puzzle’ immerses you more into the world instead of taking you out despite its 8 bit nature.

――Further, if the player gets to spend too much time in a huge dungeon, the feeling of exploring the Open World would get weaker, too.

I agree. We thought if the vision of exploring the Open World gets mixed with the vision of looking into the dungeon, it would be inevitable to lose the balance in the game.

So, in this game, once the player goes into the shrine, there are one or two simple puzzles to solve. When the puzzle is solved, the player can obtain an item. And then he can move on with his journey in the Open World. By letting the player experience the feeling of achievement whenever he solves the puzzle, the player can move on to the next expedition with satisfaction. That is the “joy of finding” process in this game that we want to share with others.

We need more dungeons like Hyrule Castle. Why? Hyrule Castle was further immersion into The World. The ‘shrines’ lose their immersion because they all have the same aesthetic and all say the same thing. I’m not saying shrines need to be in the overworld, I think there should be a connection to the shrine and the world. Who made this shrine? Why is this shrine here? Why aren’t the local NPCs talking about this shrine?

Aonuma talks about Minecraft and emergent gameplay.

Here is what was said here about Minecraft Alpha (!) in 2010. Eerily, the connection I made with the original Legend of Zelda and Minecraft seems to come true with Breath of the Wild.:

Here, Aonuma says:

――I must say that “MC” gets unfolded from the very beginning. It doesn’t force you to do anything, but then you realize that you are developing land and building a house from the trees that you obtained from the land. You start digging a cave and soon you can’t wait to discover the underground world. The stream of consciousness continues so naturally.

It is the same for “LOZ.” The player finds something that gives him all the different choices. That is the thing that we want the players to experience while playing games.

Actually, when we decided to make a new “Zelda” in wide open space, there were some people who said, “Wasn’t the initial Zelda like that?” So the 2D game that we just talked about was actually built on the initial Zelda, with additional elements of Physics.

 

Now listen to this, dear reader:

Actually, I never played a game when I was young. When I landed a job in Nintendo, I asked my girlfriend at that time, “What is a TV game?” And she lent me DQ1.

Oh. My. Goodness.

There are no words, reader. THERE. ARE. NO. WORDS.

Even when I think I have made fun of Aonuma too much, stuff like this breaks out. “What is this thing called ‘TV game’?” Girlfriend (who must really like his wooden dolls) says: “Here is Dragon Quest 1.”

I actually wonder if it was a real girlfriend. Maybe Aonuma was talking to one of his wooden dolls.

Of course, I knew Nintendo was making games, but I’d never played it. It’s a digression, but the next game that I borrowed from her was the “The Portopia Serial Murder Case”[*]. It was even a PC version (laughs).

So we have to blame Aonuma’s girlfriend for Aonuma being infected with adventure gaming!

So, one of the interviewers who interviewed me on the recommendation of Mr. Kotabe was Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto. At the time of the interview, I showed him the artwork that I did during university, and Mr. Miyamoto liked them. That’s how I joined Nintendo in 1998.

I thought I would be located in product package design or something like that. But I was placed in a game manufacturing department. I knew nothing about the game, so I had to ask my girlfriend what games Nintendo had made. But I didn’t even clear the “Mario” that I borrowed her and she was making fun of me saying, “You have slow reflexes.”

I give up. I cannot even write this shit.

Aonuma has bested me. I CANNOT PARODY HIM! Aonuma is BEYOND parody!!!

He gets hired to make video games when he has never played a game. And even girls make fun of Aonuma’s reflexes. “That’s what she said!” She did! She said it!

And then she gave me “DQ” and this time she made sure I played it right. I stayed up all night to play it and she kept by my side the whole time, coaching me like, “You need to go south five steps” and “Now go to the east four steps”.

What the hell!????

Aonuma needed COACHING to get through DRAGON QUEST 1???

Folks… pause the blog. Cut! Cut!

Malstrom motions to the editor. The blog is stopped. The lights come on, and Malstrom walks slowly in front.

Audience…. readers…

SIX YEAR OLDS BEAT DRAGON QUEST 1!

SIX YEAR OLDS BEAT SUPER MARIO BROTHERS!

What the…. ???

What is wrong with Aonuma?????

Yes, the puppets that I made played instruments though. Of course, it doesn’t actually play the instrument. It has a mechanism of motors and cranks. It has same moves as a when a man plays an instrument like the bongos.

OK. I’m done.

I can’t take this anymore.

This is so absurd, I think Aonuma is intentionally trolling us. His dolls are now playing instruments including BONGOS.

I can’t take this absurdity any longer. I’m walking out of this blog post.

END!

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