The Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma has touched on the challenges that Nintendo had faced while developing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
With Link’s open-air adventure having suffered multiple delays, Aonuma talked about the length of the development process and the importance of communication to help co-ordinate such a large team to create the open world.
“Yes, this was a development process where on numerous occasions we’ve had to say, ‘Sorry, we need more time,’ and because the process was so long there were actually a lot of problems that got naturally resolved over time,” Aonuma admitted to Eurogamer.
“One of the major problems we faced on a game of this size was actually coordinating everything, and by that I mean creating this huge open world by lots of development staff. Each individual person might be working on just one part of that world, but if they’re working without a broader context, within isolation, then they might think, ‘I’m creating this particular area or feature or object,’ but if they don’t know how that fits into the broader world and context of the game, things won’t tie together very well.
“We had to make sure everyone was communicating as much as possible, and everyone had an idea of that broader world, but we really had to make sure all the development staff could play the game as much as possible. That takes a long time for a game of this size as you can imagine. So we had to take time throughout the development period to really play the game and make sure that this cohesion was maintained.”
The next challenge that came to Aonuma’s mind was the physics engine, for whic heh shared a rather brilliant anecdote.
He added: “Another example of a challenge we faced was the physics engine. We wanted a consistent physics engine throughout the world that worked in a logical and realistic way. Actually implementing that was sometimes more complicated than it seemed. [For example], one day I picked up the latest build of the game and went to an area, and saw that all the objects that were supposed to be in that area weren’t there. I was quite surprised and confused, and I realised after asking the programmer, the reason the objects weren’t there was because the wind in-game had blown them all away.
“That’s the kind of challenge we faced, making the physics engine realistic, but not to the extent that it would negatively impact things – striking a balance between realism and having it work within the game world.
“I really think the implementation of this physics engine is a major development for the Zelda series. The way the physics engine underpins everything in the world really offers up a lot of new possibilities. For instance, in Breath of the Wild you might have a puzzle where making use of the physics, there’ll be various ways you can solve that puzzle. That really opens up a lot of possibilities so there’s not just one way to progress in the game or just one way to solve a puzzle.”
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will release exclusively for Nintendo Switch and Wii U worldwide on March 3rd.