Breath of the Wild director on rethinking Zelda's conventions, having all staff playtest at the same time - Nintendo Everything

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Breath of the Wild director on rethinking Zelda’s conventions, having all staff playtest at the same time

Posted on January 7, 2018 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Switch, Wii U

When Breath of the Wild was teased many years ago, one of the aspects Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma highlighted was the desire to upend the series’ conventions. That’s something Nintendo managed to do in the end, resulting in a very different type of Zelda game.

In an interview with GamesRadar, director Hidemaro Fujibayashi spoke about Breath of the Wild’s development and re-thinking Zelda’s conventions, of which he stated:

“And then we thought, ‘Oh no, why do we actually have to do that?’ And a lot of that was re-thinking things specific to Zelda. You know, ‘Zelda games have always been like this so we have to make it like this.’ But thinking about it from the user’s perspective, we wanted to give them more creativity and freedom, thinking, ‘Well, no. It doesn’t actually have to be like that.’ We definitely learned a lot from that whole process. And hearing how people have reacted to that makes me very happy.”

Zelda: Breath of the Wild ended up having around 300 staffers working on the game. Towards the end of development, everyone on the team actually did nothing but play the game itself. Fujibayashi said that there was more to this than just “more playtesting, more polish.”

“When they hear the story about 300 people testing the game at the same time, I think what a lot of people misunderstand is [in thinking] that the big leaps ahead came from all of the data we got out of that. And obviously we did get a lot of data out of it. But I think what was even more important was just the fact that people were able to see exactly what they were working on in the game, and also what the people next to them were working on in the game, and figure out, ‘Well, what can I do to make that part of the game better?’ Getting that group understanding of how everything was working together really leveled up the staff’s work, and I think that’s a big part of how we came to the level of quality that the game has.”

Aonuma, who also participated in the interview, had some concerns about having all of Zelda’s staff playtesting, but ultimately felt that it was a good move.

“Initially I thought if we did this we wouldn’t have enough time to finish the game, but as we did this more we realized, ‘Oh, the staff’s motivation is really up too!’ And so we realized that we needed to do this to the end.'”


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  • skilarbabcock

    1 hour per employee <3

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  • R.Z.

    It’s good to hear that Nintendo took this dare I say qualitative approach when making its biggest AAA title yet, it seems to be much better and productive than the stories you hear coming out of people playtesting for big western developpers.

    I really want to see what this mindset will bring us next !

  • dimension gamer

    I wonder how many of them didn’t like things like say i dunno just to pick one that a lot of peeps have complained about the weapon durability system in zelda but didn’t say anything because everyone else didn’t say anything about it.

    I gotta say i love this game but it has some rather unique ideas about player freedom that i’m not overly fond of myself.

    • You shouldn’t be running out of weapons pretty much ever, unless you walk into a miniboss zone with wooden crap. You usually wind up with more weapons than you can carry after clearing an encampment.

      • dimension gamer

        i never said i ran out of anything ?

        • Then why bash weapon durability? It doesn’t stop you from collecting them.

          • dimension gamer

            It does stop me using my fav’s though as when it shatters i have to go find another witch is terminally boring. I think what i really wanna know is did the testers enjoy the preparation mechanics in botw or did they air there concerns or did they really not see the issue ? don’t misunderstand me the game is great i love the dungeons the npc’s the quests the little frivolous touches that make botw such a joy, what i don’t really like is the amount of prep involved in getting there.

            My solution would be have some vendor’s that can repair any broken equipment but thats just me anyways i was more just curios what the testers actually thought in comparison to what they said about it. Not bashing the game just curios.

          • While it wasn’t perfect, and that solution would be welcome, the point was to make the player conscious of their resources before/while taking risks. This design philosophy also extends to dangerous environments and cooking meals/elixirs.

          • dimension gamer

            true but it think we can agree its a little more tedious than it need to be especially when they were touting player freedom as the main selling point, nothing free about forcing me to use weapons i don’t care for.