Miyamoto Polygon Interview

In a fascinating interview over on Kotaku, Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto recalls his experience on the development of one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, Ocarina of Time. He shares many interesting secrets behind the game’s development, as well as some stories during this time.

Read on to hear about Super Mario 64‘s influence, why the game includes both a young and adult Link, and even a Zelda fan Miyamoto met in a convenience store who urged him to hurry up and return to Kyoto in order to finish the game as soon as possible.

He begins by explaining the transition of 2D to 3D with the introduction of the Nintendo 64, and how SM64 served as the building blocks for creating OoT. Before SM64 was even finished, Yoshioka Koizumi (one of the game’s many directors) was scribbling down ideas for OoT in a notebook whilst developing SM64.

“Back then we didn’t really have a good idea of how strong the 3D visuals were, how strong they would be and what experience they would give,” says Miyamoto. As we were developing Mario 64 we were experimenting with what was possible within that space. We tried to apply what we had learned to the next big franchise for us, which was going to be Zelda. At that time there really was no blueprint for how to create that kind of game in a 3D space. No-one had done it before. There were no rules for us to follow.”

“It was an era where there was a lot of exploration in development, exploration in general. It was quite a bit of fun for us because of the nature of the work.”

He elaborates on his initial idea for OoT to be presented in a first-person perspective, and to include a SM64-style hub.

“There were lots of challenges in trying to show the game from a third person perspective. We had also experimented with moments where the battles were in 3D but parts of the game were on rails.

“We looked at the idea of taking a Mario 64 approach where you have a Mario 64-style castle, the equivalent of that being Hyrule castle, and you explore and encounter the gameplay through that central area.”

Despite Miyamoto’s fascination with the Wild West and horses as a child, adding Epona into the game was not his idea. Director Yoshioka Koizumi is responsible for Link’s noble companion. Miyamoto recalls being astounded by her addition, and that she is the reason why Hyrule Field became the large and vast playable space it is today.

“The horse was a turning point. The moment that we saw you could ride around on a horse in 3D, we instantly realised that we needed a giant field that people could ride through.”

He then moves on to Link, and why the team ultimately decided to include both his younger and adult self as playable.

“We started off creating the more grown up model of Link. After creating that model we then asked, ‘well, what if we were to create a younger Link?’ Then we asked, ‘which one should we go with?’ When we created the younger Link, that’s when we realised we could use both versions of Link and have him grow from being a child to being a grown up.”

Miyamoto explains that there is an interesting parallel to real life in Link’s journey from kid to adult. In the beginning, Hyrule is seen through the eyes of a child, while the world becomes a very different place when he reaches adulthood.

“I wanted to make sure we had something that felt a little bit simpler in terms of the differences between the world that Link experiences as a child, and the world he experiences as an adult. For example you would see how his relationship to the girls in the game would change from when he was a boy and he was an adult. When you were a child certain characters might have been scary. Or the adults who seemed stupid, how did you see them when you were a child? It was about portraying the differences between those two to tell the story of a boy growing up.”

He also recalls a story of a boy he met in a convenience store, who badly wanted Miyamoto to return to Kyoto. He asked him, “Mr. Miyamoto, what are you doing? Why are you here? You’re supposed to be in Kyoto finishing the game.”

“Knowing that even the clerks in convenience stores were waiting for me to finish Zelda? That made me very happy.”

In the final stages of OoT’s development and already in the face of many looming issues,  Miyamoto suddenly decided that there weren’t enough Ocarina songs in the game.

“I decided we had to double them,” he laughs mischievously. “It resulted in a big change in gameplay! The team was confused initially, but in the end it was good!”

It was in this late stage of nearing the game’s completion that the team were thoroughly play-testing the game. Because everyone had become so adept at the ins and outs of the game, somehow no one seemed to notice the Water Temple’s difficulty.

“It remains a regret for Eiji Aonuma to this day,” says Miyamoto, “mainly because he continually hears from everyone about how difficult the dungeon was!

“But he continues to insist that the dungeon wasn’t hard,” he laughs, “it was just a pain because you had to keep taking the boots off and then put them back on He says it wasn’t hard, just inconvenient!”

I’d strongly recommend reading the whole feature over on Kotaku, as it is an incredibly interesting read. Did you learn something new about Ocarina of Time?

Source: Kotaku
  • I never really struggled with the Water Temple. I'm with Aonuma on this, just tedious. Maybe because I played with my brother, but I always found the Spirit Temple harder. Even in Master Quest, the Water Temple wasn't that bad.

    • reeceh92

      Agreed, it's not hard, just long and somewhat dull. MM's Great Bay Temple though–that's the REAL fiendish water temple fans should be talking about.

      • KidWiththeBackpack

        Great Bay Temple is the most stressful thing to me in any video game. Water Temple is a breeze though.

      • Bland

        Great Bay Temple was by far one of the easier dungeons.
        It really only requires a modicum of memorization ability to beat.

        • Nick

          I think a lot of people tend to hate the nonlinear dungeons, which is funny because i think they're the most fun. With the Water Temple all I did was check each room, and see if it made me progress at all in another room, and just continually check all the rooms. Great Bay Temple was so easy though, because instead of having to check each room, you had these very nice colorful pipelines telling you exactly where to go. I remember finding other dungeons a lot more overwhelming, like, "How am I going to remember this room is here when I need it?" The boots thing really was just an inconvenience, and one that overall I didn't mind.

      • JElyseG

        Both that and the Lakebed Temple. xD

    • Bland

      It's not even long. The only tedious part about it was taking the boots on and off that's literally it.
      It's actually one of the shorter dungeons.

    • MikeL

      It's very frustrating because of all the little things. The boot switching obviously, I remember at least one corridor that was designed with an unnecessary notch so that you had to put the boots on just to sink below it and then immediately take them off to float back up again.
      The fact that if you mistakenly change the water level before you're done on the current one you have to work your way back to the other two to restore it.
      The fact that enemies detection radius doesn't take obstacles or vertical distance in account so that if you're on the bottom floor you might get ambushed by an enemy dropping down from the upper floors.
      The way it requires a key for certain rooms, then you struggle your way through the room only to find out that you need a key for the door on the other side as well, one you forgot. This happens several times in the Water temple while other dungeons make it more clear where you need keys.
      Finally, after enduring all that, the boss is probably the least fun one in the entire game.

      • Triguy123

        The boss, for sure. It's design is whatever but it still fits into the atmosphere, but to fight..
        yeah.. my least favourite OoT boss.

    • Arcental

      I think a lot of people over think about what to do in a different environment. Maybe that's why people hate certain Temples.

  • An amazing development story for an amazing game. When the kid and the clerks tells Miyamoto to finish Zelda in the convenient store, I grew a little smile and laughed a little. It's so amazing many people waited and to this day, cherish this game!

  • Topaz Mutiny

    I agree with Eiji Aonuma. The Water Temple isn't harder than any other temple; the gameplay just made taking the boots on and off a pain in the ass, which was ultimately fixed in OoT 3DS, so he's forgiven on my account.

    In fact I daresay the Water Temple is one of the more fun ones in OoT 3DS – it's fun to explore now that the mechanics are updated, and they made it incredibly pretty to boot!

  • Reask

    Honestly on one of my many playthroughs of Ocarina of Time I was able to beat the Water Temple in just one hour. Maybe it was just faster on the Gamecube. Strangely enough, I found the Water Temple more difficult on the 3DS, I don't know how.

  • Mickii

    This is so wonderful to hear. OoT is still the most amazing game I've ever played. Everything about the seven year scenario brings tears to my eyes; its true, I grew up with Link on this one. Its great to hear what it was like on the inside of the development. Oh, and the Water Temple took me the longest to finish the first time, but it wasnt that hard at all. I just simply checked all the rooms on the level the water was filled to, and if I did everything I could, I would just move to the next level. I blaze through that dungeon now… before breakfast!

  • Banooru

    The only reason the water temple was ever hard for me is I always missed one key and had to go back through all the different water levels to find it. The fact that you had to practically redo the entire level if you missed something before changing the water level is what I think makes it difficult.

    • Brodius

      That's not difficulty; it's just tedious.

  • Alvin

    I've recently started playing and trying my best to 100% all the zelda games, and I honestly feel like the older games had dungeons that were harder than the ones in OoT. Well, let me rephrase that, they weren't HARD to say, they were just confusing. I feel like games have been dumb-down throughout the years. The water temple was complicated when I played it originally sometime around being 13 or 14, but playing through OoT as you get older you start to realize that all it takes is a little concentration (and patience [which most people don't have these days]) and most of the dungeons are a breeze.