Does the legal-looking picture to the left look familiar to you? With all the press surrounding this nearly year-old patent, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you in the comments said it was a frame from the next Zelda trailer. But with all the emails both the news staff and I have been getting about this story – and one other, more recent story involving a stopwatch with some Triforce-like symbols on it – I think it’s about at that point where we all took the time to take a deep breath, look at this hype, and come back down to Earth. Rumors are great; since we report news, we generally love to mess with your heads and give you false hope (it’s one of our pastimes, you see), but we can’t bring ourselves to do it with these clearly bogus stories being hyped up by supposedly reputable journalists.
First, I’ll address the patent – everything I’ve heard said about it so far indicates that nobody who has reported on the patent has also read it. Trust me – as soon as you lay eyes on that actual, unequivocal text of the patent, you can see plainly that this has nothing to do with Zelda. Which is why I find it remarkable that some news sites such as Zelda Dungeon, another Zelda fansite that specializes in detailed original walkthroughs, even went so far as to say there will soon be a new trailer for Zelda coming soon because of this patent. I don’t think Nintendo has ever released a trailer for a Zelda game outside of an international media event – ever! And E3 isn’t for a good while, kiddos.
To get my point across, however, I first need to get all of your heads out of those diagrams. Yes, the diagrams depict Link. Yes, it says “Legend of OO”. But this all goes back to the software world, and in the software world ideas are presented as something called “metaphors.” These aren’t the same as literary metaphors, instead a metaphor is really a fancy name for “user interface.” Palm, Inc. recently introduced a mobile device called the Pre, which introduces a new metaphor for application switching called Cards. Apple’s iPhone has a desktop metaphor called the Springboard, because launching applications looks like they pop up from a spring-loaded board, like a gymnast would. Don’t think that simply because those two examples are Operating Systems that they don’t correlate to the gaming world as well – they’re all software, and those presenting this software, even Mr. Miyamoto, are software developers. And they know how to present their ideas: With a metaphor they can be commonly known for.
This is why it is logical for Miyamoto to pick a common metaphor for his patent. Reading the patent, it is clear that this “hint system,” to put it loosely (it’s really a special “digest” mode that turns the game into an interactive movie for those who cannot figure out gameplay), could easily be implemented in any game. The patent text makes no mention of Zelda, nor of Mario, nor of any major franchise or, for that matter, any game at all. Strip away the diagrams and send this patent to a patent lawyer for analyzing, and he’d come back and tell you it’s just some bogus general hint system. And although the diagrams do state “Legend of OO,” it is not because this is the hidden title of Nintendo’s next Zelda game. No company is stupid enough to put the title of their next game into a publicly available patent – Miyamoto was simply using one of his better-known metaphors to demonstrate the system described in the patent.
A lot of you will launch off of that statement saying “Well, that PROVES he has it in his head to use it on the next Zelda game!” Completely false – as with most patents filed by major companies, this one will probably never see the light of day. Nintendo is like Apple – the fanboys are become almost equally rabid, I think – they file a ton of patents for nearly every idea they have for future posterity. Simply because a diagram depicts something does not mean it will ever be implemented, or that there are plans for it to be implemented in the way depicted in the diagrams. The text of the patent frees them from the diagrams.
Of course, all this not to mention that the patent was filed in August 29, 2007. That thing is a year and a half old! You wonder why somebody decides to jump on this patent now. Even though it was only recently approved, the idea has been sitting, gathering dust for a year and a half. Companies generally go along with their ideas even if the patent is still pending (hence why products say “patent pending” on them much of the time).
Rumor #2: The Floating Clock
Does that picture look familiar to you? You might have been one of the twenty or so people who sent this story in to us, but rest assured it, too, has nothing to do with Zelda. Ignoring the heinous possibility of Nintendo outsourcing the next major Zelda game to a 3rd party – the first time this would have been done since The Minish Cap, discounting Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland – the only thing connecting this rumor to Zelda is people’s lack of ability to read Japanese and their sniper-like ability to spot Triforces. Even if Marvelous Entertainment is responsible for the well-known Harvest Moon series, there’s no reason for Nintendo to suddenly bring them into the development of Zelda, and especially in such a low-key way.
The Triforce is a common symbol; Nintendo actually doesn’t hold any intellectual property over this iconic design. Why? Because the three triangles have been used throughout history. Look at a Sierpinski Triangle, a fractal that is, basically, made out of Triforces. The general idea is that there is beauty in dividing one large equilateral triangle into four separate and equal equilateral triangles – not to rip off Nintendo.
The triangles, in this clock’s case, are the numbers. 3, 2, 1. They could have used squares, but hey – guess what? – the clock is triangle-shaped. he triangles, by design, and by Sierpinski’s wonderful fractal, fit into that shape perfectly. The following thought graces my mind: The local mall in this area has a giant 3D statue of something that looks just like a Triforce. How come Nintendo isn’t at my mall presenting the next Zelda game?
Several people who can actually read and understand Japanese, and not just use Google Translator, have told me that this has nothing to do with Zelda. Although I cannot read Japanese myself, I trust these sources very much.
And to solve the “magic” that was the clock page showing up on Google searches for things like “http://www.mmv.co.jp/ + zelda” – Google’s algorithm gathers keywords from the internet and groups sites to those keywords. If you talk enough about a site being related to Zelda, Google is going to think that it is and group the search terms. In essence, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy – you want the site to be related to Zelda so much that you talk about it enough to cause Google to group the site to the false keyword. And when somebody runs the search and discovers that the site is linked to the keyword, then screams “It MUST be Zelda!!”, they think that some prophecy has been fulfilled and that it really is Zelda, not knowing that they – and the countless others who linked the site to the Zelda keyword – inadvertantly caused this false connection to occur.
I hope the Zelda community has just a tiny bit more sense now, so that we can all get excited over a real announcement.