Breath of the Wild developers Satoru Takizawa, Takuhiro Dohta and Hidemaro Fujibayashi had some surprising stories to share about some of the scrapped ideas that came up over the course of Breath of the Wild‘s development. Last week at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, CA, the Zelda panel, titled “Change and Constant: Breaking Conventions with Breath of the Wild”, focused on the core ideas governing the game’s design.
One of the core challenges described at the panel was turning Breath of the Wild into an “active” game as opposed to a “passive” game. The “passive” style of past games in the franchise relied on predetermined sequences of events, exact puzzle solutions, and barriers to prevent the player from accessing certain areas before they were intended to. The developers said that by looking at “the boundaries of the previous Zelda games, and designing around them, a new freedom of expression and gameplay was formed.”
In order to creative an “active” experience, the focus was placed on giving the player a “high degree of freedom”, such as being able to push a innocuous boulder all the way to the final boss, if desired. This was achieved by using a combination of “Physics and Chemistry”. By providing a way for players to directly interact with objects in the game world, the game becomes a more “active” experience.
In order to experiment with these ideas, a 2D prototype was created to demonstrate some of the key gameplay elements of Breath of the Wild‘s physics and chemistry engine. This 2D Zelda implements features such as cutting down trees for lumber and setting fields on fire, which turned out to be central to the core ideas of Breath of the Wild.
Takizawa also discussed some of the discarded ideas that came up over the course of the game’s development, deeming them part of the art development’s “Trial and Error”. These included some surprising screenshots from scrapped ideas such “Hyrule Wars” and “The Legend of Zelda: Invasion”. There were also some scrapped Link illustrations of “Biker Link”, “Tracksuit Link”, and “Musician Link”, showing that the developers were experimenting with a modern take on their hero’s design.