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Filed under: Eiji Aonuma, Industry People

New Information About BoTW from Master Works

Note: Do not repost the full translation.  This is from the newest Zelda book, Master Works. The translation summary was done by Matt Walker for Source Gaming. Please give credit to both Matt Walker and Source Gaming when referencing the article. This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the developers.  Brando and PushDustIn checked the authenticity of the translation.


In the original version of this post, there was a slight mistranslation. A fan mirrored Wada-san’s images to make Link left-handed, which Wada-san felt negative about. That text has been updated to better reflect the original meaning. 


– Starting with the “Japan Game

Award 2017″ BotW has received high praise around the world. This interview will cover how the dev staff feel about that, and what they think looking back on development – which they can do now that the 2nd round of DLC has finally finished development. (Interview performed at the end of October, 2017)

Players from age 6 to age 74


– Fujibayashi-san gives thanks for the opportunity to receive the Japan Game Award, and the chance to read the impressions of players who voted for the title. He was surprised to find voters that recommended the title all the way from ages 6 to 74. He was also happy to find that people from all age ranges mentioned enjoying the same things in regards to the game – that what he intended for the game got through to players and really broke through any age barriers.

– Development started right after Skyward Sword and went all the way through the development of DLC2, and they poured more “power” into this than any other title prior. Even so, he never felt discouraged or that things were rough. In fact, it was so much fun making this game that he looked forward to going to work every day, and that cycle of coming up with new ideas and then seeing them in the game was a joy.

– There were ideas that didn’t get implemented, but have been left in the game in some form – such as the reason the Yiga clan’s mark is the reverse of the Sheikah symbol, or the fact that the King of Hyrule is dead- but then how did he die? He had even come up with very detailed backgrounds for the Heroes during development, but it wasn’t until DLC2 where they actually had the opportunity to include that.

– Fujibayashi-san has a story that he was on site for voice recording for DLC2, so he took the opportunity to ask Zelda and Daruk’s voice actors what they thought now that the game was out.

Daruk’s actor responded saying he loved how there are different ways to approach things in the game, which Fujibayashi-san was glad to hear, since that was something they were very careful about when developing the game. Zelda’s voice actress stated that she could really feel the weight of 100 years when playing

the game. Her opinion was incredibly valuable to him, as it’s an opinion that no one else could give – one given from the standpoint of Zelda – someone who would have knowledge of the past prior to the present, which is different from everyone who played the game as Link – who learns about the past through living the present.

– He goes on to explain that the team is ecstatic that this book, Master Works, is being released because there is a lot in the game that they put a lot of attention and detail into, but couldn’t explain in the game itself. The example given is in Chapter 3, “History”, discussing the structure of Fort Akkala and the invasion of the Guardians on page 380 – the fort was set up to withstand attacks from behind, and they go on to explain why that fell, even though Fort Hateno held strong. They hope that people won’t just get a better understanding of the world, but actually want to go back to the game and check it out for themselves.

– He mentions that there are all of these amazing videos online that people have shared, showing completely unexpected things they’ve found with how they play the game and the dev team has been checking all of those out – but there’s still some things that haven’t been discovered.

The duty to release all of this documentation


– “Why does the art style change for each game in the Zelda series?” That’s a question many have probably considered. It’s the result of trial and error during the development of each title to figure out what would best make the world feel like something players would be excited to adventure in. The conclusion was to marry the believability of the world with playability – this would help them satisfy the goal of “rethinking the conventions of Zelda” and creating an art style that could be considered the definitive standard for Zelda. This lead to things such as the “comical” effect of tree wood magically “poofing” into bundles of wood – anything more realistic would feel like a waste of time for the player.

– Although Takizawa-san knew that this art style that utilizes the less realistic and more stylized choices would work for the purposes of the game, he couldn’t help but feel uneasy as to whether the general populace would accept it. Those worries were swept away when the general reaction to the first trailer at E3 2014 was positive.

  • There are several things that they paid particular care in implementing during development – things like smell. Obviously, smell isn’t something that can be portrayed by video game systems, the artists worked with the graphics programmers, environment designers and effect designers from the beginning with the goal of creating the kind of world that a player could exist in and even get a sense of the kind of smells that exist within it. The kind of world that you could walk around in, and even before the sound effects were implemented, get a sense of how it sounds. Another goal he had put a lot of weight on was being able to create a sense of the air of the environments – how the air feels humid in tropical environments, how the sun is stronger in the desert.
  • Takizawa-san went to GDC to give a presentation, and the next morning he woke up to emails from the dev team – “The reviews are crazy, check them out!” He rushed to check the web and found many outlets giving high scores – nearly all perfect 10s! He was so moved he got goosebumps. It felt like a dream – partly because of the haziness from waking up – and in a foreign country no less. He was ecstatic to see many different reviews complementing the work he and so many other designers worked so long and hard on.

  • He mentions that the Master Works represents something interesting for the devs – usually, this kind of artwork and documentation is meant solely as a base to create the game – the final product is everything, and because of that some of the devs are a bit embarrassed at showing this to the public. He thinks there’s plenty of value in it if fans enjoy it, but even more so if young people pick it up, take a look and think to themselves, “I hope I can do something like this someday.” In fact, that’s exactly what gave him the idea to create, which led him to where he is now at Nintendo.

The desire to continue drawing

Wada-san (Illustrator)

  • Wada-san usually begins creating artwork after the game has been in development for a while. For BotW he remembers specifically how he was introduced to the game – they had a presentation explaining what the game was to internal members, and as he watched the opening cinematic, where Link wakes up from 100 years of sleep in the Shrine of Resurrection, he thought to himself – “I want to play this… and it’s my job to portray this feeling to fans and people who have no interest in Zelda yet.”
  • He calls himself a “rather dry” person, and because of that aspect of his personality, when a project ends, he tends to quickly forget about it and move on to the next one without much thought. BotW was different, though – not only did he continue to create art for the title as the DLC was being developed, but even when it was over he didn’t want to stop – he wanted to continue working on BotW.
  • He very much enjoyed reading people’s reviews and thoughts on the game after it was released – it even helped provide motivation for him as he continued to create his art for the game.
  • There was one thing that was hard for him though – when [a fan] mirrored his artwork. Wada-san originally started drawing Link for Skyward Sword – so he was used to drawing Link right handed. 
  • One of the pieces he treasured was the March Game Informer cover (P.20-21), which utilized both the front and the back of the magazine – showing Link pulling the Master Sword on the front, and Zelda with it on the back. Although this wasn’t something that could be revealed at the time, the idea is that they’re in the very same spot, but separated over 100 years. He loved seeing fans theorize about just what the relation between the two images would be.

  • The last piece he created for BotW is one found in the Master Works on P.4-5 (it shows Zelda, Link, and the Heroes rushing into battle). Since it’s the last one, he chose to draw the final battle, adding in the Heroes. As he was drawing it, he wondered if there wasn’t a better way to draw it that people would truly enjoy, and that’s how we ended up with the version found in the book.

Work on the next Zelda has already begun


  • First and foremost, Aonuma-san wants to say “Thank you” to everyone that played the game. Second, he wants to tell the dev team, “It was tiring, but… happy, wasn’t it? I know I was happy.” He says, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited working on something, and if it weren’t these specific people working on it, I don’t think we could have made Breath of the Wild what it was.”
  • During development, he looked around at the dev team around him and was reminded of Ocarina of Time. Back when they were developing OoT, they didn’t have a standard grammar for 3D games – they had a clean slate where they had to come up with ideas, test them, and repeat – and that’s exactly how they approached BotW.
  • Aonuma-san admits he was the one to give the order that BotW would rethink just what Zelda’s conventions are and what it should be. One of the reasons for that was how players would say, “I want to know what’s in between the different areas.” in relation to the ground world Link jumps down to in Skyward Sword. Even though they had always created Zelda with the goal of creating a vast world to adventure in, more and more they became bound by things that “Zelda is supposed to have”. So he said, “Let’s throw away any thoughts we have of what Zelda is supposed to be.” What the team delivered, though, went beyond even his expectations.
  • He mentions that he appreciates the amount of time they got to create the game – though he realizes that it was disappointing for the fans to have to wait so long. “Only now can I finally reveal that we could have actually released the game earlier, but I couldn’t hold back the urge to make the world even better. That feeling was so strong, that I didn’t know just how long development would continue. That was a truly happy period for me, and even though we spent a large amount of time on it, none of that time was wasted. We were constantly moving forward, even if there were some trial and error along the way.”
  • There was actually something else that reminded Aonuma-san of OoT – Link’s actions. For OoT they focused on Link’s actions feeling like you were actually interacting with the elements of that world. Then after OoT, they always tended to focus on adding to that set, increasing the variations of actions he could perform. It was the dev staff that realized such an approach wouldn’t work for this title. Increasing the number of actions would make the title more complex, so they came up with the idea of implementing many different elements in the world, and even if Link’s set of actions was relatively simple, players could have fun playing with the different reactions that would occur from the combination of Link’s actions with the elements. He thinks this is why, more than any other Zelda title, BotW offers the kind of play where people search out just what’s possible in the world and utilize that to their advantage.
  • One of the other points they needed to reevaluate in terms of Zelda for this game was how players would need to go from completing one objective to another. For OoT it was just common sense that objective based gameplay, moving from one to the next, was what a game was. He feels with BotW they really overcame that, though, mentioning that the first time he really felt as such was when he was able to ride a horse – it was exciting just riding the horse without any goal in mind. And there was no barrier, no invisible walls keeping the horse from going where he wanted it to. He really was free. And as such, it was a completely different experience than riding a horse in Twilight Princess or OoT.
  • He goes on to explain how he kept pushing the team to put the bike in, and how it was implemented for DLC2.

  • He mentions that the bike that ended up in the game was more of an off-road bike. Well, the programmers went out of their way to ride bikes to get a feel for what it should be like in the game, and they implemented it as an off-road bike given the world it would be ridden in, but he kept mentioning that it should be the kind of bike that really takes off with a loud roar as you open full throttle.
  • In closing, Aonuma-san wants to remind everyone that that’s a lot of room to take things further with video games! Specifically – he got a lot of feedback from older players mentioning how it reminded them of what it was like when they used to get really deep into games when they were younger. He’d love it if people took the time to approach [other] games with a new outlook after playing this.
  • He mentions specifically that, even though they mentioned the Hyrule timeline in the Hyrule Encyclopedia, they’ve very specifically avoided mentioning it in terms of BotW – with all of the comments and feedback they’ve received, they realized that there are people who enjoy coming up with their own explanations based on the bits and pieces of story the dev team has provided. Well, it would be boring if they provided a specific “correct” timeline because people couldn’t have fun theorizing anymore. They hope that people will instead continue to have fun theorizing well after they’re done playing the game.
  • Lastly, he mentions that they’ve already begun work on the next game.

Translation by: Matt Walker

Production Manager for Capcom. Still love to program. Pixel art icon made by  失意泰然、得意冷然

Source Gaming Team

Source Gaming Team

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