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Eiji Aonuma's GDC 2007 Presentation

A Revolutionary idea

by Aaron Kaluszka - March 11, 2007, 3:49 am PDT

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Control that you experience though direct pointing device and motion sensor: Upon its conception, I was curious to see the Revolution, Nintendo’s new platform announced at E3 2005, would innovate Zelda’s gameplay. I was eager to try it, but I thought that that could happen only after we completed work on Twilight Princess. I was surprised at first to hear Miyamoto’s suggestion that we try it right away, and I didn’t know how it would impact the Zelda that at that time was still missing a key ingredient. But we had to start by testing what Miyamoto had suggested and that was getting the pointer to work as the control for the bow and arrow. Though the pointer control that we developed as a trial still needed tweaking, and as imperfect as it was, the feeling of being able to aim directly at the target on the screen was, as with the DS version, exactly what was needed to give Zelda a completely new feel. Having experienced it, I was convinced that that was the only direction we could take. “This direct control is exactly what Twilight Princess needs in order to penetrate a market experiencing gamer drift." Miyamoto knew that this would be my response, and he himself felt strongly about it.

However, if we put Twilight Princess on the Revolution, we ran the risk of those looking forward to playing it on the GameCube. For this reason, we knew that we had to release it for the GameCube as well. But doing so meant developing two versions, a GameCube version and Revolution version, and we knew that it was impossible to create both before the 2005 release as promised. Miyamoto negotiated with the higher-ups, and in the end, while it would disappoint those users who were looking forward to the 2005 release, if we really were able to create a 120% Zelda game that could be played both on the GameCube and on the Revolution, then even if we did release at the time of the launch of the Revolution in 2006, we could make even those users happy. This was Iwata’s response and the decision to create Twilight Princess for both the Revolution and the GameCube.

Creating a Zelda title for launch was a first in the history of the Zelda franchise. This was the first launch title that I had worked on, and I had no way of knowing how much of a challenge it was going to be. In addition, because we were making the GameCube and Wii versions (I’ll be calling it Wii from now on), we had to be particularly careful about the schedule, and being inexperienced, I had no idea how long it should all take. Thankfully, the Wii hardware supports compatibility with the GameCube, so I heard that transferring data that we had developed for the GameCube to the Wii wasn’t that much of a challenge in terms of coding. I decided that once the game content had proven to be stable enough to run on the GameCube, we would work on the Wii-compatible version. I set our first goal of having the GameCube version complete through the middle while parallel to this work, Miyamoto and I began thinking about what controls would be changed in the Wii version, deciding what to do first about the pointing.

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