A Conversation with Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto near the release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Courtesy of Nintendo Power Magazine.
Transcript from Nintendo.com
November 13, 1998, San Francisco -- Though his birthday arrives the following Monday, and today marks the final day of his grueling, week-long promotional tour, The Legend of Zelda's creator Shigeru Miyamoto seems barely ready to stop talking about what is already being hailed as the "game of the century." When we finally corner him in a one-on-one interview to ask him questions written by our readers, he graciously offers his answers while gazing fixedly at the monitor displaying his game. Mr. Miyamoto has just spent the past week being grilled by reporters on his much anticipated and heralded game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (as well as the past three years developing the N64 epic), but he is as excited by Zelda as any anxious gamer who is counting the days until the adventure's November 23rd release.
"If there's one thing I hope this game will teach other games, it's that games shouldn't be delayed," quips Mr. Miyamoto. But through all his jokes and modesty, we soon learn just how much Zelda's legendary creator has to teach.
Nintendo Power: Where did you get the idea to make Link travel from childhood to adulthood in Ocarina of Time?
Miyamoto: The basic concept of the Zelda series remains the same in this game, in that you have to carefully and constantly plot out what you have to do. We wanted to make a virtual, three-dimensional world that would be a very dynamic place where Link could "live." The story was more of a supplemental element we incorporated into the latter part of the design. We really wanted to describe Link's development of abilities as he grows from a child to an adult, so we used motion capture technology. We thought game players would want to play as an adult Link, even though in the previous games, with the exception of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Link was always a child. For those who were accustomed to the earlier games, we accommodated them with the inclusion of a young Link. The concept of young and old Link matched other Zelda games, since they usually had some sort of parallel world for Link to travel between. The parallel world in this case just happens to be a time shift--going back and forth between times. I thought that worked well with the overall theme of the Zelda games.
NP: When and where do you usually come up with your ideas?
Miyamoto: Often, I come up with new ideas when I am watching the test program of a game running on the monitor. Then, we'll discuss the problems we are facing in programming the game and how to improve it. Apart from that, I come up with ideas when I'm relaxing after a day of intense game development. Sometimes ideas will come to me when I am heading home from work or when I am taking a bath. But I come up with ideas only after I've devoted myself to a day of hard work. If we've been relaxing all throughout the day, we hardly ever come up with any new ideas.
NP: Ocarina of Time is very cinematic. Which films influenced you?
Miyamoto: Many people may say that this game is like a movie, but it's different. We have taken advantage of some of the specific methods used in movie production, but the game is not like a movie. It's more like an experiment in developing a new form of interactive media. In doing so, we sometimes made use of moviemaking methods. With filmmaking, you take several different scenes and later edit them so you can view them as one sequence. In Zelda, things are happening in real time as the camera changes angles and shots. This game is not like a movie, but rather, the camera is becoming the stage performer. I can tell you that those who developed the camera work in the game love movies, so they adapted the camera work from movies. No one who worked on the game, including me, has had any experience in making movies. I personally don't dislike movies--I like them a lot.
NP: Who are some of your favorite movie directors?
Miyamoto: I think movies work when they are very well organized, like Raiders of the Lost Ark by Steven Spielberg. I like a lot of Alfred Hitchcock's work, because you can see the theme of the movie very clearly. I think for creating movies, novels, games and other works of entertainment, the theme has to be clearly understood by the audience. I also like Tim Burton and John Waters. In John Waters' works, for example, you can see how the comedy and quirks are being developed throughout his films.
NP: What are your plans for the N64 Memory Expansion Pak?
Miyamoto: It would have been more convenient to have used the Memory Expansion Pak for Zelda, but it wasn't ready. Ocarina of Time was originally designed with the N64 Disk Drive in mind, and in the future, we'd like to make use of some of those unrealized ideas intended for the N64 DD.
NP: What codes and secrets can we expect to find in Ocarina of Time?
Miyamoto: Because Zelda is an adventure game, you have to find many things, and many of them may be hard to find. In the game's Fishing Pond, something might happen if you're playing there for a long time or are trying to do many things there. You can also find spiders called Gold Skulltulas. There are 100 that you can collect, and you might find this creature more often at night. Or you may want to search for them where you would normally find bugs and insects. (Slyly) Sometimes, if you have a Deku Stick and you find some butterflies flying about, you can make them follow you and something special could happen. . .
NP: What's your favorite weapon in the game?
Miyamoto: The hookshot. The hookshot was an older weapon I really wanted to incorporate into the game. And though it's not a weapon, the ocarina is another item I like a lot.
NP: Who's your favorite new character in the game?
Miyamoto: (Looking to the ceiling as he grapples for an answer) Sheik. . .(laughing) the cows. . .I like the Deku Scrubs. Sometimes they attack you. Sometimes they talk to you. Sometimes they sell things to you. And if you're wearing one of the different masks you can get in the game, the Deku Scrubs will react to your appearance depending on the disguise you're wearing. I like them because you can't tell if they're an enemy or an ally. I wanted to put more characters like them in the game, but the Deku Scrubs ended up being the only ones we included.
NP: What's your favorite area of the game?
Miyamoto: I like the Spirit Temple. I've never been to Egypt, but I think the elements in that temple are like the relics you could find in Egypt. Though it's not a dungeon, I like the Gerudo Fortress, because you have to play a sort of hide-and-seek game with the guards to avoid getting caught. It's a unique area because it doesn't have the ordinary attack-style of game play.
NP: Where do all the Zelda games fall into place when arranged chronologically by their stories?
Miyamoto: Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past. It's not very clear where Link's Awakening fits in--it could be anytime after Ocarina of Time.
NP: How would you like to see Ocarina of Time influence other games?
Miyamoto: I wouldn't want others to imitate the size or volume of the game. I hope that they'll concentrate on improving the quality of the games. We haven't done anything special in Ocarina of Time, we've just made use of the N64 technology. As long as you have proper knowledge of the N64's technology, you shouldn't have to concern yourself with making a game of this caliber in terms of sheer size and volume.
NP: How do you feel about this game being hailed as the "game of the century?"
Miyamoto: I don't know. This century is the only century I know. I'm sure I'll be living in the next century, so I hope I can make something else like this.
NP: Will you be making other games using the Zelda engine?
Miyamoto: We were using the Super Mario 64 engine for Zelda, but we had to make so many modifications to it that it's a different engine now. What we have now is a very good engine, and I think we can use it for future games if we can come up with a very good concept. It took three or so years to make Zelda, and about half the time was spent on making the engine. We definitely want to make use of this engine again.
NP: How about Super Mario 64 2?
Miyamoto: Well, for over a year now at my desk, a prototype program of Luigi and Mario has been running on my monitor. We've been thinking about the game, and it may be something that could work on a completely new game system.
NP: What can you tell us about the upcoming all-star fighting game featuring Nintendo characters?
Miyamoto: It may sound like a bloody game if you label it as a fighting game. It's not bloody at all. Instead, it's an enjoyable "hitting" game like sumo in Japan, in which you have to force your opponent out of a ring, or cage in this case. There will probably be more than ten characters including some secret characters who've appeared in older Nintendo games. I think we'll be calling the game "Nintendo All-Star Battle Royal Smash Bros." or something like that. I think we are going to launch it early next year.
NP: Who are some of the characters?
Miyamoto: Of course, Mario, Luigi, Bowser and Donkey Kong will be in it. Samus from Metroid and some of Nintendo's secondary characters like Pikachu from Pokémon appear.
NP: Is Link in the game?
Miyamoto: Yes, he'll be swinging his sword in the game. Captain Falcon from F-Zero will also be in the game.
NP: Rumors have been circulating on the Internet about a Ninja Mario or Naked Mario being in Super Mario 64. Do they exist?
Miyamoto: (laughing) No.
NP: What's your favorite video game?
Miyamoto: Donkey Kong. Pac-Man.
NP: What would you recommend to people who want to follow in your footsteps to become a game designer?
Miyamoto: I myself wanted to be a cartoonist at first, so I was reading a lot of cartoons. I was imitating some others' works and made up my own stories at first. If you want to become a game artist, it's good if you play games and make up your own ideas. Regardless of the subject, you have to come up with something on your own, whether you're drawing pictures or cartoons or making toys. Just try to surprise people. What's important is that you make something up on your own and show it to somebody else so they can critique your work. Even if you get harsh criticism, don't give up. Just keep at it.