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Legend of Zelda: A Cave of Ideas
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Legend of Zelda: A Cave of Ideas
by Sebastian Alvarez on 01/25/13 12:07:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

 

An observation of Great Ideas


"The Legend of Zelda" was built upon an idea Miyamoto experienced when he was a young boy and discovered a cave. This natural wonder was filled with mystery and he sought to capture this in a form of a game which we all know today and I consider these inspirations of his as the origin of Ideas. On this journey of coming up with "original" ideas for our game I have read a multitude of articles and forums of where it is best to get ideas from and let me start off by saying that even though there is no one way to get an idea, I find this to be one of the great many ways to start and one way we are applying it to ours.

 

This would make a great game!

 

Long story short

Life is one of the best sources of inspiration and the only way to find ideas from life is to live. Example: To make the Mayor feel real we based him on reflections of ourselves and how we would act in his situation. This may seem pretty obvious right now but understanding the Laws of Obviousity is left for another article. 



My experience is yours

 

Everything came from something else including ideas and when it comes to art some would say that it is an imitation of life (otherwise known as anti-memisis). One of the reasons for this would be for the comfort of familiarity and how we want to show others our point of view in a particular subject. Miyamoto was inspired by this cave and wanted his players to view his experience in his own way. Since one of the commonalities we have as humans is that we have experiences then we can all relate to what it is like to have an experience. A heart beat is something we have experienced so when you play a game with a very tense atmosphere and the only sound is that of your characters heartbeat, you as the player immediately relate to this moment as an experience you see possible. Using this process of experiences can lead to different perspectives with the heartbeat while still maintaining it identifiable with the audience; A tense moment in a dark hall way or a romantic night under the stars. We easily identify life and its surroundings because we are experiencing it every waking day.

A somewhat Zelda copy but a bit darker...
There is nothing new under the Sun
We begin to get into a bit of a problem when most of our experiences come from others. Many game developers had an amazing visceral journey when they played through The Legend of Zelda for the first time and wanted to share their interpretation of this and here is where the copy of the copy emerges. Many great influences can come from this but there are also times when you feel as if there is something lost in translation. Often described as the “soul” of the game/movie/book, one may wonder where this soul has gone. Skyward Sword is an example of the claim many people have made of a game that has lost its soul and the reason may very well be for its state of being a copy from a copy of a copy. Skyward Sword, as great as it may be, is trying to capture what the Zelda series always has, of a boy going through many trials to save the land. Through the multitude of iteration the focus became more about the new and interesting challenges Link may face and the pure form of experiencing a mysterious new cave is lost. This happened when the game consistently guides you through its challenges and takes away the sense of exploration Miyamoto originally designed when he started the series.  This is not to say that nothing good can come from a copy as long as the focus is not lost from the intention of the source material. 

 

Now it gets interesting 

Knowing the intention is important but how do you apply and maintain the focus into an idea? The heartbeat in an intense situation beats rapidly and with some creativity we can simulate this into the character not just by sound alone but by exaggerating the experience with a flashing red screen to express danger. This is a gimmick very commonly used today to demonstrate health or death in a game. Another example would be to emulate an experience of a new friendship, like Journey this was done by adding another player into your game at random and relying on each other to reach the goal. In Oh No, Tokyo we seek to give the player a feeling of power and responsibility and have explored what this means. Finding ways to experience these abstract feelings we have resulted with giving the player the most powerful invention in the world that relies only on his fists to deal with aggressive situations. This is a primal solution which is identifiable by those who rule with an iron fist, literally. As for making the player feel responsible, we introduced Ai that praise you and rely on you at every moment to protect them from imminent harm. A sense of urgency comes when you see the people who have appointed you as their leader to stop all harm that may come to them as they run in fear. With your mighty power you stop the opposition with your iron fists.

The Iron Fists to rule them all!

Ideas through life


Ideas through life can be applied to just about every process in your game through any means. For example when thinking of a new character you must think of his characteristics, if she is a ninja you can simulate the experience of a mouse and how it sneaks around. A mouse is always crunched over and quick paced moving from location to location, constantly alert of its surroundings and always aware of the best place to escape. If she is more agile she can simulate a monkey and how it climbs trees with its hands and feet. This can also apply in the art of the character, buildings and any other asset in the game. Since she is a great climber, she has longer arms and big hands to exaggerate the point of her agility in her upper body. Even through music the heartbeat example can be applied to the rhythm of the chords being played or even a sense of speed with the drums simulating horses galloping (i.e. Muse – Knights of Cydonia). All of these examples come from life but maintain the intention of its original purpose thus showing a relatable experience we can all understand.

Many great things have come from variations of a copy as shown in the great series of shorts Everything is a Remix but doing it for the right intentions is just as important in staying true to the source material. We are constantly using this focus on Oh No, Tokyo as well as other variations since this is not the only method of inspiration but just one of the many examples on forming and exploring ideas. It’s also really easy to take from life because the only thing you really have to do is live.

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