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thomasmahler
Member
(03-18-2017, 11:17 PM)
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Hey GAF,

I always think it's interesting to hear from other game developers what they thought about certain games... So I wanna start a discussion by looking at Breath of the Wild from a designers perspective and after all the well deserved praise the game got, I think it's good to point out the things that I thought it didn't do so well after all is said and done. Let me also state that I'm a huge Zelda fan (With ALTTP being my favorite game of all time and I also have a huge soft spot for the original Legend of Zelda on the NES) and it's clear as day that BotW is easily one of the best Zelda games ever made - So in many ways I'm nitpicking, but I think in order for Nintendo and other developers to improve upon what's been done here in the future, we should just be straight in calling out the obvious issues and things that could've been improved that would've made the game better.

I finally finished BotW last night (all memories, all 120 shrines, most quests completed, etc.) and tried to analyze the game while I was playing it - I'm playing games differently nowadays than I did back in the day, I'm trying to be very analytical in order to really understand how the game was built, how all the systems work, etc., simply because as a game designer it helps me make our stuff better if I know how other devs handled certain problems before us.

So without further ado, let's start with my criticism:

The Open World:
Generally speaking, I thought the world was too big. I'm generally not a HUGE fan of open world games (and yet I have to admit that BotW is definitely the best open world game I've ever played), simply because I'd never want to design a game that way. I think it's wrong to start with a huge landscape and then try to shoehorn a ton of content into it versus building really strong content in smaller chunks and then putting it together to ensure that every inch of the world truly feels well designed.

If you're not a game developer, here's a bit of info on how these open world games are built: You usually start with a large terrain and sculpt the landscape, then you fill in the landscape with content. This video gives you a basic idea of how these worlds are crafted:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozXYKpUugd8

So, throughout my entire time playing the game, I couldn't shake the thought that Nintendo must have decided on the size of the world at the start of the project and couldn't back-paddle afterwards simply because the world is made out of one huge terrain. Most Terrain engines don't allow you to easily modify and change sizes once various parts have already been built, since scaling the terrain would affect everything you've already built (again, I'm not saying Nintendo didn't have more sophisticated terrain tools, but that's my simple guess since the world feels way too large for its own good).

So why do I think the world is too large? Because of a lack of varied content. That's always the problem with Open World Games - What good is a huge world if large parts of it are fairly empty with nothing for you to do? I'm honestly sick and tired of developers proclaiming that the world of the game they're building is x times larger than the world in their previous game - That's only a great thing if you also scaled up your team by a lot in order to be able to fill that world with super fun content, which is most often not the case. Me just having to traverse longer distances that a designer didn't even touch doesn't mean the game is more fun, in fact, the opposite is usually true, which games like No Man's Sky have proven very well I think. Just running around in boring areas with little to no interactivity is just not fun.

I do think Nintendo did a good job giving you movement tools like Shield Surfing, Paragliding, Climbing, etc., but a hell of a lot of time in the game is spent just traversing through the terrain by holding the analog stick forward, running, climbing while always keeping an eye on your Stamina bar - and that in itself isn't the most fun you could have. Often times you have to run 5-10 minutes from one place to another doing fairly menial tasks like running and climbing just to arrive at your goal.

And that's also when Fast Travel comes into play, since having to do that once is bad enough and developers know that you want to quickly get to the fun parts, so they allow you to skip large parts of the Open World. But the irony here is... if that's your design process, then maybe your world shouldn't be that large in the first place?

At Moon, we have this 'fun per inch' principle - If we have the player just running for too long without any varied interactivity and fun content, then the level design is probably not great and should be reworked. We always try to put as much interactivity and diverse challenges into every inch of the worlds we're building as possible. We usually build hundreds of levels and then only use the levels that we feel are really fun, the rest gets cut and out of the good stuff we build the actual world. That way we know that there are no 'empty-feeling levels' - Everything needs to be well designed, all the stuff that feels empty should be improved or cut. Obviously there are always 'transition zones' between certain levels, but even those should be fun to traverse through or interact with. And again, that is often times not the case with open world games, the 'transition zones' usually end up being huge and empty... Simply compare that to how Zelda 1 or ALTTP were designed: Almost every single screen in those games is packed with secrets, enemies, objects you can interact with, etc. - There's barely a screen in those games where all you do is holding the analog stick into a direction without any other possibility of interactivity. And interactivity is where the fun comes from, interactivity is what games are all about.

So what did Nintendo do in order to make traversing the open world more fun? Obviously, they added content, so let's take a look at that:

The Open World Content:
If you really analyze Breath of the Wild, the overall design used here is fairly simple. There's a big open world terrain that you traverse and within that world you find various things: Shrines, Korok Challenges, Enemy Camps, etc.

The problem here is that since the world is that big and a developer only has 24 hours in a day, repetition is the key to get the project to a finish line. And repetition is all over Breath of the Wild:

Let's start with the Shrines: All 120 shrines look exactly the same. The actual puzzles and challenges in there are usually really well designed (apart from the horrible Motion Controlled ones, these shrines are just horribly bungled in my opinion), but I do think the game would've been better if there would've been more variation within the shrines to make them more memorable. Wouldn't it have been cool if the shrines in the Death Mountain Area would've been themed around fire and exploited all the various ways you can interact with fire in the game? Wouldn't it have been cool if the Death Mountain Shrines actually looked more like they belong in that area? Instead, all the 120 shrines in the game are completely interchangeable, shrines that are in the Death Mountain area could just as well be placed within Gerudo's Desert, etc.

Also, the combat shrines... They're literally all the exact same. Seriously, nobody was able to come up with something more interesting here? You have 3 different enemy types in those shrine, but they're literally all the same: You walk in, a single enemy spawns and you need to defeat that enemy in order to complete the shrine. Not once did I fight multiple enemies in there, let alone more varied types - It's always the same walking guardian types. Couldn't Nintendo have mixed it up a bit more by putting a walking guardian AND a flying guardian in one of the combat shrines just to make things a LITTLE more interesting? That design decision was baffling to me.

The same is true for the Korok Challenges: Most of these are completely mindless and similar: Find a certain rock in the world that stands out, pick it up, a Korok appears. Put a rock in the right spot in the middle of a ring of rocks, boom, a Korok appears. Jump into a ring of flowers in the water, a Korok appears. Shoot some balloons, a Korok appears... Rinse and Repeat. You'll do these exact same challenges DOZENS of times. Again, I'm guessing Nintendo just saw that their world is too big and they had to put in a lot of these repetitive, not very fun little challenges in order to at least have SOMETHING in the world instead of just traversal followed by more traversal. Why have such a huge world if you then have to fill it with repetitive content?

Enemy Camps: Again, most of these are just the exact same setup. Yes, sometimes the enemies are a little tougher, but I'd really like to know how many of these 'Skull Structures with Bokoblins next to them' are in the game - My guess is dozens. Beat a few of the enemies, the chest unlocks, done. The same setups are then again scattered many, many, many times throughout the open world without any variation in challenge. In general, enemy variation was also a bit of a disappointment to me: For a world this large, it very much felt like there's barely a dozen different enemy designs in there. We have Guardians, Bokoblins, Keese, Octoroks, Lizalfos, Lynels... And I have a hard time naming more off the top of my head after just having finished the game. Again, that would've been fine in a smaller game, but for a game of this size, it becomes a bit of a drag that you always have to fight the same types of enemies that are only varied in color, but not behavior.

Combat / Controls: This is the most baffling to me, since I think the controls are quite a bit too convoluted. The Quick-Weapon switching with the 'Dpad' is all kinds of weird to me (the game pauses while doing that... really?) and breaks the games flow, the combat in general is just a notch over the traditional 3d Zelda combat, things like Shield Surfing require the player to press 3 buttons... all of that makes the game feel a bit less polished than what you usually expect from a Nintendo game. Regarding the UI in general, Brad Colbow made a great video about improving BOTW's UI that I 100% agree with:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0td--XguPXA

Quests: Here again, the game suffers from the same exact issue all Open World games have, meaning, most quests are just variations of fetch quests. You have literal fetch quests in there that are as simple as "NPC tells you to bring item X to it, quest completes once you do that", others are a little more clever, but overall, a hell of a lot of the side quests feel pretty menial and boring. A really good Quest was Eventide Island (The Robinson Crusoe inspired one), but those are few and far between... I have a few quests left open and have little to no motivation to actually finish all of them.

Dungeons: One of the reasons why I LOVE Zelda is because Nintendo has some of the best level designers in the industry working for them. Even though games like Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess get a lot of shit today for following the same old Zelda formula, the dungeon designs usually are just genuinely well figured out. They're less sprawling and open than they were in the 2d Zeldas, sure, but they're still brilliantly designed. The 4 Breath of the Wild Dungeons felt pretty short to me and I breezed through them in almost no time. Variation within the dungeons is also not as well figured out as it used to be. You see, Zelda usually did a good job sectioning the dungeons into Puzzle Zones, Combat Zones, etc., so if you're stuck on a certain puzzle, you can go to some other area and fight some enemies... not so here, since the dungeons here feel like one big puzzle and if you don't know how to solve it, you're just shit out of luck.
And in the older Zelda games, everything got varied up once you got the dungeon item and had to re-traverse the dungeon using the item you just acquired to put another twist on the dungeon designs. That is obviously not the case here - Nintendo did try to put a little variation into the Divine Beasts design by allowing you to 'control' the Divine Beasts, but if you break down the dungeon design of Breath of the Wild, I'd argue that Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess had way better designed dungeons.

Before all the Nintendo and Zelda fans are going to kill me now for actually pointing out some flaws I THOUGHT the game had, please keep in mind that I think Breath of the Wild is a tremendous game, a huge achievement and easily one of the best games Nintendo ever made. But I'm always on the search for perfection and I don't think Nintendo quite reached that goal with Breath of the Wild.

So let's try to have an objective, level-headed discussion on what else could be improved to make new Zelda AND open-world games better! What are your thoughts?

Edit: Fuck me for not looking over the title before I posted. Can a mod delete the 'Completed' from the title? Thanks! :)
Last edited by thomasmahler; 03-18-2017 at 11:19 PM.
OrbitalBeard
Member
(03-18-2017, 11:20 PM)
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The fact that you just wrote an entire essay specifically addressing BotW's faults and yet you still consider it to be one of the best games Nintendo has ever made just shows how special this game truly is.

Most of your criticisms are totally valid too. The game is great, but there's tons of room for improvement moving forward. Can't wait to see how they improve on this formula for the next entry.
FZZ
Member
(03-18-2017, 11:22 PM)
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I'm confused are you a developer?

For who
John Kowalski
#thor2thedarkworld
(03-18-2017, 11:23 PM)
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Even developers can be wrong sometimes
OrbitalBeard
Member
(03-18-2017, 11:23 PM)
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Originally Posted by FZZ

I'm confused are you a developer?

For who

Moon Studios (Ori and the Blind Forest)
Mpl90
Two copies sold? That's not a bomb guys, stop trolling!!!
(03-18-2017, 11:23 PM)
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Originally Posted by FZZ

I'm confused are you a developer?

For who

Thomas Mahler's the name, Ori's his game

jmon, fzz
Glomby
Junior Member
(03-18-2017, 11:24 PM)
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Originally Posted by FZZ

I'm confused are you a developer?

For who

His avatar is a great hint ;)
gschmidl
Junior Member
(03-18-2017, 11:24 PM)
Very interesting reading. Seems like for many open-world games, less should be more, allowing for more hand-placed content and less repetition. Even Witcher 3, probably the greatest open-world game we currently have, has certain types of quests that are always the same (kill all these dudes; find this chest; kill all these monsters and bomb their nest).

I really enjoyed Dragon Age: Inquisition, too, but I hope the takeaway from it and BotW is not that searching for literally hundreds of hidden items is generally acceptable content.
thomasmahler
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(03-18-2017, 11:25 PM)
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Originally Posted by OrbitalBeard

The fact that you just wrote an entire essay specifically addressing BotW's faults and yet you still consider it to be one of the best games Nintendo has ever made just shows how special this game truly is.

Most of your criticisms are totally valid too. The game is great, but there's tons of room for improvement moving forward. Can't wait to see how they improve on this formula for the next entry.

Absolutely, again, this isn't me trying to bash the game or saying it's anything less than an excellent experience, but it's still a worthwhile exercise to look at where the game stumbled or failed in order to learn from that and build something better. I had an insane amount of fun with BotW, so I hope people won't just cut this down to me ranting or trying to undermine the game.
Jack The Nipper
Can outshoot and shutdown Steph Curry at the local YMCA.
(03-18-2017, 11:25 PM)
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I just can't get passed the open world aspects of this game myself.

I'd like to know what you thought of Far Cry Blood Dragon since a lot of it' missions have well crafted levels in the open world.
samn
yuuuuup.
(03-18-2017, 11:25 PM)
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BOTW actually gave me a big Ori vibe, for some reason.
Bboy AJ
Banned
(03-18-2017, 11:25 PM)
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These are good criticisms that I, as someone still playing through the game, haven't thought about. Having different themed shrines would have been great. The game definitely could use more variety.

The world is big, yes, but that adds to the wonder. Fun per inch, as you put it, is like saying white space is unimportant in UI design -- completely wrong. There's benefit in having some nothing in the world. As you're starting out, the game is a big world for you to discover. At the end, sure, maybe you're jaded. But the sense of continual discovery I'm experiencing now is wonderful. Again, agreed on variety.

I also generally hate open world games. Full of nothing. Zelda is different. It has meaningful discovery and exploration imo.
Sumio Mondo
Member
(03-18-2017, 11:26 PM)
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Originally Posted by FZZ

I'm confused are you a developer?

For who

Director of Ori and the Blind Forest.
Soul of the Beast
Banned
(03-18-2017, 11:27 PM)

Originally Posted by OrbitalBeard

The fact that you just wrote an entire essay specifically addressing BotW's faults and yet you still consider it to be one of the best games Nintendo has ever made just shows how special this game truly is.

Most of your criticisms are totally valid too. The game is great, but there's tons of room for improvement moving forward. Can't wait to see how they improve on this formula for the next entry.

This.
mlclmtckr
Member
(03-18-2017, 11:27 PM)
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I really don't think that BOTW was created with a 'fun per inch' type of philosophy, which is actually kind of why it's so good.
Chaos17
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(03-18-2017, 11:28 PM)
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Originally Posted by FZZ

I'm confused are you a developer?

For who

This because I fail to see how this Lttp is from a dev perspective (I'm not against OP ) but more like from a gamer point of view.

For example: a game dev will take a look at the quests and say "what could I do to make look like less fetch quests ?" or "Do my fetch quests will bore the players ? I don't feel I've put that many compared to Korok seeds" or "How could I balance my quests between normal, shrine or story?" etc

Just saying quests main flaw is fetch quests is so random, as "game dev" lol
Newline
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(03-18-2017, 11:29 PM)
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Originally Posted by Bboy AJ

These are good criticisms that I, as someone still playing through the game, haven't thought about. Having different themed shrines would have been great. The game definitely could use more variety.

The world is big, yes, but that adds to the wonder. Fun per inch, as you put it, is like saying white space is unimportant in UI design -- completely wrong. There's benefit in having some nothing in the world. As you're starting out, the game is a big world for you to discover. At the end, sure, maybe you're jaded. But the sense of continual discovery I'm experiencing now is wonderful. Again, agreed on variety.

I also generally hate open world games. Full of nothing. Zelda is different. It has meaningful discovery and exploration imo.

This is hugely important. As long as it doesn't drastically detract from your ability to actually reach points of interest, this kind of spacing can be highly valuable.
thomasmahler
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(03-18-2017, 11:30 PM)
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Originally Posted by Bboy AJ

These are good criticisms that I, as someone still playing through the game, haven't thought about. Having different themed shrines would have been great. The game definitely could use more variety.

The world is big, yes, but that adds to the wonder. Fun per inch, as you put it, is like saying white space is unimportant in UI design -- completely wrong. There's benefit in having some nothing in the world. As you're starting out, the game is a big world for you to discover. At the end, sure, maybe you're jaded. But the sense of continual discovery I'm experiencing now is wonderful. Again, agreed on variety.

I also generally hate open world games. Full of nothing. Zelda is different. It has meaningful discovery and exploration imo.

Have you finished it? I completely agree that the white space is very, very important and ALTTP as well as Zelda 1 or Links Awakening have a lot of that too, but even in that white space, they usually managed to put little secrets like lifting a bush to find a hidden cave or other cool things in there. With this open world design, it often goes way too far and you just end up with vast landscapes of you just running and climbing with little to no interactivity.

There's a very fine line between 'white space' and 'white space that feels like wasted space'.
Last edited by thomasmahler; 03-18-2017 at 11:32 PM.
Conkerkid11
Banned
(03-18-2017, 11:30 PM)
I basically agree on all points, yet it's probably my favorite Zelda of all-time, or at least on par with Majora's Mask.

And despite defending the durability system myself, I've personally been recently having the problem where enemies have a ton of health because apparently there is scaling in the game based on how many you've killed, yet archers who can deal 10 hearts of damage to me continue to drop 15 damage bows, and melee enemies who deal 10 hearts of damage to me continue to drop 25 damage melee weapons. It feels like the enemy difficulty scales disproportionately from the gear they drop, so if you're someone like me who did a lot of side content before the divine beasts, attempting to get through the Death Mountain portion is a major hassle, because almost all of the enemies there are archers, and with the amount of side content I had done, they had scaled to the point where they could one-shot me, yet the bows they dropped still only dealt around 15 damage.

Originally Posted by John Kowalski

Even developers can be wrong sometimes

You didn't read his post.
Last edited by Conkerkid11; 03-18-2017 at 11:33 PM.
CerebralTiger
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(03-18-2017, 11:31 PM)
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Originally Posted by thomasmahler

The Quick-Weapon switching with the 'Dpad' is all kinds of weird to me (the game pauses while doing that... really?) and breaks the games flow

Haven't played BoTW yet, but this reminds me of The Witcher 3 and Horizon: ZD's weapon/sign wheel slowing the game down and breaking the flow of combat.
The Lamp
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(03-18-2017, 11:33 PM)
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Your OP is 100% unrestrained truth. These are all things Nintendo should improve next time. Particularly dungeons.

I wish more developers would craft the content and quests first, and then build the map simultaneously around that. Not just populate an empty space like God
Caelus
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(03-18-2017, 11:33 PM)
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From a development perspective, the identical shrines seem like an efficient way of offloading specific puzzle development without necessarily worrying about integrating them into the world. Aside from the motion controlled ones which seem oddly coded, the puzzles themselves beam with ingenuity, cleverness or straight up ludicrous fun in messing with the physics. I welcomed the very short but sweet shrines as a quick means of getting the spirit orb.

Also worth noting that the shrine quests are technically not visually identical, even if the location you get the spirit orb from is.

I definitely do want more shrine quests and more integrated dungeons (akin to Hyrule Castle) in the DLC/successor games.
Jintor
Lit himself on fire to get
a mod to tag him
(03-18-2017, 11:33 PM)
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It's odd... I agree with the substance of your open world criticisms of repetitive design (same trials, same palette set, same korok challenges)... yet somehow I don't find myself feeling bored with exploration itself.
Totakeke
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(03-18-2017, 11:34 PM)
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I disagree with the lack of content, and that runs counter to the impressions of many people. However, I'm more surprised that your main argument has a game developer is that you want more stuff everywhere. I thought you'd have a more consideration for how much time you'd need to build all that stuff while having it work and fit in cohesively. Wanting more interesting content everywhere is an easier argument for people who doesn't have to do all the work to make.
Yo Knightmare
Junior Member
(03-18-2017, 11:35 PM)
Has this game made you rethink some things you might have been planning?
Bboy AJ
Banned
(03-18-2017, 11:35 PM)
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Originally Posted by thomasmahler

Have you finished it? I completely agree that the white space is very, very important and ALTTP as well as Zelda 1 or Links Awakening have a lot of that too, but even in that white space, they usually managed to put little secrets like lifting a bush to find a hidden cave or other cool things in there. With this open world design, it often goes way too far and you just end up with vast landscapes or you just running and climbing with little to no interactivity.

There's a very fine line between 'white space' and 'white space that feels like wasted space'.

No, I haven't finished it but again, during my playthrough (dozens of hours), I'm enjoying the sense of discovery. Sure, what's there to be discovered isn't varied. But you seem to be campaigning for content every inch. That would get overwhelming and deter from the sense of discovery. Right now, there's plenty to traverse but there's a goal or discovery somewhere. Those findings would be diluted if the fun per inch were cranked up.

Again, my opinion could change if I tried to 100% it. But as is, I'm just playing, discovering, and seeing what pops up next. I think a bigger annoyance is how rain gets in my way of exploration and I have to put the controller down for a few minutes to climb.
Saint Gregory
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(03-18-2017, 11:36 PM)
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I agree with every one of your points, although I thought the sidequests did a better job than most games at giving you different goals to accomplish but that's just me. I'm only half way though at this point but I can't imagine that this won't end up being one of the finest games that I've ever played when I'm done. I really don't even feel like I want another Zelda game this gen, just keep releasing refinements and DLC for this game throughout the gen and I'll be good.

Of all your criticisms the thing about the shrines is the most baffling and easy to correct to me. I really don't understand how simply having themed shrines for each area didn't occur to Nintendo. There's actually already shines built around a lot of the games regional elements, all they had to do was group them together and change the art style for them. Such a bizarre oversight that prevents BotW from truly being GOAT game material, even though I think it's still on the short list.
The Lamp
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(03-18-2017, 11:36 PM)
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Originally Posted by Totakeke

I disagree with the lack of content, and that runs counter to the impressions of many people. However, I'm more surprised that your main argument has a game developer is that you want more stuff everywhere. I thought you'd have a more consideration for how much time you'd need to build all that stuff while having it work and fit in cohesively. Wanting more interesting content everywhere is an easier argument for people who doesn't have to do all the work to make.

That's not what he means. He's arguing for a better density of content (content per volume), not a greater amount in total. The game world is amazingly huge. The content density is therefore repetitive and lacking in comparison.
Spirited
Mine is pretty and pink
(03-18-2017, 11:36 PM)
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Originally Posted by Jintor

It's odd... I agree with the substance of your open world criticisms of repetitive design (same trials, same palette set, same korok challenges)... yet somehow I don't find myself feeling bored with exploration itself.

I don't see the korok stuff as a quest is the reason for me personally at least. I go exploring and they are simple rewards for being aware of your surroundings, they don't feel like checkbox go there do that, check map go to the next, repeat like many open-world collectibles feel.

I've completely been eaten up alive by the exploration aspect of the game as I'm 70 hours in but only finished one dungeon so far.
Serenitynow
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(03-18-2017, 11:37 PM)
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Yep, valid criticisms, although I don't agree with all. Still, the game is in no way perfect.

And yet, I feel it is the best Zelda game of the past 20 years, the best game I have played in many years, and one of the greatest games of all time. There hasn't been a game that I've sunken this much time into and been this obsessed over since Skyrim.
Last edited by Serenitynow; 03-18-2017 at 11:40 PM.
phanphare
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(03-18-2017, 11:37 PM)
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nice to get a developer's input

I disagree about the open world being too big and the "fun per inch" principle. it's that kind of mindset that would make a world like Breath of the Wild feel artificial. I thought there was tons of varied content. you brought up some of it but just figuring out how to traverse the landscape is part of it as well as finding and interacting with NPCs or seeing something cool like the dragons.

I also disagree with your fast travel point. I don't really see your view with that one, like having a fast travel system is somehow an admittance that the world is too big. I don't buy that nor do I see the logic behind it.

I agree about the lack of visual variety with the shrines. the shrines are a high point for me, really love the various puzzles that they came up with and I've only done about half of them but I could have used some variety in the visuals and sound for sure.

I disagree about the combat shrines. they're my least favorite shines, no doubt, but I think they're essential. there could be less of them though or maybe some more variety in the types of encounters.

I'm half and half with the korok puzzles. some of them are pretty mindless once you know what to look for but some of them are really neat and you'll have a nice "aha" moment when you figure it out. so yeah some are meh and some are great.

disagree about the enemy camps. I thought there was a good bit of variety with these, whether the enemies have a skull hideout and outdoor area, the wooden stairwell areas, enemies roaming around certain ruins, etc. throw in the variance in what surrounds the different enemy areas and the types of enemies present and I don't have a problem there.

I don't really understand your point about the combat, or I understand what you're saying but I think the game and combat encounters would suffer if the game didn't pause the action while you switched weapons. I don't know why anyone would want that.

I've also really liked the variety of the quests. I'm including the shrine quests fwiw. some of the side quests have been highlights for me personally. there are some that boil down to fetch quests but the fetching itself is usually something fun and like I said interacting with some of the NPCs is a reward in and of itself, at least for me.

I'm half and half on the dungeons. I absolutely love the old school dungeon design of Zelda games. I also really liked what they went for with the divine beasts. the elephant, bird, and lizard I really enjoyed and the other one in the gerudo desert could have been better. I also really enjoyed 3 out of the 4 boss fights. the rito boss was a bit underwhelming.

good write up even though I'm half and half on what you critique
Chill Penguin
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(03-18-2017, 11:39 PM)
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I agree that the overworld is just a touch too big, but I think empty space is part of the reason the game gives you such a feeling of freedom. Too much going on in every inch of the world would feel exhausting with no place to hide. I like the fact there are so many areas where I can stop and take in the view of the vast landscape, much of which is just wilderness and it feels like you're part of a vast world. It's an amazing feeling that no other game has quite been able to capture.

I do fully agree about the dungeons though. As brilliant as this game is, it has the weakest dungeons since wind waker. The puzzle design is excellent, but they're simply too small and short.
Spukc
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(03-18-2017, 11:39 PM)
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Before all the Nintendo and Zelda fans are going to kill me now for actually pointing out some flaws I THOUGHT the game had, please keep in mind that I think Breath of the Wild is a tremendous game, a huge achievement and easily one of the best games Nintendo ever made. But I'm always on the search for perfection and I don't think Nintendo quite reached that goal with Breath of the Wild.

No game is perfect but this is the "best" zelda yet
link's awakening is my nr 1 tbh somehow because the gfx in that game "lack" they are forced to make the flow of the game near perfect
Last edited by Spukc; 03-18-2017 at 11:42 PM.
PBalfredo
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(03-18-2017, 11:40 PM)
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While you are correct that certain types of content start to repeat themselves a bit much as you explore, it's also worth pointing out that where this content is placed is just as important as how much or how varied that content is, which is an aspect that I think Nintendo succeeded in. The game give the player plenty of obvious "destination goals", (I'm going to climb that mountain!) but along the way there are tons of little distractions that takes the player a bit off the trail. That rocky hill. That tall tree. That ruined house. That small pond or lake. They beg the question "I wonder if there is anything over there". And the answer is almost always "Yes!". It's usually something small or insignificant, like a pack of arrows or a Korok puzzle you may have seen before. But it does something important which is that it rewards your curiosity. There are far, far too many open world games that have plenty of possibility spaces that look like they could be something, but are actually just nothing. So then the player learns to just stick to quests, navigate by the mini-map and just fast travel everywhere because if there isn't an icon on the map then that area isn't worth exploring. Zelda instead convinces the player that even though the land is enormous and sparse, the space in-between spaces is never really empty.
Last edited by PBalfredo; 03-18-2017 at 11:42 PM.
EloquentM
aka Mannny
(03-18-2017, 11:40 PM)
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Originally Posted by Saint Gregory

I agree with every one of your points, although I thought the sidequests did a better job than most games at giving you different goals to accomplish but that's just me. I'm only half way though at this point but I can't imagine that this won't end up being one of the finest games that I've ever played when I'm done. I really don't even feel like I want another Zelda game this gen, just keep releasing refinements and DLC for this game throughout the gen and I'll be good.

Of all your criticisms the thing about the shrines is the most baffling and easy to correct to me. I really don't understand how simply having themed shrines for each area didn't occur to Nintendo. There's actually already shines built around a lot of the games regional elements, all they had to do was group them together and change the art style for them. Such a bizarre oversight that prevents BotW from truly being GOAT game material, even though I think it's still on the short list.

thats because it wasn't an oversight. It was a decision to save time.
Dynasty
Member
(03-18-2017, 11:40 PM)
Going to be interesting how you will handle Ori, when you bring Ori into the 3D world. :)
thomasmahler
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(03-18-2017, 11:41 PM)
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Originally Posted by Yo Knightmare

Has this game made you rethink some things you might have been planning?

Oddly, no. While we have some pretty big projects in development, I'm not at all interested in making open-world games. There are certain systems that we might draw some inspiration from and there's one system that coincidentally is shockingly similar to a system we've been designing (down to UI layouts, etc.), but overall I don't think BotW makes us change direction in any way.

I'll always be more interested in designing with our 'fun per inch' principle, trying to make perfect experiences, perfect level designs where you'd have a really hard time trying to figure out how to improve upon it... Not saying we reached that goal just yet, but that's certainly our aspiration :)
Buddha Beam
Banned
(03-18-2017, 11:41 PM)
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I've never liked open world games, but Breath of the Wild has me hooked. I don't disagree with the things you mentioned (except about the combat, which I feel is awful) but for whatever reason, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I don't mind the repetitive gameplay and tasks because it helps you know what to look out for. None of it so far has been so repetitive to me that I get the feeling of "been there, done that". It's more like the game builds a sense of comfort and familiarity, which periodically changes your mindset. This way you're not always looking around trying to find things to do and then wondering how to do it. Sometimes your mind is in fight mode, other times you're in detective mode, other times you're in exploration mode. I wouldn't want a game where everything is some new challenge and I have to figure things out from scratch every time. I don't think repetition and familiarity are necessarily bad things. They can be tons of fun if done right and are varied enough.
GlamFM
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(03-18-2017, 11:43 PM)
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That was super interesting, thanks!

Dev reviews would actually be something really interesting.
Conkerkid11
Banned
(03-18-2017, 11:43 PM)

Originally Posted by Saint Gregory

I agree with every one of your points, although I thought the sidequests did a better job than most games at giving you different goals to accomplish but that's just me. I'm only half way though at this point but I can't imagine that this won't end up being one of the finest games that I've ever played when I'm done. I really don't even feel like I want another Zelda game this gen, just keep releasing refinements and DLC for this game throughout the gen and I'll be good.

I just don't really feel like most of the sidequests are rewarding enough. They felt like exploring the various islands in Wind Waker and Skyward Sword, in that they really just rewarded you with rupees you really didn't have any use for.

Majora's Mask does sidequests significantly better. They all affected each other, the rewards were well worth it, and their stories had a start, middle, and end.

Regarding a sidequest in BotW in particular that's pretty early on, and involves a guy trying to get together with a girl who works the front desk at an inn: You talk to him, he likes her, and wants you to go find out about her likes and dislikes. You find out that not only does she not like him, but that she doesn't even tell you what she actually likes. So rather than being given the option of warning the poor dude that despite telling you she wants crickets, she doesn't actually want them, you send this guy out on the task of catching a bunch of crickets. Even after completing the quest, there's no conclusion. He's like, "well, guess I'd better go catch my portion of the crickets now". Visit these two characters again throughout the game, there's absolutely no conclusion. Dude doesn't acknowledge that he likes her, or that he's gonna give the crickets to her. She continues to offer up the same conversation lines as before.
Jintor
Lit himself on fire to get
a mod to tag him
(03-18-2017, 11:43 PM)
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Originally Posted by Spirited

I don't see the korok stuff as a quest is the reason for me personally at least. I go exploring and they are simple rewards for being aware of your surroundings, they don't feel like checkbox go there do that, check map go to the next, repeat like many open-world collectibles feel.

I've completely been eaten up alive by the exploration aspect of the game as I'm 70 hours in but only finished one dungeon so far.

Right, I think what the Koroks really feel like is shorthand for the designers saying "Oh you thought this was an interesting thing? We thought so too! Here's a cookie"

It's not like a giant glowing feather or a coin hanging out on a branch, it's more you like you see a weird stone that seems a bit out of place and you think "I wonder..." and then there's a coin underneath. And that somehow makes all the difference to that sense of discovery than seeing a glowy thing and ticking it off your list.
Totakeke
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(03-18-2017, 11:43 PM)
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Originally Posted by The Lamp

That's not what he means. He's arguing for a better density of content (content per volume), not a greater amount in total. The game world is amazingly huge. The content density is therefore repetitive and lacking in comparison.

The fundamental disagreement is travelling is boring, yeah. However, increasing density naturally makes the lack of variability stand out much more. Instead of finding a combat shrine every other hour you find one every half an hour. Then it becomes more of an interesting deviation rather than something you keep doing over and over again. Same with Korok challenges. Then that means you have to make more varied content or have less of it.
Human Trashcan
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(03-18-2017, 11:44 PM)
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I agree mostly on the shrines, there's little to nothing to differentiate them, and having done all of them, the amount of combat shrines and lack of variety in them is baffling. As you say, they had the enemy types, but they chose to make all the combat shrines totally identical. Bizarre.

For me BOTW is like 2 different games. There was the first 30 or so hours, when I was filled with wonder and constantly discovering things that made my jaw hit the floor, or just gave me a real sense of joy in exploring this place for myself. I think not adding waypoints automatically when you activate a tower is a genius design decision that makes the player truly LOOK and explore to find things themselves, and it also forces Nintendo to step their game up with regards to world design, and they did.

But, after a while, as stated in the OP, you realize there are only so many things to find - shrines, koroks, and enemy camps, and that's mostly it. And 9 times out of 10 when you find something really cool, it will just lead to another shrine. And most side quests are really dull and uninteresting. So the back half of my playthrough, while I was still having fun, felt a lot more like going through the motions. Overall I do think the world's a bit too big and there's too much repetition of content. But I still love the game, it just doesn't totally escape the curse of the open world game - it gets rote. It may take longer to get there, but it gets rote just the same eventually.
phanphare
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(03-18-2017, 11:45 PM)
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I do think the fun per inch mindset has a place in a 2d platformer though even with some exploration mixed in

I just think for a 3d game like Breath of the Wild if you just pack it full of stuff every x number of feet or whatever it'd be detrimental to the experience. sometimes there's an emptier area (save for the landscapes, wildlife, plants, etc.) and sometimes there's an area that has way more content packed in there like a town or stable or something. it's that kind of variety that makes Breath of the Wild so immersive.
Night Angel
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(03-18-2017, 11:45 PM)
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Your complainants are my complaints. I'm 65 shrines in and I've finally got enough good weapons to where durability isn't an issue. I also have enough stamina to not feel like an obese 10 year old while wandering the world content.

The world is too big and feels empty. The shrines are too samey. The combat doesn't flow well because I'm either fighting against the controls (still, after so many hours they're just not intuitive) or digging through menus. I fast travel everywhere because there's just not a whole lot of interesting stuff to find.

That being said, I enjoy the game. It's not my favorite Zelda, but it's a solid 8/10 game for me. If they improve on those things for the next one, it could really be something special.
MiamiWesker
(03-18-2017, 11:46 PM)
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Thank you for this. So many of the critiques I see focus on what I consider to be not picky stuff like weapon durability which I feel is fine. The main issues I have with BOTW is what you wrote, the repetition and lack of well designed areas.

In going big open world they lost the hand crafted nature of past zelda games where there was almost no wasted space. Most of the 3D zeldas are constantly throwing new gameplay mechanics and new ideas at you for 40 plus hours with little down time. In BOTW because you start with every thing there is little variety in what you actually do. Puzzles start to blend together, combat settles into a very familiar pattern. There are a few stand out moments like eventide island but that is rare and not the norm.

Dungeons in past zelda games always served as a major milestone moment of game design where the Nintendo dev wizards showcased how they are the best level designers in the business. Nothing in any other game is as well designed, varied or interesting from a gameplay perspective as the zelda dungeons. Yet BOTW throws it all away for uninspired beasts that all look the same and have the same kind of puzzles over and over.

The positives of BOTW are unquestionable, the way the gameplay has been overhauled is fantastic. They way it broke from the usual series pattern was a necessity. all that should remain. But it seemed to come at the sacrifice what I care about most in zelda games, gameplay variety, amazing level design and constant new things to do. I am an action adventure game fan above all else because I like my games to have elements of combat, puzzles, exploration and zelda always did it better than any other game. This game still does that but the focus is so much in exploration I feel it hurt the overall product.

BOTW is probably my least favorite 3D zeldas but it could easily be my favorite with a few tweaks.
lt519
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(03-18-2017, 11:48 PM)
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Funny reading this, considering I'm not sure which of the three are my favorite game of all time, BotW, SMW, or Ori.

Thanks for the insight, fun read. How many of the faults, like shrine repetition, open world size, and empty white space do you think could have been solved by simply having another year or two to develop? I guess my point is to accomplish all the nitpicks they'd of had to spend countless more man hours. At some point you have to call a project finished.
Last edited by lt519; 03-18-2017 at 11:51 PM.
Jintor
Lit himself on fire to get
a mod to tag him
(03-18-2017, 11:48 PM)
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The weird thing is that all the combat shrines are 1 on 1. When I think of combat challenges my mind always defaults to that weird island in Wind Waker where you just get swarmed by bobokolins.
Deku Tree
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(03-18-2017, 11:48 PM)
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All that text and you didn't once criticize the frequent rain? Seriously when it rains and you want to climb somewhere it's like Nintendo is telling you to go do something else for five minutes.

I like the open world stuff. I feel like the quests and open world content is more varied than any other open world game that I have played. I don't think the world is too big. Naturally it's gonna be somewhat samey. I like playing the game so I don't mind that..

Making the dungeons non-linear sort of forced Nintendo to take unique Dungeon items that change your abilities out of each one. I'm OK with it. But I wish they had done more with the dungeons.

I feel like they put a lot of the Dungeon stuff into the open world so it's not missing it's just someplace else.

Combat challenges should have been more varied.

I wish they had doubled the enemy types and included more of the missing traditional Zelda game enemies.

I wish Nintendo included more enemy types. Missing me some Poes and some Knights. Was hoping for an area like the WW ghost ship.

I was dissapointed that they locked the savage labrynth / cave of shadows thing behind summer DLC.

I love the shrine puzzles and didn't mind that they all looked the same. Many of the puzzles are extremely clever and satisfying to finish.

I love the open world mini bosses... I wish they had six mini boss types instead of three... they are so much fun. Not sure why Lynels are not considered a mini boss?
Last edited by Deku Tree; 03-18-2017 at 11:51 PM.
Dangerous1992
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(03-18-2017, 11:49 PM)
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in terms of "fun per inch" imo Xenoblade X managed to achieve it with Mira, but BotW comes close

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