Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma has revealed that the development team behind The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the biggest in Nintendo history. This has led to challenges, according to Aonuma, as it’s incredibly important that the team has a shared vision, lest the game become broken and disjointed. In a large team, a single idea or statement can be taken in many different ways, and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same final product can be a big struggle.
Another difficulty comes from being the leader of such a team, as Aonuma has no time to be
“in the trenches” and only sees the team’s final product, rather than the process they take to create it. Other team members often get mad at him when he asks them to change things, he noted, as they accuse him of not knowing what’s happening on the studio floor. When Aonuma makes decisions that change parts of the game, a lot of people question those choices, so he finds it challenging to make things work for everyone.
Of course, there are positives to working in a large team, Aonuma explains. When he is able to convey his ideas into words effectively, and communicate them with everyone, Aonuma says that a strong team is able to create a game better than he imagined.
“When we’re building something, we all have to have a shared perspective and goal, and it’s important that everyone has this concrete image in your mind. When you have this many people, you may say the same thing to everybody, but everyone has a different perspective on it. If we made a game with that, we would have a very broken and disjointed game. One of the biggest challenges is making sure we all have a shared vision.
“The biggest challenge against creativity is that staff members get really mad at me. They tell me “you don’t know what’s going on on the floor.” Of course, that’s obviously the case because I’m not in the trenches working, so I see the finished product and suggest the team should do more of this, or more of that, and obviously people come to say that there’s a reason things are done a certain way. I have to say that I understand, but there’s a part of me that wants to make sure this is a good game, so I have to kind of fight that as well. When I go ahead and ask someone to change something, I have ten other people telling me “what are you doing?” There’s a big challenge to make sure everything I’m doing is working for everyone else too.
“It just not bad stuff. If I have an initial image or idea that I want to see, and I’m able to really convey that, then the end product turns out way better than I originally imagined. Conveying words is very difficult, because I have to really think and make sure that what I’m saying will conjure up the exact image I have in my head. When I’m really able to take time and explain, and really thoroughly convey that, then you end up with a very good quality product, sometimes better than I originally imaged. That’s the plus side to having a big team.”
— Eiji Aonuma
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launches on Wii U and NX in 2017.