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GameInformer sat down with Tears of the Kingdom producer Eiji Aonuma and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi to talk about various topics regarding the game, its story, the gameplay, and more.

In this instance, GI asked about how much thought and consideration they place on the timeline, an aspect that’s very important to fans. Here’s what Fujibayashi and Aonuma had to say:

When you’re developing a new Zelda title, obviously your primary focus is on core gameplay, but the timeline placement discussion has become more important and prevalent among the fans of the series. How much consideration and importance does the development team put into those discussions?

HF: As you mentioned, we realized that fans have a great time theorizing and enjoy thinking about where things fit on the timeline. That’s something that the development team recognizes and it considers, but to an extent. And I say, “to an extent” because if we get too into the weeds or too detailed in that placement, it results in kind of creating restraints for our creativity; the process of creating new ideas becomes restricted because we’re so tied up and trying to make this fit into a very specific spot in the timeline. We do consider it, but not to an extent where we feel that our development process feels restricted or constrained.

EA: Another point kind of related to this is that as we’ve been able to realize more fully a real, working world because of technology, you are also able to fine-tune all the details of that world. But, we don’t always want to do that just because we now can. Instead, as people play the game, we want to give them the ability to exist in that world and a world that they can interpret in their own way. And, so, that’s also something that we really keep in mind as we’re continuing to develop games.

Certainly a distinctive approach and it explains why we usually don’t see a strong connection between games.

Do you agree with their thought process? Or would you like to see them expand on an overarching story, similar to what they did with TOTK? Tell us about it below!

Make sure to follow this link if you want to read the entirety of the interview.

About videocookies

videocookies

Gamer by day, gamer by night as well, (I guess), and occasionally GoNintendo writer by like the evening (Eastern Time, maybe it's by night for you, who knows!)

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Comments (6)

hawk

3M ago

I agree with his thought process when it results in a fresh new Zelda game that can be enjoyed on its own. It's probably nice not to be shackled a complicated timeline.

However, Tears of the Kingdom is not "on its own". It heavily connects to Breath of the Wild before it, and even messes with events from a few other games on the timeline. And it doesn't fit. It either retcons those past events or creates a new timeline without telling us. And it even fails to explain some story holes it created from Breath of the Wild. These things could have been addressed by dialogue in the game, but they didn't bother.

It's frustrating for long-time fans like me who care about the past games we played, and now we don't know if they even happened in the past of the current game we're playing.


kuribo

3M ago

@hawk

As a life long fan it’s easy for me to accept that BOTW and TOTK can take place in a separate continuity to that of the retroactively compiled timeline the other games were put into.

Or you take the games and their stories as Legends. It’s in the title. Attribute them like legends we have in our own world. Events that may have happened but the story has changed over countless retelling, been elaborated and dramatised on to form the stories of Legend.


Yeah, but even as you said, you have to make presumptions. You listed two possibilities, but you don't know which one is true, and it might be neither. So it's all head-canon. And that's fine that you're okay with it. Everyone's different.

But I'm not fine with it. I want something more concrete. It bugs me a little when I'm playing the game and it contradicts is own history, because I'm trying to keep the story straight as I play.


joeshabadoo

3M ago

Nothing in either of the previous two 3D zelda games necessitates that they exist in an entirely different continuity, and the bargainers of the depths point to rather interesting overarching additions to the game’s core creation myth and a deity associated with the negative space created by the triforce. This is all predominantly my head cannon, of course, but isn’t born out of pure hopium or wild speculation and it gets at the value of the interpretive nature of the narratives in what this team has created recently. Kernels are there to feed interesting speculation for those who care to do so.

I would say that the team began tossing out spans of time in the realm of several thousand years to get people to plainly grasp that the games we played before and the events and characters faded away entirely into a realm fully forgotten before a spark returned at some point from some demigods. These demigods acted with great hubris when wielding incredibly powerful stones created from very curious and enigmatic circumstances etc etc and so a new yarn is spun and life returns. I fail to see any obvious retcons or massive plot holes (apart from the normal troubles when time travel gets involved). What’s contradictory in your view?

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"I fail to see any obvious retcons or massive plot holes (apart from the normal troubles when time travel gets involved). What’s contradictory in your view?"

Here are the parts that don't fit for me:
- Zelda travels back to the founding of Hyrule and then witnesses Ganondorf's first visit to Hyrule, and then gets involved in the Imprisoning War. Hyrule's founding isn't close to those other two events on the timeline.
- Rauru isn't the Rauru we saw in Ocarina of Time. None of the sages are the sages from Ocarina of Time. But those are the sages that were supposed to exist in that era. There was a Zelda in that era, too.
- We saw the founding of Hyrule in Skyward Sword. It wasn't founded by Rauru and Sonia.
- The events Zelda experiences in the past can't be a second Founding/Ganondorf-Meeting/Imprisoning-War. Nobody in the past really knows who Ganondorf is.
- There is no in-game explanation for what happened to all the Sheikah technology. I think Aonuma clarified it after the fact, but a few lines of dialogue in the game should have handled it.
- Despite all the things Link accomplished in BOTW, only a handful of characters recognize him.
- All the interesting pieces of armor Link owned in BOTW are suddenly spread around the world in caves and treasure chests. I can chock this one up to "There has to be a game", but it's still kind of weird.


joeshabadoo

3M ago

@hawk

Well in this case I think it’s entirely plausible that there is a ‘re-establishment’ of Hyrule as a kingdom following a dark and dormant period of who knows how long. Someone who is not on board with that, which is fine, would then absolutely be correct in their own way in saying that this game is revisionist. So we agree to disagree for the most part. Using terms like the imprisoning war or names like Rauru is simply meant to exemplify the echoing effect and the perpetual/cyclical curse that the realm has been under and is still under over the events and written history of TotK. Different war, same name.

Hylia and Fi both exist within this realm and these games (which means Demise also did at some point), and while each race’s relationship with them is nebulous, the Zonai seem to be more directly in tune and tapped into the gods of creation and less concerned with the spirit of their herald (Hylia).
In terms of characters who recognize Link, critical pathing that story (BotW) can absolutely mean that his interactions with most people left are slim to none. Silent protagonist/lowkey individual blah blah I don’t really care to much about that point.
The Sheikah technology just essentially appeared when the events of BotW began so why is it far fetched that it would become dormant and retract again once its purpose was fulfilled? (The chasms where the four most essential sheikah shrines existed I think actually raises super interesting conversations. Heck the entirely of the depths below the great plateau is chock full of so much delicious narrative red meat and environmental storytelling but I’m rambling now)Also there still is Sheikah tech in the game.
To me, people not knowing who Ganondorf is or what he represents (even his own tribe) supports the sort of re-establishment that I’m assuming in my head.

I’m not going to belabor the points much, and continuity/narrative are the less important aspects for players like me (and admittedly for the game’s directors as they’ve stated openly) and I do sympathize with those who are more invested. When they put out an official timeline they invited all of this. That said I still think that the way they’ve handled things narratively in the last two games continues their trend of leveraging ambiguity and interpretive tools in effective ways. I think that the introduction of a race of Demigods to the land at some unspecified point well beyond hyrule’s first fall is interesting and in direct conversation with the interlopers of Twilight Princess and the entire creation myth of the series. Just my view, and one that sort of gives them a pass, but chooses to acknowledge the interesting bits and pieces and breadcrumbs they chose to include. :)

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