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Would Breath of The Wild have Been good Linear?

DarkestLink

Darkest of all Dark Links
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Oct 28, 2012
I'm suggesting multiple methods of getting past each obstacle. Let's say the player only has the bow in this particular example, and has not yet acquired the hookshot. In this instance he's in a room with a door and an inaccessible balcony. There's an eye switch above the door and a hookshot target above the balcony. Using the bow, the player is able to shoot the eye switch which opens the door and allows him to progress upstairs. When going further he would pass the balcony. If Link had the hookshot, he could grapple up to the balcony and end up in the same place.
OK...so either you ARE suggesting we just kill off the puzzles or ended up using a poor example that didn't articulate your thoughts. This isn't a puzzle. You see an obvious target and eye switch and simply decide which one you will hit. There's no thinking involved. And while this is fine for an opening obstacle to teach players what their item does without an outright tutorial, this isn't a puzzle.

If you want to make a simple puzzle, you could block the eye with something flammable and leave the player to figure out how they can light this object on fire, considering the various obstacles and barriers in the room. Maybe a bit simplistic, but it's something. Of course when you can just shoot the hookshot target, this becomes rather redundant now doesn't it? The puzzle is effectively killed.

Of course maybe the hookshot target has its own puzzle to it. OK so now you're just choosing which of the two puzzles you want to do. Nothing's technically lost except for the fact that developers only have so much time and resources. If they're going to add multiple ways forward for every barrier they're going to have to make at least 2-3x as many puzzles per area and spend that much time on each area. Not only does this sound horribly cramped, but this means they're going to have to either

1) Make the dungeons smaller.

2) Have less dungeons.

3) Cut from other areas of the game.

And all of this is for the sake of letting players do things out of order, which adds nothing to the experience. Not to mention that with this design the player will only end up doing half the puzzles. This is terrible design.
 

Castle

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Nothing's technically lost except for the fact that developers only have so much time and resources. If they're going to add multiple ways forward for every barrier they're going to have to make at least 2-3x as many puzzles per area and spend that much time on each area. Not only does this sound horribly cramped, but this means they're going to have to either
"Horribly cramped" or more fun and challenging for players? Deus Ex and Thief are considered marvels of level design for the complexity of player options and paths through levels. Do I knock out that guard or use lethal force? Do I go in through the sewers with their automated security or do I sneak across the rooftops that are being watched by snipers? Do I break this window and sneak through the apartment or do I unlock this hatch and move through the service access? Through the front door or through the skylight? Can I risk exploring these rooms over here, knowing they are heavily patrolled or move straight for the objective and hope the way is clear? Do I move through the crawlspace under the floor or the rafters overhead?

Every Thief and Deus Ex game in the series completed development in under 4 years.

In Zelda you see a lock (eye switch, crystal switch, door switch, hookshot target, unlit sconce etc.) and you immediately know the appropriate key (bow, slingshot, hookshot, block, fire arrow/torch etc.) I agree. Those aren't puzzles. And I only used as an example the simplest lock and key challenge because my example didn't require the overt complexity of a proper logic puzzle.

Besides, Thief and Deus Ex provide more organic puzzles. As in, problems that make sense in context. How often in Zelda do we find ourselves assembling images from blocks in order to open a door in a spooky mansion? Wut? Lighting a fire in a brazier opens a door? Why are pressure switches with eye motifs as common in Hyrule as light switches are irl? Why in Hylia's name are there all these targets compatible with one specific one-of-a-kind item in all the world showing up in random corners throughout the realm?

In Thief or Deus Ex: See a skylight? Enter via skylight! Skylights aren't uncommon anywhere. Makes sense for a guarded warehouse to be covered by snipers. Also makes sense that the subterranean access through the sewers would be guarded by automated security instead of stray bokoblins that wondered down there somehow.

1) Make the dungeons smaller.

2) Have less dungeons.

3) Cut from other areas of the game.
Not necessarily. Depends on how well ninty can manage their time and development resources. If they have to sacrifice game size for density then they're not doing their jobs very efficiently. Ninty devotes the better part of whole decades to the development of Zelda games. That's more than enough time to develop complex intricate layered level design.

This is what happened with BotW's massive and largely empty open world. We get this huge sprawling mostly barren space and four short dungeons.
 

DarkestLink

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This is what happened with BotW's massive and largely empty open world. We get this huge sprawling mostly barren space and four short dungeons.
Because time and resources are not endless. People ask "Why not just make a huge overworld and have 8 good sized dungeons? Or go back to have 10+ dungeons like aLttP/ALBW" and this is why. This is also why MM only has 4 dungeons. They had a very limited amount of time, a limited budget, and not only were the dungeons longer but they spent more time on sidequests, which is why we only got 4.

Simply put, you can't have your cake and eat it too. Making dungeons possible to do in any order comes with limitations for the developer. You could just make normal dungeons go in any order, but then you're limited to one item per dungeon. You can give the player all the items from the start, but then you don't have the opportunity for the player to unlock items in dungeons and present them with challenges that can be handled from a different angle with their new item. Or you can make a complex system that tries to give the player the better of both worlds, but this eats up time and resources.
 

Castle

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Simply put, you can't have your cake and eat it too. Making dungeons possible to do in any order comes with limitations for the developer.
Yet I look at what other developers can accomplish in their games, with half the development time and something less than ninty's budget over the same period and I see other developers doing twice as much in half the time with as much $$$ or less. It's not impossible.

So it comes down to one of two possibilities, I s'pose.

1.) Lower Your Standards

Simply resign ourselves to the reality that nintendo is incapable of developing on such a scale in the time, money, and the skill of the labor force that they have available. We should be content with games that are arguably half as much as a competitor can produce, or at least half as much as they could have been on their own. We should settle for essentially the same or similar product presented to us time and time again, with few new ideas, insignificant changes to the structure of the level design or narrative if any, and sparse content because it's what nintendo is comfortable with and it's all they're capable of.

2.) Expect Better

Expect nintendo to produce quality work on par with or surpassing their contemporaries. Expect change ups and alterations to the level structure and narrative of their games that work without detracting from the experience and that bring the Zelda series up to modern standards. Expect that nintendo be capable of developing complex mechanical systems, engaging non-linear narratives, layered level design, high quality presentation, new refinements and other developmental complexities in half the time with a skilled workforce and the same budget or less.

If you read about the development of Deus Ex, it was hell for the developers. They were implementing mechanical systems from the ground up. From ideas on paper to fully functioning mechanical systems in the final product, without any blue prints or much prior work to base their work on. Warren Spector and the other developers have recounted at length how much playtesting and refinement went into production. How much code was written and rewritten, how many experimental prototypes and demos were made, how much content and functionality was scrapped... And in the end they released a working product that is one of the most highly lauded and critically acclaimed video games in existence.

Nintendo did similar with Ocarina of Time, working with a new technology to pioneer new systems and adequately adapt an ongoing franchise for a new era without compromising its core tenants... and in the end they produced one of the most highly lauded and critically acclaimed video games in existence.

I for one will not settle for the status quo. But if you think the series and nintendo will absolutely positively cave under the pressure of expectations they are incapable of meeting then I suppose you're good to go. All I know is that what I suggest is in no ways inconceivable. Man has accomplished much more with less.

This is also why MM only has 4 dungeons.
Majora's Mask isn't the best example here (almost as bad as my lazy door and balcony hypothetical) because MM completed development within a year whereas BotW had no less than six. SIX. Developers would give their first born to have six years of development time! And frankly it is astounding how much MM managed to accomplish in 12 months, even working with reused assets. The amount of original content and new or reworked systems in that game is astounding, as is the depth of its content and breadth of its design - much more than you can reasonably expect from many recent games with three or four times the development schedule. And it released complete and fully functional to critical acclaim and financial success.
 
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One of the problems with BotW that nobody seems to either recognize and/or want to talk about is the "con" side to the open world and multiple solutions to the puzzles. On the one hand, it seems ingenious and "true to life" that there are multiple ways to solve a given problem. But in a video game world, this is a terrible idea. As soon as you start creating puzzles that have multiple solutions, they are no longer puzzles. They are just "obstacles". And the more creative they allow you to be to "solve the puzzle", the worse it is because again, no puzzle solving is required.

For example, maybe you need fire for something: Well, you have fire arrows. Wait, no fire arrows? Ok, so you may also have normal arrows and a torch stand in the room that you can light your arrow on fire. Wait, no torch stand? Well, that's ok, you have wood, flint and a metal weapon, right? Just make a fire and now you can put your normal arrow in it to light it. Well, crap! No normal arrows either? That's ok, I have wooden weapon I can light and throw at the target.

In case my point is not clear ... it's no fun to always have what you need whenever you get to any obstacle, and that each obstacle is so simple to figure out. I know it might seem like "useless grinding" ... but in the older games, at least you literally had to figure out and do exactly what they wanted you to do. The puzzle - a lot of the time - was not hard in and of itself ... but the part where you had to figure out exactly what the game designers wanted you to do was as integral to the game as anything else. And, I miss that aspect of things.
 

Castle

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For example, maybe you need fire for something: Well, you have fire arrows. Wait, no fire arrows? Ok, so you may also have normal arrows and a torch stand in the room that you can light your arrow on fire. Wait, no torch stand? Well, that's ok, you have wood, flint and a metal weapon, right? Just make a fire and now you can put your normal arrow in it to light it. Well, crap! No normal arrows either? That's ok, I have wooden weapon I can light and throw at the target.
This is just an example of creative thinking. This is how people solve problems irl. This problem isn't easy because the resources necessary to solve it are readily available. It's complicated because players have to think about how to use those resources (and in ways that make logical sense.) In your example the resources the player has on hand are limited. This actually forces him to think more. And doesn't require that he go off looking for that one solution necessary to complete his task.

in the older games, at least you literally had to figure out and do exactly what they wanted you to do.
Such as stand in some exact spot with no indication provided as to where, and use some obscure item in some specific way that makes no sense in context. Older video games are absolutely rife with these non sequiturs. Watch any Angry Video Game Nerd episode and you'll see numerous examples of these. Adventure games, which are all about puzzles, routinely forego solutions that make sense in context in favor of obscure non sequiturs. This isn't clever "puzzle solving". It's figuring out exactly what the designer wants you to do.

Very very few games are actually designed with reasonable single solutions to logic puzzles that make logical sense. In Zelda's case, we're talking about a world in which a lit brazier opens doors. When was the last time you lit a fire and it unlocked a door? At the very least, if you don't have that one and only item necessary to light the fire, you can be provided ways to creatively improvise. Kinda like how proto-humans figured out how to light a fire in the first place. There was no single solution and they had to come up with it on their own. They had to be inventive.
 
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@HauntedCastle I guess we just disagree here ... at least with how things specifically were and specifically are now. A lot of the older "puzzles" were terrible ... but at the same time, like I said above ... when you have too many options and the tools required are so readily available, it's no longer a puzzle ... at least not a challenging one.
 

DarkestLink

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More realistically, the problem is that whenever there was a "fire puzzle" you could just cheese through it with fire arrows because, let's face it, you probably never ran out. And this was true for all the puzzles. They were ridiculously easy to cheese with no thought whatsoever.
 
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More realistically, the problem is that whenever there was a "fire puzzle" you could just cheese through it with fire arrows because, let's face it, you probably never ran out. And this was true for all the puzzles. They were ridiculously easy to cheese with no thought whatsoever.
That's pretty much my entire point, and what I was trying to say ... but it doesn't really just apply to the fire mechanic. With the exception of the very early parts of the game (like, the first 6 -10 hours depending on how you played), you were never at a loss for "stuff" needed to solve a puzzle ... and with that, it's not really a puzzle anymore, but instead it's just much more of an obstacle at best.

Having 2 possible solutions - each very difficult to either A) figure out or :cool: both need very specific resources that are hard to come by ... or C) a combination of both of those things - that would be GREAT. You now have a choice in how you wanna do it ... but it's not like one way is simple and feels like cheating. I mean, seriously ... some of the puzzles were so bad that it's like a kid putting his hands over his own eyes and acting like you can't see him because he can't see you.

Remember that shrine where you had an orb and all the wind fans blowing ... and you were SUPPOSED to move blocks around to get in the way of certain fans so that you could make the orb roll around the room and into the "dish" where it would then lift you up to the higher ground so you could get your orb? Well, there was THAT method of solving it ... Or, you could just place the ball on the edge of the dish, stasis it, run up to the elevator platform, and then let the ball un-stasis, roll into the dish, trigger the elevator, and boom, you're done.

THAT ... is 100% crap design. Sure, you can try to call it creative ... but when you have this crazy, convoluted puzzle that requires all kinds of timing and precision ... or, just use stasis and avoid 90% of the entire puzzle. Seriously, that's AWFUL design no matter how you slice it.

That's the kind of "freedom" that ruins the game. Again, no longer a puzzle ... just another "thing to do" that is meaningless and a waste of time.
 

Nicolai

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That's pretty much my entire point, and what I was trying to say ... but it doesn't really just apply to the fire mechanic. With the exception of the very early parts of the game (like, the first 6 -10 hours depending on how you played), you were never at a loss for "stuff" needed to solve a puzzle ... and with that, it's not really a puzzle anymore, but instead it's just much more of an obstacle at best.

Having 2 possible solutions - each very difficult to either A) figure out or :cool: both need very specific resources that are hard to come by ... or C) a combination of both of those things - that would be GREAT. You now have a choice in how you wanna do it ... but it's not like one way is simple and feels like cheating. I mean, seriously ... some of the puzzles were so bad that it's like a kid putting his hands over his own eyes and acting like you can't see him because he can't see you.

Remember that shrine where you had an orb and all the wind fans blowing ... and you were SUPPOSED to move blocks around to get in the way of certain fans so that you could make the orb roll around the room and into the "dish" where it would then lift you up to the higher ground so you could get your orb? Well, there was THAT method of solving it ... Or, you could just place the ball on the edge of the dish, stasis it, run up to the elevator platform, and then let the ball un-stasis, roll into the dish, trigger the elevator, and boom, you're done.

THAT ... is 100% crap design. Sure, you can try to call it creative ... but when you have this crazy, convoluted puzzle that requires all kinds of timing and precision ... or, just use stasis and avoid 90% of the entire puzzle. Seriously, that's AWFUL design no matter how you slice it.

That's the kind of "freedom" that ruins the game. Again, no longer a puzzle ... just another "thing to do" that is meaningless and a waste of time.
You're right, and like you said, the problem isn't just that there's multiple solutions, but that the shorter underhanded solution isn't nearly as satisfying.

At least, that's my opinion. There are people who say they felt really smart and awesome finding a way around the longer method. I myself felt like I was cheating myself out of a more difficult problem.

I remember a shrine with rafts floating across a stream that you had to carefully jump around, yet by that time it was already so natural for me to use Cryonis for every water obstacle. It was so simple, it didn't really feel awesome to figure out.

At the same time, maybe I was only one of the few who figured out that you can use cryonis for every water obstacle? When hearing other accounts of Eventide Island, some people mention how hard it was getting there, and either paraglided from Cape Calis or took a sail raft; I'm not sure how people didn't think of Cryonis, something that's always available to you at every part of the game outside of the GP. I imagine there were some simple solutions that went over my head during shrine solving.

But the real sin here is that none of these underhanded solutions seem like they're designed. It honestly feels more like the developers decided not to check for any loopholes at all, and just write off any potential loopholes as a creative solution, when (I think) they should have checked for every solution and made sure that each one makes for a satisfying way to solve the puzzle.
 

DarkestLink

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Personally I just don't think this works with puzzles. I liked in 3D Mario games where you had an obstacle that was simple in design, but required challenging platforming and you could potentially work around them by thinking of a clever solution with easy platforming.

Unfortunately with BOTW, you're presented with puzzles and then stupidly simple alternate solutions. Who feels clever after using stasis on a ball or skipping a fire puzzle with fire arrows? "Oh I could use this fire elemental weapon to skip this fire puzzle!" ...Duh?

Rather than being presented with the choice between a difficult obstacle or a clever solution, you're given the choice of "Do the puzzle or just skip it with this obvious braindead solution."
 

BeNsQuArEd

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Hey everyone. I know I'm a little late to the party, but I've crafted an interesting pitch on how Breath of the Wild could be made linear. These are drastic changes, but they serve a hybrid open-linear world. There's no thought of timeline lore here (I don't have time for that).
Also, I applaud every entry in this thread for offering both good ideas and good insight into linear vs open-world Zelda. Here we go.

The Great Plateau stays the same. It is a perfect dungeon/tutorial. The only thing I change is that every rune can be upgraded, 'cause they will kind of suck in the beginning (working just enough to beat the Plateau).

After the Great Plateau, with your directions to see Impa, you can go anywhere you want. It's still open, but what has changed is certain locations and events that are accessible or not. Hyrule Castle cannot be entered because of an impenetrable mass of Malice, which can only be dispelled with the Master Sword powered by a certain number of Spirit Orbs. This puts value into shrine hunting other than simply gaining hearts and stamina. (Also, hearts and stamina can only be gained from bosses, which there are more of here. Also, shrines are present in addition to dungeons and other playable parts.)

Impa charges you with retrieving your memories in order to prepare to face Ganon, and directs you to Purah so you can upgrade your Sheikah Slate (not necessary). But there are no pictures to lead you to the memories. They must be found on their own, but they do lie right in the paths between key locations, or at them.

Also, the memories are different. There aren't as many, and these remaining memories are PLAYABLE. These new memories are made from a few original memories as well as certain journal entry scenes from the Champions, the King and Zelda. To balance this, the journals in this BotW now contain content from the original memories, and these diaries now come on the form of flashback cutscenes narrated by the author of the specific journal. Not playable, but they are comprehensive windows into each of these six key characters and their interactions with Link.

The five playable memories are as follows: rescuing Zelda from the Yiga Clan Hideout (as opposed to playing through it in the present); the memory on Death Mountain with heaps of enemies laying dead - you get to kill them, fending off waves of enemies big and small to protect Zelda; Link as a boy besting grown men in sword combat, then, with a time jump, defeating a haywire Guardian with only a pot lid, cementing his position as the princess' knight; vanquishing the Lynel in Zora's Domain that threatened Mipha and her people; and Link's final stand at Fort Hateno, fending off a dozen Guardians in a row before collapsing and being rescued by Zelda.

These memories add to the Divine Beasts and Hyrule castle, making a total of ten dungeons or playable sequences outside of the open world atmosphere. For the memories, your gear is limited to whatever Link is supposed to wear and wield (the Champion's Tunic and Master Sword, except in the memory before he becomes a knight, where he has generic Hylian gear), and a set amount of food items that varies from memory to memory. You have no access to the Sheikah Runes or Champion's abilities, because the memories take place in the past.

There is no order to retrieve the memories in, but the Divine Beasts must be acquired as such: Revali's Gale, from Vah Medoh, is necessary to access Vah Ruta (to reach a cliff you can't climb), and Urbosa's Fury, from Vah Naboris, must be used to reach Vah Rudania (to smite a certain group of foes simultaneously).

This version of the game allows for linear storytelling combined with a clean breath of the wild in its open atmosphere. The playable memories allow for more immersion in the story of the game, which many people said it lacked. The cutscene journals allow for a personal look at each of these favourite characters of ours.

Oh, and there'd be a post-game, achievable only by unlocking all Divine Beasts, which you technically don't have to do before going to the end. I suppose this isn't a real linear Zelda game, but it combines what made Breath of the Wild awesome with some flavour from the past games. I hope you enjoyed this in-depth re-skin of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
 

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