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Breath of the Wild director explains why he decided to let players die

"We also didn't see death as something negative. There's actually kind of a fun to be had from falling and dying. You learn to be careful and to be cautious."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

March 8, 2017

1 Min Read

If you've been playing Breath of the Wild, you've likely experienced the fear of scrambling up a Sheikah Tower while your energy meter counts down like a doomsday clock. 

In those scenarios, there's usually only one outcome for poor Link: a sheer drop served with a side order of death. 

It's a familiar scenario that makes the vertical puzzles a daring, suspenseful, and ultimately rewarding affair. And according to game director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, that was exactly the point. 

Speaking to Polygon about the way in which the game's many towers are designed, and how they'll often cause players to take a tumble into the afterlife, the veteran designer explained they chose to view death as a positive. 

"When we saw that, we also didn’t see it as something negative. There's actually kind of a fun to be had from falling and dying. You learn to be careful and to be cautious," he said. 

"We felt that that gave a lot of players the emotional preparedness to take on the rest of the world. So we ultimately decided that we should let them die."

Still, it was also important to ensure that players didn't feel like they were being actively punished. To that end the dev team designed a tool that allowed them to monitor exactly where players were dying or losing hearts. 

It let them balance out Breath of the Wild's seemingly boundless version of Hyrule to deliver an experience that while undoubtedly challenging, never feels rigged. 

You can hear more from Fujibayashi over on Polygon, which will also be posting an extended interview later this week. 

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About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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