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Miyamoto: 'You can't just throw every good idea you have into a game'

An interviewer spoke with Miyamoto shortly before the 1992 release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and discussed how the tech limitations of the time affected game design.

Alissa McAloon

December 20, 2016

2 Min Read

“You can’t just throw every good idea you have into a game. The idea has to connect up with something else in the game, and there needs to be consistency between the ideas. “

- Shigeru Miyamoto explained his thoughts on game design in a 1992 interview published by Shmuplations. 

Twenty-four years ago, Shigeru Miyamoto and his team were close to releasing the Super Famicom version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. An interview posted and partially translated by Shmuplations shares what game development was like in the early 1990s, based on the experiences of the legendary game designer.

In the interview, Miyamoto explains some of his game design philosophies at the time and talks about how technical limitations ultimately kept The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past from becoming an “open-ended” game.

The ability to use bombs to find rooms hidden behind walls was something that carried over from this early idea of an open-world game, but creating a Zelda title with branching paths like Miyamoto had imagined would've required significantly more memory than the team could work with at the time.

There were many proposed features left out of the final game because of technical limitations, but Miyamoto explained that being able to shape ambitious ideas into a functional game is part of what a game designer does.

“I believe that ideas are limitless. These days, the world is overflowing with them. It’s a game designer’s job to figure out how to compile and program them into a video game," said Miyamoto. "I think that the ability to collect and organize things is even more important to making games than the power of imagination and creativity."

For more on Miyamoto’s thoughts on the development of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, check out the full interview on the Shmuplations site. 

About the Author(s)

Alissa McAloon

Publisher, GameDeveloper.com

As the Publisher of Game Developer, Alissa McAloon brings a decade of experience in the video game industry and media. When not working in the world of B2B game journalism, Alissa enjoys spending her time in the worlds of immersive sandbox games or dabbling in the occasional TTRPG.

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