Of Linearity and Wind Waker HD for Wii U

Ok Nintendo, I like where you are going with this. I mean, yeah, you’ve completely won me over with Wind Waker in HD, but to hear the director of the series say that they are going to try to shy away from linearity … it’s as if someone over there read this post and then this other one.

So, taking advantage of my new power over a giant corporation, let me ask you something Nintendo: Have you played Dark Souls? There’s a very special idea that I want you to steal and implement in the next Zelda. It’s basically an interconnected world with very few hard gates (also called plot doors) but with a LOT of soft gates. Soft gates are situations where the player could go through a path, but he is discouraged from doing so at the start of the game and only later will that path’s difficulty lessen (generally, by leveling up or aquiring certain items). Soft gates are, for example, ghosts that require a certain condition to be killed but don’t actually block a path. Soft gates can also be really strong enemies. Soft gates let the player choose their own difficulty and make their own challenges. Soft gates let experienced players go through your game in new and novel ways that can even “break” the game (I’d go as far as to say that it’s even better if the game’s implicit rules are broken). Soft gates don’t insult the player’s intelligence. Soft gates rely on them being smart enough to tell that maybe going through this path is going to be harder than the others.

And because of that last reason, soft gates are a problem for you. You want to make it obvious where to go, you want to make sure that nobody is lost, that nobody misinterprets a soft gate for the only path forward. Those things happen, true, but at what cost? Soft gates have so many beneficial consequences that it’s almost impossible to ignore. I say “almost” because that’s exactly what you’ve been doing with every single Pokemon game and the last few Zeldas.

In a way, I view this video as recognizing that you’ve been insulting player’s intelligences lately. You are trying to correct that and I’m happy that you are trying, but please, do it well. Steal the right ideas from the right games and you’ll have gold on your hands.

If you take my advice I’ll be a gentleman and only take 20% of all your income for the next 100 years. Remember, I’m here to help!

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