Tag Archives: Nintendo

SI_WiiU_TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild

The Masterful Audio of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The original Legend of Zelda came out in 1986 on the NES. Games were evolving from endurance tests to simple narratives in the Socratic tradition. Having recently stunned the world with Super Mario Bros in 1985, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto set-out to create a game with a world. Miyamoto grew up in Japan exploring the fields, woods, and caves of Kyoto. He designed the first Legend of Zelda to be “a miniature garden that players can put inside their drawer.” He combined Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and the Arthurian legend of the sword in the stone to create what would become one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises.

Zelda Creator Shigeru Miyamoto

Zelda Creator Shigeru Miyamoto

31 years and over 18 iterations later, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Nintendo Switch to widespread critical acclaim—many publications have declared BOTW to be among the greatest games ever created.

As any game designer knows, audio is vital to providing an audience with feedback. As with every element of the game, Nintendo has taken Zelda’s audio to a new level with Breath of the Wild. Here is our review and breakdown of what makes the audio of BOTW so special:

MUSIC

Nintendo composer Koji Kondo initially intended to use Maurice Ravel’s Bolero as the theme music for the original Legend of Zelda in 1985, but upon learning the copyright was intact, he composed the legendary “Zelda Theme”. Nintendo has always dedicated a large amount of time and care to the music of Zelda, but with BOTW, they’ve taken things to the next level.

Acute Zelda-philes will recognize the integration of electronic and orchestral instrumentation as innovative to the franchise. Music has always been used to give the user feedback regarding the setting— Dungeon Theme, which plays when Link is in a dungeon level.

In music, this technique is called a leitmotif: a recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea, or situation.

In BOTW, music is used to delineate location, themes, characters, and even special enemies! While the combat theme plays fighting most baddies, anyone who has played BOTW will recognize the infamous Guardian Theme and of course the Hinox Theme.

The first time the player hears these songs come on, it is scary and immediately invests you with a bombastic sense of imminent danger.

Music changes by location and by time of day, as demonstrated by the Gerudo Town Day and Night songs.

In the Korok Forest, when entering uncharted territory, the user hears an eerie tune that gradually increases in volume until the user is transported back to the start of the forest, as demonstrated in this video:

Shards of stories are told through musical sequences sung by Kass, dispersing exposition about the world and clues to the puzzles the user must solve.

All told, The Legend of Zelda Soundtrack has about 211 songs! Dedicated players can easily invest hundreds of hours into an open-world RPG, so diversifying the music is vital to keeping players engaged and preventing  the game from feeling repetitive. Big, sweeping orchestral soundtracks like these are saving symphony orchestras, according to the Wall Street Journal.

SOUND DESIGN

Longtime composer and sound supervisor Hajime Wakai oversaw the sound of BOTW. While audio cues for sound effects in the Zelda series traditionally have had a very lo-fi electronic feel, BOTW uses fully orchestrated, live-performed instruments, investing the user with the feeling of watching a live performance. Wakai recorded over 10,000 different sounds for the game. In the Nintendo blog, he explains the many different types of footsteps.

“I mixed various kinds of sand so to get good footsteps. We searched for a combination of materials and how to apply them for the sound of the equipment. Ice boards melt and crack each time they walk and have to be replaced. The studio is full of stinky smells as you continue stepping on the grass. There were various hardships.”

Check out these photos from inside the sound studio:

production-notes10-image01

production-notes10-image02

The intricacies of the sound design are on full display in BOTW, with different sounds for hitting flesh creatures, hitting bone creatures and the very notable sound of the Master Sword clashing against a Guardian:

The sound of BOTW enhance the experience and helps the user FEEL the game. Perhaps no better example of Sound Design doing this is the sound effect made when a user breaks their weapon:

Perhaps the biggest departure from the Zelda series is the use of voices. While Zelda games traditionally only represents dialogue with text and strange grunts, BOTW includes cut-scenes with fully-voiced Zelda, Daruth the Goron, Mipha the Zora, and more. BOTW incentivizes accruing these cut scenes or “Shattered Memories” by having them be collectable. Only after collecting all of the “Shattered Memories” can the user watch the story of the game in full from front to back.

OVERALL

Given the grand scale of BOTW, it’s no surprise that the game overdelivers when it comes to its soundscape. Nintendo’s first major entry into the Zelda series in 6 years is a masterpiece. Game designers take note of what is perhaps the best sound design ever created for a video game.

The Next Generation of Apple: What Does It Mean for App Development?

On September 7th, 2016, Apple announced their new line of products for the coming year. Per tradition, the company kept the audience on its feet with a flurry of new features and partnerships which can’t help but excite anyone interested in tech and mobile development. Given the bevy of announcements, here is a rundown of what’s important for app developers.

THE APPLE APP STORE REIGNS SUPREME

Tim Cook kicked the presentation off, reminding the audience of Apple dominance. The Apple App Store accrued 140 billion downloads in the year, a 106% year over year growth and more than double the global revenue of their closest competitor: the Google Play Store.

NINTENDO BRINGS MARIO TO THE MOST POPULAR GAMING DEVICE IN THE WORLD

Gaming is not only  the most popular category in the App Store, Apple devices are the most popular gaming devices in the world. Cook brought in perhaps the greatest game designer of all time: Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Star Fox and many more Nintendo classics) to introduce the new forthcoming Super Mario Run, the second Nintendo game on a mobile phone after Pokemon GO. Mr. Miyamoto emphasized the accessibility of the iOS platform and delineated gameplay mechanics which emphasize competitive, social-focused arcade modes in which you can challenge your friends’ high scores.

Apple later announced Pokemon GO is coming to the new Apple Watch Series 2. Pokemon GO has accrued over 500 million downloads and Pokemon Trainers have walked over 4.6 million kilometers playing the game. Pokemon GO for Apple Watch will emphasize allowing users to spend less time looking at their screen, and more time being social in their walks.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 2

Apple Watch Series 2 via TechRadar

Apple Watch became the #2 biggest selling watch brand in the world within a year of launch. The new Apple Watch Series 2 is waterproof and features apps which improve your golf swing, remind you to breathe and more. The emphasis from the trailer was on the Apple Watch as a fitness device for optimizing workout efficiency. Apple proclaimed the new Apple Watch as the ultimate device for a healthy life. Those in the fitness app development business are in luck as the Apple Watch opens up a ton of possibilities.

App developers will love the additional dual core processor, which is up to 50% faster than the previous Apple Watch, the new GPU 2x faster graphics performance, and the 2nd generation display with 1000 nits. The device offers all kinds of opportunities for internal apps and developers.

IOS 10

As of Tuesday September 13th, iOS 10 has officially been released. After a summer in beta, the new operating system is here with a smarter keyboard which cultivates contextual clues through machine learning to improve auto-correct, enhanced Continuity, and a smarter Siri. Best of all, iOS 10 opens up Siri, iMessage and Maps for app developers, allowing them to create app extensions which incorporate these tools. This means Siri can book your next Lyft, you can incorporate ePayments directly into iMessage, and you can make reservations at a restaurant directly through Maps. The ability to create app extensions on internal iPhone apps opens up a world of possibilities for app developers in designing both new and updating existing apps.

IPHONE 7 & 7 PLUS

iPhone 7 via 9to5mac.com

The reviews are in for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and they are impressive. While the screen size stays the same, the headphone jack is gone, and the camera is beefed up. iPhone 7+ features a dual camera system which allows for true 2x optical zoom without loss of image quality.

When it comes to graphics, the display is now 25% brighter with a wider color gamut. The new A10 fusion processor is 40% faster than the A9 and features a graphics processing chip that is 50% faster than the iPhone 6 counterpart. While it has increased processing power, it also has extended battery life – the longest battery life ever in an iPhone.

The possibilities for mobile game developers are endless, as seen in this demonstration by Heather Price, co-founder of ThisGameStudio:

HOMEKIT & IoT

Having made major strides in the phone, watch, TV, music streaming and soon original content areas, Apple is naturally moving toward the connected home. HomeKit is the first time home automation has been integrated with a major platform. HomeKit will allow users to adjust lights in their house, check on locked doors, open their garage and more. HomeKit will now accept virtually every major brand creating home automation devices, and it works on over 100 products coming to market.

Apple also made several announcements, including their educational investment in ConnectEd, introduction of real-time collaboration through iWork, a partnership with Nike with the Apple Watch Nike+, and more. With such a density of announcements, it’s an exciting time to be an iOS developer.