Let’s Interview… Breath of the NES Developer WinterDrake!
Yesterday on Gaming Reinvented, we posted about an interesting new Zelda fan game that tries to recreate Breath of the Wild’s mechanics in 2D. Named Breath of the NES, the game is a sort of recreation of an early prototype Nintendo showed off at GDC 2017, complete with the same visual aesthetics and stylings as the original NES title.
And guess what? Now we’ve managed to get an exclusive interview with the game’s developer WinterDrake! So here it is, complete with his thoughts about the game and its future development…
So let’s start off with a simple personal one first. Who are you? What is Winter Drake’s background here?
I’m a 20 year old college student studying marketing. Before this project, I’ve released two games, one of which made it to Steam (Faron’s Fate)
Above: A video of Faron’s Fate. No, it has nothing to do with the goddess Farore. Nor the Zelda province…
And how about your history with gaming? How did you first start playing video games?
Honestly my first experiences were with kids’ computer games, but later on I found a love of retro games, especially NES and SNES since they were so easy to emulate.
Why the Legend of Zelda series? Is it one of your favourite franchises of all time? Or was Breath of the Wild the one game that inspired you?
The BotW 2d prototype that Nintendo showed off was the main inspiration. I definitely love the Zelda series, but when I saw that video, I knew it was something I wanted to play.
What about Breath of the Wild itself? What do you think of the game in general?
Super awesome, I love how open ended it is and how creative you can get. It’s something I hope to emulate in Breath of the NES.
Fan game stuff now. Is this your first attempt at making one?
Yep, this is my first fan game.
Have you played any other Zelda fan games or ROM hacks?
I have not, actually.
Either way, why have a 2D Breath of the Wild style game? Was it because of the interesting prototype Nintendo showed at GDC 2017?
Yes it was haha.
So as a game, it’s actually got quite a fair bit of content at the moment. Multiple items, various enemies, etc. How much will the final game have, if you get that far?
What’s in the playable demo is a fraction of what I want to have in the final game. The ideas are all there, but I plan to flesh out each area much more, as well as adding much more in-depth character progression.
It’s also got perhaps a bit of a… mean streak. Have you considered maybe slowing some of the enemies down a notch, or making their patterns a tad less random?
I’m working on improving the AI of enemies, for sure. I’ll balance the game’s difficulty as I see fit, but I’m also going to make sure to include difficulty settings for casual gamers and Zelda veterans alike.
Interestingly, it also has many of the enemies from Zelda 1 rather than those from the later games. Do you plan to implement some of the Breath of the Wild specific ones at some point?
It’s more likely that I’ll be shifting to original enemies, since I do plan to eventually move on from the Zelda theme if Nintendo asks me to stop.
How about some runes? I’m sure 2D Magnesis, Stasis or Cryonis would be interesting to see!
Those would all be super interesting, although I’m not sure how I’d implement them. If they’re added, it would be much later down the line.
At the moment, the game doesn’t seem to have a save feature of any kind. Is that something that’s in development? And if so, how will it work? Will there be auto saves, or manual saves more similar to the 2D games?
I didn’t bother coding a save in the demo because it’s so short and I wanted people to really take their time getting through the challenge. In the full game there will definitely be saves, though I’m not sure if I’m going to do autosaves or manual.
Musically it’s kept minimalistic like Breath of the Wild itself. However, in a 2D game that kind of feels a tad empty to be honest. Is there the possibility of an optional background music feature here? Or at least, the few notes you hear in cold climates/on top of mountains in Breath of the Wild?
I’ve already had a ton of people offer to help out with the music, so hopefully the full game will have memorable tunes for each area 🙂
Still, it seems like the game is fairly early in development at the moment. So what other interesting ideas do you have for the game in the future?
I want to flesh out the areas and enemies a lot more, make more interactive environment pieces. There will also, of course, be many more items and upgrades.
Moving on to some questions about the game’s future/marketing now. Did you expect this to become as popular as it was? Or for all these sites to start writing articles about it?
Oh, no, this was a total surprise. Honestly the demo I made is pretty pitiful, and I released it just because I was excited. I think the ideas i have for a finished game will be really impressive once they’re finished, but it’s a great surprise to see so much support early on.
Unfortunately, based on Nintendo’s recent track record with fan works, that might have accidentally made it more likely this game will get shut down. Do you worry about that?
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am fully ready to remove the borrowed Zelda assets and replace them with my own original characters 🙂 I have a lot of ideas and I’m not going to give up simply because I can’t continue as a fangame
On another note, why itch.io? I’ve seen this platform used for quite a few fan games recently (like No Mario’s Sky), and it makes me wonder why developers are using it so much now. Does it offer advantages over whatever that Zelda fan game specific site is?
It’s the best hosting platform I know of. Lets people follow you, make donations, and gives you analytics about where they’re coming from. It’s what I’ve always used.
As for social media, this game seems to mostly be advertised on Twitter and Reddit. So why choose those two platforms in particular?
Those are the social media platforms I know and understand most. Maybe later in development I could get some help running a facebook and instagram, but right now two sites is enough work to balance while I program the game and study for finals.
Finally, what are your plans after making this game? Do you have any interesting indie titles in development? Ideas for fan games based on other franchises? Something else?
Breath of the NES is my main project right now, but I always have tons of ideas. If this game does well, hopefully I could have the motivation and funds to move on to bigger and better things!
So that concludes our interview. It’s not the longest one in the world, but I’m hoping it’ll give you a bit of an insight into Breath of the NES and its future development. After all, if the demo is indicative of the final game, it should be absolutely amazing when it’s finally done and finished. Check out his channel and Twitter too, if you want more updates.
But hey, what do you think? Did you like Breath of the NES? Do you think the idea of a 2D physics based sandbox game like this is an interesting one?
Post your thoughts on the matter here or at Gaming Latest’s forums today!