If you’ve watched videos about mods for Zelda Breath of the Wild, you’ve undoubtably come across Waikuteru and his YouTube channel. Known for creating the BoTW Randomiser and Whomp’s Fortress mod, as well as his work on Second Wind, Waikuteru has become a hugely recognisable name in the community, with his videos on the game’s hacks racking up hundreds of thousands of views and plentiful news coverage in the process.
It’s an awesome channel, and one which has kept BoTW in the spotlight all these years later.
So in this interview, we’re gonna ask him all about it. To find out what it’s like working on these amazing mods, as well as running the YouTube channel required to showcase.
You ready? Let’s do this!
Starting with a bit of personal info first! Who are you? Who is Waikuteru?
On paper, I’m a business man/sole proprietor, though for the majority of people I’m a content creator or modder. Either way, in my heart I’m a gamer, and one with an interest in modifying a particular game. 😉
My goal is to produce as many new and high-quality content for players around the world as possible, featuring mods for the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild.
Additionally, I also plan to mod Tears of the Kingdom once it’s out too, at least after I play through it first.
Last but not least, I’m German and I also live in Germany.
And where did that username come from?
I typed ‘Guardian’ into a Japanese translator, and it said it was ‘Waikuteru’. Hence the name.
Strangely enough, I was never able to find that translator ever again, so I guess it’s a miracle I ended up with this username at all!
How about your interest in gaming? What was your first game?
I’m highly interested in gaming, and therefore play them regularly.
As for my first game, that was Super Mario 64. I also played Mario Kart 64 and Ocarina of Time early on too.
What about current games? What ones are you playing at the moment?
Even though I’m a huge fan of Nintendo franchises (especially Mario and Zelda), I also play other games and franchises too, such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, Dead by Daylight and other such titles.
So those are some of the games I’m playing on a regular basis.
As for which game I’m experiencing story wise at the moment? That would be Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I’m also looking forward to the Witcher 3 Next-Gen update later this year too, since it’s one of my favourite games ever.
Let’s talk about Zelda stuff. How did you get into the Legend of Zelda series?
The first time I played a Zelda game was in my childhood, with the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64.
Then, after some time, another Zelda game released, namely Skyward Sword for the Wii.
And that game blew my mind. Unlike other reviewers, I absolutely loved Skyward Sword, and can’t say anything bad about it besides Fi’s complaints that your Wii remote batteries are empty.
What was it like playing Breath of the Wild for the first time back in 2017?
Playing Breath of the Wild for the first time was amazing. An open world Zelda game? Wow, that’s awesome!
And I remember the release date quite well too. Back on the 3rd of March 2017, a friend and I played it together and fought our way through the Great Plateau. I had to start over after that though, since I played the game on my own console later that day too.
Funnily enough, while he chose to visit the Zoras first, I chose to visit the Gerudo instead. As a result, I found the game extremely difficult, with the Thunderblight Ganon boss fight being the worst part.
Going through that fight as a complete noob with only 4-5 hearts was brutal, especially given Thunderblight Ganon is the hardest boss in the game. So somehow, I chose the hardest Divine Beast to start with here.
What’s your modding background like? How did you get into modding video games?
A few months after Breath of the Wild’s release, I kept seeing the terms ‘Cemu’, ’60FPS’ and ‘4K’ pop up online every now and again. So I searched them up, found that Cemu is a Wii U emulator that lets you play your Wii U games on PC, and got interested in the whole affair.
Don’t worry, that’s totally legal by the way. If you dump your game’s files from your console, it’s entirely legal to emulate them.
However, I quickly came to realise that I couldn’t run this game very well on my current PC. It wasn’t powerful enough, which made the game run worse than on the original console.
So it then took until summer 2018 to properly emulate the title, since that’s when I got a new PC that could run the game flawlessly.
However, mods weren’t the first thing I tried. No, first I merely played the game with an increased frame rate and resolution.
Before realising that actual mods existed, such as skins, music overhauls, etc. I installed a few of those and thought they were great fun, since they added even more new content to this already wonderful game.
That in turn inspired me to make my own mods. Since map editing wasn’t possible yet (at least to the extents it us now), I looked into music and sound modding first, with my first mod being a music overhaul featuring Skyward Sword songs.
It took multiple months to do (since I had to replace nearly every file in the game), but I eventually did it, creating the mod shown here.
After that, eventually a map editor and custom dungeon mod popped up. I couldn’t believe my eyes here, since this was something I’d subconsciously wanted forever.
And so this possibility, to create custom dungeons/maps in Zelda Breath of the Wild, inspired me to start working on all the custom maps you see today.
How about Breath of the Wild modding? Did any other mods inspire you there?Ancient Cave – the textures here were a bit experimental due to it being the first real dungeon test map but it was already so good nonetheless!
Then just a few weeks after, he released Sky Maze, a custom dungeon in the sky. He used even more objects in this one, and created a ton of innovative new puzzles too!
What BoTW mods are your favourites and why?
Beside my own mods like the Randomizer and The Lost Records, Second Wind is an obvious choice, I think. The Halloween Hunt also turned out pretty well too, at least in my opinion!
I would also like to add Relics of the Past to this list, but I actually haven’t played it yet, so I can’t really recommend it right now … I really have to give it a try, since it does look good though. And, as of the time this interview was written, a new update is coming too.
Any interesting ones you’re really looking forward to?
Given that most mods are released out of the blue, there aren’t really many I can actually look forward to.
I did enjoy a customer dungeon mod that Kreny released of nowhere though, and I was so intrigued I played and recorded it immediately.
You can see my blind playthrough of that mod here.
Many people know you for covering the Second Wind mod, and being a major contributor to it. How did you first find out about the game?
First of all, I’m not a major contributor to Second Wind. I’ve helped out a few times over the years, but that was it. Hence, I’m also not part of the team.
I am probably a major contributor in regards to showcasing the project though.
Either way, truly major contributors to Second Wind (at least content wise) are people like CEObrainz, Normie’s Progress, Gray…
Still, Second Wind initially caught my interest when they first released the Labors of the Hero quest, which included custom bosses. I can remember these well; the first one they released was an Octorok, which ended up in an expanded version of the Oakle’s Navel location.
And that was showcased in the first ever video I made for Second Wind, way back in November 2020.
And how did you get onto the development team there? What was your first contribution?
The founder of Second Wind, called CEOBrainz, and I, have been friends for a long time now.
So in March 2021 we talked about the progress being made on Second Wind and that was when I must have offered help.
This project was an overhauled location near Lake Illumeni with a Witch and a new shop system…
If I remember correctly, this took about a month to complete. I worked on the logical part (what happens when), the camera events and the brand-new shop system, and CEObrainz helped on that too!
Credits for the other work aspects can be found in the video!
Are you impressed how far it’s come? It’s certainly one of the most ambitious mods we’ve ever seen, especially based on our interview with the team!
Yes, of course! The Second Wind team is not giving up and will continue working on the mod until everything on the list has been finished.
It can’t be denied that Second Wind is the biggest mod Breath of the Wild has to offer, followed by the Randomizer and Relics of the Past.
But Second Wind isn’t the only thing you work on, no, you also created the BoTW randomiser too. What made you decide to make a randomiser for this game?
Yes, I did create the BoTW Randomizer, which look a long time to develop. After I worked on projects that players would play one time and then move on, I tried to think about something that would allow for multiple playthroughs.
And that’s when a Randomizer for Breath of the Wild came to mind. However, I initially had to figure out whether that was possible or not with the tools available at that point in time.
And what was the development like? What challenges have you faced getting it to work with a complex title like this?
After I finished the Super Mario 64 Whomp’s Fortress Custom Level in Breath of the Wild in December 2020, I researched and tested out the core features I wanted to have in a BOTW Randomizer.
One of the hardest things at first was to figure out whether random enemy spawns would be possible or not. In the end, I used a workaround and with that, many players died because of that until today… 🙂
Another more difficult task was to ensure that the logic timer and trigger chance was working properly in the background. There are some methods, but some are more reliable than others.
I decided to take the reliable one which ended up being more work but I wanted the Randomizer to work at all times to ensure optimal gameplay.
Favourite feature you’ve implemented there so far?
While some features are more amazing than others, I personally don’t dislike any of them. If I did, I would have removed them by now, or not even implemented said features in the first place.
Though, it is a community project and I have added things the community asked for as well.
As for my favourite features overall? I think I’d have to choose either the random enemy spawns or random teleports; sometimes the players end up landing in a Divine Beast and have to continue their journey from there – that’s so cool!
And sometimes they get unlucky and fall in lava because a certain bridge hasn’t been lowered. That’s a little… less cool.
How about features you want to add in future?
I do have some on my list such as getting weapon slots added or removed, or the ability to speed up or slow down the trigger rate of the Randomizer, but I can’t promise yet when or if that will happen.
By now, it seems that I’m supporting or working on multiple projects at the same time so time will tell if there will be another BOTW Randomizer (before) Tears of the Kingdom!
Please also look out for any other mods that are going to be released!
Are you happy to see so many people using this mod now? It’s certainly become a fan favourite among the challenge gaming community!
I’m very happy to see that it’s so famous, and that thousands of players are enjoying the mod – especially given that I invested almost a whole year into it without telling anyone what exactly it was.
That’s because I wanted to keep it a surprise as long as possible, and get the most hype when the video actually released, and I think that worked out quite well. You can watch the live chat recap in this video:
Who knows? Maybe the same will happen for Tears of the Kingdom.
You also made a mod which added Whomp’s Fortress from Super Mario 64 into Breath of the Wild. What was the reasoning behind creating that one?
That’s a good question. I remember the reason for other mods better than this one but I assume that I just wanted to try to combine Mario and Zelda together and see how it would turn out.
Also, a lot of people like this mod a lot, so try it out yourself. There are 6 star missions to complete, and the level changes based on the mission you choose!
How was it creating the custom objects needed for it? Things like red coins are neat to see here…
I believe that this was the first time I created custom objects, indeed. The Lost Records mod received an update after the release of this mod, as I gathered my knowledge on creating custom objects from the Red Coins, Power Stars, etc in this mod …
It certainly was a new experience and a new task to complete, but I really wanted to make new custom objects next to the actual custom map. I knew that custom enemies were hard at that point in time so I focused on the coins and the stars instead.
After all, I decided that the story was that “Something from Rosalina’s universe was warped into the Breath of the Wild world…” so that fit!
Wonder why I chose Rosalina? That’s because the map model is from Super Mario Galaxy 2, aka the Throwback Galaxy. It’s Whomp’s Fortress as well though!
Did you ever consider adding custom enemies? It feels a bit weird having mostly Zelda elements in a Mario level, though we do understand custom behaviour is hard to add in BoTW mods…
I did consider this later on in The Lost Records mod, but that was almost one and a half years later where our tools had developed further and made it easier/possible.
Due to not being very good at animations (and because I wanted to keep the mod a secret), I couldn’t get help from an experienced animator, hence custom enemies weren’t implemented in the Whomp’s Fortress mod.
That changed in The Lost Records mod with Ghirahim, where I got help from people with more experience in animation. Collaboration is important after all, especially if the project requires a certain skillset you don’t have.
Have you ever considered porting over any other Mario 64 levels? Or 3D Mario areas in general?
Yes, I thought about it. And I also ported another one technically – Doors of Doom from Mario Party 4. Though, I added more variation to it. Mario Party 4 had three variations of both the doors and the rooms, but the version in Breath of the Wild got five of each so there is more variation to it.
It’s a minigame where you have to decide between the left and the right door and try to not encounter The Doom – if you do, your run will be over, unless… you have at least one use of the Second Chance perk.
There are also multiple challenges to complete for the completionist gamers.
You can watch the full video and all of the mod’s features here:
There’s also the impressive Lost Records mod you worked on too. What was it like getting the Skyview Temple to work in BoTW’s engine?
It was such an amazing feeling because Skyward Sword maps fit so well in Breath of the Wild, honestly. Once the map model and collision were done, the puzzles had to be set up.
Some of these were difficult or impossible to recreate due to mechanical changes (like the puzzle with the eyes where you have to rotate your sword), so I changed them to make them possible (like by letting the player just shoot the eyes for this particular puzzle)
In the end though, I think it turned out pretty well. You can make use of your runes, but you don’t have to do so, meaning there are multiple ways to beat the dungeon.
And how do things like the Ghirahim fight work? Is that based on existing enemy AI?
Correct. This is tweaked enemy behaviour. I took an original enemy and changed the AI. For the model, textures and animation I had help from an experienced guy who is no longer around.
With the planned, final 5.0.0 update which released in August 2022, this custom dungeon has a history of two and a half years. The first version released in March 2020 after all.
Next to the Randomizer, this project is deep within my heart as I put so much work and dedication into it!
Any plans for other interesting BoTW mods in future?
Yes, absolutely! I always have projects on my list and I don’t think that this will change soon.
However, I keep the mods secret so the surprise factor is higher once they’re all. Please understand and look forward to my future projects!
What happened to the Nintendo Mod Policy Change Team project? Is that still ongoing?
It was frozen due to me deciding to fight video claims via YouTube’s legal system instead.
Unfortunately, it’s not 100% clear whether it’s Nintendo or an imposter behind these false claims, since Nintendo wouldn’t give me any more information on the matter.
Have you managed to get many other Zelda creators involved here?
Yes, a lot of friends and colleagues joined the server and were interested in the project.
Since I was pretty much the first Zelda content creator who got attacked, as well as the one with the most claims, I showed them how to successfully remove the claims on their own videos.
Either way, what would you do if Nintendo did try to take down one of your mods/videos? Would your actions be different after that campaign?
When Nintendo or an impersonator is claiming videos, I dispute via the YouTube legal system and get the videos brought back that way.
In fact, whoever’s claiming the videos is violating YouTube’s Content Manager policies since claiming the same video more than once is not permitted, but they still do that, over and over.
So, I want to believe that this is not Nintendo since I wouldn’t expect a big company to violate Content Manager policies.
Speaking of videos, your channel has done really well recently, having hit over 40K subs as of this year. Did you ever expect it to do so well?
Not really. I uploaded my first video in January 2020, having started the channel to show off my personal mods. From there, I realized that the videos were well liked.
Since you can’t physically develop major mods every week, I also decided to showcase other mods to provide enough content for a video every week, and so more people can meet and enjoy the world of BoTW modding!
Do you work on YouTube and your mods full time?
Yes, I do, hence why there is a new video and poll every week. However, more stuff is also happening in the background too, like working on new mods and doing commissions.
It certainly has been amazing to be able to work on this full time, and I’m thankfully to my subscribers and viewers for supporting the channel. Once it reaches 50K subscribers, there will be another special as well!
Are there any other non-mod projects planned out? Like indie games, fan games, etc?
Not at the moment, but I have thought about it. First though, I want to play through Tears of the Kingdom and then continue the modding that game too.
I believe that modding an original Nintendo game is far more interesting than trying to re-create such things in another engine.
Finally, what advice would you give someone looking to get into modding Breath of the Wild, or game development in general?
If you want to mod Breath of the Wild, the “Zelda BOTW Modding Hub” Discord server is a good source – that’s where I started my journey after all.
You might realize though that there are situations where you can’t progress due to there not being a way to implement what you have in mind without altering the game’s source code.
And that’s because while the game is being decompiled more and more, this will still take a while, and you’ll have to use workarounds until then.
As for game development and modding, I want to make something clear: You can be such a good solo developer, but sometimes you just NEED help to finish off the last bits of the project.
Since while it’s technically possible, it’s very rare that any one person is good at EVERYTHING. So, if you are unsure about a certain aspect like the animations, physics, etc… try to ask an experienced person in this category if they can help you.
That’s some great advice there Waikuteru, and something that everyone needs to consider if they’re getting into a creative field, not just modders.
Namely, you are likely not going to be good at everything.
So don’t try to do everything alone. Don’t try to be a ‘master of everything’ responsible for models, music, programming and game design all at the same time. That’s not practical for 99.9% of the population.
What is practical on the other hand is working with others. So don’t bottle it up and struggle alone. Reach out to others with the skillsets you lack, and work with them to make your dream projects a reality. That way, you won’t be stuck slamming into a metaphorical wall for decades on end, nor driving yourself to insanity trying to outdo thousands of people at everything and anything.
Either way, thanks for the interview Waikuteru! It was amazing to speak to you about your work, and we’re super excited to see what crazy ideas you come up with in the future too.
Still, what did you guys reading at home think? Did you find the interview an interesting read? What are your thoughts about Waikuteru’s work and the Breath of the Wild modding scene as a whole?
Leave your thoughts on the matter in the comments below, on social media, or over on our Discord server today!