Let’s Interview; Twilight Princess HD Fan Remake Developers ARTAKE Games
A while ago, Nintendo released a remake of The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess for Wii U. This remake had slightly improved graphics, some Amiibo functionality and a new ‘dungeon’ called the Cave of Shadows among other minor features, and generally got okay reviews on release.
At the same time though, it was also… seen as rather unambitious. Yeah it was functional sure. Yes, it certainly looked a tad cleaner than the GameCube and Wii version sure.
But compared to other Nintendo remakes, it felt a tad rushed. Like the team behind it didn’t really have the time or budget to go all out with the project.
Yet despite that being the case, there was also another Twilight Princess remake project in development. This one was fan run, and tried to redo the game in a far more significant way than Nintendo’s version ever could. It planned for new dungeons, new character models and geometry, new items and content… basically, it was Twilight Princess completely rebooted from the ground up.
And that’s what today’s interview is about! Yep now we’ve gotten ARTAKE Games to talk about their own Twilight Princess inspired Zelda game, as well as how their plans progressed from a simple remake to a massive overhaul the likes of which haven’t been before.
So, if you’re interested in the project (or what a reimagined Twilight Princess would be like in general), keep reading!
Well, you know the drill here. Who are you guys? What’s the background for the people listed on the ARTAKE Games staff page?
We’re a group of likeminded individuals trying to step into the gaming industry. I (Tomoya, the project’s main founder) started this project way back on April 1st, 2015 with the “Tomoya’s Twilight Princess HD Project.” It unexpectedly went viral, especially when Tino (developer of Ishiiruka, a custom build of the Dolphin emulator) implemented material maps alongside advanced lighting techniques that modern games use into an old emulated game(The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.)
However, an unfortunate thing happened where Nintendo manually took down our trailer video that gained A LOT of momentum and popularity since Nintendo released their official TPHD remaster. This was good timing for the team that I gathered from the fame to halt development so we can focus on a project that we perhaps make revenue with. We made a video describing what happened and took our halt of the project in action and start pre-production of an original title.
About 3-4 months in pre-production, we came to realization that life is taking a toll on us with bills and time limitations for certain members, and the project we started (the pre-production one called Kaiyo,) was too ambitious for our first original game. What happened? The project stopped so we can think of a quicker way to make money, which was working on a mobile app called Jumpy Jelly.
The app took about 3-4 months(again) to develop, and was a great way to test the team’s trust, endurance, organization, etc. Of course, all things were bad since it was our first game, but the product was finished and organization, endurance, trust etc. improved as we progressed. At the end of the day, the project was complete and finished a game as a team. Forgot to mention that during pre-production of Kaiyo, we decided to make a business name called “Hamasaki Games” since “Tomoya Hamasaki” was used as my public name, and I pretty much founded the whole shebang ranging from making a name for myself, making a name for Ishiiruka, making a name for the texture project, and most of all making a name for the team I once had.
^ All this happened from April 1st, 2015 – February 2017
Wait, the team you once had?
That’s right… a team that I ONCE had and bonded with. I’m not going to point any names, but they were great friends (more than just a working team.) It was unfortunate how things went the way it did. They claim to have left because I apparently treat them with disrespect as leaked from one of my VERY trusted team members… like almost brother/father trust. This person leaked private messaged I had with him to the team and purposely to steal them away to work on their own game.
However, maybe they weren’t stolen, but then again, they kicked me from my own project I started from my own Discord server. I can’t seem to win this fight and is something that will ALWAYS haunt and bother me, no matter what anybody says. At the end of the day, I don’t know what they were thinking… I have no idea what I did wrong. It still bothers me… and it’s sad that they didn’t even talk with me, but instead censor me and show leaked conversations to back their point.
Things are complicated when it comes to explaining this stuff, but damn was it a day where I snapped and couldn’t believe what happened. I am a very transparent person, and I’m extremely trusting – a weakness that clearly showed from what happened. I couldn’t get my server back since I was blocked from it – all communication from everybody was blocked or something.
Nor could I contact anybody but Skillar Babcock (a long-term supporter since the beginning and became a team member as a 3D modeler.) Since Skillar was in the server, he asked the person that stole the team and kicked me to have me join and explain myself, but he refused to have a talk – damn this makes my blood boil thinking about the past – so I had no choice but to stream. I started a live stream to catch them on the act and to tell the fans not to trust them.
Then there came the PM leaks… especially PMs that were about things that were already resolved. What happened is that the thief took OLD conversations and memories and exaggerated them via stream and team, polluting them with propaganda. Though everything he shares is what happened, it’s stuff that shouldn’t be leaked and was resolved and WAS USUALLY casual shit talk. EVYERYBODY shit talks about each other at some point, but when you have a history of 2 years of friendship and talk, and compile that into a leak folder… it looks BAD. I was LITERALLY demonized from my old team. This hurt me A LOT and if there was only a way to confront them to have them choke on their guilt, if they have any or any sense of morality, respect and honour.
I got my server back and everything else, because of the stream, but left without a team. Even team members I had 1-1 conversations with, bonded, deep talk, etc. – they left without even… I… I just… whatever.
It was a rough weekend, and had a few supporters that stood by my side. A few supporters were talented people, and wanted to join my team. I then scouted on the internet and found A LOT of talent that joined recently. If you go on the website, it shows their role and shows their experience. They’re all members recruited from the internet. Not sure what background info you want, but I made this story so you can better understand why the old Hamasaki Games crew no longer exists.
And this all happened recently – 2 – 3 weeks ago.
I want to leave with 1 note – be careful with who you trust, even if they’re like family. Like a good ol’ team member said – “Keep your hopes high, but keep your head low.”
What about the name of the company/group? What the hell is an ARTAKE anyway?
After all the drama that happened, especially to the public, I had to rebrand Hamasaki Games into the business model I want our company to have. We basically create alternatives to games that we all love, and specially the older ones back in the 90’s since those were the ones that revolutionized gaming today. Good thing we had a supporter named “Matt” which gave some business name ideas, and since he knew the model, he came up with ARTAKE Games. If you read into the name, you can hear “Our Take” – Our Take Games – “Our Take on games” – ARTAKE Games.
How did you first get into video games? Given you’re remaking a Zelda title, I assume you started with the NES game or something?
I started with the NES but hated all the games (including Zelda 1 and 2) besides Mario and Castlevania and Metroid. I got into serious gaming when the SNES was introduced to my life.
And what games are you playing now anyway? Have you tried the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild yet?
Back when I was younger, in my teens, I was straying away from consoles a lot and moving towards computers more often. This was especially true during the Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 era. With this, I got into computer gaming, but found most of my time playing StarCraft 2 Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm and stopped playing when Legacy of the Void was released. I’m mentioning this because THAT was my bread and butter COMPETIVELY. So now that I stopped StarCraft like… 4 years ago, what do I play now? Isn’t it obvious that it’s League of Legends? Everybody that quit StarCraft pretty much migrated to LoL. I can’t play it religiously anymore since I have this project and maintaining promises and a team and development strips away A LOT of your time to enjoy things like my precious League of Legends.
I would also find myself playing Zelda games here and there, but if I were to get back into console games, it would only be for a Zelda game, and that’s when Breath of the Wild kicked in, BUT… but… it… it was like that girl that you dated because you expected more from what she promised.
You see… you love the looks of her and love how she plays in bed, but her overall… personality and content is terrible. Breath of the Wild had GREAT gameplay, was a great Sims/RPG simulator, great cooking simulator, but… that’s not what Zelda is. It lacked story and overall… CONTENT. I mean… yeah there were shrines, but those were all the same atmosphere and overall EASY puzzles besides a couple and majority were Trial of Strength or Test of Strength or whatever they’re called. It just… it’s a good foundation for a Zelda game, and want to see what they do with the next one. I’m not going to judge Breath of the Wild till we get that last DLC.
Played it on Cemu, by the way. I can’t afford a Wii U or a Switch.
How about game development? What’s your history there?
Well I’ve always wanted to make video games since I was a kid. My first take on making a video game was using Macromedia Flash 8 back in the good ol’ Flash days via Newgrounds. I was making platformers and thinking of innovative ways to improve a simple mobile game. I came up with some great ideas, but I was a stupid little kid that was just toying with video games, get far in it, finish it and delete the work since I never had a computer of my own. It was either my dad’s computer or my mom’s laptop. I didn’t get my own computer till I was 15-16 years old.
When I got my own computer, I was making websites and apps. I made mobile apps that took off making a lot of money that were called “Draw2GO Apps.” They teach you how to draw and you can still find them on Amazon App store today 😊
Why didn’t you stick with the apps? Well… my family controlled the money, and got nothing. SI basically said screw it, I’m going to make a video game again like I once tried as a kid. However, I was a one-man army, and needed to think of a way to gather a team to success. Since I had art skills and art runs in the family, I decided to start small with the “Twilight Princess HD Texture Project.” EVERYBODY, however, can make a texture pack, so I scouted on the Dophin Forums and found Tino, the Ishiiruka dev. I feel I already explained, and you know where this goes from that long story above.
Either way, onto the subject of your main project. Why did you decide to remake Twilight Princess anyway?
Because back when it was just a texture project, I promised the fans gameplay changes and lighting effects and new dungeons and more content. You see… I was a stupid kid that got into game development that had no idea what true game development is, so I made stupid promises like that (way too ambitious, thinking like a gamer.)
I want to give the fans what I promised to not only prove them, but to prove myself that I can achieve something like re-imagining Twilight Princess with all the new features etc.
Besides, Zelda is my ONLY go-to-game. I’ve always been a huge fan of Zelda. I have a Zelda key chain, a Zelda wallet, Zelda wallpaper and many Zelda T-shirts. I even have a Link amiibo even though I don’t have a Wii U; Really, I just wanted the figurine.
Also, this is something that people may not know if they’re new to the project, Twilight Princess is my MOST HATED Zelda game. I HATE the art style, I HATE the story and I HATE the wolf mechanic. So I chose Twilight Princess to challenge myself to make it into my MOST FAVORITE Zelda game. I want this to take the spot from Majora’s Mask (My favorite Zelda game of all time.)
Did you ever consider reworking any other Zelda games at that time?
Yes, Majora’s Mask
What did you think when Nintendo announced Twilight Princess HD? Was it a bit of a shock to you?
No – it wasn’t a shock, but it was disappointing because I contacted them asking if we could remake the game for them. I was just making a texture pack with Tino adding advanced lighting, and yet they hire a cheap company to make a really bad texture pack port for the Wii U. The Twilight Princess HD official is literally what you can get on the internet from say “Victor Rosa’s Texture Pack.” Same style, but free and better.
How about the game’s content/quality? How does it stack up in your eyes?
If you mean how I look at Twilight Princess’ content/quality by default? Well… it’s good, and it’s TRUE Zelda – like Twilight Princess IS what a 3D Zelda game SHOULD be, but the content and overall quality was WAY TOO ahead of its time. The wolf Link mechanic was terrible and the game felt like a HUGE empty shell. We want to fix that, of course – TRY to fix all of it.
Regardless of that though, it seems like the project has drifted a bit. When did you decide you wanted to go beyond what a mere remaster or remake?
February 2017 after the Jumpy Jelly app was finished.
How do you decide what to add to the game? Because based on your streams, it seems like you’re mostly focusing on new connecting areas between major parts of Twilight Princess’ game world…
Well, we’re focusing on making 1 dungeon at a time to release something to the public. That’s right – we want to focus on making 1 dungeon READY to be completed by the player full of puzzles, dungeon item, main dungeon mechanic, completely redesigned and original, a story and a boss – ALL for free, but Patrons get 2-week early access
After we’re done finishing ALL the dungeons in Twilight Princess, and ALL being completely original with its own story and… everything else I mentioned earlier, we’re going to pitch ALL the dungeons to Nintendo to possibly have it where we can get permission to finish the full game. If they don’t approve it and depending on the amount of support we get from Patreon, we’ll either work on our own original title (not much Patreon support) OR we connect the dungeons that were finished to the overworld and add the full game/original story. More info about this will be given regarding new overworld/story content when the time comes.
What about the graphical elements? The new designs are certainly a tad more complex than the existing game ones. Who creates those? What influences them?
I am the 3D modeler that modelled the main characters model (Link.) Pravesh, a modeler from India, is the one that modelled the houses/structures. The influence is basically – character models have an Overwatch sense of detail and style, but the environment has the style of Breath of the Wild.
And how exactly did you build such a good team for the project? It’s always hard to get people to help out with fan games and mods, especially free ones…
Well – I spent restless hours recruiting. It’s a lot of work and a lot of convincing. It drains you, but the result is worth it. Just go to 3D modelling forums and big sites like Polycount. I also try to be as transparent as possible – HIDING NOTHING and if I do hide something, I end up confessing on my own will.
Do ever worry that you may be a bit too ambitious here? Cause some people may be getting URA Zelda Restoration Project vibes from this remake…
It’s not too ambitious since we’re doing dungeon by dungeon. Our original goal was to start from Ordon Village, and start making the WHOLE game with the story, but our team was crippled, and the team has shrunk to a degree where we HAD to go by a tactic of: finish one dungeon (Forest Temple is the first) and then release it to the public, after that work on the next one.
So, we only have to worry about dungeons instead of the world.
And hey, given all the new content, did you ever think to just make a new Zelda game from scratch without the Twilight Princess stuff?
Well it would be awesome to do that, especially if we become partners with Nintendo. I have many ideas for a Zelda game, and if Nintendo doesn’t want to become partners, we have an original game in stock ready for development after this Twilight Princess one that’s basically Zelda inspired, but completely original at the same time with an interesting mechanic.
Still, there are a few things that fans don’t quite remember so fondly about Twilight Princess, like the intro, some of the bosses and certain aspects of the dungeon design. Will any of this be tweaked in your redone version?
Yes – as I stated; ALL dungeons WILL be completely original and redesigned. Like… the diagram is COMPLETELY different for the Forest Temple. The theme of it is COMPLETELY different. What kind of design are we going for the Forest Temple? Like… it’s still inside of a Deku tree, but it’ll be… well… listen to this song and maybe you can take a guess.
What about the items? Will you add a few more places to use the Dominion Rod for example?
We’ll probably add an upgrade system and have the dominion rod have more of a use. Even the Ordon Sword will have a… SPECIAL touch that I do not want to spoil.
Any more plans for the Twilight Realm? Always thought that was a bit of a wasted opportunity in Twilight Princess. All this interesting world, and the only thing you ever see is a single dungeon…
The Twilight Realm will become the “Twilight World.” Our idea for the Twilight World is to basically become the Dark World from A Link to the Past. This world will have a total of 4 dungeons including the Palace of Twilight. So you go into the Twilight World for the first time, you can’t go into the Palace of Twilight because of a barrier. I have a Google doc that I can share with you describing more about the game.
Either way, may as well ask about a few other projects on your site too. What’s Project Eventide about?
It’s the Twilight Princess re-imaged project that the entire interview was about.
Does it tie into Breath of the Wild? The name says yes, but the realistic part of me says there’s no way in hell anyone can mod the game yet…
Eventide means “Twilight” and… no we’re not modding Breath of the Wild.
Another project you list is Jumpy Jelly, the only indie game mentioned on the site. Is this another thing you want to make more of in future? Will ARTAKE Games eventually focus on indie titles rather than fan projects?
Unfortunately, quite a few fan projects have been shut down by companies like Nintendo recently, and I remember them trying the same thing with your Twilight Princess remake. What’s the situation on that?
This project is completely original, no assets are from Nintendo, all dungeons and worlds are completely redesigned, EVERYTHING made from scratch. You’ll see when the first dungeon is released.
It also led to you moving to a more… private mode of development, complete with YouTube and Twitch streams rather than smaller videos and less promotion. Have you ever considered just moving your channel to a site like VidMe or something?
No – I don’t even know what VidMe is. We’re being completely open with this project. We want to show Nintendo we mean serious business and we can finish a product and impress them.
And given Nintendo has tried to take down the project once, do you ever worry they’ll try it again when it’s finally released? What plans do you have in place for that?
They didn’t try to take it down – they took down one of our videos because we had more coverage for Twilight Princess HD in Google and YouTube search. Hell – if you went on YouTube back in the day and searched “Twilight Princess,” our project shows #1.
Could your Zelda fan projects be potentially retooled into a more original setup? I’ve seen that happen for a few fan games in the past (like Breath of the NES and Zelda Maker) …
Yes – it is one of the goals of this project. In the end, we’ll have a finished engine, developed team, mechanics and skills for our next original product.
Still, it seems the internet liked your Twilight Princess remake when it was first announced. But it’s been a while since then, and it’ll be even longer before it’s out. So… how do you plan to promote it the second time?
When we release the first dungeon to the public, we’ll make a trailer that will blow your minds
Are you going to focus more on the marketing side of things as it nears release?
Market the team, but not the project. We don’t want this project to look like we’re trying to compete with Nintendo. We want to market the team as a group that’s trying to make ARTAKE Games a company to provide alternative games for fans of a dead series or successful series.
What plans do you have for games and remakes after that and Project Eventide?
Finally, what advice would you give people wanting to get into game development?
Start small like with a simple platformer, learn a lot (become a generalist,) be careful with who you trust and be realistic. Anybody can achieve anything – even a person that made a simple game like Flappy Bird or Undertale.
And you know what?
We agree entirely. Too many fan game and indie dev teams start out with a big ambitious plan and end up getting nowhere with it. Or if they do get somewhere, the lack of expertise and usually poor level of organisation completely sinks the project somewhere further down the line.
Fusion Gameworks found that out the hard way with Mushroom Kingdom Fusion. I found that out the hard way with Mario End Game (and my previous mods). Heck, even many more successful projects in this state end up running into trouble because of it. Look at Tobias and the Dark Sceptres for instance. Neat game, but the ridiculous level of ambition caused it spend 13 years in development.
So don’t start out big; start small and make your way up gradually. That way, you’ll have a foundation for your projects and the guarantee of something to show along the line.
Still, what do you think of the interview? Did you find it an interesting read? Does the idea of a reimagined Twilight Princess strike your fancy?
Post your thoughts on that here or on social media today!