, here is a really engrossing and comprehensive history of Zelda's development
. It's all really interesting, particularly Miyamoto's shifts in role and attitude (and his consistencies).
This part about players' expectations in the early 2000s also caught my eye:
By this point, Eiji Aonuma, who had directed The Wind Waker and was now in charge of overseeing all Zelda games, had determined that three things were necessary for the next Zelda to sell well:
1. A cooler, more realistically proportioned Link
2. The ability to explore on horseback
3. An engaging world similar to those seen in fantasy movies such as Lord of the Rings
All three elements had been present in Ocarina of Time and Aonuma sensed that fans wanted Nintendo to build upon that style of game, rather than do something completely different. At the end of 2003, he discussed the matter with Shigeru Miyamoto, informing him that he wanted to make a realistic Zelda game, which would expand upon Ocarina of Time's appeal. Miyamoto was initially skeptical; his style of developing games called for a constant stream of new ideas rather than refinement of old ones—a trait that was commonly seen across Mario games. Eventually, though, he gave Aonuma permission to attempt a more realistic Zelda that would follow in the footsteps of Ocarina of Time, and advised he use the opportunity to accomplish things Ocarina of Time couldn't.
That really was the case, if in fact you need to sell 40 million copies, as they did, sadly.
Taking this conservative tack had consequences, though.
During these early stages of development, one of the concerns the development team had was that they weren't able to formulate new gameplay ideas. Similar to The Wind Waker, a number of the ideas in this new Zelda were shaping up to be similar to prior games. At the same time, the team didn't want to make too many radical changes for fear that it might alienate part of their audience once more—especially in Japan, where sales were already shrinking.
Response to a playable demo at E3 2005 was positive, but Aonuma felt the game lacked a uniqueness—especially in comparison to his Zelda project on the Nintendo DS, which now featured intuitive touch controls, setting it apart from.
They ended up doing stuff with the Wiimote to address this. I played a bit of this game and gave up on it shortly. But it indeed did sell well.
I didn't know about this:
Twilight Princess was, at the time, the largest game Nintendo had ever worked on, and the company's very first "AAA" project in scope and team size.
I didn't know that AAA was a quantitative term! I thought any game made by a "large" team for a large publisher was AAA.