Analysis of Game Design: Legend of Zelda, Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword 

Skyward Sword was released in 2011 for the Nintendo Wii. Although Twilight Princess was the first Zelda game to feature motion controls, Skyward Sword really pioneered the use of motion controls as a game mechanic. Although Twilight Princess required you to swing the remote to attack, and use the remote to aim arrows, Skyward Sword went one step further, and included Motion Plus to “accurately” swing in the direction you swing the remote, and used puzzles and weapon mechanics that required precise remote controller movement to perform.

The Legend of Zelda series as a whole targets a wide range of audiences, because the game is so accessible that anyone of any age can enjoy it. The themes of the game are quite simple, mostly revolving around friendship, responsibility, destiny, and growing up. The friendship between Link and Zelda is unusual for a Zelda title, but their adorable, unlikely friendship can appeal to anyone, and pretty much anyone can read between the lines and tell that Link and Zelda are childhood sweethearts. Link  is faced with immeasurable responsibilities in Skyward Sword, and when the story takes sad turns and Link can’t accomplish his responsibilities and protect Zelda, Impa weighs down on him harshly, and this is a theme that practically anyone can relate to. Destiny and fate is a staple theme throughout the Zelda franchise, and this game is no different, except this time, the characters have stronger obligations and links to their fates, and because of this, the game’s story is much sadder and more painful than other titles, because the friendship between Link and Zelda is so strong that when they inevitably get separated and figure out their fates, it is legitimately painful to see them get ripped away from each other. Similarly to the theme of fate, growing is also a big theme in this game. Again, a lot of Zelda titles are based around themes of growing up or growing spiritually, and Skyward Sword features both. Link grows into a more confident character, grows as a swordsman and a knight, and grows spiritually as he endures the Spirit Realm trials, and everyone can appreciate and understand growing up.

The games design in Skyward Sword receives mixed reviews from fans, some fans love Skyward Sword, but it still receives a lot of negativity from fans, mostly because of the disenchanting motion controls. Nintendo brought out new software and hardware purely to improve the controller’s motion controls, and this game was one of the pioneer games to feature the new hardware, because it only works if the motion plus is attached to the remote. However, the game’s heavy reliance on this occasionally flawed hardware soured the reception for a lot of fans, because the calibration was easily knocked by players flailing the remote around, ultimately making it a flawed invention. In game fight sequences were true to the Zelda series, as fights are real time, however this made it more infuriating for players, because combat became really hard when the remote’s calibration went wrong, making that the main reason why combat was difficult. The boss battles are formulaic to most Zelda titles, requiring the new item you get from that area to beat them, however many items in Skyward Sword feature the use of motion controls to master, such as the beetle (which is essentially a drone that link can fly for a few seconds to collect small pickups or knock switches), and the Gust Bellows. Another thing that soured this game for a lot of fans was the assistant, Fi. A lot of fans don’t like Fi, because they say that she holds the player’s hand throughout the whole game, and patronises the player, and this is especially true when the batteries run out of the Wii remote. The environments in Skyward Sword are beautiful, the graphics and art style is inspired by the Impressionist art movement, and the landscapes very well reflect this art movement. The Faron woods is filled with lush greens and blues, the Lanayru desert looks barren, but with the flick of a switch can look as life filled as the forest, and the volcano looks daunting and intimidating as it towers over the Eldin province. Overall, Skyward Sword received very positive reviews from game reviewers, and I myself love this game, despite the finicky controls. The story is strong, and I personally love this game a lot.

Cartoon Character design: Eryth Myrrah

For a long time, I have wanted to create a Victorian character inspired by the work of Lovecraft, and recently I made that dream a reality. I needed to add some diversity to my concept art, and a cartoon styled character felt like a fun way to do it, so I decided on a chibi art style, and thought up some backstory for the character.

This character is called Eryth Myrrah. She is a Lovecraftian-inspired ghost hunter, and she is an angel who studies ghosts, undead, and the final moments before death, in order to avenge a lost loved one. She puts herself in harms way and acts rashly in order to study more effectively, but deep down is haunted by her dangerous studies, however, she hides it with an upbeat and lighthearted exterior. I wanted to create a fallen angel, not in the sense that this character is a demon, but just in the sense that this angel is no longer a good, lawful angel. She has committed crimes, murdered based on vigilante justice, and carried out many grotesque experiments to become a ghost hunter. I wanted to make a cute looking character with a dark Lovecraftian backstory, I just love the idea of an angel conducting dark experiments in attempt learn about ghosts and undead.

I like doodle pages, so I decided to make a doodle page for Eryth with a variety of poses and expressions. ( I haven’t got a scan yet, so this picture will have to do. I will also add colour to this, and bring her to life a bit more). I chose her colour palette so that as a being, she looks light, however her clothes are supposed to reflect that she is fallen, and now experiments with darkness.



VFX project: Planning and filming

I spent today planning for my VFX project. I made my plans and risk assessments, and then set off with my friends and started filming on location at Hylton Castle, because most of the group wanted to film there. I then started to panic that my footage couldn’t be filmed there, so I filmed some backup footage incase I couldn’t get around to my originally intended project.

I originally planned to for my project to be based on Silent Hill, and my plan was to film a pan shot of a room and then edit the room slowly turning dark and make the walls cover in darkness and change like the walls in Silent Hill, because I like horror games and the idea of making  environmental changes appeals to me most. I made a basic risk assessment and plan for this project

Environment project plan

Then, when we were filming at Hylton Castle, I got worried that I didn’t have any footage, so I filmed a short clip based on a cutscene in Persona 3 where the protagonist shoots themself in the head to unlock their persona. I am interested in playing the Persona games, so I figured this was relevant, however this is currently a backup plan, because it doesn’t feel wise to have footage in my portfolio of me shooting myself in the head, and I am not 100% sure on how to go about this, however here is some planning and a risk assessment, incase I decide to go ahead with this project.

Persona project plan.PNG

Eventually, I will make some storyboards for whichever of these projects I decide to go ahead with, however I will probably include this in an update to the post.

High Poly Sledgehammer Asset: Low and high poly models

Over the past 3 weeks, I have been working on making my sledgehammer model in Maya. I never got around to making separate posts each week, so for convenience I will just make one big post about my progress on this

I initially started off by making a low poly model. To do this, I got my scaled concept sketches of the hammer, and used image planes to make a set up that would make it easier to design the hammer. I then created a cylinder, changed the subdivisions to 8, and extruded faces to make the main part of the hammer. I then used edgeloops to make a smaller section in the ‘middle’ of that main part of the hammer, and extruded out the handle part. After that, I extruded the small part out of the top and merged the vertices to make a small diamond for detail.

Low poly sledgehammer creation.PNG

I then UV unwrapped the model in preparation for normal mapping. outUV.png

I then duplicated the model, and began working on a high poly version. Initially, my plan was to sculpt some scratches, dents, or engravings into the model itself, but I couldn’t work this out properly and didn’t want to risk damaging my model for now. I decided to just bevel some edges on the model so that it would look neater.

I then tried to bake the high poly model onto the low poly model, and this was difficult. I followed the steps, and actually managed to make a normal map. I played around with the hypershade settings, and I think I managed to apply it to a lambert. I then decided to make some renders of the untextured model, because so far any renders are better than none.


Looking at these renders, I think something is wrong with my normal map, but this shouldn’t cause any problems. These renders have the normal map on, and the edges are very prominent, so it looks kinda weird but it’s worth showing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


So far, I am quite happy with the progress that I have made on my model. I’m really surprised that I actually managed to make a normal map, this is the most advanced modelling technique that I have used that has actually worked out right. I like the way my model looks, I am slightly disappointed that I couldn’t work out sculpting, but some good textures can make up for that. My next step is to make some textures for this sledgehammer.

Break the cycle: Walk cycle submission post

This is my submission post for my walk cycle.



To make this walk cycle, I made the pose to pose keyframes, then made it straight ahead between each pose. Links are below for all of my step by step posts on how I made this.

Overall I am moderately happy with this walk cycle. I feel like it need vast improvements but I’m not really sure how or where.

Break the cycle: Splining my walk cycle

I spent today splining my walk cycle. Admittedly, this is a task that I have literally been working on for weeks, but only making little progress. However, today I got a huge portion of splining done, so I felt it finally warranted a post about it.

Last time I posted, I had my main keyframes done, and today I spent time making each frame inbetween these pose to pose frames. This was a long and arduous task, however I am now satisfied with these poses between. (I forgot to loop that cycle, so for now it is just two steps, however for my final product I will work out how to loop the animation so that you can really see it.)

My next step was to go into the graph editor and smooth out this animation. I set everything to spline and looked at it, and it didn’t feel right. I asked for some opinions from my friends, and the general consensus was that the wrists looked weird, so I went back and changed some of my key frames. Previously, I decided to use broken joints to make it look more cartoon-like, however when this was splined it looked really weird and didn’t look like it was properly splined. So, I put everything back to clamped and stepped, and I took out the broken joints and instead made it look more natural. I also removed the last frame, and frame 0, because it made the leg look like it was snapping down into place, so hopefully this will look better for the final product.

Overall, I am very happy with the progress I have made on this animation. I was stuck in a rut with it for a very long time, so my progress today feels overwhelming. Everything is batch rendered and ready to put into Premier Pro tomorrow, so I am pleased to be at this point. I like how this walk cycle looks now, before I felt like I was losing hope because it didn’t look like much, however now it looks much better because it has been fully fleshed out and splined.


Fantasy Character Design: The Lorithia family

A few months ago, I designed a character called Yumea Lorithia, a noble knight, and posted about her here. Recently, I designed the rest of her family, because originally I had planned to make a family of wood elves as a fantasy project outside of college. Lorithia family signatures.png

This is the Lorithia family. To the bottom right, I have a better detailed sketch of Yumea Lorithia, the youngest child of the family. Above her, is Ielenia, the middle child, and in the middle of the bottom row, is Aelar, the eldest. The lady in the top right is Enna Lorithia, the mother, and at the bottom right is Rolen Lorithia, the father. I decided to flesh out Yumea’s backstory, because she is the first character I have ever originally designed, and I figured it would be easier to improve her if she had some backstory.

The main reason I am making a blog post about this is to show how my art has improved over the past few months. My original drawing of Yumea didn’t have much detail to her face, so I wanted to draw her head, just to work out what she looked like. The drawings look quite messy, but this is intentional, because I wanted to show that these drawings are scans from my sketchbook, that I have taken into Photoshop and painted over with colours that had layers on ‘Multiply’ mode.

I am really happy with how these drawings have turned out. I am very very happy with Yumea, Ielenia, and Enna, but I feel like Aelar and Rolen could have been better. I think it is the eyes that need improving, they just don’t look right to me. This is the first time I have drawn an original male character, so I’m not going to judge myself too harshly.