The New Yorker's Simon Parkin recently published an interesting breakdown of the development process for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Though it's a brief piece, we learn a little more about Nintendo's decision to go open-world with its beloved series.
There's one passage that's a bit of a heart-breaker, however: Breath of the Wild's director, Hidemaro Fujibayashi, told Parkin that there were several moments when the team wanted to share their development progress with former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, only to remember he was gone.
"[M]idway through production, Satoru Iwata, Miyamoto’s friend and mentor and Nintendo’s well-loved president, died, suddenly and unexpectedly. 'When he passed away, there were moments we'd come up with an idea which we'd be excited to talk to Iwata about,' Fujibayashi told me. 'Then we'd remember he was no longer here.'
"'Miyamoto told me it was the same for him. He'd come up with an idea at the weekend and would feel excited to speak to Iwata about it on Monday, only to remember. The sadness runs deep. This is approaching spiritual talk, but we had the sense that he was watching over our work. That became a source of motivation, a drive for us to improve and be better.'"
The fact that Breath of the Wild's development team was "excited" to share their ideas with Iwata, even though they sadly couldn't, speaks to how much love Iwata had for games, and how much Nintendo's other developers revered him. No doubt he'd be very happy with Breath of the Wild's accolades.