Nier: Automata Writer and Director Admits to "Stealing" Design Ideas from Ocarina of Time and Coca-Cola

Nier: Automata Writer and Director Admits to "Stealing" Design Ideas from Ocarina of Time and Coca-Cola

Yoko Taro assures the crowd at GDC 2018 that he's not as much of a "genius" as some may think.

Spoiler warning: This article spoils a small detail about the finale of Nier: Automata.

It's a cloudy day in San Francisco, and perhaps fittingly, Nier: Automata director Yoko Taro and PlatinumGames game designer Takahisa Taura descended upon this year's Game Developer's Conference to talk about (or, as per the long-winded panel title "A Fun Time in Which Some No-Good Game Developers May or May Not Discuss How We Made Nier: Automata," not talk about) the creation of last year's surprise JRPG hit Nier: Automata.

Taro appeared in semi-expected fashion, with a half-helmet of the character Emil shielding his face. Immediately as the talk started, Taro urged the audience sitting on the right and left sides of the crowded room to ignore that they could still see the sides of his face. (Photographs were also not allowed of anything but the slideshow screens during the talk.) After a heavy helping about the ins and outs of designing Nier: Automata's combat from Taura, Taro took the stage to hurriedly talk about how Nier: Automata attained giving players "freedom." And some of that freedom came in lifting directly from an all-time classic: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

A final message shared in Nier: Automata, to be seen by other players in their final battle.

Taro noted that while both the Nier games often get called open world games, Taro imagines them as similar in structure to The Legend of Zelda series. This similarity isn't a coincidence either. "I'm gonna be honest, if you look at Nier's map, it's basically like I copied Ocarina of Time," Taro told the packed room. For Nier: Automata, Taro allegedly doubled down on the process, once again opting for a map that was similar to Ocarina of Time's, saying that it's more of a "perfect path" sort of game with trails and open areas than an "open world" game.

It wasn't the only idea that Taro admits to "stealing" either. At the end of Nier: Automata, players are encouraged to send messages to other players using premade choices. "This genius idea is not mine," Taro said. "I stole this too." Taro cites an old vending machine campaign called the called the Coca-Cola Small World Machine, wherein Coca-Cola deployed two vending machines to Pakistan and India in an effort to promote "cultural understanding" between the two countries.

With this finale in-game moment, Taro hoped that even while being inspired by a gimmicky Coca-Cola campaign, that he hopes that people who played Nier: Automata got the chance to think about someone they don't know from a faraway country, because they were unified by the game itself and its experience. "Even if [gamers think about other gamers] just for a little bit, that would make me extremely happy," Taro said. "And secretly that's all I hope for."

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Caty McCarthy

Senior Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's Senior Editor.

Related articles

Guilty Gear Strive Will Be Coming to PS5, Steam

Two fighters join the lineup too, including one newcomer.

New State of Play Coming This Thursday With "No Big PS5 Announcements"

But you can expect some updates on existing third-party PS5 games.

You may also like

Call of Duty: Warzone's Season 5 Update Can Now Be Pre-Loaded

The launch time appears to be 11 p.m. PST tomorrow.

Ghost of Tsushima Players Take Over 1.5 Million Photos Every Day

Pretty incredible statistics for a great photo mode.

Axe of the Blood God: What Does the Future Hold for Next-Gen RPGs?

We talk about all the ways RPGs might change on Xbox Series X and PS5.

What Song Would You Like to Hear in a Tony Hawk Game Soundtrack?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | We know what's in the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 remake now, so let's suggest other tracks.