There is a bridge to cross the lava pit in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the KingdomIt’s Marakuguc’s shrine, but it’s broken. More than half of the bridge is stacked on itself on one side of the pit, with a cut segment on the other. The bridge is the obvious choice for crossing the lava, but how do you fix it?
A clip showing a potential solution went viral on Twitter A little after tears of the kingdomVersion of: The player uses Link’s Ultrahand ability to deploy the stacked bridge by attaching it to a wheeled platform in the lava. When the wheeled platform – now attached to the edge of the bridge – activates and moves forward, it pulls the bridge taut, splashing lava as it goes, until the suspension bridge is actually suspended and can be crossed. But it wasn’t the solution itself that resonated with gamers; instead, the clip had the game developers jaws on the ground, in awe of how the Nintendo team wrangled with the game’s physics system to make This.
For gamers, it’s just a bridge, but for game developers, it’s a miracle.
“The hardest part of developing a game is when different systems and features start to touch each other,” said Shayna Moona technical producer who has worked on games like 2018 God of the war reboot and its sequel, God of War: Ragnarok, to Polygon. ” It is really impressive. The amount of dynamic objects is why there are so many different types of solutions to this particular puzzle. There are so many ways it could break.
Moon pointed to the individual segments of the bridge that operate independently. Then there’s the lava, the cart, and the fact that you can use Link’s Ultrahand ability to link any of those things together, even the bridge on itself.
Nintendo would have used a full year of tears of the kingdomfor Polish, and it shows. “The number of different options available is a testament to the amount of work that everyone at all levels of the team has put in, especially the QA testers,” Moon said. “Open-world games with a ton of real-time physics objects like this are notoriously hard to QA test.”
Another great game that inspired this kind of physics-based shock and admiration from game developers on social media was in 2020, when The last of us part 2 included a rope needed to solve a puzzle. As tears of the kingdomThe bridge, the rope, and its natural-looking movements were just something gamers expected to work, but game developers could see how much work went into its development.
The bridge has a ton of different points that attract each other in the physical system, said Luna Nielsen, a software engineer who goes by Luna the Foxgirl online and livestreams about the complexity of game engines. “It gets into some pretty math stuff. It can get really funky when something pulls a little too much, and suddenly the bridge is inside itself. So he has to push it away. And then one thing backed off too much. It’s starting to get really bad, ’cause [the pieces of the bridge] are fundamentally distinct movements from each other.
Software engineer Cole Wardell put it another way: “Imagine the lava bridge above, when you grab the end of it, you pull part of it out the side,” he said. “Well, now it drags the other piece attached with it a bit, and this moving piece causes the next piece to move, and so on. And if an element of the track collides with something, it has to be pushed or slid to a place that does not collide, which moves the pieces next to them which move the pieces next to them.
“The last time I saw something so impressive in terms of physics/gameplay was the rope in The last of us part 2. And the rope only appeared in [a] some very controlled scenarios,” said Rocksteady Games’ senior gameplay and combat programmer. Aadit Doshi on Twitter. “To be able to confidently present the player with a stack of chain-linked blocks that move precisely, without clipping, without objects shaking like crazy as they try to figure out what to do is awesome. .”
tears of the kingdom also has its own rope-like physical flex: Another viral clip showed a door that opened using four wheels and a chain. It’s a complex interaction that takes no shortcuts, Wardell told Polygon. “Physics engines typically take a lot of shortcuts and make a lot of guesswork, both for optimization purposes and to keep developers from tearing their hair out,” Wardell said. “Almost all of these shortcuts, whether they’re collisionless strings [or] rotating objects only applying forces in a specific way, would completely stop this type of mechanism from working, or the chain would start vibrating until it disappeared from view in a single frame, or some other problem infamous physics.
He said rope bugs “vibrating out of control” are so common because of these issues. “If you don’t do everything just on the right, movement will cause the other parts of the rope to move, and their movement will cause more collisions – God forbid, you want the rope to collide with itself. These collisions will cause more nudges, i.e. more movement, which eventually rattles your robe off the map.
Doshi explained that complex physics are common in games, but said that tears of the kingdom pushes the limits of its engine to create exceptional gameplay and puzzles. “Realistic physics simulations take hours of calculations to make sure they’re very precise and accurate,” he said. “The game’s physics should produce similar results every 16 to 32 milliseconds (60 to 30 frames per second).”
Some games are able to avoid these complexities by designing around them, Doshi said. This means restricting player action, which is the antithesis of tears of the kingdomdesign. There are constraints, but somehow, in this game, it always feels like nothing is off limits.
“In game development, it’s not whether physics will collapse but When“, Gravity Well senior engineer and former Call of Duty developer Josh Karatelli said Polygon. This is why there is a whole Reddit page on physics gaffes – player characters falling into oblivion or enemies bouncing off walls. It’s not that games with physics bugs or glitches are poorly made; it’s just very easy for things to go wrong.
Caratelli, however, pointed out that tears of the kingdomThe physics of isn’t magic – it’s clear that Nintendo fully understands the physics interactions in the game. that there is no pre-programmed solution and that players can solve puzzles freely,” added Caratelli.
Moon noted that it’s not exactly that other studios can’t achieve this level of technical innovation, but that they don’t prioritize the resources needed to do so. Often this comes down to supporting the humans who create the games we play. tears of the kingdom was apparently built above breath of the wildapparently with much of the same team working on it.
“There is a problem within the games industry where we don’t value institutional knowledge,” Moon said. “Companies will prioritize hiring someone from the outside rather than keeping their junior or mid-level developers and training them. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot by not valuing that institutional knowledge. You can really see it in tears of the kingdom. It is a step forward from what made breath of the wild special.”
According to Moon, it’s increasingly common for game developers to feel like they’re holding one feature or another with figurative tape, figuratively speaking, after the person who originally led its design has been fired or gone. ; there is a lot of wasted time reconfiguring and evaluating how something was done. It’s not that Nintendo doesn’t have its own issues, because it certainly does – Nintendo of America QA testers spoke of a “brotherhood” experience at Nintendo of America headquarters in Washington last year, for example. But the company seems to appreciate the expertise of its development staff.
“In addition to the team’s overall hard work, institutional knowledge is clearly a factor in why it ended up being so well done,” Moon said. “The more stable and happy people are, the more capable they are of making games of this quality. If you want good games, you have to care about the people who make them.