Zelda Park – A Dimensioning Experiment (EN)
Previously I have analyzed the size of the map of a recently released Open World game (Horizon Zero Dawn, here the LINK). As a curiosity, I tried to measure another game, this time a classic released in 1991 for SNES: “Zelda, a Link to the Past”. I choose this game for two main reasons: first of all, is a masterpiece, and secondly, also this game focuses on the free exploration of a world map as its primary feature, thus it can be considered an ancestor of modern Open Worlds. Here the very famous Map:
Zelda, a Link to the past, Nintendo 1992. Map.
The first thing to do was to calculate the speed of movement of the player. I have estimated it in 6 km/h, a fast walk speed, which in my opinion matches the movement of the character. Starting from this number and doing the math, we can get the approximate size of the map: a square of 114*114 meters, for a total surface area of 13,000 square meters.
I have estimated the speed of movement in a 6 km/h – like a fast walk.
After having established the size, I started modelling the map in 3D, identifying the key layers: terrain levels, water, buildings, trees, bridges. The result happens to be based on a grid with 3.8 meters of axis’ span, with 45° diagonals cut. I noticed that while most of the landscaped elements (such as roads, bridges, tree areas) results in a somehow realistic size, on the other hand there are some problems with the scale of the buildings, that appear quite small: for example, the castle is only 10 meters long.
Extruding those layers on the vertical axis, I decided to give to each layer an height of 1,9 meters ( ½ of the axis’ span), as something high enough to be perceived as a visual barrier without being too high. Here is a simulation, with people inside, to give the sense of the scale.
1. The difference in proportions between the maps of the two games is pretty big: Zelda’s map measures 1,3 hectares versus the 336 hectares of Horizon Zero Dawn; Zelda map is only 0.04% of the other one. Still, is at the time of release, Zelda was considered quite vast game.
2. Taking those two games as key parameters, we can imagine that for X = “how big can a videogame map be”, X has increased of 258 % in 26 years; together with an increase in size, it also got increased in the level of realistic detailing. It should be then mathematically possible to estimate when we will be able to get a realistic 3d environment as big as planet Earth. But I’ll leave the math to someone else - maybe is even already happened (Matrix).
Lastly I tried to imagine my 3d model turning into an real “Zelda-Park” to be realized somewhere in the world (rumors says that Universal Studios in Orlando are thinking the same). The size would be approximately like 2 soccer fields, and could probably host up to 2500 visitors. I decided to locate it in Japan, Kyoto, since the game was created there by the producer Nintendo. Due to the critical shortage of the buildable land in that country, I thought of placing it in an artificial island (this is the same principle behind Renzo Piano’s Kansai International Airport) to be realized on the Biwa Lake, quickly reachable from Kyoto by train.
The isolation provided by the water will enhance the feeling of being in another world; the park will be reached by an underground tunnel that will make the visitors emerge in the center of the map, as Link does at the beginning of the game. The low mountain will become a beautiful viewing point of the nearby lake.
View from north.