Design Inspiration Spotlight:
Niklas Jaanson ( pt. 1/3

Arne’s posts about The Legend of Zelda and his reimagining of Zelda II were key to my thoughts on creating my own game which is a sort of a “Link’s Awakening” meets “Yume Nikki” (meets “Space Funeral” meets “Silent Hill 2” meets…….). I’ve always thought it odd that a hero who is meant to save the world is sent on asinine missions to find a missing cat or herd sheep (I’m glaring at you, Twilight Princess).

Two of the biggest gameplay concepts which completely shifted my game’s direction towards something far more dynamic were:

1) Exploration/Restricted Exploration vs. Linear “Exploration” (in “Green’s Dream, the entirety of the map is available to the player from the moment you press "START”), and…

2) Accessible Options (which seem to belittle player agency), Complex Options (which can get out of hand, making a tiny game into a monstrosity destined to become vaporware), and Scalable Options (with emergent depth). I’m not designing a game with multiple endings to a singular gameplay experience. It is aiming for a game with multiple gameplay experiences with even more varying conclusions.

Arne’s prototype planning map for the Zelda II remake influenced the way I approached mapping my project. Look at how much more dynamic this map is… It’s certainly more approachable and seems to demonstrate a sort of open/restricted exploration as well as scalable options with emergent depth. THIS is a Zelda II I would ACTUALLY return to to replay.

And, as always, the concept sketches reimagining classic Zelda characters demonstrates the true worth of software-limitation mandated obscure pixel art… What the player can come up with in their imaginations to fill in the missing visual signifiers is ENDLESSLY more mysterious, beautiful, horrifying, splendid, and epic than anything you can render in truly photorealistic 3D modeling. That is what I believe, and I don’t think I will ever think differently about it.

Check out for a site that you (if you’re a game dev, a fan of adapting nostalgic, old-school media, or if you’re obsessed with process sketches and notes on the road taken to make a project like I am) will spend countless hours pouring over!