Fuck Yes, Video Game Architecture!

The Architecture of the Legend of Zelda →

Hey guys!

The owner of this amazing blog ( architectureofzelda ) contacted me to check out their stuff, and so I am extending the invitation to you guys!

It focuses on the architecture of the Legend of Zelda universe. Being a huge fan of the series, I will likely be reposting their stuff (with the permission of the owner, of course) in the future. Enjoy!

 - Sebastian.


Tomb Raider and Yamatai

"The mountain village of Nikko, two hours north of Tokyo, served as our primary point of reference. It is a lush mountain village with dense forests, ornate wooden shrines, moss-covered stone lanterns, and statuary. This level went through many iterations. The burning shrines and Lara’s abduction were not originally designed for this space, but these additions were necessary to provide the emotional backdrop for Lara’s first human kill."
- Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival
Tomb Raider and Yamatai

"The mountain village of Nikko, two hours north of Tokyo, served as our primary point of reference. It is a lush mountain village with dense forests, ornate wooden shrines, moss-covered stone lanterns, and statuary. This level went through many iterations. The burning shrines and Lara’s abduction were not originally designed for this space, but these additions were necessary to provide the emotional backdrop for Lara’s first human kill."
- Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival
Tomb Raider and Yamatai

"The mountain village of Nikko, two hours north of Tokyo, served as our primary point of reference. It is a lush mountain village with dense forests, ornate wooden shrines, moss-covered stone lanterns, and statuary. This level went through many iterations. The burning shrines and Lara’s abduction were not originally designed for this space, but these additions were necessary to provide the emotional backdrop for Lara’s first human kill."
- Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival
Tomb Raider and Yamatai

"The mountain village of Nikko, two hours north of Tokyo, served as our primary point of reference. It is a lush mountain village with dense forests, ornate wooden shrines, moss-covered stone lanterns, and statuary. This level went through many iterations. The burning shrines and Lara’s abduction were not originally designed for this space, but these additions were necessary to provide the emotional backdrop for Lara’s first human kill."
- Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival

Tomb Raider and Yamatai

"The mountain village of Nikko, two hours north of Tokyo, served as our primary point of reference. It is a lush mountain village with dense forests, ornate wooden shrines, moss-covered stone lanterns, and statuary. This level went through many iterations. The burning shrines and Lara’s abduction were not originally designed for this space, but these additions were necessary to provide the emotional backdrop for Lara’s first human kill."

- Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival


Bioshock Infinite, The Flying City of Columbia, and Phenomenal Transparency

"The best way to explain this concept is by thinking about something that’s see-through. This is called literal transparency. Simple, right? You can see through it, therefore it is transparent. Now, phenomenal transparency is a bit more abstract. Take that see-through thing you just thought of. Because you can see through it, you can’t actually see it. Something that is phenomenally transparent doesn’t exhibit the literal characteristics of a literally transparent object: it possesses the property of being unreadable, of being hard to figure out. The Founder’s buildings essentially all possess a degree of this phenomenal transparency. They’re solid buildings, with façades that are imposing, proud, and completely mask the interiors of the structure. You can see them for what they are on the outside, but the inside is absolutely impossible to discern from an outward study. You don’t know what’s going on inside these buildings. They could be resistance strongholds, just waiting to rebel against the idyllic world at their doorstep, or a maze of hallways meant to trap individuals who wander inside. All of this right at the center of Columbia, the flying utopia. The Founders themselves are literally identical to their buildings in this respect: impossible to read, you never know what’s going on inside of them, and you can’t tell what secrets they are keeping. Kind of eerie, isn’t it?"
- Aaron Cote, architecture student at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. (Source)
Bioshock Infinite, The Flying City of Columbia, and Phenomenal Transparency

"The best way to explain this concept is by thinking about something that’s see-through. This is called literal transparency. Simple, right? You can see through it, therefore it is transparent. Now, phenomenal transparency is a bit more abstract. Take that see-through thing you just thought of. Because you can see through it, you can’t actually see it. Something that is phenomenally transparent doesn’t exhibit the literal characteristics of a literally transparent object: it possesses the property of being unreadable, of being hard to figure out. The Founder’s buildings essentially all possess a degree of this phenomenal transparency. They’re solid buildings, with façades that are imposing, proud, and completely mask the interiors of the structure. You can see them for what they are on the outside, but the inside is absolutely impossible to discern from an outward study. You don’t know what’s going on inside these buildings. They could be resistance strongholds, just waiting to rebel against the idyllic world at their doorstep, or a maze of hallways meant to trap individuals who wander inside. All of this right at the center of Columbia, the flying utopia. The Founders themselves are literally identical to their buildings in this respect: impossible to read, you never know what’s going on inside of them, and you can’t tell what secrets they are keeping. Kind of eerie, isn’t it?"
- Aaron Cote, architecture student at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. (Source)

Bioshock Infinite, The Flying City of Columbia, and Phenomenal Transparency

"The best way to explain this concept is by thinking about something that’s see-through. This is called literal transparency. Simple, right? You can see through it, therefore it is transparent. Now, phenomenal transparency is a bit more abstract. Take that see-through thing you just thought of. Because you can see through it, you can’t actually see it. Something that is phenomenally transparent doesn’t exhibit the literal characteristics of a literally transparent object: it possesses the property of being unreadable, of being hard to figure out. The Founder’s buildings essentially all possess a degree of this phenomenal transparency. They’re solid buildings, with façades that are imposing, proud, and completely mask the interiors of the structure. You can see them for what they are on the outside, but the inside is absolutely impossible to discern from an outward study. You don’t know what’s going on inside these buildings. They could be resistance strongholds, just waiting to rebel against the idyllic world at their doorstep, or a maze of hallways meant to trap individuals who wander inside. All of this right at the center of Columbia, the flying utopia. The Founders themselves are literally identical to their buildings in this respect: impossible to read, you never know what’s going on inside of them, and you can’t tell what secrets they are keeping. Kind of eerie, isn’t it?"

- Aaron Cote, architecture student at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. (Source)


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Lanayru Desert

"We were thinking about creating an area that drastically transformed from one landscape to another and thought "What would be a fitting landscape to show a dramatic change?" We decided on a desert that used to have plant life and a great sea. In the Lanayru Sand Sea area, the dungeon has fairy-tale qualities, so we decided to make the dungeon a ship that floats over the desert. We also wanted it to be mobile, which is another reason that we decided on a ship.”
- Fujibayashi, director / Shimizu, designer
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Lanayru Desert

"We were thinking about creating an area that drastically transformed from one landscape to another and thought "What would be a fitting landscape to show a dramatic change?" We decided on a desert that used to have plant life and a great sea. In the Lanayru Sand Sea area, the dungeon has fairy-tale qualities, so we decided to make the dungeon a ship that floats over the desert. We also wanted it to be mobile, which is another reason that we decided on a ship.”
- Fujibayashi, director / Shimizu, designer
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Lanayru Desert

"We were thinking about creating an area that drastically transformed from one landscape to another and thought "What would be a fitting landscape to show a dramatic change?" We decided on a desert that used to have plant life and a great sea. In the Lanayru Sand Sea area, the dungeon has fairy-tale qualities, so we decided to make the dungeon a ship that floats over the desert. We also wanted it to be mobile, which is another reason that we decided on a ship.”
- Fujibayashi, director / Shimizu, designer
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Lanayru Desert

"We were thinking about creating an area that drastically transformed from one landscape to another and thought "What would be a fitting landscape to show a dramatic change?" We decided on a desert that used to have plant life and a great sea. In the Lanayru Sand Sea area, the dungeon has fairy-tale qualities, so we decided to make the dungeon a ship that floats over the desert. We also wanted it to be mobile, which is another reason that we decided on a ship.”
- Fujibayashi, director / Shimizu, designer

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Lanayru Desert

"We were thinking about creating an area that drastically transformed from one landscape to another and thought "What would be a fitting landscape to show a dramatic change?" We decided on a desert that used to have plant life and a great sea. In the Lanayru Sand Sea area, the dungeon has fairy-tale qualities, so we decided to make the dungeon a ship that floats over the desert. We also wanted it to be mobile, which is another reason that we decided on a ship.”

- Fujibayashi, director / Shimizu, designer


Halo 4 and the Ivanoff Space Station

“With the space station, we wanted to transcend reality. We have elements from a lot of space programs but we enhanced them to a new level to give it a sci-fi feel while avoiding a conventional feel. We were basically trying for ‘this, but way much more’.”
- Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier, 343 Industries
Halo 4 and the Ivanoff Space Station

“With the space station, we wanted to transcend reality. We have elements from a lot of space programs but we enhanced them to a new level to give it a sci-fi feel while avoiding a conventional feel. We were basically trying for ‘this, but way much more’.”
- Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier, 343 Industries

Halo 4 and the Ivanoff Space Station

With the space station, we wanted to transcend reality. We have elements from a lot of space programs but we enhanced them to a new level to give it a sci-fi feel while avoiding a conventional feel. We were basically trying for ‘this, but way much more’.

- Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier, 343 Industries


Halo 4 and the UNSC Infinity

"Our design philosophy from Kenneth on the interior space of the UNSC ships is very much engraved, relying on the initial design from specific milestone movies from the 80’s. At the time, these movies were very innovative and that is where our roots are…The only thing we wanted to do was improve the visual rhythm. We focused on pattern and rhythm throughout. We weren’t trying to revolutionise—we were trying to have a patterned rhythm within the level and we were very picky in that regard."
- Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier, 343 Industries.
Halo 4 and the UNSC Infinity

"Our design philosophy from Kenneth on the interior space of the UNSC ships is very much engraved, relying on the initial design from specific milestone movies from the 80’s. At the time, these movies were very innovative and that is where our roots are…The only thing we wanted to do was improve the visual rhythm. We focused on pattern and rhythm throughout. We weren’t trying to revolutionise—we were trying to have a patterned rhythm within the level and we were very picky in that regard."
- Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier, 343 Industries.

Halo 4 and the UNSC Infinity

"Our design philosophy from Kenneth on the interior space of the UNSC ships is very much engraved, relying on the initial design from specific milestone movies from the 80’s. At the time, these movies were very innovative and that is where our roots are…The only thing we wanted to do was improve the visual rhythm. We focused on pattern and rhythm throughout. We weren’t trying to revolutionise—we were trying to have a patterned rhythm within the level and we were very picky in that regard."

- Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier, 343 Industries.


Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Constantinople

"Games gurus and architects have much in common: both design the movement of people through space. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, set in 16th-century Constantinople, writes that similarity large.
To furnish the video-game’s levels with verisimilitude, art director Raphael Lacoste and mission design director Falko Poiker turned draftsmen. They made a research trip to the city (today’s Istanbul) to collect images that could be turned into computer graphics. The pair documented landmarks such as the 14th-century Galata Tower and sixth-century Hagia Sophia. Lacoste, 37, also wanted the nitty-gritty details. "We took lots of photos of building materials and textures," he says. “We also shot props, weap- ons and vegetation, and lighting.”
But to discover the Constantinople that the series’ protagonist Ezio would have experienced in 1511, the team had to hit the books. “I wanted to break the flatness of the walls we usually have in Assassin’s,” says Lacoste. "So we got dimen- sions from old books for overhanging structures on roofs and frontages."
A number of the team went to architectural college so, Poiker says, “they recreated 16th-century buildings by breaking them down into their architectural elements. They could look at a 1 x 1cm sketch of a building tucked in the corner of a larger drawing and infer what the full-sized version would be like.” “
- Dan Smith, Wired Magazine (Source)
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Constantinople

"Games gurus and architects have much in common: both design the movement of people through space. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, set in 16th-century Constantinople, writes that similarity large.
To furnish the video-game’s levels with verisimilitude, art director Raphael Lacoste and mission design director Falko Poiker turned draftsmen. They made a research trip to the city (today’s Istanbul) to collect images that could be turned into computer graphics. The pair documented landmarks such as the 14th-century Galata Tower and sixth-century Hagia Sophia. Lacoste, 37, also wanted the nitty-gritty details. "We took lots of photos of building materials and textures," he says. “We also shot props, weap- ons and vegetation, and lighting.”
But to discover the Constantinople that the series’ protagonist Ezio would have experienced in 1511, the team had to hit the books. “I wanted to break the flatness of the walls we usually have in Assassin’s,” says Lacoste. "So we got dimen- sions from old books for overhanging structures on roofs and frontages."
A number of the team went to architectural college so, Poiker says, “they recreated 16th-century buildings by breaking them down into their architectural elements. They could look at a 1 x 1cm sketch of a building tucked in the corner of a larger drawing and infer what the full-sized version would be like.” “
- Dan Smith, Wired Magazine (Source)
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Constantinople

"Games gurus and architects have much in common: both design the movement of people through space. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, set in 16th-century Constantinople, writes that similarity large.
To furnish the video-game’s levels with verisimilitude, art director Raphael Lacoste and mission design director Falko Poiker turned draftsmen. They made a research trip to the city (today’s Istanbul) to collect images that could be turned into computer graphics. The pair documented landmarks such as the 14th-century Galata Tower and sixth-century Hagia Sophia. Lacoste, 37, also wanted the nitty-gritty details. "We took lots of photos of building materials and textures," he says. “We also shot props, weap- ons and vegetation, and lighting.”
But to discover the Constantinople that the series’ protagonist Ezio would have experienced in 1511, the team had to hit the books. “I wanted to break the flatness of the walls we usually have in Assassin’s,” says Lacoste. "So we got dimen- sions from old books for overhanging structures on roofs and frontages."
A number of the team went to architectural college so, Poiker says, “they recreated 16th-century buildings by breaking them down into their architectural elements. They could look at a 1 x 1cm sketch of a building tucked in the corner of a larger drawing and infer what the full-sized version would be like.” “
- Dan Smith, Wired Magazine (Source)
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Constantinople

"Games gurus and architects have much in common: both design the movement of people through space. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, set in 16th-century Constantinople, writes that similarity large.
To furnish the video-game’s levels with verisimilitude, art director Raphael Lacoste and mission design director Falko Poiker turned draftsmen. They made a research trip to the city (today’s Istanbul) to collect images that could be turned into computer graphics. The pair documented landmarks such as the 14th-century Galata Tower and sixth-century Hagia Sophia. Lacoste, 37, also wanted the nitty-gritty details. "We took lots of photos of building materials and textures," he says. “We also shot props, weap- ons and vegetation, and lighting.”
But to discover the Constantinople that the series’ protagonist Ezio would have experienced in 1511, the team had to hit the books. “I wanted to break the flatness of the walls we usually have in Assassin’s,” says Lacoste. "So we got dimen- sions from old books for overhanging structures on roofs and frontages."
A number of the team went to architectural college so, Poiker says, “they recreated 16th-century buildings by breaking them down into their architectural elements. They could look at a 1 x 1cm sketch of a building tucked in the corner of a larger drawing and infer what the full-sized version would be like.” “
- Dan Smith, Wired Magazine (Source)

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Constantinople

"Games gurus and architects have much in common: both design the movement of people through space. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, set in 16th-century Constantinople, writes that similarity large.

To furnish the video-game’s levels with verisimilitude, art director Raphael Lacoste and mission design director Falko Poiker turned draftsmen. They made a research trip to the city (today’s Istanbul) to collect images that could be turned into computer graphics. The pair documented landmarks such as the 14th-century Galata Tower and sixth-century Hagia Sophia. Lacoste, 37, also wanted the nitty-gritty details. "We took lots of photos of building materials and textures," he says. “We also shot props, weap- ons and vegetation, and lighting.”

But to discover the Constantinople that the series’ protagonist Ezio would have experienced in 1511, the team had to hit the books. “I wanted to break the flatness of the walls we usually have in Assassin’s,” says Lacoste. "So we got dimen- sions from old books for overhanging structures on roofs and frontages."

A number of the team went to architectural college so, Poiker says, “they recreated 16th-century buildings by breaking them down into their architectural elements. They could look at a 1 x 1cm sketch of a building tucked in the corner of a larger drawing and infer what the full-sized version would be like.”

- Dan Smith, Wired Magazine (Source)


Mass Effect and Ilos

"Ilos originally felt like El Dorado or other legendary cities lost deep within a jungle, but having several topical planets in the game, we decided to change the appearance of the level to give it a more alien feel. We referenced Zdzisław Beksiński when reimagining this world. The dried coral replaced the roots and vegetation covering the structures. We also relit the level to give it the feel that everything there was dying, just as the Protheans had."
- Derek Watts, Art Director, Mass Effect.
Mass Effect and Ilos

"Ilos originally felt like El Dorado or other legendary cities lost deep within a jungle, but having several topical planets in the game, we decided to change the appearance of the level to give it a more alien feel. We referenced Zdzisław Beksiński when reimagining this world. The dried coral replaced the roots and vegetation covering the structures. We also relit the level to give it the feel that everything there was dying, just as the Protheans had."
- Derek Watts, Art Director, Mass Effect.
Mass Effect and Ilos

"Ilos originally felt like El Dorado or other legendary cities lost deep within a jungle, but having several topical planets in the game, we decided to change the appearance of the level to give it a more alien feel. We referenced Zdzisław Beksiński when reimagining this world. The dried coral replaced the roots and vegetation covering the structures. We also relit the level to give it the feel that everything there was dying, just as the Protheans had."
- Derek Watts, Art Director, Mass Effect.
Mass Effect and Ilos

"Ilos originally felt like El Dorado or other legendary cities lost deep within a jungle, but having several topical planets in the game, we decided to change the appearance of the level to give it a more alien feel. We referenced Zdzisław Beksiński when reimagining this world. The dried coral replaced the roots and vegetation covering the structures. We also relit the level to give it the feel that everything there was dying, just as the Protheans had."
- Derek Watts, Art Director, Mass Effect.

Mass Effect and Ilos

"Ilos originally felt like El Dorado or other legendary cities lost deep within a jungle, but having several topical planets in the game, we decided to change the appearance of the level to give it a more alien feel. We referenced Zdzisław Beksiński when reimagining this world. The dried coral replaced the roots and vegetation covering the structures. We also relit the level to give it the feel that everything there was dying, just as the Protheans had."

- Derek Watts, Art Director, Mass Effect.


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Ancient Cistern

"The transition between Lake Floria and the Ancient Cistern is practically seamless – replacing one serene waterscape with the next. Hidden behind the waterfall of Lake Floria is a seemingly untouched shrine. Standing above the pristine water, with its head just below a sprawling depiction of a lotus flower, is a golden Idol resembling Siddhartha Gautama…commonly referred to in Buddhism as the Buddha Shakyamuni. Bordering the Idol is a pond filled with lotus flowers, a seemingly celestial arrangement that suggests the Idol is peering through the crystal clear water. Spatial relationships play the largest part in telling the story of the Ancient Cistern – the Buddha sits at the edge of a pond, peering down between the lotus petals. Danger lurks below the Buddha, where Hell is said to be…"
- Robert from the Allegories in Architecture series, which aims to explore the Legend of Zelda’s in-game culture and its real-world inspiration.

(This is a brilliant article, and I encourage everybody to read the entire thing!)The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Ancient Cistern

"The transition between Lake Floria and the Ancient Cistern is practically seamless – replacing one serene waterscape with the next. Hidden behind the waterfall of Lake Floria is a seemingly untouched shrine. Standing above the pristine water, with its head just below a sprawling depiction of a lotus flower, is a golden Idol resembling Siddhartha Gautama…commonly referred to in Buddhism as the Buddha Shakyamuni. Bordering the Idol is a pond filled with lotus flowers, a seemingly celestial arrangement that suggests the Idol is peering through the crystal clear water. Spatial relationships play the largest part in telling the story of the Ancient Cistern – the Buddha sits at the edge of a pond, peering down between the lotus petals. Danger lurks below the Buddha, where Hell is said to be…"
- Robert from the Allegories in Architecture series, which aims to explore the Legend of Zelda’s in-game culture and its real-world inspiration.

(This is a brilliant article, and I encourage everybody to read the entire thing!)The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Ancient Cistern

"The transition between Lake Floria and the Ancient Cistern is practically seamless – replacing one serene waterscape with the next. Hidden behind the waterfall of Lake Floria is a seemingly untouched shrine. Standing above the pristine water, with its head just below a sprawling depiction of a lotus flower, is a golden Idol resembling Siddhartha Gautama…commonly referred to in Buddhism as the Buddha Shakyamuni. Bordering the Idol is a pond filled with lotus flowers, a seemingly celestial arrangement that suggests the Idol is peering through the crystal clear water. Spatial relationships play the largest part in telling the story of the Ancient Cistern – the Buddha sits at the edge of a pond, peering down between the lotus petals. Danger lurks below the Buddha, where Hell is said to be…"
- Robert from the Allegories in Architecture series, which aims to explore the Legend of Zelda’s in-game culture and its real-world inspiration.

(This is a brilliant article, and I encourage everybody to read the entire thing!)

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Ancient Cistern

"The transition between Lake Floria and the Ancient Cistern is practically seamless – replacing one serene waterscape with the next. Hidden behind the waterfall of Lake Floria is a seemingly untouched shrine. Standing above the pristine water, with its head just below a sprawling depiction of a lotus flower, is a golden Idol resembling Siddhartha Gautama…commonly referred to in Buddhism as the Buddha Shakyamuni. Bordering the Idol is a pond filled with lotus flowers, a seemingly celestial arrangement that suggests the Idol is peering through the crystal clear water. Spatial relationships play the largest part in telling the story of the Ancient Cistern – the Buddha sits at the edge of a pond, peering down between the lotus petals. Danger lurks below the Buddha, where Hell is said to be…"

- Robert from the Allegories in Architecture series, which aims to explore the Legend of Zelda’s in-game culture and its real-world inspiration.

(This is a brilliant article, and I encourage everybody to read the entire thing!)