Aesthetically, the project is inspired by the barren look of the Zelda 1 screen design and the lonely and adventurous feel of its original artwork. One day Mitchfork approached me, telling me about some of the Gameboy Zelda gameplay mechanics he has remade in Zelda Classic and his plans for a quest project which revisions Zelda 1. He showed me a first screen that he mapped, a piece of concept art with the mood he wanted to go for and asked me whether I'm in as a screen designer for the project. With my own love for Zelda 1 and the countless recreations of its overworld that I have worked on over the years, I was immediately sold on the idea and started mapping the first overworld area. We came to call it Outset Hills.
Below you can see in the order from left to right: Mitch's first screen for the project, the piece of artwork he referenced and my take on it.
The section of the world that I want to talk about are namely the Outset Hills, which are meant to represent the first couple screens of the overworld that you can explore in Zelda 1. As you well know, it's basically mountains and caves originally. Strangely enough, there are no houses and all inhabitants of Hyrule have taken residence in caves. They are in this area: the old man that gives you the sword, a merchant, the old woman that sells information, an old woman that sells potions and the secret-to-everybody-Moblin in the hidden cave. There's also the guy that wants to play "money making game", but he didn't make into Crucible Crest (yet).
Talking about the characters in the area, we started to flesh them out a bit more so that I get an idea what the places they live in should look like. Mitchfork had this idea that the old man is a blacksmith. He has forged many swords for many heroes over the years, but none of them has proven themselves to the blacksmith yet. He is very old and knowledgeable of the history of Hyrule. Mitchfork mapped the interior of his cave, taking cues from the little comic below (in the spoiler tags). You can see some of his personal belongings, among them a hammer in the design of Ocarina of Time's Megaton Hammer on his desk, a blueprint for a new weapon on the northern wall and his journal next to his bed.
Because we needed a character who would tell the player where to go next (i.e., where they can find the next dungeon), I suggested that we remake the information-woman in the cave east to the starting screen into Impa, who is a diviner in our game. Talking to her is completely optional: players that prefer the Zelda 1 style of free exploration won't be handholded along the adventure, but learning from Impa where the next dungeon is always gives a bit of flavorful dialogue. You may also choose to explore on your own first and come back to Impa if you are stuck. Below you can the exterior of her home, what it looks like inside and the concept art I referenced. She is associated with the Sheikah, some of the details in her house give it away, too.
Next we have the merchant. Because he's a big guy with a mean look in the artwork, we wanted him to be a money-minded and greedy character. We call him Shady, the merchant (because he's a shady merchant). His prices are somewhat exorbitant... I can't exactly say why, but I did not want to hide him away in a cave. So he was moved to the overworld. He has a wagon for his goods with which he travels Hyrule. Later in the game he may show up elsewhere with different merchandise (- if we choose to implement that; we never really made a final decision regarding that idea). Here's what his shop looks like. I like all the little details on this screen. Most of the objects are interactable, such as the big sword and the red shield - walking up and pressing the A button will give a bit of dialogue.
The secret-to-everbody-Moblin is such a classic character that we had to include him, too. He moved up a couple screens onto a small moblin encampent where he resides in a skull home. Mitchfork set up a funny little cutscene for him which I really like. Traversing the encampment is a little dangerous from the get-go, but it's a good way to get some big money early on.
Finally, we have the potion shop. With Impa being an old lady, we didn't really want to use Syrup (another old lady), so we settled on Maple. In the demo, her shop wasn't open yet, but in the meantime Maple has moved in fully. Instead of the "letter" item, you can bring recipes to her to unlock new potions or upgrade potions you have already unlocked. Most objects in her house are interactable, too. Mitchfork wrote a tiny update about Maple's potions ...a while ago. Go check it out.
And well, that's that. This is all a bit dated stuff, I know, but yeah. Do let us know how you like everything and what you think about our take on the world of Zelda 1 and its inhabitants. Cheers!