A "critical problem" led to one of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom's wildest building tools - the devs didn't want you to spill your soup

 The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom lets you build a whole lot of ridiculous contraptions out of mundane parts, and there's nothing more mundane than the portable pot. This item turned out to be one of the game's wildest building options, and during a talk at the Game Developers Conference (broken down by Eurogamer), lead physics engineer Takahiro Takayama explained that this only happened because the devs wanted to keep you from spilling your soup.

Since items in Tears of the Kingdom behave with realistic physics, the devs had a "critical problem" in that portable cooking pots would simply tip over when placed on uneven ground. To fix that, they implemented a sort of gyroscopic ball joint between the pot and the base. Takayama joked "I'm happy to say your soup is now safe."

But with Ultrahand, that ball joint meant that the portable pot could serve as a connector in some of the game's absolute wildest builds. Early on, players found that you could use pots for things like stabilizing wheels over bumpy terrain. These days, the creations are getting much, much weirder. Who knew building an inflatable wavy tube man was on the table?

This all helps to illustrate one of the bigger themes of this GDC talk - that Tears of the Kingdom, like Breath of the Wild before it, is built on an idea the devs call "multiplicative gameplay." Technical director Takuhiro Dohta explained that "the concept of multiplicative gameplay was: rather than creating something fun, create a system that makes fun things happen. With Tears of the Kingdom, we aimed to create an even higher level of freedom."

That's the principle that led to things like physics-driven gates in shrines which players would be able to interact with in more realistic ways - either solving the puzzles as intended or breaking it to find new solutions that the devs did not intend. And it's the exact sort of thinking that turned a simple solution for spilled food into one of Tears of the Kingdom's wildest building tools.

Tears of the Kingdom dev describes utterly chaotic Ultrahand development: "It broke! It went flying!"