The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is one of the biggest Zelda games to date -- 45+ hours according to our review. That time packs in plenty of dungeons and quest items, and producer Eiji Aonuma has talked about how the process develops between those two elements.
"This isn't the case with every Zelda, but for this game, we thought about the function and ability of each of the items, then came up with fun ways to put them to use," Aonuma told Famitsu (via 1UP). "Once you decide how an item works, then you place stuff around the map that makes use of that ability.
"If you stop there, though, a lot of players won't pick up on it at all, so you need to make all these fine-tuning adjustments to the maps themselves in order to help people realize how to solve the puzzle. It takes a lot of time to get this sort of balance right, to figure out exactly how much to reveal to the player first." He says striking this balance causes him "a lot of stress as a producer."
He says that focusing on the Zelda fundamentals like quest and item balancing helped bring back a "solid core" that the team needed to be able to iterate on it. "I think developing this game has helped us get a little better picture of what's really important for a Zelda title. Doing that inevitably takes a lot of time, though -- I really want to take less time for the next project, definitely."