Back in the days of the N64, developers were still trying to figure out just how to wrap their heads around the world of 3D gaming, even Nintendo itself. With The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, we were treated to visuals the likes of which had yet been seen, including the vast landscape of Hyrule Field, the stunningly realised towns and dungeons, and of course, the intriguing day and night cycle depicted in the sky above.
It turns out, however, that the sky itself is one big optical illusion, achieved by creating a small rotating cube that nestles within the camera’s viewpoint, enclosing the entire map within its borders. You’ll likely already know this, of course, since the very nature of a ‘skybox’ is to effective enclose a game’s landscape within its borders, but seeing the feature in practice via the below video is frankly kind of mind-blowing.
As you can see, by utilising a free cam cheat, user @dannyb21892 was able to view exactly what the sky looks like outside of its in-game borders. It’s a baffling illusion, to be sure, and just goes to show what kind of weird and wonderful tricks developers pull to craft their games. Needless to say, it’s a pretty convincing method, and it certainly succeeds in depicting a realistic atmosphere with a working day and night cycle – we can see why many other developers utilise the same technique!
Users can now play a PC port of Ocarina of Time, which was recently updated to allow compatibility with hacked Wii U systems and Mac OS. Additional functions include the aforementioned free camera mode and functionality to allow up to 250fps.
What do you make of this little camera trickery from Nintendo? Have you spotted more development anecdotes you’d like to share? Let us know!