For years, fans have theorized that Nintendo used Miis to build many of the NPCs (non-player characters) in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Many share Mii-like characteristics — the shape of their face, eyes, nose and mouth, for instance — and modders know they were built with a file format called “UMii.” Now, though, we have even more proof of the cast’s design and origins. A Mii expert with the handle HEYimHeroic has discovered that it’s possible to convert and import traditional Miis — the ones that you can craft on the Wii, Wii U, 3DS and Switch — into the game.
HEYimHeroic has stressed that the Mii and UMii file formats aren’t identical. “The file formats are extremely different,” the modder explained on Twitter. “Which is why it takes me a while to import Miis into the game. There’s a lot of conversion going on, please don’t get the wrong idea.” There are some clear differences between the two. Breath of the Wild NPCs have slightly more detailed hairstyles, for instance, and full-size bodies. And while all of the game’s fictional races use the UMii format, HEYimHeroic explained, only the Hylian and Sheikah characters “use Mii-like values.” Even then, UMiis don’t support moles and select Mii hairstyles, the modder said in a series of posts on Reddit and Twitter.
Hi, Mii expert here. Turns out, the NPCs in TLoZ:BotW use an advanced version of the Mii format. This means that with modding, you can inject Miis into the game. :)— i'm alice (@HEYimHeroic) January 4, 2021
Thinking about opening commissions for Mii injects, both screenshot/images of your Mii and mod downloads! pic.twitter.com/8NfVr4zyqA
Nintendo is yet to confirm the discovery. It seems likely, however, that the development team improved or repurposed Mii Maker for Breath of the Wild. As many fans have commented online, it sounds like an ingenious way to quickly populate Hyrule. These characters would have required some additional design work, of course, to make them fit in with the game’s painterly aesthetic. But the time and effort required was probably less than if the company had used a traditional production pipeline.