Edge magazine interviews Tetsuya Nomura and Tai Yasue on Pixar in Kingdom Hearts III, the switch to Unreal Engine 4, and more


The latest issue of GameRadar's Edge magazine has featured an article about the development of Kingdom Hearts III as a whole through the eyes of Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura and co-director Tai Yasue!

Edge deputy editor Jen Simpkins had the opportunity to talk to both Nomura and Yasue about the beginning of Kingdom Hearts III's development and how switching from Square Enix's in-house Luminous Engine to Epic's Unreal Engine 4 was a difficult task, the importance of Pixar in Kingdom Hearts III's existence, and much more. You can read their comments below.

 

Quote

On the importance of adding Toy Story to Kingdom Hearts III

Nomura: “After we were done with Kingdom Hearts II and were starting to consider III, we started talks with Disney, I remember saying, ‘If we can’t use Pixar, then we can’t have a third game.’ It’s that important to the game series. The whole world loves Toy Story – everybody feels the appeal of that story and those characters. So yeah, at the very beginning I directly said to them, “If we can’t get this, I don’t want to do it’.”

On how the process to obtain rights for Toy Story and what Pixar wanted them to do

Nomura: “I wrote a general outline of the story and I submitted it to Pixar, It took them several years to okay the story and the character designs. Previous to Kingdom Hearts III, I think these companies kind of saw it more as like, secondary rights permissions. They saw it more as a product, like you would a branded toy or something. This time, it was creator to creator – it was somebody who had made this animation, and somebody who was making this game. We were communicating with each other, myself and these people, so that added an extra level of complexity, because each creator has their own desires, ideas and concepts.”

Yasue: “We were talking to [Pixar story supervisor] Jason Katz, and what he said was he wanted us to make a Toy Story world – a toy store – that they couldn’t.” 

On the Gigas

Yasue: “Yeah, I think the first thing [that he concepted] was the robots. We sort of wanted it to be true to what we do – Square Enix-like. And Pixar was actually very open to that. We had this back and forth with Pixar: it placed a lot of importance on the toys. They’re robots, but they’re also toys, so they really wanted that incorporated.” 

On Big Hero 6's storyline

Nomura: “Big Hero 6’s story is a moving story that involves a robot, which is something that really fits well with the Kingdom Hearts world,”

Yasue: “Hiro is an inventor, so we wanted something that was invented. So we came up with an augmented reality device that Sora places on as a visor. And using that, we have San Fransokyo – but you’re looking at it through a sort of AR visor.”

When discussing about storylines for the Disney worlds in Kingdom Hearts III

Nomura: “Each title has a different team in charge of it. The storyline is the very heart of Toy Story. Whereas with Monsters, Inc, it’s more about the world that they’ve built. So we’d be told, ‘Oh, well, actually there aren’t monsters of this colour,’ or ‘There are no monsters that have eyes like that’, or ‘The monsters in this world wouldn’t use that word’.”

When talking about the switch from Luminous Engine to Unreal Engine 4

Yasue: "The thing with Unreal Engine 4 is it’s really easy to experiment, gameplay-wise. We didn’t need any assets to start off, so the game designers that aren’t artists at all could actually start to test the game. We had to learn a lot. When we started using Unreal Engine 4, we had these study groups – well, not study groups, but we all sort of… There’s a tutorial. I even did that, I made my own robot, a robot that changed shape. We never used it in the game, we were just testing it out. We had contests too, I remember. Each game designer made something, and we sort of compared it. And this had nothing to do with the game, because we had to learn about the engine. That was part of the development timeline, and was something that contributed to and affected the schedule.”

Nomura: “It was a whole year that we had to kind of rewind and restart. As a dev tool, Unreal Engine 4 is kind of an all-in-one – it’s got all of the stuff that is needed in it, it’s used around the world, and we also got really great support from [Epic]. They were very helpful through the entire process. It would have been a different story if the team making Luminous had been members of the Kingdom Hearts team. But they were a different team, so that did make things a bit more difficult.”

When talking about Nomura's personal criteria for levels in Kingdom Hearts games

Nomura: “It really doesn’t matter to me whether or not they’re going to be popular, it’s just about whether the game is going to benefit from adding them. In past Kingdom Hearts games, we’ve included a number of more minor titles. It’s not only about what’s interesting, it’s also about variety. Of course, even after that fixed point when we have decided what the worlds are going to be, occasionally there are Disney things that come up afterwards and I’m like, ‘Ah, I wish I could put that in there’.”

When talking about how the team whats to make Kingdom Hearts III perfect

Nomura: "There have been a lot of people who have said as the hardware changes, we’re going to have to change things. As the way of creating things changes, we’re going to have to change our management style, and there’s a lot to keep up with. But this company, in at least one way, hasn’t changed since it was called Squaresoft. We want to make fun stuff; we want to make cool stuff. And the team here in Osaka working on Kingdom Hearts III are all of that same mindset – they just wanted to make something good.”

Yasue: “Nomura wants it to be perfect, I want it to be perfect, Disney wants it to be perfect, right? And our fanbase, they expect it to be perfect. We can’t have it be sub-par: it’s Kingdom Hearts III. It just can’t be your average well-made game. It has to be more than that.” 

On the legacy of Kingdom Hearts III

Yasue: “I guess I wanted to make a game that was really talked about. We want to sell a lot of games, yes – but at the same time, it should be a game that could be talked about ten years from now. When I came to this company, I was really inspired by Final Fantasy VII, and so it would be great if kids play our game, and they come to our interviews, and they join us, right? It had to be something that big. Something with a legacy.”

9
 

Edge Issue 328 is available now at newsstands and digitally on the Google Play Store

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Really nice interview. This truly lifts my spirits :)

"If we can't use Pixar, then we can't have a third game"

DAMN! Look at Nomura rolling up to Disney's offices and slapping his massive dick on the table lol props man.

This does make me wonder though. If Nomura really made this statement after KH2 (about 2006, maybe 2007), and he also says that it took SEVERAL (which usually means 7) YEARS to get Toy Story approved, could KH3 have come sooner if Pixar's approval came sooner? I'm sure BBS was always on the table, but maybe "ideally" KH3 could have come out on the PS3 after BBS?

Probably not, since (at the time) he was still waiting on the original KH team to finish Versus, and I think Days, BBS, and Coded were always going to happen before a hypothetical KH3. Still, this is very... interesting information...

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Well, now we know why they waited so long to start KH3.

But in all seriousness though I'm super excited about Pixar finally being included in the franchise.

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5 hours ago, Leamax said:

‘If we can’t use Pixar, then we can’t have a third game.’

If we can’t get this, I don’t want to do it’.”

Damn Nomura is savage. Lmao! I love how Nomura is taking charge when it comes to making Kingdom Hearts 3, and Disney is like under his thumb. I so excited to finally see Pixar worlds in the Kingdom Hearst series. Plus, I'm glad that their making Toy Box an pivotal world in Kingdom Hearts 3's main story plot. After all Nomura did said that the worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 will not be skippable worlds like in the previous Kingdom Hearts games. Another great interview!

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Thanks for sharing this with us, Leamax!

Dang, it's crazy how Nomura was so adamant about adding Toy Story into Kingdom Hearts III! And it's even crazier that he wouldn't have gone through with the game if Pixar had denied him the use of Toy Story! Savage indeed! :D

Man, I'm positively sure that Kingdom Hearts III is gonna live up to the hype and then some! It'll leave behind a legacy that will never be forgotten, and just how KHII is still talked about to this day, I know that Kingdom Hearts III will reach that same nirvana! :D

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