In an interview with Eurogamer, Tai Yasue, the co-director of the Kingdom Hearts series, has discussed Kingdom Hearts III in the lead up to Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX's release in Europe. Here, Yasue explained the switch from Luminous Engine to Unreal Engine 4 and its effects on Kingdom Hearts III's development, Tetsuya Nomura's involvement in the development so far, and the prospect of various Disney properties being used in the game. These important portions of the interview can be read below, with a big thanks to Eurogamer.
On Unreal Engine 4:
Yasue: "The technology is moving forward a lot. That's something we've learned from the West, I think, in a big way. We're using Unreal Engine 4 right now, and that really has changed the way we make the game. There was nothing wrong with the Luminous engine at all. We decided that Unreal 4 was right for us. There was a huge network of people actually using it, we were communicating with the Japanese people at Epic a lot - it was like a complete product."
Yasue: "It was easy to shift to, but at the same time though, there was a lot of stuff specific to Kingdom Hearts that we couldn't really do on Unreal 4 at first. So we had a lot of co-operation from Epic - they did a lot - at the same time we were doing a lot of customisation of the engine as well, to suit our needs. A lot of painstaking detail - the shadows for example, the really vivid colours, that sort of thing - we couldn't really do at the beginning, so we had to remake/customise the engine and add a lot of parameters."
Eurogamer: Given that the game began life on Luminous, does that mean work on the initial teaser from E3 2013 had to be completely scrapped?
Yasue: "We use the same graphical assets, so we didn't throw any of that away, and I guess a lot of the experience we got from making that for E3, that experience really translated to our development now. It was in our initial production stage, so I think we were learning a lot of stuff while using the Luminous engine."
On Nomura's involvement since stepping down from being the director of Final Fantasy XV:
Yasue: "Nothing has really changed. The development team is in Osaka, and Nomura-san didn't really do a lot of the detailed stuff, as he's really the sort of creative visionary. We communicate as much as we did previously, so our working relationship hasn't changed at all. We are speeding up things for development, obviously, on Kingdom Hearts 3 as we move along, but I don't think it has anything to do with Final Fantasy."
Eurogamer: Has Disney made anything off-limits to the team at Square yet?
Yasue: "At our current stage, they have not said no. There's a lot to choose from, a lot of wonderful new IPs. No specifics but there are a lot of new IPs that we are considering and there's a lot on our table, and Disney hasn't said no - we don't have any trouble with that."
On the purpose of the HD collections:
Yasue: "It's been 12 years since the original Kingdom Hearts came out in 2002; it's been a long while. We want new users to be able to understand the story before going into Kingdom Hearts 3, so I guess that was the plan - making Kingdom Hearts 3 but making it more accessible by making 1.5 and 2.5."