trapped in revamp hell
I didn't see a thread about this already, so I figured I'd just make one. HEARTSTATION.ORG has translated the interview from the BBS Ultimania with Co-director Tai Yasue and Co-producer Yoichi Yoshimoto.
Putting it here in the spoilers section just in case.
Putting it here in the spoilers section just in case.
“Making use of experience from KH Re:Com to develop KH BBS”
When did the development of BBS begin?
Yoshimoto: About June in 2005, wasn’t it. We, the Osaka development team, went to Nomura (Tetsuya Nomura, director) saying “why don’t we make something together?” He proposed the KH series, and we said of course, we’d love to. That was the beginning. At first, nothing was decided outside of the work being on the KH series, and we went ahead and made some worlds for the PS2 that seemed like they’d be good for KH, and presented them as examples of what we could do. During that time, the BBS project was formed, and genuine development for it on the PSP had begun. However, at about only half a year through, we got an order from Nomura asking whether we couldn’t do a remake for KH CoM. And so, we made KH Re:Com in a little under a year, and returned to developing BBS. From there, it took us about three years to complete, which made it quite a long project.
Was there anything you had to be particularly conscious of, handling the KH series?
Yoshimoto: Of course, we had to be careful with characters and worlds belonging to the Disney franchise, and realising the quality the KH series demands. We invested a lot of effort into those two points.
Yasue: By that meaning, we were able to learn a lot about the basic making of the KH series when doing KH Re:CoM. Part of the charm of the KH series is that is has many worlds and many cultures mixed together, but, bringing them together into one was pretty difficult. That time, we co-operated with the Tokyo development team and the people of Disney and it went smoothly. I think that is something else we were able to experience from KH Re:CoM.
What kind of things did you do co-operating with the Tokyo development team?
Yasue: First of all Nomura wrote a rough plan, and following that direction, we mainly worked with the Osaka team doing the battle part and the Tokyo team doing the cutscenes. With Nomura saying ‘I want you to do something like this,’ ‘I want you to do that’, his wishes kept coming like high hurdles. Putting those into actual shape was both fun and difficult. In the planning stages, things like the shoot lock command, dimension link, and the ‘command board’ minigame were all things Nomura wished to be added, in the planning stages.
Yoshimoto: We first heard of the dimension link as ‘I want to use a command of people who are far away’, but we had no idea what on earth that could be. It was very much trial and error.
Yasue: As for wireless play in games so far, when connecting to other players, many of them took the form of finishing after gaining an item or something. Wondering whether we could make a system in which the player would want to connect over and over, we discussed to together and created the dimension link. After linking with someone, if you link again after a short while, your finish command will fill up. We did it that way because by adding merit to meeting again with a player you’ve met once, we aimed to make people want to use wireless play again and again.
Yoshimoto: The command board was also something we agonised over what to do, having been told by Nomura, ‘using commands to play, I want a sugoroku game which makes your commands grow’. The way it looks and the system itself were both made over and over before it got to the present shape.
Yasue: After trying to practically complete it and seeing how it worked well with various systems, I think we managed to make something that fit well with this game.
With so many new ideas, what was difficult to balance adjustment?
Yoshimoto: There were three main characters, and each had different routes, so there adjusting took a fair amount of time compared to other games. There were many times when I wondered how much easier it would be with only one (laughs). Cause, we had to change the location and contents of treasure boxes for Terra, Ventus and Aqua.
Do you recommend playing Terra, Ventus and Aqua in that order?
Yasue: Yes. The flow of the story is like that, and Terra’s attacks and movements are easiest to understand, so he’s the easiest to handle. On the other hand, Aqua’s moves are a little tricky, and no matter what, in the early stages of the game the types of magic you can get are limited, so battling the foes with this magically talented woman is little harsh. Because of that, Aqua’s level of difficulty gets higher than Terra and Ventus.
Deck command system, with many elements rolled into one
It’s a feature of KH BBS that what were traditionally abilities and items in this series have mostly become commands, isn’t it?
Yasue: With new ideas like the shoot lock command being added, the number of elements that deal with the character’s actions increased a fair amount. And so, we thought it would be easier to understand if we rolled them all into one system. And then, with levelling up the commands you gain, using those in command chains, setting finished commands in your deck, using them and the command style changing… there were many systems within the game, and we wanted to make them flow together. For example, if we were to add too many other elements like protective gear and accessories, the game wouldn’t flow very well.
Secret of the game that only Tai Yasue knows: In the fight with Trinity Armour in Radiant Garden, use ‘Trinity Limit’, and two others will come and advance with you. Even though we made it with much hardship, most people don’t know about it (laughs).
Secret of the game that only Yoichi Yoshimoto knows: The Jelly Ball was a boss we had to scrap because of capacity. Because it was a waste, we remade it as a normal enemy. They give an excessive amount of experience, which is a leftover from that.
There are a considerable number of types of commands, aren’t there?
Yasue: Yeah. But even so, even a command with the same name will have different use for a different character. Also, because the wireless play works within a different program to usual, commands have separate uses in wireless play. Include those, and there are 999 commands in all. In the beginning, Nomura requested 512, and I thought it was absurd, but in the end we went and made almost double that (laughs).
Yoshimoto: By giving the player so many commands and letting them level them up, they can become very strong. We found that if we followed the usual enemy-movement creating patters, the players didn’t feel fulfilled at all, which was a problem. We decided one of our tasks was then to make much more annoying enemies to help the flow. We hope we did a good job in making enemies that will leave an impression on all the players.
This time, players are able to make strong commands from an early time by the command chain, and by just having the player not know which commands they have at that point in time the, was it difficult to adjust the balance?
Yoshimoto: Yeah. It’s pretty tough creating enemies if players are able to place as many ‘Megaflare’ in their deck as they like. Enough to make me want to ask players to ‘please use in moderation’ (laughs).
Yasue: As for the boss enemies, we adjusted it so that you can’t win easily by using just one command. But, if we were to have taken that element away completely, the game wouldn’t be very fun or interesting. So, listening to the opinions of the quality control team who debugged and checked the balance of the game, we left in things like ‘if you are careful with this it pays off’. For example, things like ‘Detonation Square’, ‘Detonation Chaser’ and ‘Vanish’ are effective against even the hidden boss, Vanitas Sentiment, so please try them out.
“We wanted to make a game in which the players choose and trial freely”
The field maps for each world are rich in variation, aren’t they. There are places you get to through devices, and places with severe unevenness in ground level…
Yasue: At first, we thought it would be better to place emphasis on wide maps that are good for battles, as in KHII. But, Nomura wanted us to ‘make the maps three dimensional to some degree, and let the players play with the structure of the map,’ and so we had fun designing what kind of elements we could add. The contents of treasure chests were also decided while thinking about the set-up of the world. For example, we left a ‘slipper’ in the attic in the castle in which Princess Aurora sleeps in Enchanted Dominion, and in Dwarf Woodland, in the coal mine in which the seven dwarves work, we left ‘minimum’.
Yoshimoto: For the field maps, thanks to the map planning team that Miyazaki (Mr. Kaname Miyazaki: Map Planning Director) began with made very precise designs for us, I truly feel that we were able to produce something fairly decent.
The contents of treasure boxes left in places that seem unable to be reached without ‘High Jump’ and the like can be obtained early in the game using ‘Slide Dash’. Did you mean for that all along?
Yasue: No, when we created ‘Slide Dash’, we didn’t think that far. ‘Slide Dash’ was originally made with the idea to attack while moving fast and going far, in order to express the ‘refreshing feeling’ that was the concept for this title. Afterwards, we realised it made it possible to reach treasure chests in far places too. However, because we thought that having the refreshing feeling was more fun, and because we wanted to raise the level of freedom for players over anything else, we left it as it was. For example, when there is a high platform, we didn’t want players to be forced to use ‘High Jump’; we wanted various ways to get up there. One of the best things about the Kingdom Hearts series is that there is a part in which the player is able to choose and test things as they like.
Players are able to enjoy various kinds of wireless play at the Mirage Arena. Wasn’t it difficult to prepare an amazing four types of wireless play games?
Yoshimoto: Beforehand, our programmers warned us, ‘wireless play is dangerous, it’s easy to get bugs’, and this turned out to be very difficult.
Yasue: When connecting without cables, no matter what, sometimes the connection will break. But, we had to make it so that the game would run without a problem even if it were to break, and the programming team worked until the very, very end to adjust this. It was very tight, to the point that we worried about making the release date in time, and I think it was great that we were able to add four kinds of wireless play through all that. With the PSP, it’s difficult to make the on-screen visuals the perfectly exact quality of the PS2 no matter what, and so we wanted to incorporate as many things as we could that took advantage of the way you can play a PSP.
In the ‘VS Arena Mode’, when attacked by another player, the commands drop all over the field. It makes things get quite hot, doesn’t it.
Yasue: When we did KH Re:CoM, we added to Marluxia an attack that made the cards in a player’s deck scatter over the field, but we thought it would probably be even more fun if we made actual players war against each other for them. It was unexpectedly important to make players feel regret as they fought with each other. For example, if there is some really strong person, you are forced to run around escaping from them. But if you hang on a little longer, you can get stronger yourself… that kind of thing. Battles in which the balance is intentionally broken arise more. For this, we wanted to try and adopt the concept of making your opponent weaker by robbing them.
KH BBS is selling well, but if you are to help with the next titles in the KH series, what things of things would you like to try?
Yoshimoto: My position is to unify the team, but personally I still want to be making games on-site. From now on, too, I want to think of frustrating enemies, and ideas for gameplay. But, first of all, I’ll be putting one hundred percent into the overseas version of KH BBS. Other than changing the voices and the text, I’ve got a lot of plans.
Yasue: There are many features in KH BBS for players to enjoy, such as deck commands, shoot lock command, and dimension link, and it was in return an extremely enjoyable title to make. I also want to pack the next game I make with many features, and I want it to be something for all the players to play in broad ways. Also, when adjusting the wireless play, everyone in the development team rose up together as they battled with it. Seeing that, I began to think, if we pursue this human connection even harder, we’d be able to make even newer ways to play, wouldn’t we? We still don’t know whether the next game we make will be for the KH series, but, Nomura is also developing various plans in order to expand the KH series. So, if any titles of the KH series end up being made by our Osaka team, I want to make it even more fun than this one was.