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News ► Gamereactor interviews Yasue on KH3's Critical Mode, process of integrating Disney into series



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Oracle Spockanort

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Lisa Dahlgren from Gamereactor had the chance to sit down with KINGDOM HEARTS 3 Co-Director Tai Yasue at GDC 2019 to discuss the development of KH3, including the process of creating the upcoming Critical Mode for KH3 and how they integrated Disney characters into the game.

When asked about how Critical Mode is changing KH3, Yasue had quite a bit to say about all of the new additions coming with Critical Mode. He acknowledgd that fans were seeking a more difficult mode and they kept that in mind when developing Critical Mode:

"We got a lot of fan reaction that people wanted to play a difficult mode we understood that—respect that—so we really went into creating Critical Mode and we wanted to do it the right way so it is not superficial—it isn’t just raising the HP for the enemies, for example. We wanted a new experience there and we realized that there was a lot we could do.

We added abilities for Critical Mode so you have a more technical, offensive based battle style you can enjoy, so things like that changes the game and also because the beginner mode, for example, and standard mode are easier, there are lots of choices but at the same time you’re not forced into doing anything. You can do what you want, right? But for the Critical Mode, you really have to think it out, think [about] what you’re gonna do. For example, when I’m playing the Critical Mode now in development, I realized that cooking is really important all of a sudden. For the beginner/standard modes, if you like cooking you can use cooking, but for Critical Mode, the wide array of gameplay that is there means you really have to utilize everything."

Dahlgren asked Yasue if it could be considered a "tactical addition" to the game, so he elaborated that the upcoming Critical Mode will require players to think about what they are doing in each battle and seect what they do wisely:

"It is balanced in a way that you can clear it without really leveling up, but you really have to think it through—think about the timing like when you are guarding or using your counter to make the battles more easy."

Later on in the interview, Yasue continued to discuss how they wanted to set out to create a new experience for players seeking a challenge:

"So like I mentioned earlier, we adjusted a lot of the gameplay and we set out to create a new experience. Like creating new abilities for example. They are sort of oriented towards the technical side so people good at action games and know the exact timing on when to guard or do a counter, abilities are targeted toward that sort of gameplay. We wanted players to be able to clear the game in a fair battle, so we didn’t want people to feeling like it was unfair and getting cheated so we actually adjusted a lot of the AI in enemies as well, and it was a big effort we were all working on weekends doing this Critical [mode]. We wanted to get it right."

When asked about the difficulty of integrating beloved Disney characters into KH3, Yasue explained that they sought to approach the game with a simple, honest view that would resonate with both kids and long-time fans: 

"We watch the movies over and over and over again and really want to get it right, so we discuss that with our partners at Disney, see what they think throughout the plot. As a game designer, I really just go back and think about what my kids would love about the characters and what they would want to do with them. I think that standpoint about being honest and I guess having childish sort of mentality helps you because we realize what our  players want with the characters. For example, in Toy Story you cooperate with riding a rocket with Buzz and Woody. There was a lot of discussion on what we wanted to do with Buzz and Woody but at the end we think a lot of people just wanted to ride the rocket. It’s very simple, but it’s very iconic, and very close to the heart. Just being honest and standing back and seeing what your kids or your fans would want to come up with ideas for that."

You can watch the full interview with Yasue on Gamereactor.

 
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Nayru's Love

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For example, when I'm playing the Critical Mode now in development, I realized that cooking is really important all of a sudden.
*Sweats nervously*

For the beginner/standard modes, if you like cooking you can use cooking, but for Critical Mode, the wide array of gameplay that is there means you really have to utilize everything."
Whew, thought that was going in another direction there for a second.

On a more serious note, I find it endearing that the game is designed in mind with the fantasy of a child, and what they may find theatrical that older audiences can't envision as well. It's an incredibly obvious approach for a Disney game, yet somewhat contradictory to inevitable maturation of the series. I doubt it's easy to balance both.
 

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*Sweats nervously*
Well, if you have made ever recipe once, you can buy them from the Moogle Shop at least!

Whew, thought that was going in another direction there for a second.
CRITICAL MODE COOKING

On a more serious note, I find it endearing that the game is designed in mind with the fantasy of a child, and what they may find theatrical that older audiences can't envision as well. It's an incredibly obvious approach for a Disney game, yet somewhat contradictory to inevitable maturation of the series. I doubt it's easy to balance both.
It's pretty refreshing and yet so obvious, yeah. It's something we should all remember when playing it, too. Too many people get too serious about certain aspects that are meant to be fun and enjoyable.
 

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CRITICAL MODE COOKING
"In Critical Mode Cooking, Uncle Scrooge's Bistrot is considered like a real life restaurant so if the player fails too many dishes too many times, the whole place will go bankrupt and cooking will become permanently blocked and a new game will be required to restore the function.
Also the recipes are made more realistic so you have to cook every single ingredients the dish needs. With that in mind, we hope you enjoy the newly added recipe, the "58 eggs omelette". [Laughs]"
 

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"In Critical Mode Cooking, Uncle Scrooge's Bistrot is considered like a real life restaurant so if the player fails too many dishes too many times, the whole place will go bankrupt and cooking will become permanently blocked and a new game will be required to restore the function.
Also the recipes are made more realistic so you have to cook every single ingredients the dish needs. With that in mind, we hope you enjoy the newly added recipe, the "58 eggs omelette". [Laughs]"
I know you meant it as a joke but that first part honestly doesn’t sound like such a bad idea xD
 
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"In Critical Mode Cooking, Uncle Scrooge's Bistrot is considered like a real life restaurant so if the player fails too many dishes too many times, the whole place will go bankrupt and cooking will become permanently blocked and a new game will be required to restore the function.
Also the recipes are made more realistic so you have to cook every single ingredients the dish needs. With that in mind, we hope you enjoy the newly added recipe, the "58 eggs omelette". [Laughs]"
I know you meant it as a joke but that first part sounds honestly doesn’t sound like such a bad idea xD
Agreed. I'd totally play that if it was a thing. Like imagine them adding a scene where Remy looks disappointed.
 

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Hmm it has been hinted a couple times that Critical mode is coming (and I think we all know it is) but what else? Next time, I want to see the next interview focus on something different (unless this is all they’re working on)
 

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Hmm it has been hinted a couple times that Critical mode is coming (and I think we all know it is) but what else? Next time, I want to see the next interview focus on something different (unless this is all they’re working on)
Critical Mode is likely the only thing the marketing department is allowing them to speak on for right now. Any story-related content or larger additions will probably have some sort of special reveal meticulously planned by marketing.

Nomura already stated that they have plans for new DLC later this year, so this isn't it lol
 

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I'm going to be seething if they add RG, FF characters, and/or the Coliseum retroactively. Those all should've been in the base game as well as Critical Mode.
 

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I'm going to be seething if they add RG, FF characters, and/or the Coliseum retroactively. Those all should've been in the base game as well as Critical Mode.
It wouldn't be the first time the series added locations, bosses, and modes before...and it certainly isn't the only game released in 2018/2019 that has retroactively added content that felt like a no-brainer day one thing. This is the (sad and shitty) industry standard, and SE cornered the market on it over 17 years ago with their "International" versions of games that were filled with new content not in the original release for the sake of repackaging and reselling the same product to consumers.

I understand that not everybody is able to get these content updates. I'm really hoping that for your sake that they rerelease the game with the DLC on disk later on in the future.
 

Tartarus

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It wouldn't be the first time the series added locations, bosses, and modes before...and it certainly isn't the only game released in 2018/2019 that has retroactively added content that felt like a no-brainer day one thing.
I know that, yes. And I still do not feel a bit sad—or wrong—for criticizing them for it. I seriously doubt criticism on a forum is going to hurt the company or stop millions from giving them more money and rewarding their poor work / decisions.

The DLC will not be released on disk, I've already accepted that a while ago. That doesn't mean I'm not going to be pissed about it.
 

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I feel like I'm still getting used to this way of things of how games strive to improve their products after distribution. But at the very least, at least these updates are free.
 

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I know that, yes. And I still do not feel a bit sad—or wrong—for criticizing them for it. I seriously doubt criticism on a forum is going to hurt the company or stop millions from giving them more money and rewarding their poor work / decisions.

The DLC will not be released on disk, I've already accepted that a while ago. That doesn't mean I'm not going to be pissed about it.
In the same interview where he mentions that they've been working weekends trying their best to get things just right, I have to admit I expected everyone to show at least a little more understanding. But go off, I guess.
 

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In the same interview where he mentions that they've been working weekends trying their best to get things just right, I have to admit I expected everyone to show at least a little more understanding. But go off, I guess.
You need to understand. Developers arent people, they’re slaves that only exist for our own satisfaction! /s
 

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What I mentioned were only things I believe undeniably should’ve been in the first release of the game. It's not like I was talking about 3 new worlds, 15 more Keyblades, 10 bonus bosses, or multiple one-off scenarios with Kairi training and Riku in the World of Darkness. Strange you think I should show developers more sympathy and understanding than they show their customers. It's not like they put this game out so speedily and could be forgiven for lacking the basics upfront.
 

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What I mentioned were only things I believe undeniably should’ve been in the first release of the game. It's not like I was talking about 3 new worlds, 15 more Keyblades, 10 bonus bosses, or multiple one-off scenarios with Kairi training and Riku in the World of Darkness. Strange you think I should show developers more sympathy and understanding than they show their customers. It's not like they put this game out so speedily and could be forgiven for lacking the basics upfront.
Five years is the normal development time for a AAA game, though. And even then, they technically made the game in four years while being thrown around by upper management and running into huge development hurdles.

And yet the game was still finished. It isn’t an incomplete product. You still played a finished product.

I’m not disagreeing that they should have had this stuff in at launch because all of this was basic, yes, but I don’t think it is fair to say they haven’t treated their consumers well. They made the best game they believed they could make, and it’s clear that they didn’t think these would be missed by fans. It’s only after the fact when people brought it up that they better understood what it was that we were looking for. (And for certain things like FF, there was clear interest by the developers themselves considering how mad they were at Nomura about not being allowed to add it in, and a strong reverence for FF considering the sheer amount of references that are in the game, so it isn’t a black and white situation there)

Again, I don’t feel differently from you at all but this isn’t a situation where they fleeced us or lied or took our money for a broken, incomplete product.
 

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I'm going to be seething if they add RG, FF characters, and/or the Coliseum retroactively. Those all should've been in the base game as well as Critical Mode.
But are there any hints that these might even come as DLC? As far as I can remember he only hinted at a free critical mode and one big DLC which might explain Xion and stuff a bit more. I doubt we would get a whole new world or FF characters. I mean they only had done Leons model (so maybe just him) so they would have to create these models first and then have a good reason for them to even come into the game. (With VA and everything)

Something Coliseum like is honestly the only thing that I believe might happen next to some story explanation for scenes that gave some problems for some fans.

I also believe that its way better to have critical mode as a free DLC instead of it being in the game since the beginning. They seemingly take quite a big amount of time (their weekends even!) to create it and think about this and imo this is only possible because the main game is out now and because they got all the feedback. This way they can ajust to the demand. If we got critical mode from the start it could have been done right but I kinda doubt that, especially since for quite some proud is already too easy. So for me that is much better.

And as long as the paid DLC is nothing that was needed in the game or that was cut out of it to sell it (like some of those episodes of FF15 or even the ones in FF13-2), just something that might make it more clear, then all is fine with me.

In the end I am always surprised how well they did and how much we already had in the basic games (all the mini games and the hidden mickeys) since they had to change engine two times.

Of course people can still be disappointed, and have the right to post about this, but I feel that they truly gave us the game that they thought would be the best and now afterwards they are trying their hardest to please the rest too, with critical mode and other extra DLC.

What I mentioned were only things I believe undeniably should’ve been in the first release of the game.

It's not like they put this game out so speedily and could be forgiven for lacking the basics upfront.
But the question is, are those basics for them? Just because some fans wanted to have FF characters no matter what does not mean that they are a basic for this game. We have gotten less of them with each new game and Nomura has stated that they were there to sell more copies and he believes that it not necessary anymore. Maybe it just was not reasonable for them to put them in a game which was already quite big on characters? Maybe they saw no reason to include them as a cameo, especially since you need to create those character models, write a story for them and have it voiced.

Also a Coliseum was in older games but just because something was in these games does not mean that they are the basics and thus needs to be in each game too. Honestly I am not that sad that its not in there. I found it to be quite boring after a time and I am sure that there are others that also dont care.

Critical mode was also never something that was in the main games from the start and they are giving us that mode for free too.
 
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Again, I don’t feel differently from you at all but this isn’t a situation where they fleeced us or lied or took our money for a broken, incomplete product.
I didn't say that at any point in this thread, so I'm not sure what it is you're berating me over. I made a one-off comment that became a big to-do because I guess I didn't worship the developers or spitshine KH3 quite enough. Must every statement that can even be perceived as slightly negative have to follow a positive statement first to not instigate something?
 
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