the only villain on staff
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.