Kat Bailey from USGamer has published their interview with Kingdom Hearts creator Tetsuya Nomura. The E3 interview touches on subjects such as Monster's Inc. character designs, Aqua's reveal, saying goodbye to characters and a lot more.
The first question that USGamer asked Nomura about was if he was happy or a little sad about the Dark Seeker Saga finally coming to a close after more than 15 years. Nomura expresses that he's not really happy or sad about the Saga coming to a close, but he is sad about saying goodbye to characters who won't be back after this game.
Yes. It does come to an end, but I'm not fully swayed to one emotion. I'm not really happy, I'm not really sad. Although I do feel a little sad when I think some characters will probably never appear ever again. Once I think about that, it makes me a little sad. But other than that I'm just more relieved that I was able to tell the full story.
The questions then turned towards the Pixar worlds, which are appearing for the first time in the Kingdom Hearts series. Nomura repeated that he has always wanted Pixar worlds in Kingdom Hearts, but Disney told him it would be difficult to incorporate the Pixar films. Thankfully the situation has changed and Pixar is finally able to be represented in Kingdom Hearts III.
One of the most interesting parts of the Monster's Inc. reveal back at D23 Japan 2018 was the monster designs for the main trio of characters. Goofy, in particular, caught the eye of many individuals. Nomura explains that there were certain guidelines that they had to follow, and those influenced how characters would look in that world:
For Pixar world, the desires that [the Monsters Inc. and Toy Story teams] had for their titles were really strong. We had a lot of guidelines to abide by in terms of how they appear. Comparing the two worlds, Monster's Inc. had more guidelines that we had to follow, and were a little more clear cut in the details. The coloration, for example, or whether a character only had one eye. When we took a look at those guidelines and figured out what we had to do, we felt that Donald should look this way and then Goofy should look this way. We also had a lot of input from the Pixar team that worked on Monsters Inc. We did pretty much follow their guidelines as well as their feedback for those characters.
The Gummi Ship has been absent from the Kingdom Hearts series since Kingdom Hearts II, with world options being replaced with Keyblade Gliders (Birth by Sleep), a diving segment (Dream Drop Distance), and world selection from a list (358/2 Days and Re:coded). Now that the Gummi Ship is making its return, Nomura expressed that the Gummi ship is a part of the basics of Kingdom Hearts. Since this is the first numbered title in a while, it was necessary to have everything return and complete the 'package'. Nomura then explains that this is the same formula that Hironobu Sakaguchi told him about the Final Fantasy series, that "Final Fantasy is a title that just has everything in it".
Turning the discussion towards Aqua, USGamer asks Nomura to speak on what we can expect to see from Aqua and her recent changes, as seen in the Microsoft trailer at E3 2018.
I do know that she is a popular character among her fans. I'm sure many are shocked to see [her eyes]. People were more shocked than I expected that they would be. I can't really go into much detail about her because I will just spoil everything, but something does happen in Kingdom Hearts 3 that make her seem like how she is right now in the trailer. I think all I can say is that the player is the only one that can save her from him.
Pirates of the Caribbean is making its return to the Kingdom Hearts series, after the world first appeared in Kingdom Hearts II. The world boasts live action characters as opposed to animated characters, which Kingdom Hearts usually sticks to. Nomura explains that there are now a number of photorealistic games out there, and it is more common than 'cartoony' games. The challange to take a live action world and see how realistic they could make the world be while still fitting in with the overall aesthetic of the series appealed to Nomura.
And why did they choose At World's End over Dead Man's Chest?
The second and the third movie are connected and the second movie doesn't really have an ending because it takes you to the third movie. It didn't really make sense to go with that one because it doesn't really have a clear ending with that film. We decided to go with the third film which had a clear ending.
Kingdom Hearts III is marking a return for the series on home consoles, after a number of titles were released across a variety of handheld titles. When asked about Nomura's intentions with exploring side stories before finishing the story, Nomura explained that while he didn't have a specific order in mind for the release schedule, the games were released in order of conception or idea.
The Kingdom Hearts series has been going on for over 16 years now. As a veteran series of Disney games, one might think that it would be easier to approach Disney and get ideas and details approved, however that is not the case.
I can say that it has actually been increasingly difficult to get approvals from Disney. That's mainly because in the past Kingdom Hearts titles, the creator wasn't around anymore or the team that used to create those titles wasn't there anymore. There was just this one person that we would just have to go to and they would approve it and we'd be fine and good to go. But because we've been featuring recent titles, they still have existing teams for existing creators that are still working in Disney and still working on a certain title. That feedback process just has been a little bit more difficult than before. And each team would have a different set of rules and guidelines and they would say different things, or they would look at different things. It's just been a little different that how it used to be because Kingdom Hearts is a bigger title than it was before. I think that whenever we would bring our previous titles, a lot of people at Disney, and this is my assumption, but I do assume that they probably didn't know what Kingdom Hearts was. They'd go, "What's Kingdom Hearts? I have no idea." But now that it's become a bigger title, a lot more people have been involved in than before. In that sense the relationship with Disney has changed quite a bit. Emotional changes I don't really know if there has been any changes emotionally for me. But at least physically I can say those were the changes that we had with Disney.
As mentioned earlier, including the worlds of Pixar meant that certain guidelines had to be followed. But it's not Toy Story or Monster's Inc. that had the most amount of guidelines that the teams had to follow, it was Frozen.
USGamer asks Nomura about the process of creating new areas for these levels, and brings up how they would have to approach the content creators to get input into what areas not seen would look like, whereas areas for levels based on Aladdin would have been implimented easier.
Since you mention Aladdin, I'll just use Aladdin as an example. Since there isn't anyone that we could ask about adding more areas to Aladdin, it was actually easier because we could just create them on our own. But speaking of advantages, because all these films were made in CG, we weren't able to use the character models as is. But we were able to receive a lot of different assets that we could actually base references on them to create, and I think we were able do it a bit easier than we were able to do with our past titles, as well as create something with higher quality because the original title was in CG.
The final question that USGamer asked Nomura about relates to Final Fantasy and its presence in Kingdom Hearts III. Characters from the franchise have been absent in trailers and fans are beginning to wonder if Final Fantasy has been cut from the series altogether.
I can't disclose too much about the Final Fantasy characters or whether or not they'll be in Kingdom Hearts 3, because I can only speak to what's been shown. But the reason you haven't been shown any Final Fantasy characters is that there are so many original characters that need to resolve their own problems and issues. And because their issues and problems are very difficult, there just hasn't been that much space to fit Final Fantasy characters so far." When you look back on the first Kingdom Hearts, Sora was still a new character, so we kind of had the Final Fantasy characters as supporting characters. But now that it's been 15 years, the original characters are more polished than they were before, so I don't think think they need the Final Fantasy characters help as much as they did before. [...] Also, when we first released Kingdom Hearts, there weren't that many other titles that brought together the Final Fantasy characters. I actually think that Kingdom Hearts may have been the first to do that. But nowadays, there are an abundance of titles that do that, so I don't see the value of having that kind of feature in the game anymore. But that doesn't mean that I'm saying that there won't be any Final Fantasy characters. Please look forward to future information.