the only villain on staff
The Telegraph had the chance to speak to Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura during E3 2018 about Kingdom Hearts 3, touching briefly on Nomura's feelings on catering to new and old fans, the unique relationship Disney and Square Enix have with each other, the possibiity of having Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Kingdom Hearts, and Nomura's vision of making Kingdom Hearts feel similar to visiting a theme park.
When it comes to new and old fans for Kingdom Hearts, Nomura has never consciously tried to cater to them. His goal has always been on focusing on continuing the story they have been building over the last 16 years, which may cause some fans to be confused:
"I had to continue the story. But as a package, there is a definite start and a definite end. The core story is a continuation of past titles but there is one storyline for Kingdom Hearts 3.
New fans may have a hard time understanding all of it. As we have so many titles now, including the spin-offs, it would be too much to even try and summarise what the story is all about."
Considering just how long Kingdom Hearts has been running, there is always a question of just how much leeway Disney gives Nomura and his team when it comes to their properties and characters.
"It's not that we could freely do what we want, we always confirm with Disney and get approval for them for everything that we do. But I’ve always had a hunch on what I can’t do with Disney properties since we started the game. So it wasn’t too difficult to get things right under their guidelines. Now I’ve been working with Disney for a long time I know more of what I can and can’t do.
The guidelines have changed over the years, so there are things we can’t do any more that we used to be able to in the past, but I do think that Disney trusts us a lot more now than they did before, so I’m very grateful for that."
The relationship between Disney and Square Enix isn't directed by these guidelines that are in place, though. There is a much more open relationship between the two companies, especially when it comes to sharing information with Nomura's team. Due to the fact that Kingdom Hearts 3 is pulling from a lot of modern Disney and Pixar films, Nomura and the development team have been able to communicate with the teams at Disney in order share assets to study so they can bring those stories and characters to life in Kingdom Hearts 3.
"We can’t use the data as is, we have to recreate it ourselves, but sometimes when we create something that’s really good and Disney thinks it’s really good, they will ask for our information in return."
While never really getting much pushback on the games they want to make for Kingdom Hearts, their close relationship doesn't always mean that they can get everything they want into the series:
"No titles have actually been rejected so far. It’s not really a title or film but I did ask to see if Oswald was possible but the answer we received from Disney was that it would be difficult to do. I didn’t receive any details as to why."
Of course, that does not mean Kingdom Hearts 3 won't be chock-full of fun and exciting Disney content. Nomura has always wanted to add something like "Attraction Flow" into the Kingdom Heartsseries for years:
"This falls in line with the concept I had for Kingdom Hearts from the start. I wanted to create a game that is like a theme park. Where there is a lot of characters and a lot of games and fun. So when I was looking to create something new for Kingdom Hearts 3 I thought the rides would be a good motif."
Thanks to forum user Zip for the tip!