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Unreal Engine and KH



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NoWay

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So today’s the day, the all mighty Unreal Engine 5 has been announced.


On the one hand, I’m impressed. On the other hand, I’m worried about KH.

What does the release of the UE5 and the new console generation mean for the future of KH?

I don’t know how the engines work, but do the developers need to begin the games from the scratch if they decide to use the new engine? Are all the assets from the UE4 “lost” if SE plans to release a next gen KH game? Which would mean to wait like 5 years for a new game? Or is it possible to “transfer” all the UE4 assets to the UE5? Would SE use an last gen engine for a possible AAA KH game in the next gen?
 

okhi12

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UE4 has already been confirmed to be forward compatible with UE5, don't worry. Minor compatibility issues are always a possibility but migrating their assets to UE5 shouldn't be too complicated.

I remember a few weeks ago I read a rumor on reddit about upcoming Square Enix AAA titles that are supposedly in development. I don't remember if that was posted here on KHI as well... probably not, because it was more than likely fake.
The thing is, one of the games was a new KH called "Kingdom Hearts Project OATH" that was going to be developed in UE5.
Some of the comments said that it was fake based on the fact that UE5 had not been announced yet. Now that it has, it gives some food for thought.
The post has been deleted but the comments are still there, with some new ones pointing that UE5 has been announced. I still think that rumor was as fake as Ven's wooden keyblade, but I might as well say it, just in case someone finds it interesting.

Unlike what happened with KH3 switching engines from Luminous to UE4 and the whole year of progress that was lost as a result,
whatever the next console KH game is, it could start being developed any time (if it hasn't already) in UE4 and then next year once UE5 is available any progress would be easily carried over to the new engine. It's a relief, I hope we don't have to wait 5 years again.
 

Lnds500

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I am very interested on how it will affect the next console entry. Hopefully they will switch it to UE5 and I can only imagine what they could do with the SSD and the new lightning. :love::love::love::love:
 

OneDandelion

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The way they describe the engine actually makes it sound like it would cut development time rather than prolong it because there is allegedly no need to worry about baking or adjusting polygon counts. But progress is rarely made without some kind of sacrifice, so I'm sure whether this results in new astronomical file sizes or shittier gameplay something is going to give.

Honestly, I guess my biggest worry is they use this to justify making games more expensive or that it results in a more cinematic experience than what we already have - because that trailer is beautiful, but walking up to an alter and pressing x to "interact" is not intriguing to me no matter how beautiful they make it look.
 

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I’m just hoping that the KH dev teams don’t see this and think they need to keep going in the direction of making everything hyper-detailed for every single world even when it doesn’t need to go that direction. It was why I found Mt. Olympus distracting in KH3. It looked BEAUTIFUL but it was also so different from the look of Hercules and there are a few clashing styles going on. I think there was a way to balance the 3D visuals while still invoking the style of the original 2D. I feel like the older KH games really hit that mark better because of the limited scope of older hardware.

At the same time they got so close in KH3 that I feel like it was mostly an issue with time and budget that kept them from really nailing that world’s art direction. It’s weird because it is still one of my favorite worlds to visit due to the beautiful visuals, but I can’t stand looking at Hercules and Meg for too long because there is something off about them.

ANYWAYS.

I will say I’m very impressed with the tech demo for UE5. I’d like to see how well looks when it is for graphics that aren’t striving for hyper-realism and focus on trying for a stylized look.
 

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I remember a few weeks ago I read a rumor on reddit about upcoming Square Enix AAA titles that are supposedly in development. I don't remember if that was posted here on KHI as well... probably not, because it was more than likely fake.
The thing is, one of the games was a new KH called "Kingdom Hearts Project OATH" that was going to be developed in UE5.
Some of the comments said that it was fake based on the fact that UE5 had not been announced yet. Now that it has, it gives some food for thought.
The post has been deleted but the comments are still there, with some new ones pointing that UE5 has been announced. I still think that rumor was as fake as Ven's wooden keyblade, but I might as well say it, just in case someone finds it interesting.
UE5 coming next-gen isn't the most farthest stretch in the world. There's been a new UE every gen thus far. Don't need inside knowledge to guess that one.
 

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I'm with Spock here and this applies to gaming in general: not all games need to strive to be the most realistic graphics

That said, UE5 is impressive. Five years from now I guess we'll be even more wowed by UE6
 

ultima-demi

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I’m just hoping that the KH dev teams don’t see this and think they need to keep going in the direction of making everything hyper-detailed for every single world even when it doesn’t need to go that direction. It was why I found Mt. Olympus distracting in KH3. It looked BEAUTIFUL but it was also so different from the look of Hercules and there are a few clashing styles going on. I think there was a way to balance the 3D visuals while still invoking the style of the original 2D. I feel like the older KH games really hit that mark better because of the limited scope of older hardware.

At the same time they got so close in KH3 that I feel like it was mostly an issue with time and budget that kept them from really nailing that world’s art direction. It’s weird because it is still one of my favorite worlds to visit due to the beautiful visuals, but I can’t stand looking at Hercules and Meg for too long because there is something off about them.

ANYWAYS.

I will say I’m very impressed with the tech demo for UE5. I’d like to see how well looks when it is for graphics that aren’t striving for hyper-realism and focus on trying for a stylized look.
I'm really hoping what they do is strive for something better than the first announcement trailer visual style. It always looked like a natural evolution of the series visuals in having a nice balance between the two. It manged to invoke something of a pastel/brushwork/watercolor style with higher quality 3D visuals, the Sora here always looked amazing to me because of it.

It sucks the KH shader was dropped for whatever reason because it was meant for the exact situation Mt. Olympus ended up being in with the weird style and off putting character models.

I remember this being a direction Nomura wanted in the beginning so i have no idea what happened.

"Ever since the first game, we've strived for a Disney-like brush quality in the graphic gradations. At the time, the [PlayStation 2] didn't have the processing power to allow us to freely adjust the lighting, so we had to make the brush-like visuals as textures. But the new hardware has become much more capable, so there is no 'no using lights' option. You can't get a real feeling of evolution by just making the standard graphics into HD, and I thought that simply recreating the pre-rendered movies from Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II isn't the direction we should be going for the series in the next generations, so the 'Kingdom Shader' was born."
 

Ballad of Caius

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Excuse the ignorance, but the Kingdom Shader was dropped?
It sucks the KH shader was dropped for whatever reason because it was meant for the exact situation Mt. Olympus ended up being in with the weird style and off putting character models.
The Kingdom Shader was dropped? I'm pretty sure it was specifically created for use with Unreal Engine.
 

ultima-demi

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Excuse the ignorance, but the Kingdom Shader was dropped?

The Kingdom Shader was dropped? I'm pretty sure it was specifically created for use with Unreal Engine.
I thought it was noticeable since one of the main points of the kh shader was made to invoke a paintbrush aesthetic which is obviously missing from KH3. Its why Hercules and Meg for example look so off, that paintbrush aesthetic isn't there

"The goal of the Kingdom Shader is to evoke the feel of the brush paintings" as per Nomura's words
 

ultima-demi

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Honestly, since they're so set in using so many CG properties from now on, they might as well go for something more realistic, akin to the FF series and old KH cg openings. It's not like something like Pirate Sora for example would look outta place or anything in those and original worlds, he looked better than everything else in the game including the opening models while still looking stylized
 

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Honestly, since they're so set in using so many CG properties from now on, they might as well go for something more realistic, akin to the FF series and old KH cg openings. It's not like something like Pirate Sora for example would look outta place or anything in those and original worlds, he looked better than everything else in the game including the opening models while still looking stylized
So all live-action remakes for KH4 then? :p
 

DizneyXBirds95

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I’m just hoping that the KH dev teams don’t see this and think they need to keep going in the direction of making everything hyper-detailed for every single world even when it doesn’t need to go that direction. It was why I found Mt. Olympus distracting in KH3. It looked BEAUTIFUL but it was also so different from the look of Hercules and there are a few clashing styles going on. I think there was a way to balance the 3D visuals while still invoking the style of the original 2D. I feel like the older KH games really hit that mark better because of the limited scope of older hardware.

At the same time they got so close in KH3 that I feel like it was mostly an issue with time and budget that kept them from really nailing that world’s art direction. It’s weird because it is still one of my favorite worlds to visit due to the beautiful visuals, but I can’t stand looking at Hercules and Meg for too long because there is something off about them.
Really? cause I have to respectfully disagree with you on Olympus @Oracle Spockanort, both Olympus and 100 Acre Wood in the Unreal Engine made most of the characters from those Traditionally animated worlds feel more fluid and expressive when compared to their previous appearances in past KH games. Even Maleficent, Jiminy Cricket, along with the Winnie the Pooh characters such as Piglet and Rabbit are much more animated than in past KH titles, even the latter character is able to change his expressions from his eyebrows whenever he's happy, angry and worried. Even the same can be said for the models for the Pirates of the Caribbean characters and how they looked so much better from their initial appearance in KH2.


Just imagine if worlds like Agrabah, The Land of Dragons, and Pride Lands, particularly the latter two worlds were implemented to KH3, in Unreal Engine 4 at least we wouldn't worry about Scar, The Hyenas, Timon and Pumbaa making two default expressions and being badly animated.

Hopefully the next KH game, KHIV, and Re: Union X (If it gets a remake) will utilize the 2D films as worlds in the Unreal Engine 4 cause from the models and animation were seen on the characters they made them much more animated.
 

Oracle Spockanort

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Really? cause I have to respectfully disagree with you on Olympus @Oracle Spockanort, both Olympus and 100 Acre Wood in the Unreal Engine made most of the characters from those Traditionally animated worlds feel more fluid and expressive when compared to their previous appearances in past KH games. Even Maleficent, Jiminy Cricket, along with the Winnie the Pooh characters such as Piglet and Rabbit are much more animated than in past KH titles, even the latter character is able to change his expressions from his eyebrows whenever he's happy, angry and worried. Even the same can be said for the models for the Pirates of the Caribbean characters and how they looked so much better from their initial appearance in KH2.


Just imagine if worlds like Agrabah, The Land of Dragons, and Pride Lands, particularly the latter two worlds were implemented to KH3, in Unreal Engine 4 at least we wouldn't worry about Scar, The Hyenas, Timon and Pumbaa making two default expressions and being badly animated.

Hopefully the next KH game, KHIV, and Re: Union X (If it gets a remake) will utilize the 2D films as worlds in the Unreal Engine 4 cause from the models and animation were seen on the characters they made them much more animated.
Definitely not speaking on animation which was top notch.

It’s the art direction. I think 100 Acre Wood, while being cute, misses the mark for the look of Winnie the Pooh. It’s clear they were trying for that sketchbook look but everything is too clean and crisp. It looks good but it’s too perfect. They would have done better if they had embraced a fully cel-shaded art direction.

Same with Hercules. Hades is the only character that they got right within this world. The titans are great because they aren’t human designs so they can look however they want. Herc, Meg, Phil, Zeus, the other gods that appear briefly, and Pegasus are too 3D for their own. The world is too detailed, too perfect, and the character models are rubbery/play-do-y but also have a lot of detail like in the hair.

Every other world looks fantastic. PotC is stunning. The worlds based on 3D animated films are stunning. It’s just the worlds based on traditionally animated films that do not feel right due to their drastically different looks from their source material. They aimed for a look but still wanted to utilize the UE4 engine to the fullest and it creates a contrasting art direction.

Like I said, the past games his the look for traditionally animated films better because of their engine limitations. They didn’t have to worry about ambient and global lighting, shadows, and realistic rock and wood and grass textures.
 

DizneyXBirds95

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Definitely not speaking on animation which was top notch.

It’s the art direction. I think 100 Acre Wood, while being cute, misses the mark for the look of Winnie the Pooh. It’s clear they were trying for that sketchbook look but everything is too clean and crisp. It looks good but it’s too perfect. They would have done better if they had embraced a fully cel-shaded art direction.

Same with Hercules. Hades is the only character that they got right within this world. The titans are great because they aren’t human designs so they can look however they want. Herc, Meg, Phil, Zeus, the other gods that appear briefly, and Pegasus are too 3D for their own. The world is too detailed, too perfect, and the character models are rubbery/play-do-y but also have a lot of detail like in the hair.

Every other world looks fantastic. PotC is stunning. The worlds based on 3D animated films are stunning. It’s just the worlds based on traditionally animated films that do not feel right due to their drastically different looks from their source material. They aimed for a look but still wanted to utilize the UE4 engine to the fullest and it creates a contrasting art direction.

Like I said, the past games hit the look for traditionally animated films better because of their engine limitations. They didn’t have to worry about ambient and global lighting, shadows, and realistic rock and wood and grass textures.
Gotcha and to each their own. I don't blame you for preferring the original graphics that were used from the first game up until Dream Drop Distance for the Disney worlds based on the traditionally animated films over the Unreal Engine 4 graphics @Oracle Spockanort.

You do bring up valid points regarding the UE4 designs for the traditionally animated characters in their homeworlds (e.g. the Hercules characters, the Winnie the Pooh characters) and those from outside their homeworlds (e.g. Maleficent, Pete, Merlin Jiminy Cricket) on how they looked to rubbery and that the art direction plus lighting can be a distraction. On top of that your right about the cel-shading cause Hades from the KH3 2017 Orchestra trailer looked much better than how he looked in the final version.

For the worlds based on the 3D films along with the Pixar characters and CG Disney characters under Unreal Engine 4 graphics, I'd say the ones that were fantastic were The Toy Story, Frozen, Big Hero 6 and the Monster's Inc. worlds.

The Tangled world is in the grey area, while I wouldn't say it's terrible I do find that the lighting and art direction in some portions of the world to be somewhat distracting such as the color of Rapunzel's dress, when she was interrogating Flynn Rider on the tower or the dark green color of Pascal. Even they couldn't get the eyes of Flynn Rider or Mother Gothel right with the latter character looking too perfect, which is unfortunate cause Rapunzel, Pascal and Maximus were the only ones that looked close to how they looked in the original film compared to the Frozen and Big Hero 6 characters, but that's just a nitpick and my own opinion cause Tangled is 8-10 years old when compared to the graphics and visuals of Frozen and Big Hero 6 3-4 years later. Of course Frozen did had issues such as the textures of the character's hair and moments of Olaf having a default Fish-face expression in some areas.

I'd say both the original graphics engine from KH1 to DDD and the Unreal Engine 4 have their own ups and downs if you ask me.

The positive of the original graphics as you said it yourself hit the look for the 2D movies in terms of art direction, lighting and limitations, the downside of the original graphics is that besides having some Disney characters having the default fish-face expressions (e.g. Scar, Mr. Smee, Jumbaa, Jaq, The Gargoyles from Hunchback, Sebastian, Phil, Timon, etc.) and not being well animated some of the visuals worlds (except Halloween Town) in the first game look the same minus the art style of the characters from those worlds. Kingdom Hearts II brought it up a notch and distinguished the visuals for which worlds are which from the 2D films, which ones are the Live-action ones (Port Royal, Space Paranoids) and Halloween Town (which was Stop-Motion)

For Unreal Engine 4, even if you might not like the visuals for Olympus and 100 Acre Wood as the lighting and the art direction for those respective worlds can be distracting, along with the characters minus Hades and the Titans looking too rubbery, I'd think the positive for them in the engine is that the characters now have more details (on their hair and clothing) and they look much more animated. On top of that, it made each of the Disney worlds (particularly The Caribbean and the CG films) more distinct from one another.

As to what extent the graphics of the Unreal Engine 5 will be like for the Disney worlds for a Future KH game, who knows? I think the one possibility is that with the UE5 they can make art direction for the Traditionally animated Disney films that become worlds to be more cel-shaded and its art direction matches the visuals of the original film but in 3D compared to the UE4. The live-action Disney films (Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, etc.) that become worlds will look so extremely realistic that it's hard to distinguish which is the film and which one is the game, and finally, for the Pixar and 3D Disney films that will become worlds (e.g. Zootopia, Moana, Frozen 2, Raya and the Last Dragon) I'd say they will look so much more detailed and looking accurate to their movie versions in terms of their hair/fur, eyes, clothing you name it, cause while UE4 did a good job on making the CG characters look accurate to the CG films some of them especially Sulley have issues with the hair where they look to fluffy or stiff and I don't blame them cause they are rendered in real time compared to how Pixar or Disney Animation does their graphics. But I'm optimistic that the Unreal Engine 5 will provide the CG characters with more details in the hair.
 

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Getting a game to look good has more to do with art than hardware or software. Engines don't automatically create models or textures. Some things they do help with, but without artistic vision and good programming, fancier engines don't magically make things look drastically better.
 

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Wonder if the shift to ue5 will have them trying again with the KH shader. Not sure if they changed their direction in what they had in mind with KH3 at first in not wanting it to recreate the visuals in the CGI "I thought that simply recreating the pre-rendered movies from Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II isn't the direction we should be going for the series in the next generations"
 

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Now that most of the Kingdom Hearts assets and models have been recreated in native HD, Square Enix now has the freedom and time to further improve upon the lighting, shaders and textures of the characters and worlds for future games.
 
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