Now that Kingdom Hearts III is finally near-release, locked in to a launch on January 29th, its developers are ready to speak about what took the game so long.
Speaking in an interview with Newsweek, co-director Tai Yasue has revealed some of the factors that led to the nearly 14-year wait between games (not counting the series’ many mobile and handheld titles that fill in the story between Kingdom Hearts II and III).
“One of the main factors was the decision to switch the game engine to develop the game,” Yasue revealed. “Our current engine is great in terms of developing a high end AAA title, but because there was a change in technology and work flows, it took some time for the team to adapt and adjust.”
Some of these changes, Yasue added, are the ones that allow Sora and his friends a great deal more motion than in past games, letting them dive, slide, climb walls, and explore worlds without the constant loading screens between stages. However, progress wasn’t all smooth.
“It was similar to a roller coaster experience, with lots of ups, downs, and wild turns,” Yasue said. “Although at times it was a difficult and stressful experience, it was always exciting because we had a huge development team with specialists in so many fields. We had technical animators working full time on hair, engineers who could calculate and code the realistic movement of waves, and special effect designers who created dust particles in the air that would react to the movement of characters. We even had an expert who made dandelion seeds look extra fluffy!”
The team had some strict artistic standards to stick to, since the goal wasn’t just to make a game that looked good, but a game that resembled “the original [Disney properties] as much as possible.”
In the end, though Yasue believes all the effort and the wait will be worth it.
“I’m truly sorry to have kept everyone waiting for so long! It took a while, but we really wanted to make sure the game met everyone’s expectations,” he said. “I hope, more than I’ve hoped for anything else in my 20 years of making games, that you all enjoy it.”
Kingdom Hearts III releases on January 29th for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.