Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] features new worlds based on films like Tron Legacy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Fantasia. We sat down with Tai Yasue, Co-Director of Kingdom Hearts 3D, to discuss how the team picked the worlds and why they added characters from The World Ends With You into the game.
How did you pick the worlds? You have the Hunchback of Notre Dame world; the Musketeers, which isn’t as well known; and Fantasia, which is a key film.
Tai Yasue, Director: Each world has its difference and meaning. Notre Dame had a lot of user feedback. A lot of users wanted Notre Dame to be added, so we listened to them and we put that in. For The Three Musketeers, we thought it would just be interesting that Mickey, Donald and Goofy were dressed differently. [They] were sort of themselves but in a different way. We thought that would be sort of fresh.
For Fantasia, we wanted players to play with the music. We have some nice classical music, so I guess a music-centric game.
I remember reading in another interview that you were originally thinking about having the original Tron world in the game, and then you decided to go for [Tron] Legacy. Sora was supposed to go to the original Tron world and Riku would go to Legacy. Can you tell us about that?
That was Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, but we also considered Tron, too. I think we wanted Tron: Legacy at the very beginning, but for Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, we were thinking about that. Sora was going to go to Fantasia and Riku was going to go to Fantasia 2000.
We wanted Sora and Riku to go to the same world but in a different way, but at the very end, we looked at a lot of music and locations in Fantasia and thought that was really rich, and we wanted to concentrate on the best locations, so we concentrated on one Fantasia.
A lot of fans are happy to see The World Ends With You characters in Traverse Town. It was kind of cool how you had Joshua explain what was going on between Sora and Riku.
Well, actually, Nomura wanted The World Ends With You added and we wanted to sort of change Traverse Town. We always use that world, so we wanted to make it fresh and new in a way that would work. The fields for example were buildings that looked sort of like Shibuya with a lot of graffiti and we had a change of look.
For previous Kingdom Hearts, we’ve used a lot of Final Fantasy characters and we wanted a departure from that for Traverse Town, so The World Ends With You was a natural selection.
What was it like programming the AI for all the different Dream Eaters?
We actually used a different AI system for [Kingdom Hearts] 3D. During Birth by Sleep, it was script-based, but for 3D, we used a new game flow tool. For one Dream Eater, there’s actually several “characters”. Several personalities. So if you have your mascot characters, they would do different things. We were able to have the freedom to make a wide variety of tweaks and changes for the Dream Eaters.
For the mascot Dream Eaters that you carry along with you, they actually change along the way if you pet them and stuff. So it really depends on the character. They might just sleep, they might be really useless, or they might be angry all the time and attack a lot. Overall, there was a lot more AI than Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
What are you going to do with all that AI for a future Kingdom Hearts game? What are you going to do with all this tech that you developed for 3D?
Well, there are a lot of ideas coming along. I’m not really in a position to talk about the next Kingdom Hearts, but I think AI is something that we really have put more power into. For the next-gen consoles like the PS3 for example, there’s a lot more things you can do compared to the 3DS, just because there’s a lot more CPU power. So, if we were to make a game for the next-gen [systems], for the PS3 for example, we would rather like to utilize that part.
Tomorrow, Yasue’s going to talk about the Flowmotion system and how they designed Kingdom Hearts 3D to give players more freedom on how they approach the game.