KH3 Ultimania: Interview with Eiji Saito (Art Director: Environment)
DISCLAIMER: This is only a tentative review. It is possible that there are mistakes.
Previously worked on: KH 2.8, FFXIII, FFXIII-2, Lightning Returns: FFXIII, The 3rd Birthday
Q: What kind of work were you responsible for?
A: Art direction for all of the backgrounds, as well as management for the background team, the schedules, and being in charge of all management as a whole.
Q: Please tell us if you used any references from past works in the series, or if there was anything you thought about changing.
A: Since 13 years passed since the development of KH2, and two generations of game consoles as well, I spent quite a lot of time keeping the feel and atmosphere of previous works while at the same time working on showing the charm of how art/techniques have evolved. Twilight Town in particular has evolved very much from its past iteration, so please check it out for yourself while playing.
Q: Which point was the greatest struggle?
A: When we were starting to develop each world, using the [original] proposal as a basis, we estimated the amount of work and time needed, but because the KH series calls for worlds with distinct appearances and play styles, and it was necessary to remain loyal to the original movies, we weren't really able to re-use any of the data. Because of that, the amount of work massively increased, much more than our expectations, so every time we ended up incredibly troubled. There was no end to the struggles on the side of the developers, but from the perspective of the player, I think [they] feel there aren't so many games as extravagant as this one.
Q: Please tell us something you won't forget about the development process.
A: At the beginning of development, as part of our studies on PBR (physically based rendering) (note: this is a way of rendering that tries to simulate the natural flow of light in the real world), volunteers from the company went out to cities, mountains, sightseeing spots, observation decks, theme parks, and so on to measure data for inspection. Very quickly early in the new year we went out to the riverside, and after watching the sun rise orange, the pain of the five hours we spent shivering in the cold while measuring the illumination [of the sun] and doing photoshoots is a memory that, even now, I remember fondly.
BONUS! "A secret about the game only you know"
In Toy Box, Sora and his friends become toys, but when making their sizes smaller we ran into problems with the condition of the data, so we left the size of the characters as is and instead increased the size of the background 5-8 times larger than normal.