Hearts And Minds

In­side the decade-long devel­op­ment of King­dom Hearts III – a tale of how col­lab­o­ra­tion and de­ter­mi­na­tion can achieve the im­pos­si­ble


In­side the decade-long deca mak­ing of

King­dom Hearts Hear III, a tale of two very dif­fer­ent per­fec­tion­ist p cre­ators

Thank Buzz Lightyear that King­dom Hearts III ex­ists. That’s a bizarre sen­tence – and as such, en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate. Square Enix’s long-awaited RPG is a hy­brid world in which the im­pos­si­ble is some­how made re­al­ity. Key­bladewield­ing hero Sora stands shoul­der to shoul­der with Mickey Mouse and Don­ald Duck, and runs through en­vi­ron­ments plucked from some of the most beloved an­i­mated films of all time. It is playable Dis­ney, shot through with anime styling. It is weird. It shouldn’t ex­ist.

In­deed, it’s taken years – more than ten of them – to make it hap­pen. This is the re­sult of a painstak­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Square Enix and The Walt Dis­ney Com­pany, two sets of very dif­fer­ent but equally per­fec­tion­ist cre­ators. Keep­ing both sides happy is no easy task: Dis­ney is not ex­actly famed for its lais­sez-faire ap­proach to its IP port­fo­lio. Square, mean­while, is pro­tec­tive of its own care­fully con­structed worlds, the King­dom

Hearts uni­verse in par­tic­u­lar cher­ished by a le­gion of fans who con­nect deeply to its story.

So yes, the col­lab­o­ra­tion took a while. The end­less back-and-forth be­tween artists and their own ideas of what this game should be, an un­ex­pected change of en­gines early on in devel­op­ment, the sheer size of the team re­quired to make a King­dom Hearts game more open than any pre­vi­ous se­ries en­try – all of this fur­ther com­pli­cated an al­ready com­plex project. And then there’s Tet­suya No­mura, a man so com­mit­ted to his vi­sion of the per­fect Dis­ney RPG that un­less it’s ex­actly right, he’d rather it didn’t ex­ist at all.

For the se­ries di­rec­tor, mak­ing King­dom Hearts III with­out the Toy Story li­cence was un­think­able. “Af­ter we were done with King­dom Hearts II and were start­ing to con­sider III, we started talks with Dis­ney,” he tells us. “I re­mem­ber say­ing, ‘If we can’t use Pixar, then we can’t have a third game.’ It’s that im­por­tant to the game se­ries. The whole world loves Toy Story – ev­ery­body feels the ap­peal of that story and those char­ac­ters. So yeah, at the very be­gin­ning I di­rectly said to them, “If we can’t get this, I don’t want to do it’.”

Ev­ery­thing sprang from No­mura’s per­sonal love of Buzz and Woody’s an­i­mated ad­ven­tures, and his in­sis­tence that it form the back­bone of the game. Toy Story was the first IP that Square en­tered into ne­go­ti­a­tions with Pixar for, and had the long­est ap­proval process by far. “I wrote a gen­eral

“I re­mem­ber say­ing, ‘If we can’t use Pixar, then we can’t have a third game.’ It’s that im­por­tant to the game se­ries”

out­line of the story and I sub­mit­ted it to Pixar,” he says. “It took them sev­eral years to okay the story and the char­ac­ter de­signs.” Per­haps not en­tirely sen­si­bly, this make-or-break start­ing point had ended up func­tion­ing as the test­ing ground for the nascent re­la­tion­ship.

Trust had to be built up over time, but Square couldn’t talk to Pixar di­rectly: it had to go through Dis­ney’s peo­ple, who would come and go from year to year. “You know, this is ul­ti­mately just a dis­cus­sion be­tween hu­man be­ings,” No­mura says. “Pre­vi­ous to King­dom Hearts III, I think these com­pa­nies kind of saw it more as like, sec­ondary rights per­mis­sions. They saw it more as a prod­uct, like you would a branded toy or some­thing. This time, it was cre­ator to cre­ator – it was some­body who had made this an­i­ma­tion, and some­body who was mak­ing this game. We were com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other, my­self and these peo­ple, so that added an ex­tra level of com­plex­ity, be­cause each cre­ator has their own de­sires, ideas and con­cepts.”

King­dom Hearts III had to be a Dis­ney game, of course, but it also had to be a Square Enix one. The lo­gis­tics were go­ing to be tricky, but at least the­mat­i­cally the world of Toy Story suited the mashup well. “We were talk­ing to [Pixar story su­per­vi­sor] Ja­son Katz,” co-di­rec­tor Tai Ya­sue says, “and what he said was he wanted us to make a Toy Story world – a toy store – that they couldn’t.” The re­sult is Galaxy Toys, a gor­geous vir­tual play­ground filled with both recog­nis­able Dis­ney el­e­ments and plenty of artis­tic ref­er­ences to Ja­panese toy cul­ture. A prize dis­penser in the cen­tre tow­ers over a shrunken Sora and friends: run up the in­ner ramp, and your choice of three ride­able rails whizzes you off to a new ex­plorable area. It’s some­where be­tween gum­ball and gacha ma­chine, a neat fu­sion of east and west.

And then there are the Gi­gas, the driv­able mechs that No­mura de­signed and pushed hard to be in­cluded. “Yeah, I think the first thing [that he con­cepted] was the ro­bots,” Ya­sue laughs. “I shouldn’t say Gun­dam here, but yeah, they’re in­spired by that sort of cul­ture. We sort of wanted it to be true to what we do – Square Enix-like. And Pixar was ac­tu­ally very open to that. We had this back and forth with Pixar: it placed a lot of im­por­tance on the toys. They’re ro­bots, but they’re also toys, so they re­ally wanted that in­cor­po­rated.” The first de­signs were even built in a kind of

“We wanted to be true to what we do – Square Enix-like. And Pixar was ac­tu­ally very open to that. We had this back and forth”

vir­tual card­board with Un­real En­gine 4’s blue­print fea­ture, main­tain­ing a tem­po­rary, toy-like feel from the off as the team ex­per­i­mented with how the Gi­gas would move, fight and shoot. The re­sult is de­light­ful. Mechs swing their arms and ro­tate their tor­sos in a won­der­fully jerky man­ner. Look closer, and you can see the screws hold­ing them to­gether: pop open the hatch to climb in­side, and the sound isn’t me­tal­lic, but pleas­ingly pla­s­ticky.

It was proof pos­i­tive to Pixar that Square could pay homage to one of its most trea­sured IPs while adding its own sense of in­di­vid­u­al­ity into the de­sign. In fact, in­cor­po­rat­ing orig­i­nal el­e­ments into a Dis­ney IP was far eas­ier than al­ter­ing what was al­ready there. While Square was given plenty of lee­way with re­gards to new toy de­signs, at­tempt­ing any change to the stan­dard Toy Story nar­ra­tive by in­te­grat­ing it into that of King­dom Hearts III proved dif­fi­cult. In­deed, each of the Dis­ney worlds in

King­dom Hearts III – Pi­rates Of The Caribbean’s Port Royal, Frozen’s King­dom Of Aren­delle, Mon­sters, Inc’s Mon­stropo­lis and Big Hero 6’s San Fran­sokyo among them – pre­sented its own chal­lenge. “Each ti­tle has a dif­fer­ent team in charge of it,” No­mura says. “The sto­ry­line is the very heart of Toy Story. Whereas with Mon­sters, Inc, it’s more about the world that they’ve built. So we’d be told, ‘Oh, well, ac­tu­ally there aren’t mon­sters of this colour,’ or ‘There are no mon­sters that have eyes like that’, or ‘The mon­sters in this world wouldn’t use that word’.”

In­deed, if you thought No­mura was a per­fec­tion­ist – well, you’d be right. “I’m a bit more laid-back,” Ya­sue laughs. “I get a lot of lee­way to do a lot of the bat­tles, so there’s a lot of cre­ative free­dom in do­ing that, not a lot of re­stric­tions. But No­mura is very in­ter­ested, for ex­am­ple, in a char­ac­ter’s face.” Ya­sue, as co-di­rec­tor was work­ing in a dif­fer­ent sphere to No­mura’s ob­ses­sive con­trol over the game’s art and story, but of­ten found him­self re­lay­ing mes­sages be­tween No­mura and the de­sign­ers. “We have a lot of these back and forths, for ex­am­ple, on the colour of a char­ac­ter’s eyes, or the space be­tween his mouth and nose,” he says. “No­mura and [Toru] Ya­mazaki, the char­ac­ter de­signer, com­mu­ni­cate a lot. I’m sort of in the mid­dle, do­ing the back and forth. Things like the white­ness of Sora’s eyes – there’s a high­light, right, in his eyes – and not just Sora, but all the char­ac­ters. How clouds look, how the rip­ples are

The Gi­gas proved Square could pay homage to one of Pixar’s most trea­sured IPs while adding its own sense of in­di­vid­u­al­ity

With the poly­gon counts of Dis­ney’s an­i­ma­tion mod­els too low to use in a videogame, ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing in the Dis­ney worlds had to be re­made

when you walk in wa­ter.” We won­der just how spe­cific one can rea­son­ably be about rip­ples. Ya­sue laughs again: “It has to look good, I guess. Rich. He’s very de­tail-ori­ented.”

So is Dis­ney. When it came to de­sign, the ul­ti­mate aim was to recre­ate the Dis­ney films al­most ex­actly. While pre­vi­ous games in the se­ries were made by de­sign­ers watch­ing the films over and over again, scru­ti­n­is­ing them and copy­ing the de­tails, King­dom Hearts III was to be far more ac­cu­rate and would re­quire per­mis­sion to use Dis­ney’s own re­sources. Sev­eral prob­lems im­me­di­ately pre­sented them­selves. Firstly, the tools Dis­ney uses to cre­ate an­i­ma­tions are, nat­u­rally, not the same as those used by Square to make games. With the poly­gon counts of Dis­ney’s ba­sic an­i­ma­tion mod­els too low to use in a game, and those of the fi­nal film ver­sions far too high, ev­ery­thing in the Dis­ney worlds – char­ac­ters, an­i­ma­tions, en­vi­ron­ments – had to be re­made from scratch. Dis­ney is choosy about the data it shares, too. Square re­ceived only the ba­sic poly­gon shapes of a char­ac­ter, with guide­lines for where the var­i­ous hair and ma­te­ri­als should be, but not the con­tent it­self. Square’s artists would have to recre­ate shaders, hair and ma­te­rial them­selves.

Dis­ney might not be pre­pared to share de­tails such as the spe­cific pat­tern of snowflakes on the veil cov­er­ing Elsa’s dress, but Square Enix’s recre­ation would have to be to Dis­ney stan­dards. It was back to study­ing the films. The data for how ma­te­rial would drape needed to be con­tex­tu­alised: Dis­ney sent over the data for a fully stretched-out veil, so as to con­vey the cor­rect di­men­sions, but Square it­self needed to pro­gram the physics of how it nat­u­rally fell around the char­ac­ter. Dis­ney uses cross-sim­u­la­tion to au­to­mat­i­cally cal­cu­late the move­ment of hair and fab­rics in its films, but for

King­dom Hearts III, these ma­te­ri­als would have to have hun­dreds of in­di­vid­ual, physics-pro­grammed ‘bones’, added by hand to pro­duce an an­i­ma­tion qual­ity sim­i­lar to the films. Elsa con­tains 348 in­di­vid­ual bones. Pi­rates Of The Caribbean’s Tia Dalma, with her mul­ti­ple, in­tri­cate and more re­al­is­tic lay­ers of cloth­ing, is pack­ing about 700. Weekly tele­con­fer­ences be­tween the in­di­vid­ual

King­dom Hearts III teams and Dis­ney cre­ators helped keep the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open. Dis­ney would send over the data it was will­ing to share; the King­dom Hearts III teams worked to com­plete it as ac­cu­rately as pos­si­ble us­ing their own re­sources; the as­sets would then be sent back to Dis­ney for ap­praisal, who would feed back any re­quested changes, and the back-and-forth would con­tinue un­til the finished re­sult was up to par.

In-en­gine cutscenes drew par­tic­u­lar scru­tiny from Dis­ney. It would ask for minute al­ter­ations such as in­sist­ing a char­ac­ter show less teeth, hav­ing their eye­lids move dif­fer­ently or their line of sight ad­justed (Pixar’s un­ex­pected notes on the im­por­tance of a char­ac­ter’s line of sight, the de­vel­op­ers tell us, were in­stru­men­tal in rais­ing the gen­eral qual­ity of the an­i­ma­tion through­out the game). Sur­pris­ingly, then, it was less that Dis­ney be­came im­pa­tient with the amount of time it was tak­ing to per­fect the de­tails of the game: if any­thing, it was the op­po­site. “To be hon­est, it was us that were wor­ried about how long things were tak­ing, not them,” No­mura says. “They weren’t rush­ing us along or any­thing – con­versely, we were try­ing to rush them.”

Which is not to say No­mura and team were sit­ting on their hands wait­ing for the phone to ring. As fas­ci­nat­ing a tale as this back-and-forth be­tween two cre­ative com­pa­nies on dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents may be, Square Enix had its own in­ter­nal prob­lems to sur­mount. A decade is a long time in videogame devel­op­ment, af­ter all; no team has the lux­ury of sit­ting still while the world out­side races past. And with King­dom Hearts III – which was al­ways in­tended as a ti­tle for this gen­er­a­tion, No­mura tells us, de­spite devel­op­ment be­gin­ning in the PS3 era – des­tined to be the se­ries’ big­gest and most tech­ni­cally de­mand­ing yet, it­er­a­tions to both the game and the struc­ture of the team were sorely needed. “The ba­sics were the same, right, we just wanted a fun game – but it was just more vast,” Ya­sue says.

In terms of both cost and per­son­nel, Toy Story’s world would prove chal­leng­ing to cre­ate, with so many orig­i­nal toys need­ing to be de­signed; the more re­al­is­ti­cally ren­dered Pi­rates Of The Caribbean world was, too, both be­cause of the dif­fi­culty in match­ing the live-ac­tion film as closely as pos­si­ble and the na­ture of the player’s in­ter­ac­tions with it. “It’s bat­tle-based, but it’s not with Sora: you’re rid­ing a ship, and so you have these ship bat­tles that are very dif­fer­ent. And with ex­plo­ration – swim­ming in the sea, and ex­plor­ing cav­erns – you have to be re­ally care­ful be­cause peo­ple get lost.” King­dom Hearts III’s

“It was a whole year that we had to kind of rewind and restart,” No­mura says, be­fore adding that the change was ul­ti­mately a ben­e­fi­cial one

en­vi­ron­men­tal art di­rec­tor tells us that mak­ing the ocean was “al­most like mak­ing a whole other game.”

It was clear that the usual top-down struc­ture of most Ja­panese game-devel­op­ment com­pa­nies wasn’t go­ing to suit the needs of such a huge, next-gen un­der­tak­ing: with much of King­dom

Hearts III’s ap­peal due to sheer breadth and va­ri­ety, it be­ing as­sem­bled in parts by in­ter­nal teams and ex­ter­nal con­tractees, with the coun­sel of Dis­ney cre­ators, there’d have to be a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to team man­age­ment. And the change was far from sim­ple. Square’s in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions, for in­stance, were in dire need of a re­fresh. “There was a lot of dif­fi­culty com­mu­ni­cat­ing, I guess, be­cause there were so many peo­ple and in­di­vid­ual teams,” Ya­sue says. “Con­nect­ing that, and com­mu­ni­cat­ing to set clear goals was very dif­fi­cult. If you don’t set them, peo­ple get the wrong idea.”

The so­lu­tion was to be­gin hold­ing weekly meet­ings for each team. Com­put­ers would be hooked up to the two big screens in the Osaka head­quar­ters’ break room, and the team as a whole would be shown the week’s progress for their sec­tion of the game, and in­vited to pro­vide feed­back. “And we’d iter­ate on that,” Ya­sue ex­plains. “For the player, for ex­am­ple, each ac­tion, each move, we showed it to ev­ery­one else, and ac­tu­ally played it. Move by move. We’d dis­cuss the mo­tions, an­i­ma­tions, ef­fects. I think it gave peo­ple a sense that we were united, that ev­ery­one was tak­ing part.” The pre­sen­ta­tions were re­layed re­motely to the team in Tokyo, and a new in­ter­nal video chan­nel was cre­ated for King­dom Hearts III, where Square’s own home­made devel­op­ment doc­u­men­taries could share in­for­ma­tion through­out the com­pany on each team’s progress.

It may have taken a while for Square to ad­just to a new struc­ture, but the time in­vest­ment was in­stru­men­tal in mak­ing a game of this scale with the qual­ity and at­ten­tion to de­tail needed. Change was tough, but nec­es­sary. So it proved, too, in the more tech­ni­cal as­pects of the game’s cre­ation: all told, King­dom Hearts III’s devel­op­ment spanned three game en­gines across the decade. Ex­per­i­ments in game­play de­sign be­gan in Un­real En­gine 3, Ya­sue tells us: de­sign goals were de­cided upon, af­ter which pro­duc­tion of­fi­cially be­gan in Square’s own in-house en­gine, Lu­mi­nous. “There was a lot of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween us and the Ad­vanced Tech­nol­ogy Divi­sion in Tokyo,” he says. “We learned a lot from that – how to make triple-A games for this age, this gen­er­a­tion.”

Af­ter a full year of cre­at­ing King­dom Hearts III in Lu­mi­nous, how­ever, man­age­ment sud­denly an­nounced that devel­op­ment would be restarted in Un­real En­gine 4. “We had our own com­pany rea­sons, es­sen­tially,” No­mura says. “It wasn’t some­thing that we had any­thing to do with, it was de­cided higher up.” A com­mon-sense ex­ec­u­tive de­ci­sion, per­haps: in this day and age, shift­ing to third­party tech with a com­mu­nity and sup­port sys­tem as solid as Epic’s makes sense both fi­nan­cially and prac­ti­cally. With the Lu­mi­nous­pow­ered Fi­nal Fan­tasy XV drag­ging its heels, mov­ing King­dom Hearts III to Un­real En­gine 4 may have been a safer bet. And then there were the artis­tic free­doms it would of­fer.

“The thing with Un­real En­gine 4 is it’s re­ally easy to ex­per­i­ment, game­play-wise,” Ya­sue says, re­fer­ring back to Toy Story’s Gi­gas ro­bots. “We didn’t need any as­sets to start off, so the game de­sign­ers that aren’t artists at all could ac­tu­ally start to test the game.”

The change was dis­rup­tive none­the­less. “We had to learn a lot,” Ya­sue says. “When we started us­ing Un­real En­gine 4, we had these study groups – well, not study groups, but we all sort of… There’s a tu­to­rial,” he laughs. He re­calls a stu­dio full of game de­sign­ers, un­fa­mil­iar with the new en­gine, por­ing over Un­real doc­u­men­ta­tion and mak­ing their own learn­ing tasks for each of their teams to com­plete. “I even did that,” he says. “I made my own robot, a robot that changed shape. We never used it in the game, we were just test­ing it out. We had con­tests too, I re­mem­ber. Each game de­signer made some­thing, and we sort of com­pared it. And this had noth­ing to do with the game.” He agrees that the re­set con­tributed to the over­all length of devel­op­ment “be­cause we had to learn about the en­gine. That was part of the devel­op­ment time­line, and was some­thing that con­tributed to and af­fected the sched­ule.”

It still ap­pears to be some­thing of a sore point for No­mura. “It was a whole year that we had to kind of rewind and restart,” he says, be­fore adding that the change was ul­ti­mately a ben­e­fi­cial one. “As a dev tool, Un­real En­gine 4 is kind of an all-in-one – it’s got all of the stuff that is needed in it, it’s used around the world, and we also got re­ally great sup­port from [Epic]. They were very help­ful through the en­tire process.” Was it a ques­tion

of hav­ing to go back­ward in order to go for­ward? He nods. “It would have been a dif­fer­ent story if the team mak­ing Lu­mi­nous had been mem­bers of the King­dom Hearts team. But they were a dif­fer­ent team, so that did make things a bit more dif­fi­cult.”

As the years rolled on, the King­dom Hearts III team be­gan to see the in­dus­try – and wider world – change around the game they were mak­ing. “But the process of mak­ing this game took so long that we had to de­cide early on what we were go­ing to in­clude,” No­mura says, ex­plain­ing that the full ros­ter of worlds was set in stone at a very early stage. “Up un­til that point, maybe some of them we’d started mak­ing, and some of them we hadn’t yet started mak­ing. But Dis­ney would give us in­for­ma­tion about the new movies they had com­ing out be­fore they were ever out, and they’d show us things that were par­tially done.” Such was the case with Big Hero 6, which No­mura was in­stantly drawn to for its nov­elty in the con­text of the King­dom Hearts se­ries: the su­per­hero theme and the por­trayal of a near-fu­ture world. His cri­te­ria for po­ten­tial worlds is sim­ple: “It re­ally doesn’t mat­ter to me whether or not they’re go­ing to be pop­u­lar, it’s just about whether the game is go­ing to ben­e­fit from adding them. In past King­dom

Hearts games, we’ve in­cluded a num­ber of more mi­nor ti­tles. It’s not only about what’s in­ter­est­ing, it’s also about va­ri­ety.

“Of course, even af­ter that fixed point when we have de­cided what the worlds are go­ing to be, oc­ca­sion­ally there are Dis­ney things that come up af­ter­wards and I’m like, ‘Ah, I wish I could put that in there’.” He is, nat­u­rally, loath to give any de­tails about which par­tic­u­lar Dis­ney IPs he re­grets not be­ing able to in­clude in King­dom Hearts III. “We might still use them in the fu­ture. Per­son­ally I’d like to see them used for a new game. I mean, we did just get finished with this one, but still.”

Even af­ter a tur­bu­lent decade on King­dom Hearts III, No­mura still has half an eye on the fu­ture of the se­ries. He’s clearly fu­elled by his own love of – and eerie cre­ative affin­ity with – Dis­ney’s work. His per­fec­tion­ist vi­sion has in­formed the ma­jor­ity of the devel­op­ment of this game, and will con­tinue to for as long as he works at Square Enix. “To be com­pletely hon­est, that hasn’t changed since game one – since day one,” he says. “There have been a lot of peo­ple who have said as the hard­ware changes, we’re go­ing to have to change things. As the way of cre­at­ing things changes, we’re go­ing to have to change our man­age­ment style, and there’s a lot to keep up with. But this com­pany, in at least one way, hasn’t changed since it was called Square­soft. We want to make fun stuff; we want to make cool stuff. And the team here in Osaka work­ing on King­dom Hearts

III are all of that same mind­set – they just wanted to make some­thing good.”

Ya­sue con­curs. “No­mura wants it to be per­fect, I want it to be per­fect, Dis­ney wants it to be per­fect, right?” he says. “And our fan­base, they

ex­pect it to be per­fect. We can’t have it be sub-par: it’s King­dom Hearts III. It just can’t be your av­er­age well-made game. It has to be more than that.” In­deed, this is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween two dreamweav­ing ti­tans, two mak­ers of happy child­hood mem­o­ries: doubt­less there are plenty of cre­ators at Dis­ney who grew up gaz­ing starry-eyed at the world of Fi­nal Fan­tasy, and like­wise, Square Enix em­ploy­ees who gazed right back into Dis­ney’s an­i­mated won­der­lands – No­mura him­self, so pas­sion­ate about the world of Toy Story that the idea of mak­ing King­dom Hearts III with­out it was so unimag­in­able, among them. There is more at stake here than just a good game.

No won­der King­dom Hearts III took so long to cre­ate, then. This was an as­ton­ish­ingly com­plex bal­anc­ing act which re­quired the de­vel­op­ers both to re­spect the past and to elab­o­rate upon it mean­ing­fully to make some­thing that will res­onate years from now. In­deed, Square’s next-gen King­dom

Hearts – de­spite its ap­pear­ance at the tail-end of a con­sole gen­er­a­tion – has done more with its ten years than most. It’s evolved the way at least one com­pany works in its pro­duc­tion, and its im­pact will al­most cer­tainly re­ver­ber­ate through­out Square’s fu­ture. And its team hope for more be­sides: for their cre­ation to have the same ef­fect on its play­ers as Toy Story did on No­mura, or Square’s games did on Ya­sue, and to in­spire more cre­ators in fu­ture. “I guess I wanted to make a game that was re­ally talked about,” Ya­sue says. “We want to sell a lot of games, yes – but at the same time, it should be a game that could be talked about ten years from now.” He pauses. “When I came to this com­pany, I was re­ally in­spired by Fi­nal Fan­tasy VII, and so it would be great if kids play our game, and they come to our in­ter­views, and they join us, right? It had to be some­thing that big. Some­thing with a le­gacy.”

“This com­pany, in at least one way, hasn’t changed since it was called Square­soft. We want to make fun stuff; we want to make cool stuff”

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