Sometimes having the best game engine and the best hardware doesn't cut it. For instance, developers can find that the effects they want to achieve for whatever reason are missing at run time.
Fortunately, middleware components exist to act as no-nonsense, quick, and customizable "power-ups" to enhance software without having to do any tedious programming or implementation.
Silicon Studio's YEBIS 2 remains the only middleware with physically based optics simulation that can provide post processing effects that take graphics to a whole new level of realism for current- and next-generation games on PC, console, handheld, mobile, or online platforms.
Whether going for the toy camera or sparkling glare effects in From Software's 3D Dot Game Heroes, the depth of field in Tecmo Koei's Dynasty Warriors 7, or the light blooms and motion blur lending to photo-realistic graphics in Square Enix's Final Fantasy Realtime Tech Demo Agni's Philosophy, YEBIS 2 makes it possible and simple to add convincing real-time visuals to any graphics rendering.
Intro to YEBIS 2
YEBIS 2 is middleware that offers advanced optical effects in post processing such as glare representation, lens effects (optical simulation), film/photosensitive effects, real/pseudo HDR representation, and anti-aliasing.
Glare effects are fully customizable, depth of field effects are as realistic as photographs, and motion blur can be applied independently to a scene, object or character to make fast movements more realistic.
YEBIS 2 also offers three selectable HDR rendering effects. All post-effects interface with the HDR rendering pipeline to select one of the three HDR types, based on performance, target platform and the graphics engine design.
It has easy to install architecture that supports DirectX 11. Along with direct installation and immediate connection of YEBIS 2 without any major revision of the graphics engine, developers can integrate YEBIS 2 into already completed games easily to explore its graphical effects. YEBIS 2 offers a unique library of effects which will not impact the programming or rendering flow. Developers can control and try various effects by simply installing YEBIS 2 to the game engine.
Additionally, color adjustment of rendering effects are made in real-time, god rays allow for sharp radial flares, coronas, and halos, and jagged edges are handled with post-processing anti-aliasing. With YEBIS proprietary algorithm, developers can even balancespeed, quality, and performance of the game.
All of these post-processing effects lend to producing photo-realistic graphics rendered in real time. It's not just in theory, either. Square Enix has put it to practice in its Final Fantasy Realtime Tech Demo, Agni's Philosophy. The demo is so impressive that it's already been viewed over 3 million times on YouTube, alone.
Intro to Agni's Philosophy
During E3 2012, Square Enix debuted the real time tech demo (shown above) Agni's Philosophy, which was the product of the company's next-gen Luminous Studio Game Engine. This engine was supported by the post-processing effects of YEBIS 2. Even the untrained eye could witness the photo-realistic depth-of-field, bokeh (intentional blur) effect, and sublime lighting bloom throughout the video.
Square Enix CTO Yoshihisa Hashimoto showed the same demo during Sony's PlayStation 4 unveiling in New York in February 2013, while Final Fantasy Brand Director and Square Enix corporate executive Shinji Hashimoto announced that a Final Fantasy title would be released for the new console.
While not confirmed to be affiliated with an official Final Fantasy game, the next-gen graphics demoed in Agni's Philosophy are now possible in at least one next-gen console.
Square Enix and YEBIS 2
Yoshihisa Hashimoto says that Agni’s Philosophy is a real time technical demo intended to give an indication of the level of the games that Square Enix will be creating in the future. The main objective of the demo was to test Luminous Studio as a game engine. By taking on the challenge of reproducing CG video received in high quality data, he saw that it was possible to improve the quality of the engine.
Hashimoto said his company started using YEBIS 2 over a year ago. However, the incorporation of the middleware with the Agni's Philosophy tech demo was "relatively easy and the work was completed by one assigned person in less than a month. "He said that YEBIS 2 has a good selection of many high quality functions available, which resulted in reduced time and labor spent.”
And it's not that YEBIS 2 was applied to only a few moments of the demo. Hashimoto stated that it was applied as a filter in all scenes, including adjustments of subtle hues. "An example of a scene where this is obvious is where Agni holds a bottle. YEBIS 2 is used to blur the close foreground and the background, which is called the depth of field."
When asked how YEBIS 2 compares to competitor products, Hashimoto says that currently YEBIS 2 is unique and that there are no similar products that it can be compared to. "It has created a unique position for itself."
He believes YEBIS 2 offers a high quality solution set for post processing at a reasonable price, too. "For this reason, in the current situation where lowering costs is also considered to be important, if a new team is going to develop different things from scratch then I think using YEBIS 2 is a good deal from the perspectives of both cost and development efficiency. Furthermore, it will probably reduce overall investment costs."
The Studio and Man Behind YEBIS 2
Based in Tokyo, Japan, Silicon Studio has worked in the digital entertainment industry since 2000, offering a variety of middleware and game engine solutions to developers of PC, handheld, mobile, online and arcade titles.
Cutting edge games taking advantage of the YEBIS 2 include titles such as Square Enix's arcade game, Gunslinger Stratos, Dynasty Warriors by TECMO KOEI GAMES for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and 3D Dot Game Heroes by From Software for PlayStation 3 all used technology created by Silicon Studio.
The main programmer behind the studio's post processing effects technology is Masaki Kawase. Hefirstearned international acclaim for his graphical achievements in the 2002 Xbox title Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions from Bunkasha/Activision, praised as having "some of the most outstanding lighting and reflections you'll ever see in a videogame," by IGN.
Kawase, along with several core R&D members behind Wreckless, moved to Silicon Studio, and the first project he worked on after the move was YEBIS. Released in 2006, YEBIS 1.0 included the basic HDR (High Dynamic Range) effects Glare and Bloom, and the basic optical expression DOF (Depth of Field). When 1.5 came out in 2009, advanced optical expressions, such as Gaussian Blur, Motion Blur, Airy Disk, Vignetting and lens distortion, were added.
The current version, YEBIS 2, is DirectX 11 compatible and offers effects such as God rays, chromatic aberration, heat simmer and post process type anti-aliasing. To this day, Silicon Studio still bills YEBIS 2 as 'the only middleware with physically based optics simulation.'
Kawase explains here what exactly that means and how it benefits developers. "YEBIS 2 is based on physics allowing even artists lacking camera expertise to achieve physically accurate, realistic camera effects by setting lens and image sensor parameters similar to those in a single-lens reflex camera. The middleware allows artists to easily create authentic expressions without having to make fine adjustments."
Developers also benefit from YEBIS 2's versatility in terms of what engines and hardware it can integrate with. "YEBIS was designed to allow developers to make a significant tradeoff between quality and speed, and can be freely configured across a range of settings, from those suitable for mobile GPUs to extremely high quality, visually stunning settings for next generation consoles and high end PCs," says Kawase.
"Applications require only a small number of simple quality settings to be configured.This allows a development team to take advantage of highly cost effective post processing effects optimized for any level of GPU performance."
Compared to the competition, Kawase argues that YEBIS 2 "offers superior cost performance, and supports a greater variety of features." YEBIS 2 allows developers to create unique expressions such as distinctive lens flares and colors. It supports a wide range of features, including lens simulation and lens flares, and its physics-based, photorealistic lens effects can easily be taken advantage of.
YEBIS 2 also has features waiting for developers to exploit further. Kawase says that developers are freed from having to carry out their own involved research on lens applications. Simply including YEBIS 2 makes it possible to take advantage of stunning effects that perform at the optimum speed across a variety of platforms, and individualized effects such as color adjustments and lens flares can be freely created through customization.
Kawase contends that YEBIS 2 is powerful enough for next-gen but also flexible enough for a wide range of current generation consoles, mobile platforms, and tablets. "It was designed to support operation on any class of GPU by allowing for the balance of the quality settings." That said, he believes a middle-end PC or better GPU is recommended "to take full advantage of YEBIS 2's true abilities to convey dramatic visual elements."
In Japan and Beyond
Notable technology writer Zenji Nishikawa (Freelance Journalist) believes the Japanese game industry highly regards YEBIS 2 and its head architect. Nishikawa says that Kawase "is the graphics programmer representing Japan who built the foundation of the real-time post processing effects from the dawning age of programmable shaders. "
Nishikawa says that proof of highly Japan regards YEBIS 2 is in how Square Enix adopted it as their post processing effects middleware for their technical demonstration of next-generation gaming.
He says that consumer reactions have been equally positive. "It seems that people have the impression like they are looking into an actual camera lens rather than at shader effects.You can see such effects in Gunslinger Stratos developed by Byking."
Gunslinger Stratos with YEBIS 2 off
YEBIS 2 on
North America will get its first taste of this Square Enix published multiplayer double gun action arcade game at GDC 2013 in San Francisco from March 25-29. Silicon Studio is bringing the Gunslinger Stratos arcade cabinet to their south hall expo booth #1042.
As for the future, Nishikawa believes YEBIS 2 will probably used with more next-gen games, allowing them to achieve visual effects as if captured by the human eye or camera lens. With such a focus on realism, he believes developers who wish to achieve photo-realistic graphics will have an affinity for YEBIS 2.
However, because YEBIS2 is able to change classic Low Dynamic Range graphics into false High Dynamic Range graphics, Nishikawa thinks it may also be interesting to apply YEBIS 2 to games with 2D classic style or anime style and achieve something new, as Nippon-Ichi Software was attempting with the upcoming The Witch and The Hundred Knights.
The Solution to Your Post Processing Effects Needs
Developers across all platforms have used YEBIS middleware for a myriad of post processing effects. The latest version, YEBIS 2, shows that it's not only relevant in today's games, but can be a solution for tomorrow's next-gen hardware and game engines, exemplified by Square Enix's PlayStation 4 demo of Agni's Philosophy.
Now, Silicon Studio and its YEBIS 2 middleware aren't just for Japanese developers, either. Developers who wish to give their games photo-realistic finishes can start doing so today with a free PC trial at http://www.siliconstudio.co.jp/middleware/yebis/en/trial/ or by contacting Silicon Studios for other platforms.