Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
September 23, 2014
arrowPress Releases
September 23, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Square Enix lifts the lid on its next-gen engine
Square Enix lifts the lid on its next-gen engine Exclusive
June 5, 2012 | By Kris Graft

June 5, 2012 | By Kris Graft
Comments
    41 comments
More: Console/PC, Programming, Art, Design, Production, Exclusive, E3



Tuesday evening at E3 in L.A., Square Enix pulled back the veil on its next-generation game engine, Luminous Studio.

The engine, still in development at Square Enix Tokyo, is the Final Fantasy publisher's solution for a more flexible internal game development environment.

Yoshihisa Hashimoto, Square Enix's CTO, at a Gamasutra-attended E3 presentation showed a highly-detailed real-time tech demo called "Agni's Philosophy," which was complete with monsters and magic from its Final Fantasy RPG series.

Hashimoto stressed several times that the demo -- which by today's standards would be assumed to be pre-rendered -- was in fact real-time. To help prove this, Hashimoto showed off an editing mode of Agni's Philosophy in which hair, color, skin textures and other visual aspects could be changed on the fly.

"This game engine is still under development, it's not completed yet. So partially, we've started to have discussions with several different people doing several different projects. So we are just having discussions as to how they are going to use this engine," Hashimoto told us in an interview following the presentation.

While this is the next-generation of Square Enix's game engines, Hashimoto said the engine can also be adapted for current-generation consoles, but stopped short of confirming a current generation Luminous Studio game. He added that the demo was running on a very high-end PC with off-the-shelf commercial hardware.

And while, judging by the demo, the engine is capable of highly-detailed, high-budget productions, "It is possible that the Luminous engine could be used in a very broad way. ... [Angi's Philosophy] would be an example of a very high-end game. But on the other hand, very casual games also will be able to use this in a very simple manner. ... We're not really focusing on any specific genre -- all kinds."


Square Enix CTO Yoshihisa Hashimoto demonstrates Luminous Studio's realtime facial editor at a demonstration Tuesday night.

Hashimoto added that Square Enix has no plans on licensing the engine, although it would be possible for Square Enix outsourcers to utilize Luminous Studio. And even though the engine will be the company's flagship tech, it won't be forced onto subsidiaries -- studio directors will choose what engine they want to use for their games.


One of the detailed NPCs in "Agni's Philosophy," the realtime tech demo Square Enix is using to show off its Luminous Studio engine.


Hashimoto couldn't specify when Luminous-powered games will hit the market, but he smiled and said, "It won't be that far from now."

Check out a video of the demo here.


Related Jobs

Amazon
Amazon — Irvine, California, United States
[09.23.14]

Software Development Manager
Avalanche Studios
Avalanche Studios — New York, New York, United States
[09.23.14]

Technical Artist
Phosphor Games Studio
Phosphor Games Studio — Chicago, Illinois, United States
[09.23.14]

Jr. Programmer – Unity
Phosphor Games Studio
Phosphor Games Studio — Chicago, Illinois, United States
[09.23.14]

Jr. Programmer – Unity










Comments


Ron Dippold
profile image
Hmmmmmmm. Remember before FF13 came out and they showed off the Crystal Tools engine demo with Lightning and everyone was drooling? Including me! I drooled.

Graphics are the very least of your problems, Square Enix. I had no complaints about FF13's graphics (or combat). I had no complaints about FF14's graphics. It's all the rest of it you need to remember how to do. I'm not really interested in fantastic lighting on a horrible game.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Marwane KA
profile image
Well since Sakaguchi/Uematsu/etc. left the boat, Square Enix is just another huge company with good licenses to use & reuse. Given how Square Enix grew, it makes sense that the company is slowly shifting to another positioning than the games that launched Squaresoft: their games might have lost the soul of early FFs, but they know more than ever how to make 40h-long RPGs with beautiful graphics & constantly renewing gameplay, and that's enough to sell well.

I don't play RPGs as much as before, but if I were I would rather turn the page on FFs and give a chance to Mistwalker's (= Sakaguchi's) The Last Story, which seemed to get quite a good critical reception.

Bernardo Del Castillo
profile image
I don't really agree Marwane,
I didnt like FF13 (and that is the first game they have developed that is under the 60h long rpg). But to me Tetsuya Nomura and Tatsuya Kando are pretty important creative forces for Square Enix (and many more). This view is the current paranoid trend but I find it very detached from the truth.
Also people forget that Franchises like Deus Ex and Tomb raider are now under SquareEnix, and under their hull they've seen probably the biggest, most positive revitalisation in years.

Anyhow, it is true, the engine doesn't make a game. However, the engine looks fantastic, we should look their merits by themselves, and not prejudge what they are planning to do with it.

Eric McVinney
profile image
That's the thing, Bernardo, with Squeenix's past history it is easy to judge.

Bernardo Del Castillo
profile image
so, you are judging over 20 years of history over... 3 mediocre games? (ff 13, ff 13-2, and 14) even after hundreds of succesful and great titles?
It could be that they were not prepared for the current gen.. which might be what they are trying to solve.

Ian Nancarrow
profile image
@Bernado, While I agree that Square and Enix has done remarkable work when they were their separate, competitive companies, the work they have done recently feels... I'm not exactly what to feel from them.

Square Enix's focus has been confusing, at most. They've done more publishing than developing, and even the games they've released, they re-release the games already licensed (Not just the classics from the 1990's, mind you) and subsequently "re-re-release" what are called "Final Mixes" of games they've sold a year after selling them, avoiding downloadable content and going straight for the throat of an entirely new purchase of a game you already own.

Square Enix has suffered a number of faults recently. Excusable? Certainly, they're nothing to get steamed up about. However the company has made many dramatic changes over the past two decades, and how long did Final Fantasy 13, and 13-2 take to make?

I guess the general topic here is Gameplay to Graphics and the balance between them, but eh. I have difficult feelings over Square Enix for these past few years...

Bruno Xavier
profile image
Funny watching ppl crying about SE re-using their IP...
I don't see anyone around this site talking the same about FPSs, that are always the same... And what about Nintendo, I won't even start...
To me it just feel like a lot of ppl do not like SE anymore just because mr. Sakaguchi left the company; Come on, it was his own fault, he should've never expend all that money to make that failed Spirit Within movie!
Saying a game is horrible just because I don't like it is easy, but that will never mean I am right about it.

james sadler
profile image
All I can do is hope at this point. I have always been a big FF fan, but it seems they lost their way at FF10 in trying to update their stuff for the newer platforms. Mind you, I loved FF10, but it was so ridiculously linear. FF12 was an interesting twist on the system, but the story just wasn't there. FF13 were very pretty but the story was so fragmented that nothing really felt like an FF until the last 1/3 of the game. I'm a fan of FF13-2 as it tried to claw back a little, but it was still pretty flat. I like that they've opened it up for DLC, which I really hope they start using soon, but we'll see how it plays out. I think audiences have been burned too much at this point to really give a crap about another FF title right now. Best thing SE could do would be to redo FF7 graphically as re-release it (keeping story and mechanics as they are. Just a graphic overhaul).

Eric McVinney
profile image
@ Bernanrdo - "so, you are judging over 20 years of history over... 3 mediocre games?" Sir, I think you need to do a recount on that number :|

But then again, it's really a matter of opinion when it comes to who loves what. However... the ones that do matter are the ones that have either the lowest sales, piss poor revenue (which can go with lowest sales), or worst reviews. And 3 is not the magic number. Here's what I would go with:

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X-2
Final Fantasy XI
Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XIV

Just to name a few.

Chris Huston
profile image
@Bernardo - I, for one, haven't forgotten that they have Tomb Raider, since I haven't been a big FF fan, but did enjoy the critic- and consumer-bemoaned Drakengard.

From what I can see, the Tomb Raider revitalization was at its peak just *before* SE got hold of it. Underwold wasn't a bad game, but Legend and the release of "Anniversary" were what really got that series back on track. Plus, I'm not really convinced about the upcoming game. I'm sure it will be fun, but it seems like it's stripping too much away of what makes TR fun all for the sake of this "origins" concept, which, in itself, seems like it might not fit with the character "history" that's been expressed or implied by now.

It would suck if they can't reinvigorate their marquee brands (though people seemed to have liked the new Deus Ex), but I think that's a separate problem that pursuing or abandoning this game engine would have little impact on, so I say they should keep after it.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Bernardo Del Castillo
profile image
@Eric, I dont know where you get those from, because actually 12 sold far worse than 10 and 10-2, I honestly find that 10 is a great game, not as linear as people make it look. And mainly marred by the new flamboyant graphic style.
FF IX is in many all time favourite lists, even if its not really my style.

I feel that Many gamers have become overly critical of the franchise just because they have grown over the target demographic of them. And now look back with nostalgia at the games they used to love.

Also, Mystic quest wasn't really a failure, It was an rpg specifically designed for western players to start exploring into japanese rpgs, most of the systems were simplified, and it was marketed as a game for a much younger audience. Reviews and audience reception at the time was decent (considering this is MUCH MUCH earlier than FF7)

And honestly, those games you mention have mostly been a commercial success, and gotten decent reviews.

@Anthony, I'm not sure about XIII, I personally have only played a small part of it, but the audience in general still judges it pretty sternly.

And about adjourment of classic IPs, I know that crystal dynamics have been working on revitalizing Lara for a while, which is great. But I feel they have been really allowed to play around now. It's a great sign that this tech demo actually had concepts and help from Crystal Dynamic artists too. I know we might be sceptical about the new game, I am, but it has definitely put Tomb Raider back in the map in a way that none of the previous games had.

Anyhow, I don't praise Enix as the Lord of everything good, but I'm getting a bit bored of seeing people criticise companies for coming up with new engines. Especially when they look as pretty as this.

Steven Yu
profile image
@Eric

Where did you compile those numbers from? I suspect that you're just guessing and grasping at straws because some of those titles you listed actually sold a lot of units and made the company a handsome profit. Also, FFXI still has a loyal following, and in fact not only was well received by the reviewers but also by the gaming community. They still have over a quarter of a million active subscribers after all these years.

Eric McVinney
profile image
Oh? Just a quarter million? Huh. Well, let me know when they hit +1 million and then I'll start getting serious.

Again, Bernardo, the subject is subjective ;P And to make it clear again:

"However... the ones that do matter are the ones that have either the lowest sales, piss poor revenue (which can go with lowest sales), or worst reviews."

You say:

"I dont know where you get those from, because actually 12 sold far worse than 10 and 10-2, I honestly find that 10 is a great game, not as linear as people make it look."

O rly? Let's see...

Final Fantasy XII - 5.95m
Final Fantasy X - 5.8m
Final Fantasy X-2 - 5.29m
(From VGChartz)

Please, sir. If you're going to grab numbers, get it from a legit source ;) Also, according to Famitsu, FFXII scored a perfect 40/40.

Bernardo Del Castillo
profile image
@Eric
http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Best_selling_Square-Enix_games

YRLY
I suppose there is an expectable discordance, but the sources in wikipedia's most sold games are quite solid. Anyhow even considering your numbers, I would hardly call XII a success and X a failure, they are mildly in the same area, and considering they re-used a lot for X-2 I'm calling it a double success.

Reviews are always High and hyped for FFs too, so the 10 from famitsu is hardly a surprise, since Famitu's perfect scores are a bit random (bayonetta, final fantasy XIII-2, Skyrim, Kid Icarus Uprising... 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de).

Squeenix is one of the biggest and most respected game publishers and developers in the world and I really hope they do good, this looks like a fantastic endeavour from them and i support that. Whining about everything going downhill is a bit fatalistic and pointless..

Eric McVinney
profile image
Agreed with Ron. Graphics is the least of Squeenix's worries :| Don't get me wrong, I'm a FF fan through and through, but they can't rely on flashy shtuff to cover up the messy story telling, horrid VO, and cutesy anime style dialog/acting.

Duvelle Jones
profile image
I think that at this point, they have really lost the ability to tell a compelling story with their role-playing games. I would personally love the company to spent more time and resources (which is very hard to pin down) on that than the Luminous engine.

Given the reaction of my roommate (whom is drooling over what the demo is capable of) I might be the minority here. But then the last time that I checked, I have not grabbed a Squeenix product in a long time (about 4 years, my last being the DS Crono Trigger and FF TA2).

Eric McVinney
profile image
I have been tempted to pick up FF-XIII-2 just because it has Gilgamesh and a few other monsters/bosses from the classic FF titles. I hear the gameplay is much better and same goes for the non-linear game flow.

Steven Yu
profile image
You do realize that this is a game engine that they plan on licensing out to other game developers, right? Or at least within the organization (e.g., Eidos) I think people are only perceiving Square Enix as "that company in Japan that makes console RPGs" and forget that they are a larger, more diverse, international development and publishing company.

Eric McVinney
profile image
@Steven - Oh right, just because someone makes a better looking tool people will use it knowing how (properly). Squeenix has put themselves into that category where they used to be good and somewhere along the time line it all went downhill (more or less around FFX). FFXII was pushed back due to Yasumi Matsuno often to take "sick" days and his departure.

As for licensing it out, great. Hope it does work out, but my comment was towards S-E :|

Joe Cooper
profile image
Me too. I find what's happened with Square games really depressing after my experiences with their older games (the classics). It feels like they don't understand or respect their old works. It's not just nostalgia or having played them as a kid; I went back and replayed Final Fantasy VII and played (for the first time) Final Fantasy IV as an adult and they were -enthralling-.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
profile image
Looks nice. And then you add physics and AI and loading and a hundred gameplay systems running in the background, and then you try to display more than 6 characters...

At any rate, the best engines have long been about tools, not graphics. The problem isnt making a game look nice, its making the game.

edit: not to say they arent working on tools too, most likely they are, and gfx and just more impressive to show.

Benjamin Quintero
profile image
Part of me would love to see a division of Square Enix become an art house like Blur Studio. They clearly have the chops to make some amazing animations and rendered scenes. Gameplay and story, not so much this generation...

Salim Muhammad
profile image
Anyone notice in the credits crystal dynamics help do some of concept art?

Bruno Xavier
profile image
They use Maya as level editor. Very smart, Maya's tools are amazing.

Terry Matthes
profile image
Hey Squeenix.. Less AK-47, more Ice II, and Fire IV

Joe Cooper
profile image
I thought mixing in the AKs was kinda cool.

Ian Nancarrow
profile image
Don't you mean Blizzara and Firata? Or whatever they call it now...

Joe Cooper
profile image
Fire IV-2, Fire IV-3 Versus Redux, Ice IX-4-2...

Terry Matthes
profile image
I've seen enough Sub machine guns in my games latley. Final Fantasy doesn't need to bring them into the mix. This new Final Fantasy isn't my cup of tea, and I don't think they stand out amongst the crowd anymore. If you look at that trailer nothing besides the main female charcter and the "priest" feel unique to me or speak to what I though Final Fantasy was. Maybe that's my issue though, perhaps I have no interest in what Final Fantasy has become.

A lot of that tech demo reminds me of Diablo III's "Soul Stone" cinematic.

Bernardo Del Castillo
profile image
actually, machineguns were not as realistic but i'm sure they were on ff6 too.

Alan Lee
profile image
They really should go the Epic route, license their engine out.

Simon Ludgate
profile image
I wonder how well this engine will scale. One of the big problems with Crystal Tools was that it couldn't handle many characters on screen at a time, which became a notable problem in the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, where large numbers of players congregate. I'm under the impression that Luminous Studio is being used for FFXIV 2.0, so I'm assuming there's some collaboration between those teams to meet the MMORPG needs, but will the engine also scale further, like for light web apps or mobile games? Being able to rapidly transit assets between console, PC, handhelds, phones, and websites might be a bit of a pipe-dream, but with Square Enix's tendency to rely on a small core set of IP with considerable cross-over, it could be a boon for reduced development costs.

Eric McVinney
profile image
I'm all for a "remake" of FF XIV.

Dustin Chertoff
profile image
I'm definitely in the drooling group as far as the tech demo is concerned. Looks really impressive. Whether or not SE can produce quality game content is still up for debate (although I am in the minority that enjoyed FF13). SE should totally start licensing out their engine though. There should be more competition to UDK.

William Johnson
profile image
Why would they not want to license this? Do they hate money, are afraid their competition will make better use of it, or is this just a lot of smoke and mirrors?

Simon Ludgate
profile image
There may be legal issues involved with licensing tech, such as contracts that require certain support be provided to licensors. Although the case between Silicon Knights and Epic ended in Epic's favour, the nature of such a case suggests that there is more at stake than putting a "click here to download the engine" button on a website.

Dave Endresak
profile image
Well, for many of us, it's the moe (aka "cutesy" but far less offensive) art and acting that we want, not the unbelievable Western approach of "realism" (whatever that means since it's subjective to each person anyway) with a total lack and inability to generate an emotional bond with the characters and events in the game. My sister is one example I have mentioned elsewhere. She's 5 years older than me, not techie per se, but heavy into RPGs but only Japanese products because the Western ones totally turn her away, even major releases like Bethesda's TES franchise or Bioware's works (the latter amazing because she's also a huge Star Wars fan... but not of the games so much). She prefers works by NIS and Atlus over Square-Enix. For myself, I don't care for Square's works, but it was nice that they published Star Ocean: The Last Hope for Tri-Ace.

I do think that Square-Enix and other Japanese developers should be considering licensing their tech. It would sure be nice to see games developed with something other than the problematic Unreal Engine from Epic, that's for sure. Granted, all tools have issues of one kind or another, but at least we might see different issues in different games instead of the same issues over and over regardless of the game product (e.g., texture pop-in). Diversity is good, and I do think that it is nice that Square is trying to diversify via acquiring Eidos Canada and Deus Ex as well as publishing CoD in Japan. We'll have to see how things work out.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Merc Hoffner
profile image
Beautiful, but I'm sick of humans and dragons. Something more abstract maybe? Also, what kind of art capacity was required? We can't support $200 million games that take 6 years to make, are more linear than the last gen and play like choose your story adventure books.

How many people and how long? I count 10 'Visual Works Supervisors'. Are those supervisors or artists? stretch this 4 minute demo out to 60 hours and what are the costs?


none
 
Comment: