How Luminous Studio is preparing Square Enix for the next-gen
by Andrew Yoon, shacknews.com, Jan 3, 2013 12:15PM PST
Luminous Studio surprised many when it made its debut at E3 last year. Developed by Square Enix Japan, the presentation gave us a glimpse at what a next-gen Final Fantasy game could possibly look like. We chatted with Mike Fischer at the trade show, president and CEO of Square Enix, about the company's ambitions with its new engine.
"Every Final Fantasy game is original. We create a new world with every new number. We need to keep pushing the envelope so that every Final Fantasy game creates a new standard," Fischer told us when describing the project's genesis after the engine's unveiling. "Having a custom toolset like this is really helpful, because it makes that process a lot more efficient."
With the addition of Luminous Studio, Square Enix now has multiple in-house engines to choose from, including Glacier from IO Interactive and Crystal Dynamics' in-house engine. Isn't having three proprietary technologies a bit redundant? Not so, Fischer argued. "This is obviously developed by a team that creates these Final Fantasy worlds, that are this amazing blend of technology and magic. It's never a one-size-fits-all solution, and I don't think it ever should be," he said. "You need to have the right engine for the right game. Glacier--one of the key features for that is that it optimizes for these incredible crowd scenes. The Crystal Engine has its own thing going for it."
Unlike Epic with Unreal and Crytek with CryEngine, many third-party publishers are keeping their upcoming engines exclusively in-house. Like EA with Frostbite and Bethesda with idTech, Square Enix is opting to keep Luminous internal as well. "This is an in-house tool. We're not building this around a licensing model," Fischer explained. However, studios that sign publishing deals with the company will be able to get access to the tech, something Fischer hopes will attract new talent. "It's my hope that this makes teams and creative people around the world excited to work for us because they'll get their hands on some of the best technology in the industry."
Given how impressive the real-time Luminous demo was, we asked if Square Enix had any intention of using the tech to revive their non-interactive movie business. Fischer quickly shot down that idea. "Our focus right now is on games. Can it do more? It can definitely do more. But our focus is on games," he said. That doesn't mean it can't happen in the future, though. "There's no Final Fantasy movie in the works that I'm aware of, but the key thing is we're very much a creator-driven company. We want to have the technology to help these creators turn their vision into a reality. And that's why we made this investment."