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Square Enix lifts the lid on its next-gen engine

Square Enix CTO Yoshihisa Hashimoto demonstrates the company's next generation Luminous Studio engine to Gamasutra, which the company is investing in heavily for studio-wide deployment.
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.

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