Square Enix Isn't Sharing its Fancy New Engine

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Square Enix Isn't Sharing its Fancy New Engine

No, you can't license the Luminous Engine. Get out.

By now you've probably seen that impressive tech demo showing off Square Enix's next-gen Luminous Engine. Agni's Philosophy, as the video is called, is just all different kinds of sexy, with realistic hair, stunning particle effects and gorgeous shadows. Rumor has it its animation suite is even more impressive, with a selection of automated processes that adjust character animations in response to equipment weight, musculature parameters and uneven terrain. So you're probably thinking that you could do something amazing with this engine, right? Well, you can't. Not unless you want to work for Square Enix. The developer-turned-publisher is keeping the tech to itself, according to US CEO, Mike Fischer.

"This is an in-house tool. We're not building this around a licensing model," he told Shack News.

It looks like the plan is to use the engine to attract development teams to Square Enix's growing stable of studios. Only developers that sign a publishing deal with the company will have access to the tech.

"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," Fischer continued.

Of course, while Agni's Philosophy was both stunning and running in real-time, that doesn't mean the visuals achieved in the video will be possible for most developers, or indeed any. The demo was running on a reasonable PC rig (by enthusiast standards), sporting just a single GTX 680. But that card currently retails for around $500, that's more than an entire console (and for good reason). Whatever kind of GPUs are included in the successors to the 360 and PS3, I'll bet my first born son they're nowhere near as powerful as a GTX 680.

Now, if you'll forgive me just one moment of cynicism and bitterness; I can't help wonder if Square Enix's might want to hold off on splurging on the super realistic sweat technology and instead invest in some writers.

Source: Shack News

Permalink

That is too bad.

What have they got to lose by licensing the engine?
Surely they could always use the extra revenue?

so Square-Enix has two graphics engine? Luminous Engine and Unreal 4.0??

This is very Squenix isn't it.

Build a wonderful piece of technology, people are lining up to buy it. What's the best way to react?

NO! We don't want your money! Stay away from our toys!

It makes me wonder what exactly Squenix's investors are playing at.

It's just what EA are doing with frostbite in the end, it gives them an 'edge' over other publishers when it comes to signing up studios.

But like the article correctly stated, it doesn't matter all that much as next gen consoles will never produce anything close to those visuals anyway. Although that's assuming next gen consoles will stay relevant for all that long anyway, i think developers will get more than a little annoyed with developing for them when phones and tablets are kicking their arses by 2015/6 :P

So we'll see how it pans out in that regard.

TheComfyChair:

But like the article correctly stated, it doesn't matter all that much as next gen consoles will never produce anything close to those visuals anyway.

Still, that's a LOT of eye candy for a single GTX 680. The engine apparently scales really well too.

I don't understand, it looks gorgeous, but it's nothing we haven't seen in CGI's before...

Edit: but then again I'm nowhere near understanding anything of those fancy tech program graphical things.

ForgottenPr0digy:
so Square-Enix has two graphics engine? Luminous Engine and Unreal 4.0??

Epic Games owns the Unreal Engine, not Squeenix.

Anyway, I can sort of see the reasoning behind it, but it still seems like they'd be better off licensing it. Cause then they can have all the realistic sweat they want AND hire the writers that they need.

Grey Carter:

TheComfyChair:

But like the article correctly stated, it doesn't matter all that much as next gen consoles will never produce anything close to those visuals anyway.

Still, that's a LOT of eye candy for a single GTX 680. The engine apparently scales really well too.

Aye, and if the developers put the effort in, i'll love them for it (I have a gtx670 here, with the overclock it's easily a gtx680 level card, so if i could have those visuals running in real time on my own PC it would be amazing) :D But i'm just going to assume they'll just be making their AAA games focused on consoles and scale some things up to lower mid range PC level (~hd5870) like they are now, at least for a few more years. By that point the gtx680 will seem really slow :D

P.S. Note i don't blame them for this practice, it ensures they target the majority of their sales, as most PC gamers also tend to be in the mid range anyway, so focusing heavily on the extreme end generally isn't a fantastic idea financially. But still, would be nice to have another Crysis level of graphical jump like the tech demo for this engine represents.

fenrizz:
That is too bad.

What have they got to lose by licensing the engine?
Surely they could always use the extra revenue?

It's actually a fairly common business practice. There are tons of companies that make engines like these and don't share them. It seems to me that they didn't design it for wide use, and they don't want some random developer to mess with it.

OT: that jab at the end of article, while true, comes completely out of left field and has nothing to do with the topic at hand. It seemed like an unnecessary jab, when by all rights Square Enix is a pretty good publisher.

and?

its normal that a game company wants his "new" engine for themselves.

so where is the problem?

Milanezi:
I don't understand, it looks gorgeous, but it's nothing we haven't seen in CGI's before...

Yes. But that isn't a CGI. It's real-time footage.

fenrizz:
That is too bad.

What have they got to lose by licensing the engine?
Surely they could always use the extra revenue?

A monopoly on stunning new graphics for their games. Although they could probably make more money by licensing such a tool maybe they want to try and gain advantage for their games.
Or this isn't actually a new engine but every frame hand-drawn and manually animated so they can claim to have a superior new render technique. Come to think of it, which is actually more likely?

So the ID engine is only for Zenimax, the Frostbite for EA and now Luminousity for Enix. That's a lot of no licensing and it allows Epic to do well selling the Unreal to everyone else who actually wants to make a game

Quaxar:

fenrizz:
That is too bad.

What have they got to lose by licensing the engine?
Surely they could always use the extra revenue?

A monopoly on stunning new graphics for their games. Although they could probably make more money by licensing such a tool maybe they want to try and gain advantage for their games.
Or this isn't actually a new engine but every frame hand-drawn and manually animated so they can claim to have a superior new render technique. Come to think of it, which is actually more likely?

They actually demonstrated real-time changes at the demo by changing hair colours and, I shit you not, adding more beads of sweat to a character's head using a slider.

Quaxar:

fenrizz:
That is too bad.

What have they got to lose by licensing the engine?
Surely they could always use the extra revenue?

A monopoly on stunning new graphics for their games. Although they could probably make more money by licensing such a tool maybe they want to try and gain advantage for their games.
Or this isn't actually a new engine but every frame hand-drawn and manually animated so they can claim to have a superior new render technique. Come to think of it, which is actually more likely?

You would hope the former, since new engines are supposed to make it easier and cheaper to make pretty games :P Yes, yes, 'games are more expensive to make now because of pretty', but it's now very cheap to make games at the graphical fidelity which would have cost millions upon millions and a ridiculous amount of time to make a decade ago.

I've also seen a [edit: Nvidia produced, so not necessarily the most experienced engine builders] tech demo (albeit far less cool in terms of action) on my gtx670 as a remake of their fairy tech demo from years ago (dawn i think it's called), and that is easily as pretty on the actual techy side of things. So this is definitely more than feasible for experienced engine builders.

Grey Carter:

Quaxar:

fenrizz:
That is too bad.

What have they got to lose by licensing the engine?
Surely they could always use the extra revenue?

A monopoly on stunning new graphics for their games. Although they could probably make more money by licensing such a tool maybe they want to try and gain advantage for their games.
Or this isn't actually a new engine but every frame hand-drawn and manually animated so they can claim to have a superior new render technique. Come to think of it, which is actually more likely?

They actually demonstrated real-time changes at the demo by changing hair colours and, I shit you not, adding more beads of sweat to a character's head using a slider.

I don't see that as a good thing: Square could be making much better games if they focused on concept and didn't sweat the details. That trailer didn't make much sense.

Grey Carter:

Milanezi:
I don't understand, it looks gorgeous, but it's nothing we haven't seen in CGI's before...

Yes. But that isn't a CGI. It's real-time footage.

JESUS! Well, that IS impressive, we only need the gameplay to make all that as exciting as the video was. Thanks for explaining.

Grey Carter:

Quaxar:

fenrizz:
That is too bad.

What have they got to lose by licensing the engine?
Surely they could always use the extra revenue?

A monopoly on stunning new graphics for their games. Although they could probably make more money by licensing such a tool maybe they want to try and gain advantage for their games.
Or this isn't actually a new engine but every frame hand-drawn and manually animated so they can claim to have a superior new render technique. Come to think of it, which is actually more likely?

They actually demonstrated real-time changes at the demo by changing hair colours and, I shit you not, adding more beads of sweat to a character's head using a slider.

image

either this will be used at its finest, as virtual reality demo
or at its worst, for sweaty breast jiggle physics and textile movement for fart jokes.

I can't help but feel that it's a mistake not licensing this engine. Epic makes stupid amounts of money from licensing Unreal. It could be something that would produce steady income for the company, which from what I understand, they could use. By not licensing the engine they are spending lots of money to make a games with it and hoping they sell well. You need to cover the cost of making the game and the cost of making the engine. And with Squarenix's development times they run the risk of only using it for a few games before it's obsolete. But, meh. It's there money to waste doing it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: SE needs to stop making games and stick to making awesome visuals for people who can actually design good games. License that engine and do some good for the industry.

On the other hand, FFXIV's original engine was godawful and unoptimized as could be, so maybe they're just too ashamed of what's lurking underneath the hood to let anyone else get their hands on it, lest they make it better and put it to good use.

...oh Squenix, why are you such morons? I WANT to like you, I really do! You've made some great games, your music is beyond compare, and Kefka is the greatest villain in gaming history. What happened to you? Please, enough with the annoying protagonists, enough with pouring every cent into graphics, enough with making every character look like they just came out of a fetish shop. Go back to the great plots, the interesting worlds, the amazing character writing and visual design. I would kill for another Dissidia, instead of you turning it into a freaking RYTHM GAME.

fix-the-spade:
This is very Squenix isn't it.

Build a wonderful piece of technology, people are lining up to buy it. What's the best way to react?

NO! We don't want your money! Stay away from our toys!

It makes me wonder what exactly Squenix's investors are playing at.

Actually SE refusing to take people's money has been a running gag in the FFXI community for years. They're not nearly as bright as people give them credit for.

Andy Shandy:

ForgottenPr0digy:
so Square-Enix has two graphics engine? Luminous Engine and Unreal 4.0??

Epic Games owns the Unreal Engine, not Squeenix.

Anyway, I can sort of see the reasoning behind it, but it still seems like they'd be better off licensing it. Cause then they can have all the realistic sweat they want AND hire the writers that they need.

I fucking know that epic owns the unreal engine

I'm just saying square enix has their own graphics engine and they also using unreal 4.0.

Calling it now- Square will beat Crytek by far in terms of graphics in next gen consoles. Maybe not in terms of super high res textures and stuff that's barely noticiable but in sheer jaw dropping prettiness. It also seems really easy for devs to use ala UE3.

I think Square doesn't wanna share it with external peeps because they might make bad games with it and taint the engine's popularity.

And before idiots fanboys jump and say FF13- shut up.

ForgottenPr0digy:

Andy Shandy:

ForgottenPr0digy:
so Square-Enix has two graphics engine? Luminous Engine and Unreal 4.0??

Epic Games owns the Unreal Engine, not Squeenix.

Anyway, I can sort of see the reasoning behind it, but it still seems like they'd be better off licensing it. Cause then they can have all the realistic sweat they want AND hire the writers that they need.

I fucking know that epic owns the unreal engine

I'm just saying square enix has their own graphics engine and they also using unreal 4.0.

Well then I apologise, the way I read your post made it sound like you thought that Square Enix owned both of them.

FFP2:
Calling it now- Square will beat Crytek by far in terms of graphics in next gen consoles. Maybe not in terms of super high res textures and stuff that's barely noticiable but in sheer jaw dropping prettiness. It also seems really easy for devs to use ala UE3.

I think Square doesn't wanna share it with external peeps because they might make bad games with it and taint the engine's popularity.

And before idiots fanboys jump and say FF13- shut up.

I seriously doubt Square will beat Crytek in the graphics department but they will probably beat them in the games department. Both have some of the best artists in the industry and so it will all come down to what kind of games you enjoy more. Some of the Cryengine 3 features already look on par with some of the stuff on the Luminous Engine without even needing the same amount of power that their engine will require. The advanced tessellation and volume/lighting effects that are in Crysis 3 already look just as good as some of the stuff in the Luminous Demo. Lets not forget that we have yet to even see real in game footage of this engine in action so who knows what they will have to sacrifice in order to make it run in real time.

DVS BSTrD:

Grey Carter:

Quaxar:

A monopoly on stunning new graphics for their games. Although they could probably make more money by licensing such a tool maybe they want to try and gain advantage for their games.
Or this isn't actually a new engine but every frame hand-drawn and manually animated so they can claim to have a superior new render technique. Come to think of it, which is actually more likely?

They actually demonstrated real-time changes at the demo by changing hair colours and, I shit you not, adding more beads of sweat to a character's head using a slider.

I don't see that as a good thing: Square could be making much better games if they focused on concept and didn't sweat the details. That trailer didn't make much sense.

Va-dum-tsh?

Why dont console game developers show off these types of demos on consoles ?

Its pointless showing off all this abilities when they will never be used in a game, the consoles (even the next gen ones) wont be able to run this technology and Square Enix are not PC developers (though by many accounts a few of their recent titles are good PC ports).

Want to impress me ? Run that demo on the target market machine then I'll be impressed.
I say its not that hard (relative) to make a demo on a above average PC that looks impressive (Epic showed off that impressive demo of theirs quiet a while ago, though the rig to run it was unusual).

The message I am getting here is : We can make a game that could look like this but the only machine capable of doing this is not part of our target market and so we wont make this game, but dont you wish we would ?
(same when they did that FF VII tech demo - we could do this, but we wont , you mad ? )

ASnogarD:

(same when they did that FF VII tech demo - we could do this, but we wont , you mad ? )

They can't, actually. There are three reasons why FF7 won't be remade.

1. Square has said that they want to surpass FF7 with another game before bringing it back.

2. Kitase, the current director of the FF series, has said that it would take ~15 years to reproduce FF7 with similar fidelity as FF13 (So now you know why it's mostly corridors)

3. It's prohibitively expensive to redo all the assets, hire voice actors, etc.

4. They don't want to rehash the game, so they would have to put in new features/modes/additional gameplay/etc, which increases the cost and time concerns.

Too bad. All that technology wasted on non-games.

Coreless:

FFP2:
Calling it now- Square will beat Crytek by far in terms of graphics in next gen consoles. Maybe not in terms of super high res textures and stuff that's barely noticiable but in sheer jaw dropping prettiness. It also seems really easy for devs to use ala UE3.

I think Square doesn't wanna share it with external peeps because they might make bad games with it and taint the engine's popularity.

And before idiots fanboys jump and say FF13- shut up.

I seriously doubt Square will beat Crytek in the graphics department but they will probably beat them in the games department. Both have some of the best artists in the industry and so it will all come down to what kind of games you enjoy more. Some of the Cryengine 3 features already look on par with some of the stuff on the Luminous Engine without even needing the same amount of power that their engine will require. The advanced tessellation and volume/lighting effects that are in Crysis 3 already look just as good as some of the stuff in the Luminous Demo. Lets not forget that we have yet to even see real in game footage of this engine in action so who knows what they will have to sacrifice in order to make it run in real time.

I meant stuff like tesselation doesn't matter, I don't really notice things like that. Crytek seems to focus on being hyper-realistic which doesn't really require much imagination. Just Youtube the final level of ff13, purple high speed platform shit was popping off from all sides.

Grey Carter:
I can't help wonder if Square Enix's might want to hold off on splurging on the super realistic sweat technology and instead invest in some writers.

Gods, ain't that the truth...

Kopikatsu:

ASnogarD:

(same when they did that FF VII tech demo - we could do this, but we wont , you mad ? )

They can't, actually. There are three reasons why FF7 won't be remade.

1. Square has said that they want to surpass FF7 with another game before bringing it back.

2. Kitase, the current director of the FF series, has said that it would take ~15 years to reproduce FF7 with similar fidelity as FF13 (So now you know why it's mostly corridors)

3. It's prohibitively expensive to redo all the assets, hire voice actors, etc.

4. They don't want to rehash the game, so they would have to put in new features/modes/additional gameplay/etc, which increases the cost and time concerns.

1 + 4 - Rubbish of course , they re-released a version of the PC copy that only updated enough to run on modern OS's and added silly achievements... so they ain't worried about doing it right... just for the right price. The old PC version modded by fans looks better than the new updated official version... just the old version doesnt run properly on modern OS's.

2 - How long and how much did it cost to do that new tech demo ? The ability to animate and do CGI has accelerated to a degree its cheaper and easier to use CGI over hand drawn animation/anime, even at the time they did the demo for VII. They could do it in half the time it took to do the original game... quicker even.

3 - This is more closer to the truth, the bean counters did the math and didn't see a huge profit from the venture after all a large percentage of those clamoring for VII are old school PS1 pre - 360 era fan... very loud but not so many, not enough to rake in millions in profit.

Hey SE is a business, if it cant make lots of money why bother... just don't sugar coat it.

ASnogarD:
Why dont console game developers show off these types of demos on consoles ?

Its pointless showing off all this abilities when they will never be used in a game, the consoles (even the next gen ones) wont be able to run this technology and Square Enix are not PC developers (though by many accounts a few of their recent titles are good PC ports).

Want to impress me ? Run that demo on the target market machine then I'll be impressed.
I say its not that hard (relative) to make a demo on a above average PC that looks impressive (Epic showed off that impressive demo of theirs quiet a while ago, though the rig to run it was unusual).

The message I am getting here is : We can make a game that could look like this but the only machine capable of doing this is not part of our target market and so we wont make this game, but dont you wish we would ?
(same when they did that FF VII tech demo - we could do this, but we wont , you mad ? )

I agree, if they were commited to the idea that next gen consoles are 'where it's at' they would be focusing on next gen console level specs. Although industry grumblings seem to indicate that next gen consoles maybe aren't 'where it's at' anymore, and by the time 2015 rolls around gtx680 performance will be lower mid range.

If we cast our minds back to 2005/6 all the tech demoes were done on consoles, maybe this is just an indicator of the attitude of squeenix to the next gen?

Just a thought anyway. As for showing it on current consoles, just nope, consoles reached their limit around 2008 and have been cutting corners for tiny improvements since.

I'm interested to see what happens this year in gaming. A low performance console generation would be very interesting indeed (because they'll be competing with phones on like for like performance within 2 years).

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