Square Enix Talks FFXIII Tech
02.24.08 - 12:09 PM

At this week's Game Developers Conference 2008, Square Enix announced that its proprietary White Engine has been renamed to Crystal Tools. In fact, White Engine was an internal code name, which the company decided to drop as it moved to version 1.1 of the tool set this year. The engine can be used for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC-based development environments. Furthermore, the company is working to make it run on Nintendo's Wii. While it has been known for some time that Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII are powered by the Crystal Tools, the same is apparently true for the mysterious next-generation MMORPG currently in development at Square Enix's third production team.

In an interview with 1up, Taku Murata, the head of Square Enix's internal research and development division talked about the philosophy behind the company's R&D strategy. A company veteran and key member of the company's fourth production team, Murata has worked on Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, PlayOnline and Final Fantasy XII under producer Yasumi Matsuno.

According to Murata, the necessity for the Crystal Tools arose by the recent hardware transition and the resulting emergence of multiple viable platforms. Murata explained that the Crystal Tools have been the result of a paradigm shift at Square Enix, which began with a real-time preview tool for 1997's Final Fantasy Tactics. He also stressed the multiplatform support of the tool set, saying it was much easier to port a game from one platform to another or develop for different systems in parallel. That being said, Murata apparently doesn't see Square Enix utilizing the Crystal Tools for developing handheld games, because the engine was specifically created to handle large amounts of data.

Last but not least, he did not rule out the use of licensed technology, like the Unreal Engine. Square Enix is using Epic's popular middleware to create The Last Remnant, because the game is geared towards western markets. The decision to go with a proprietary engine for Final Fantasy XIII was based on the desire to create a tool capable of reflecting the culture of Square Enix's developers.

Chris Winkler

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