Square Enix released a preview video of its new Luminous graphics engine, showing a scene that is nearly indistinguishable from a real-world video. Although it looks amazing though, the real test of this engine will be how it renders organic objects.
It seems that highly realistic lighting is what makes makes this engine tick—hence it’s name. But, all the shapes shown in the video use basic geometry—mainly rectangles and circles—which fit well with using polygons. Graphics engines start to hit their limits when it comes to things like trees, plants, and other objects with more intricate shapes that require more polygons. There are a few programmers trying to find a way around this, but we’ll have to wait and see whether these systems actually work.
This isn’t to say the Luminous engine isn’t amazing looking. But, it will be good to see how it renders outdoor locations, and more complex scenes.
The Luminous engine was demonstrated by Square Enix at a press conference in Tokyo, and aims to develop what they call “quality live action” graphics, according to Develop. They add the engine is supported by Direct-X 11, and allowed engineers to render in-game maps from physical locations in real-time.
Develop has some side-by-side photos of the real-world locations and the digital location—it’s actually hard to tell which is which. In some images, the scenes rendered in Luminous actually seem more crisp—although this could be a difference between the quality of the camera, compared to the output quality being used for the digital scenes.
I haven’t seen anything on the Square Enix website yet, but a description on the YouTube video demonstration (also shown below) says Square will release a full tech demo in 2012. It will be compatible with the Playstation 3, XBox 360, and PC. But, it will not work with the Wii or Nintendo 3DS since they do not have programmable shaders—although Square is looking into a way to bring it to both.
Apparently Square Enix also plans to include a new artificial intelligence engine built into Luminous. According to the YouTube post, “Past artificial intelligence loops are reactive, Yoichiro Miyake lead AI research says, and he wants to make Luminous Studio have scalable AI that recognizes game scenes. For example, they can tie the level editor in the with the AI tool so the game has an idea about the layout and can hunt hiding players in one type of game.”