SourceIn a recent interview with Taku Murata, 1UP had the chance to question Square Enix's general manager of research and development about their new Crystal Tools engine, and why it only partially supports the Wii. Interview below:
1UP: The most important aspect of Crystal Tools is that it's a multi-platform environment. How easy it is to move a game from one platform to another? Say, hypothetically, you wanted to port Final Fantasy XIII from PS3 to Xbox 360... how difficult would that be?
TM: Traditionally at Square we used to target just to a single platform and work deeply within that system, so it was very difficult to move a game to another system. But I'd say it's easier now. You still have factors like video memory and processing cores, so you have to adjust things like texture sizes. But Crystal Tools is a shared library, so it's much easier now. Those factors are already accounted for by the libraries, and it's possible to develop for different systems in parallel.
1UP: You mentioned at the panel that Nintendo's Wii is partially supported by Crystal Tools, but not completely. Why is Wii development lagging so far behind?
TM: The differences between Wii and 360, PS3 and PC are much bigger, and we're just not at the point in development where Wii support is completely ready.
1UP: Well, contrast Crystal Tools with Mr. Tsuchida's WiiWare team -- do you think what they're doing with Crystal Chronicles, using NintendoWare and third-party scripts, is a better fit for the platform?
TM: It really all comes down to the title in question and what you're doing with it. For instance, hypothetically -- don't take this seriously! -- if you wanted to create Final Fantasy XIII for PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii simultaneously, you'd need to use Crystal Tools.
If you don't know what Crystal Tools is, here's a quick rundown courtesy of Wikipedia:
"Crystal Tools, is a seventh generation game engine built to be used with "all of the Square Enix's forthcoming next-generation games" on the PlayStation 3, as commented by Final Fantasy Versus XIII character designer Tetsuya Nomura. The first games to utilize it will be Final Fantasy XIII and its spinoff title Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Nomura commented that the switch from the PlayStation 2 to the PlayStation 3 was difficult, saying that "the hurdles are greater than they were in the move from the PS1 to the PS2." This in turn gave way to the creation of Crystal Tools.
One of the main aspects of the engine is that it allows photorealistic CGI to be rendered in real-time. Nomura has commented that the engine will be able "to recreate battle scenes reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children." It also handles advanced audio processing, cinematic cut-scene transition, physics effects calculations and special effects rendering.
How exactly this will benefit the Wii is yet to be seen. Will it provide CGI-like graphics to be rendered in real-time even on the Wii? Will it just provide a graphics boost that Wii owners aren't used to? Either way, this spells out good news for Wii fans clamoring for an update in graphics. Depending on just how strong this engine is, will we finally receive beautiful graphics to go along revolutionary controls? What do you think?