Taku Murata (Director)
|Stable release||1.1 / September, 2007|
|Platform||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Wii|
|Website||Square Enix's Global Website|
Crystal Tools is a game engine created and used internally by Square Enix. Development of the engine was led by Taku Murata. The engine was originally titled the "White Engine", but the name was changed in 2007. The engine was created when the company decided to create an internal engine for use with seventh generation consoles. The game developers at the company believed that the hurdles were bigger moving from the PlayStation 2 to the PlayStation 3 than moving from the PlayStation to the PlayStation 2 and wanted a middleware to help support the challenges of development. The engine was developed with the aims of being able to create advanced facial animations and to have a single 3D format throughout the company.
Beginning in 2004, Square Enix decided there was a need to create a common 3D data format, and as a result a Research and Development Division was established in September 2006, with Taku Murata as the manager. At the 2007 Game Developers Conference, Taku Murata noted that the development of Final Fantasy XII used proprietary software to allow "real time display" of the game on a television to see immediately and precisely how the game would look. In November 2007 Square Enix revealed development was going at a "sluggish" pace, leading some to speculate that Final Fantasy XIII or Dragon Quest IX, games then thought to be using the White Engine, would be delayed.
At the 2008 Game Developers Conference, Murata did a presentation called "The Technology of Final Fantasy" during which he revealed that they had been working on a game development engine called "White Engine", and it had already reached Version 1.0. He also announced that Version 1.1, or Crystal Tools, was finished in September 2007. Murata later said in an interview that White Engine was meant to be a code name, and they wanted to have an official name that had something to do with Square Enix, and Crystal both sounded right as it reflected "many different colors" and the Final Fantasy series. Finishing his 2008 speech, he stated that the technology would be used on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and a "scaled down" version for the Wii, and that Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and a new MMORPG, later revealed to be Final Fantasy XIV, would all make use of the technology.
The Crystal Tools engine was designed from scratch, rather than modified from an existing engine. Rather than make one base engine that would work for all scenarios, the engine was designed so that different plugins could be created to extend the features of the engine for specific games. The game developers working with the engine, in keeping with the Final Fantasy style, requested many close-ups and stylization of characters. When asked if Square Enix might license the engine to other companies to develop games with, he stated that Square Enix's focus was elsewhere, and that they were not willing to spend the effort in building up the documentation and support that would allow other developers to use it. Yoshinori Kitase later expanded on the difference between the White Engine and Crystal Tools, saying that the White Engine was intended to be only for Final Fantasy XIII, and was renamed to Crystal Tools when the engine was expanded to be used by multiple games.
In 2010, after Final Fantasy XIII was released, Kitase said in an interview that despite whatever effects the Crystal Tools engine might have on the development of other games, that its development was a significant obstacle in creating that game. He did say, however, that it made converting the game from the PlayStation 3 to the Xbox 360 very easy, though the actual programming job of making the engine work on both platforms was very strenuous.
- Advanced Audio Processing
- Real-time Physics Calculations
- Cinema-Quality Special Effects Rendering
- Progressive Scan Loading
- High Quality, CGI Real-time Rendering (both cut-scene and gameplay) graphics capabilities
- Seamless cut-scene to gameplay transition
Crystal Tools uses the GRAPE2 Communications Server.
- Character Viewer
- Effects Editor
- Cut-scene Editor
- Sound Maker
- Layout Tool
Currently, Square Enix shows no intention of sharing the engine with other developers, besides its subsidiaries. The engine can be used to create games for Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii.
Games using the engine
- Final Fantasy VII: Technical Demo for PS3 (2005)
- Final Fantasy XIII (2009)
- Final Fantasy XIV (2010)
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 (2011)
- Dragon Quest X (2012)
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014)
- Chris Kohler (2008-02-22). "‘Crystal Tools’: Final Fantasy Engine Renamed, Supports Wii". Wired. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- Spencer (November 19, 2007). "White Engine development stalled, Final Fantasy XIII too?". Siliconera. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
- Ryan Clements (2004-02-22). "GDC 2008: Final Fantasy Updates". IGN. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- Andrew Yoon (2008-02-22). "GDC08: Square Enix unveils Crystal Tools engine". Joystiq. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- Brandon Sheffield (2008-04-18). "Q&A: Square Enix's Murata Talks Crystal Tools, Unreal Engine Initiatives". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- "The Making of Final Fantasy XIII". Game Informer. 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2013-02-11.
- "The complete video of Final Fantasy VII: Technical Demo for PS3".
- "Notre interview vidéo exclusive de Julien Merceron" (in French). Final Fantasy Dream. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2013.