Crystal Tools, formerly known as White Engine, was constructed to develop games for the next generation consoles PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. Final Fantasy XIII was developed on the Crystal Tools engine since the production moved on PlayStation 3. The process of making the company's first PlayStation 3 title proved to be a challenge as the team found it a tricky console to code for. Determined to crack the puzzle, Square opted to create its own development kit, which became known as Crystal Tools. The name change came from the crystal elements used in Final Fantasy XIII.
The development of Crystal Tools is an ongoing project with new adjustments made later on to accomplish certain tasks, like making something work faster than it was already, or adding a particular effect. With Final Fantasy XIII, developing a static image to match the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 specs was the best the development team could do at that point. With Final Fantasy XIII-2, however, character lighting technology improved, in addition to incorporating a dynamic design, such as the weather and the game environment. With Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the team could deliver an even more dynamic world by incorporating the element of time. By evolving the game engine in each game, the Lightning Saga team could enhance the gameplay quality and their ability to be more expressive. It also shortened the development cycle.
In September 2011, it was announced that Final Fantasy XV is not being developed with Crystal Tools anymore but with a game-specific engine. The developers' experiences on developing on Crystal Tools was used as feedback to aid in development plans for the next generation of consoles, and have been utilized in creating the development environment Square Enix's "Luminous Engine", showcased in the Agni's Philosophy tech demo.
Features and pluginsEdit
One of Crystal Tools' features is that it can render detailed CGI in real-time. The engine reportedly uses four of the six synergistic processing elements that are available to games running on the Cell processor, to achieve near pre-rendered CGI quality in real-time. Tetsuya Nomura has stated that the engine can recreate battle scenes reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
Crystal Tools handles standard features like advanced audio processing, cinematic cutscene transition, physics effects calculations, and special effects rendering. There are plugins to allow Crystal Tools to work with Photoshop, XSi (3D software), and Maya (3D software). All of these programs are industry standard.
Games using Crystal ToolsEdit
- Final Fantasy XIII
- Final Fantasy XIII-2
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
- Final Fantasy XIV 1.0
- Final Fantasy Versus XIII (Prior to being cancelled and reshaped into Final Fantasy XV)