Play news Square Enix: The Secrets of HD-2D Style Revealed by Producers of Triangle Strategy
Square Enix is a major player in the video game industry, famous for licenses such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest or Kingdom Hearts. The studio, which is synonymous with cult J-RPGs, has recently developed a retro-like style called HD-2D. The producers of Triangle Strategy recently unveiled the underside of the productions that adopted this very special touch.
Square Enix ‘new label
The emergence of the independent video game scene gave pixel art an unprecedented popularity. The developers surf on both the players’ nostalgia and the unique prejudices, and the developers now regularly use this retro style. Square Enix, to whom we owe a large number of cult J-RPGs like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, understood the players’ appeal to pixel art and set about creating a style with the same inspirations: HD-2D. Tomoya Asano and Yasuaki Arai, both producers of Triangle Strategy, spoke at length about the new signature of Square Enix during an interview with 4Gamer.
Hitherto used for productions such as Octopath Traveler and Triangular strategyHD-2D has a bright future ahead of it and should be the core of remakes of Dragon Quest III and Live to live. And if Square Enix’s latest claw has apparently won over a large portion of the gaming community, no other development study has yet been tempted by HD-2D. To this question, Triangle Strategy producer Tomoya Asano gave a pretty clear answer. For him, it is above all a matter of budget.
Interestingly, the HD-2D costs a lot more than you might think. It works well with games expected from a studio like Square Enix. But there is probably not much to gain for other companies that want to copy this style.
It is true that pixel art could undoubtedly be described as minimalist, but it is important to remember that the technique remains expensive, especially in the case of HD-2D, which requires a certain level of expertise. This expertise also circulates freely between the development teams working under the leadership of Square Enix, as Asano explains.
Teams from previous titles share information with new teams. If they have information that they consider useful, we encourage the exchange of information between the various developers. If an expression method was used in a previous game, there is no reason why it should not be included in new apps.
A style that is still in its infancy
Tomoya Asano and Yasuaki Arai went on to discuss the various issues associated with HD-2D. If the teams available to Square Enix work so closely around this style, it’s because it has not yet shown the full range of options it offers. Who says different games mean a different genre and therefore lead to new limitations that HD-2D has to adapt to. A challenge that the Triangle Strategy teams had to face.
Tomoyaki Asano: Octopath Traveler offered a fixed camera, but in tactical RPGs you have to rotate the camera 360 degrees. We had to find a way to make maps look great from any angle.
Yasuaki Arai: A lot of resources were spent on making the map visible from every side. In addition to achieving a beautiful world, the artists and creative teams have done a fantastic job of making so many places coexist.
A unique rendering
The two manufacturers ended up talking about the effect of HD-2D, often compared to a diorama. At this point, they explain that this result is above all the fruit of lengthy investigation, obtained after various experiments. It took several tests for the manufacturers before they found the right team to develop Triangle Strategy’s HD-2D.
Tomoyaki Asano: We tried to find the middle ground with the deformation of the characters, whereas the pixel-art characters have to be beautiful, in pixel-art. As the proportions change to look more realistic, the resolution increases and pixels shrink, making the characters look more like illustrations than pixel art. This result, of course, serves as an illustration in itself, but it differs too far from what we wanted to achieve with HD-2D.
Yasuaki Asano: We invited several studios to do an HD-2D demo early in the production of Triangle Strategy, and after looking for the right team with Acquire, the developers of Octopath Traveler, we chose Artdink. While other developers created photorealistic images before downscaling, Artdink were the only ones to achieve “true” HD-2D, according to Acquire.
HD-2D is a unique style, the result of many experiments and is now starting to make a name for itself. Players’ enthusiasm for this graphic rendering logically pushes Square Enix to continue using. With the arrival next July of Live A Live and then the remake of Dragon Quest III, there is no doubt that the studio will once again bet on its latest claw in the future.