Game news Square Enix: the secrets of HD-2D style revealed by the 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, synonymous with the cult J-RPG, recently developed a retro style dubbed HD-2D. The producers of Triangle Strategy have recently unveiled the underside of the productions by adopting this very special touch.
The new label from Square Enix
The advent of the independent video game scene has given pixel art unprecedented popularity. Navigating both player nostalgia and singular bias, developers now regularly adopt this retro style. Square Enix, to whom we owe a large number of cult J-RPGs such as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, understood the attraction of players to pixel-art and embarked on the creation of a style of the same inspiration: HD-2D. Tomoya Asano and Yasuaki Arai, both producers of Triangle Strategy, spoke at length about the new acquisition of Square Enix during an interview with 4Gamer.
Used so far for productions such as Octopath traveler et Triangle strategyHD-2D has a bright future ahead of it and should be at the heart of Dragon Quest III et Live a life. And if Square Enix’s latest claw has apparently taken over much of the gaming community, no other development studies have yet been attempted by HD-2D. To this question, Triangle Strategy producer Tomoya Asano gave a fairly clear answer. For him it is above all a question of budget.
Interestingly, HD-2D costs a lot more than you might think. It works well with games expected from a studio like Square Enix. But there probably isn’t much to be gained for other companies that want to copy this style.
It is true that pixel-art can undoubtedly be called 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 experience also circulates freely among 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 find useful, we encourage the exchange of information between the various developers. If an expression method was used in a previous game, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be included in new apps.
A style still in its infancy
Tomoya Asano and Yasuaki Arai then discussed the various issues related to HD-2D. If the teams serving Square Enix work so closely around this style, it is because it has not yet fully shown the possibilities it offers. Who says that different game means different genre, and therefore leads to new constraints to which HD-2D must be adapted. A challenge that the Triangle Strategy teams had to face.
Tomoyaki Asano: Octopath Traveler offered a fixed camera, but in tactical RPGs you need to rotate the camera 360 degrees. We had to find a way to make the maps look perfect from any angle.
Yasuaki Arai: A lot of resources have been used to make the map visible from all sides. In addition to making a wonderful world, the artists and creative teams have done a fantastic job of making so many places coexist together.
A unique rendering
The two producers ended up talking about the effect of HD-2D, often compared to a diorama. On this point, they explain that this result is above all the result of long prospecting, obtained after various experiments. It took the producers several tests before they found the right team to develop Triangle Strategy’s HD-2D.
Tomoyaki Asano: We tried to find a middle ground with the deformation of the characters, while the characters in pixel art have to be beautiful, in pixel art. As aspect ratios change to look more realistic, resolution increases and pixels shrink, making characters look more like illustrations than pixel art. Obviously, this result works as an illustration in its own right, but it departs too far from what we wanted to achieve with HD-2D.
Yasuaki Asano: We invited several studios to make an HD-2D demo at the beginning of production of Triangle Strategy, and after looking for the right team together with Acquire, the developers of Octopath Traveler, we chose Artdink. While other developers created photorealistic images prior to scaling, Artdink was the only one to achieve “true” HD-2D according to Acquire.
HD-2D is a unique style, the result of many tests and is now starting to take hold. The enthusiasm of the players for this graphic rendering logically pushes Square Enix to continue its use. With the arrival of Live A Live next July and then the remake of Dragon Quest III, there is no doubt that the studio will be betting on its latest claw again in the future.