Game news Square Enix: The Secrets of HD-2D Style revealed by the producers of the Triangle strategy
Square Enix is a major player in the video game industry, famous for licenses such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts. The studio, which is synonymous with the iconic J-RPG, recently developed a retro style called HD-2D. The producers of the Triangle strategy recently unveiled the underside of productions that took on this very specific touch.
New Square Enix label
The advent of the independent video game scene has brought pixel-art unprecedented popularity. Developers who go through nostalgia for players and unique prejudices are now regularly adopting this retro style. Square Enix, to whom we owe a large number of iconic J-RPGs such as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, understood the appeal of pixel-art players and set out to create the style for the same inspirations: HD-2D. Tomoya Asano and Yasuaki Arai, both producers of Triangle Strategy, spoke at length about the new Square Enix signature during an interview with 4Gamer.
So far used for productions like Octopath Traveler and Triangular strategyHD-2D has a bright future ahead of it and should be the core of remakes Dragon Quest III and Live to live. And if Square Enix’s latest claw has obviously gained a large part of the gaming community, no other development studio has been seduced by HD-2D yet. Triangle Strategy producer Tomoya Asano gave a fairly clear answer to this question. For him, it is above all a question of the 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 other companies that want to copy this style probably won’t get much.
It is true that pixel-art could undoubtedly be described as minimalist, but it is important to realize that this technique remains expensive, especially in the case of HD-2D, which requires a certain level of expertise. As Asano explains, this expertise also circulates freely among the development teams working under Square Enix.
Teams from previous titles share information with new teams. If they have information they find useful, we encourage the exchange of information between different developers. If the expression method was used in a previous game, there is no reason why it should not be included in new applications.
A style that is still in its infancy
Tomoya Asano and Yasuaki Arai continued to discuss various issues related to HD-2D. If Square Enix teams work so closely together on this style, it’s because they haven’t yet shown the full range of capabilities it provides. Who says that another game means a different genre, and therefore leads to new limitations to which HD-2D needs to be adapted. The challenge that 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 needed to find a way to make the maps look great from any angle.
Yasuaki Arai: A lot of resources have been put into making the map visible from any side. In addition to achieving a beautiful world, artists and creative teams have done a fantastic job of making so many places coexist.
Both producers eventually talked about the HD-2D effect, often compared to a diorama. At this point, they explain that this result is primarily the result of a long survey obtained after various experiments. The producers needed several tests to find the right team to develop the HD-2D Triangle Strategy.
Tomoyaki Asano: We tried to find a middle ground with deformed characters, while pixel-art characters must be beautiful, in pixel-art. As the proportions change to look more realistic, the resolution increases and the pixels shrink, making the characters look more like illustrations than pixels. Obviously, this result works as an illustration in itself, but it deviates too much from what we wanted to achieve with HD-2D.
Yasuaki Asano: We invited several studios to create an HD-2D demo at the beginning of Triangle Strategy production, and after looking for the right team alongside Acquire, the developers of Octopath Traveler, we chose Artdink. While other developers created photorealistic images before downscaling, Artdink was the only one to achieve “real” HD-2D according to Acquire.
HD-2D is a unique style that is the result of many tests and is now really gaining ground. The enthusiasm of the players for this graphic design logically pushes Square Enix to continue using it. With the arrival of Live A Live next July and the subsequent remake of Dragon Quest III, there is no doubt that the studio will bet on its latest claw in the future.