You're blocking ads, which pay for BlenderNation. Read about other ways to support us.

Non-Blender: Square Enix Realtime Demo


Here's how you could be playing games in real time in the near future: using a Final Fantasy demo as a showcase, Square Enix has revealed at E3 its Luminous Engine, which it describes as being for "next generation quality games".

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. These are puzzling times when the will of doing something original seems more improbable that the technical means to do so.

    • I remember reading an essay on by the Animation Pimp about how maddening it is that for a medium [animation] that has absolutely no limits or imaginative bounds seem to always strive to mimic "real life." It was an inspiring article.

      • chromemonkey on

        That's the problem I always had with paintings by Vincent Van Gogh... they weren't photorealistic enough. :)

      • I've often wondered the same thing.  We have the technology to create worlds out of this world, and most artists try to mimic it.

        • It is important to have some reference to the natural world so that it is believable weather you are on another planet or world.

          If you were to completely just avoid using any rules or reference to the natural world you would simply get random crap. Which wont make any sense and nobody will be the least interested in it.

      •  hey, do you rememer something else about the article? author, title? I searched but I couldn't find it, thanks!

      • You can still have styles, fashions, cultures, complex worlds from the imagination that do not exist in reality, while still adhering to the visual physics of reality.   The real world and how it is 'rendered' has incredible subtlety, complexity and credibility, and it packs in more information than I think many people realize.  

        When you look at a material in the real world you immediately know what it would feel like, how rough, smooth, soft, what it may be made of and its qualities.  This is all from the lighting of the material, the inherent way that light interacts with matter, the structure of matter, and it is a vocabulary that you can't just expect to rewrite.  Glossy is glossy, rough is rough, and every deviation you take from reality is a handicap on what you could potentially do while still making sense.

    • Benjamin Lindquist on

      Isn't this getting a bit old. I've seen you comment this exact same crap on about 5 places. Get over yourself you're not that good.

    • chromemonkey on

      Was the very first human with the scraggle beard and crooked teeth also part of the realtime or was it a little bit of actual FMV thrown in?  He looked more real than the others especially in closeup.

    • exactly. I'd prefer if games were stylized. Not necessarily anime style, but unique.
      Fancy and fun shaders,Textures that look like most games on n64 (but not as low quality since we can now have higher resolutioned stuff).

      A couple years after a game with epic graphics comes out, it usually looks like poop. People were all impressed by things like Battlefield (any number) and COD (any number) and Final Fantasy (any number), Halo (any number), saying things like "OMG THAT'S PHOTO REALISTIC!!". and by the time the next NUMBER is released people are usually like "the graphics suck on that version".

      What's the point in spending more time, more money, more effort on graphics for games? Crank up the file size? Make peoples computers cry? Target only the rich? Use the graphics as an excuse for the game being so short (story/gameplay wise. loading screens do not count as part of the gameplay length :P)? 

      • That is why there are games like Spyro The Dragon, Sonic the Hedgehog, Battlefield Heroes, Minecraft, Team Fortress 2 and many more.

        I will never forget the first time I spawned in my first multiplayer Battlefield 3 game. I was in awe with the beautiful detailed realistic environment and on such a grand scale. I have never had such an immersive gaming experience in my life, due to the graphics and also the gameplay. And I certainly am not rich.

        Whoever said "OMG THAT'S PHOTO REALISTIC!!" must be on crack because currently games are far from PHOTO REALISTIC.

        The reason the previous titles looks less advanced or how you like to put it:"poop" is because of progression and I love it!

        Go play Spiro The Dragon if it satisfies.

        • chromemonkey on

          The scraggle-beard gap-tooth guy definitely fooled me though.  Whether or not it's real time, it had to be at *least* hand-tweaked.

          • I'm not entirely sure what you mean by hand-tweaked, but for the hair, if you've been keeping up with Nvidia's realtime hair simulation demos, you'll see such hair and fur is very well possible. Rigs will naturally be able to be more complicated, and have you seen this?

        • chromemonkey on

          The term "Photo-Realistic" gets misused.  A lot.  I still insist it's just a stylistic category, as "cell-shaded" is.  Calling a style photorealistic should not be meant to be taken as a claim of being indistinguishable from reality.  I have also seen actual photos that come across as "impressionistic" if that makes any sense.  And I have seen bad photographs that look like a Blender internal render.

          • Photo-Realistic refers to a very realistic style in art in which a painting or drawing ( or game) is virtually indistinguishable from a photograph. Hence the name PHOTO-realism.

          • chromemonkey on

            You are continuing to skirt the issue.  The issue here is that people are holding photorealistic CGI to higher standards than most of the classic paintings of the photorealistic era/genre actually attained.  I am simply questioning why.

          • Perhaps it is because technology allows us to get closer to the photo-realist goals than the photo-realist could.

          • Oxford Dictionary Definition

            photorealism = a style of art and sculpture characterized by
            the highly detailed depiction of ordinary life with the impersonality of
            a photograph.

          • chromemonkey on

            I do not disagree with that.  And yet, the actual paintings themselves can still be distinguished as easily from actual photographs as the computer renders we are speaking of.  I will supply links to paintings from the noteable artists in this category and we can let people judge if it passes their threshold for what is acceptably photorealistic.

            I don't want to flood, but here is one to get started with.  People here would say it doesn't pass the test if it were in a modern-day video game, because it still looks visibly artificial.


          • chromemonkey on

            I have reflected over the last several hours, and it looks like the discussion can only stall out from this point, so I want to try to at least determine what our initial assumptions should be.

            It seems to me that the whole criteria for what is minimally acceptable as an example of photorealism is a moving target.  To my eye, a screenshot of the scraggle-beard guy in this video clip is at least on par with a painting by photorealist artists such as John Baeder.  If anything, my eye percieves parts of Baeder's painting as looking somewhat flat compared with the image from the demo.  So why do we give a failing grade to one and not the other?  I'm not unreasonable here... this is a topic I really want to hear much more about, especially from the more traditional artists such as the painters who have a better historical and practical perspective on the topic than I might have.

          • I do see your point.

            On further investigation I realized the term extends further than simply a visual style (cell shading) but also to the themes, ordinary people and common place themes.

            Photo-realism is not a style but an art movement.

            Perhaps it depends weather we are referring to the definition or the art movement. (If we can do that. Can we do that? I am not a language expert.)

            I thank you for this spirited debate.

  2.  Look's fantastic , saw this yesterday but i actually found the demo itself very very hard to sit through, i don't know why i did but i thought it was really boring(apart from the beards of course)

    • What ever is included in the next Xbox and PS 4 and may be the Wii U, Square Enix would not have made something that exceeds those consoles capabilities. Not even a tech demo

  3. That was boring, quite frankly very lazy and not entertaining at all. I see Cryteks attempts at demos and I'm left picking my jaw up off of the ground. This not so much.

  4. I think the number 1 reason why most of them always try to be even more photorealistic is that you will get really better in something (artistic) when you try to copy from a master. The biggest master of graphics is real life, it's graphics really kicks ass. :)
    After copying real life and creating shaders and stuff which mimic it very closely (and can run realtime) then you can start to play around with them and add some original stuff. And if you have more and more of these then you will have plenty of stuff to choose from and modify a bit. (And of course money also has a very important role in this ;))
    By the way, there was a very original thing on E3 called The Unfinished Swan. For unique graphics check out that one, that's interesting. :)

    • Unfinished Swan is an interesting one although it doesn't seem very entertaining.

      I agree that the biggest master of graphics is real life.

      Anything needs to be grounded with reference to the natural world. Otherwise it means nothing to people. The more reference to the natural world the more submerged the audience is. This does not mean you have to mimic life dead on and games very rarely do.

      • Yes, but maybe the computers of, say, ten years from now could somehow bridge those gaps, giving a more "real" feeling to video games than reality could ever give to itself.
        Sorry to get philosophical, but I just wanted to put that out there.

        • Hahaha.

          Well I think that for a lot of WOW players that is already the case and look at the pitiful graphics engine. I love the art of Blizzard.

          I wonder if in the future they will use full on path-tracing similar to cycles to add more realistic graphics in games. I am not very tech savvy but I can't see why not. Once the kind of processing power needed for truly real time path tracing at 60fps is cheap enough, why not?

          • There are actually a few experimental engines that do full path tracing stuff in realtime. They don't look great if you're moving around a lot (but if you stand still for a few seconds they look WONDERFUL), but if you reduce the bounces a bit they can render playably.

    • ethangreer59292 on

       Well the thing about that is assembly is basically limitless in speed on modern hardware. C is great and all, but you give up memory and speed gains for generic bytes that allow expression in word form. The argument against python was a standard one for C when it first appeared. You have good compilers now, but nothing beats raw assembly. Sure it's hard to debug and the number of lines would blow your mind, but assembly/byte code was what made the N64 shine at a time when it's texture/material buffers were considered impossible to work with due to 'memory limitations.'

  5. stevenshearing on

    I would expect a new next gen console next year by the looks of this video.
    Sony or Microsoft who knows ?.

  6. 1: Lol. Generic arabs are now the antagonist in the Final Fantasy series as well? You'd think we had enough shooting them to bits in all them CODBLOPS recently.

    2: They always do this! Tens of thousands of man hours, if not even hundreds of thousands, poured into amazing technical feats. But because the settings are always so... DERP... I can never muster any interest for these games.

  7. Yes. It certainly looks pretty. But please, for once, make a game with some depth and solid storylines/characters to it. All games I've purchased recently have been a total disapointment.

  8. I for one love the demo. Even stylized games will benefit from higher resolutions, greater geometry limits and more robust particle effects. Whether or not you use it for realism or other is up to the artist.
    That said, I did think the engine could use some tweaking with the specularity, which seemed too sharp, especially in things like liquids. But I'm sure they'll figure it out.

    • I'll wait until voxels are the norm. then I might be impressed by higher geometry limits. Some very impressive demos and WIP games out there. pretty much limitless amounts of detail. and with voxels, you can get full destruction fairly easily.
      Imagine a pretty GTA 8 game where every building is fully interiored. or where you and a squad in Battlefield 12 could blast through a non-scripted/pre-animated wall to get a camping sniper. Or a block based building game with infinite size! ... oh, wait.

      • The Voxel engine you're referring to, if I am assuming correctly, is in general considered to be a scam.

        • didn't want to bring names, but I know the one you're talking about. they may have lied about the numbers, but what they showed off was still impressive. also there are games in DEV like Miner Wars which look pretty good and are MASSIVE. Voxel based space Persistent MMO with asteroids of 8KM that you can dig through, make a base in or blow up. everything is destructible aswell. look at some videos/trailers.

          Also, more and more modern games and engines are using them, especially for the terrain. check this list out:

        • But there are lots of other ones that have plenty of information on what they're doing. Not quite as cool looking, but nearly as cool, and almost certainly real!

  9. Nabil Stendardo on

    Nice, but saying this is real-time misses an important point: WHAT'S THE HARDWARE. Real-time for a netbook is not the same as real-time on a next-gen console, or even real-time on a graphics-oriented supercomputer (with hundreds of tesla GPGPUs).

        • chromemonkey on

          (Yahoo is still dropping my Disqus updates, didn't see this until now)  It was announced by Square at the expo this week.  I first found out when Joey Ferwerda mentioned it on this Blendernation forum thread yesterday.

  10. differentSmoke on

    My question is actually: if this is realtime... what's the gameplay? I know it is probably not meant to be a playable part, but stil, if you can't play it I dunno what's the big deal with it being real time apart from technical drooling. It just looks like a mess. I'm much more impressed by the demo of The Last of Us than by this.

    • chromemonkey on

      One possible point could be, to imagine things like the gameplay from The Last of Us combined with this graphical engine.  That would be something.

    • Patrick Boelens on

      The reason this is so impressive is that it's an engine, not an individual game. =) This system could be used for any kind of gameplay, from realistic shooters and sports games to stylized beat 'm ups and platformers (KH3 please!).

  11. chromemonkey on

    My yahoo mail seems to have reached its limit for DISQUS status updates again.  I just noticed many updates that never made it to my inbox.  Time to ditch Yahoo I think.

  12. This is what you get in the cut scenes. In the actual FF game all you get is lots of walking around while NPC's mill about followed by redundant battle sections where everyone idles while their timer ticks down before launching into an elaborate and utterly non-interactive, unskippable five minute summoning animation, followed by an anticlimactic switch back to the standard view where the number "134" pops out of the head of the guy you just dropped a dragon on. He then runs up and stabs you and then runs back to his spot again.

    This sort of technology isn't USED in games. It may as well be FMV because it's utterly non-interactive. Game worlds are becoming barren wastelands devoid of interaction that are littered with useless trash and set dressing that you can kick around. FUN! Shoot people! FUN! Open a door and watch as a scripted sequence happens! FUN! Open the door and watch as a completely non-interactive cut-scene starts! Listen to poorly written dialogue delivered by some of the worst voice actors on the planet while a bunch of FULLY REALTIME characters stand around making vague gestures! If you're lucky, they might even walk AS they talk! FUN!

    It's neat tech, but they should really be targeting this stuff at animators, not game developers. Seriously, this is rendering in REAL TIME. Why can't I render things that look that good in realtime? Why can't I have an animation that uses an engine like that that spits out an image file 24 times a second instead of throwing 60 of them on my monitor every second? WHY IS THAT NOT A THING YET!? Seriously, someone alter Blender so that I can use the GLSL capabilities to render frames / Layers with all of the same perks that the other rendered get, like post processing nodes and whatnot. Bam. There you go. You can now render an entire short film in a matter of hours on one computer instead of days or weeks on a renderfarm. Will it look as good? Probably not. Will anyone notice? Probably not.

    • I completely agree with you.  That all may have been rendered in their new engine but it is not real time game play.  It is just an animated movie.  I am sure some of the better artists and animators could do exactly the same type of thing in Blender.  Oh wait... they already have.  I would have been more impressed if they showed actual interactive game play that looked that nice.  Maybe they will soon.

      I also agree that many of the new games are a lot of walking around and watching poorly voiced over non-interactive sequences.    Don't get me wrong.  That video of in game animation is very pretty and the music is nice too.  Great marketing.  But, that is why I just stick to the multiplayer FPS games.  At least in them you have to keep rethinking what you do and nothing is preset.

    • chromemonkey on

      +100 Like!  At the very least make it a previsualization option to do something like that. 

      Another great boon for Blender would be for next year's summer of code to request some work on implementing some form of steep-parallax-occlusion mapping, whether in the game engine or, if at all possible, in the main Blender environment.

  13. Personally, I like all kinds of games graphics.  I'm not someone always begging for non-photorealistic graphics in games, and I'm not someone who complains when someone achieves photorealism in games either.  I like 8-bit graphics, and I like graphics like these in this demo.  I like both the real and the purely imaginative, and all in between.  I just appreciate talented use of visuals.  I personally think this demo did a good job creating a world where I don't exist in, but I can very well relate to.  I'd love to play a game set in this world.

    I think some folks here are kinda missing the point of a tech demo.  This is just a technical demonstration of what the engine is capable of because they've got to sell what they make with the games (and probably sell the engine to other developers to license), so OF COURSE, they're going to go for such realistic graphics.  The realistic graphics alone are not just what's most impressive about this demo--the real-time handling of this entire scene is the big deal.  This game is reaching the level of high-action realistic visuals in real-time that's just not common today.  The more powerful the game engine is towards photorealism, the even more capable it is of non-photorealism.

  14. From a merely technical standpoint, it is impressive, without any doubt.
    That said, there's wide space both for Angry Birds as well as Uncharted and Battlefield to live.
     Get fun wherever it comes from, and don't bother asking yourself about which style is better, if you ever work for Square Enix or EA or Ubisoft, they'll care to put you up to date as for tools used by

  15. Riccardo Covino on

    Whoever is criticizing the video for the plot or for the excessive tech research is missing the point.
    This is a tech demo.
    Showing the capability of the engine.
    It's up to the artist to make good stories out of it, realistic or unrealistic.
    Would you criticize cycles watching a tech demo of it for similar reasons?

  16. this tech demo is not about photorealism. Most animation movies do not try to look photorealistic.

    This simply means that this engine is capable at putting out movies
    - at HD resolution
    - with cinematic effects like Depth of Field and Motion Blur
    - at several frames per second ! 

    Instead of waiting more than an hour to render that second of the movie, you can have tens of frames per second.
    To call this AWESOME ist still an extreme understatement!

    The Blender community has to ask:
    How can we establish a good pipeline between Blender and Engines such as the one from Square or CryEngine3 ?

    • or this one?
      another tech, hands on demo of there game engine - very cool things to come from multiple companies

      •  This is really awesome. What a great editor node system!
        Would be nice if capabilities like this come to Blender Game Engine, too.

  17. Am I looking at the same tech demo as some of you guys? This tech demo is absolutely amazing. The level of detail, lighting, and realism they're able to accomplish in realtime is nothing short of stunning. I think some people will not be impressed until it looks %100 real, overlooking the technical advances that each next-gen engine brings to the table. I feel like I've left a 3d forum and gone to a gaming blog. :)

    • Benjamin Lindquist on

      Yeah well it's almost like reading some of the youtube comments. Stuff that we know takes months and months to make some think isn't good enough. What can they do themselves? Nothing, just whine. 
      That's a bit similar to how a big part of the blender community is nowadays as well.

  18. All this but no talk about the unreal4 engine? You should see the editor in use, the new work flow is amazing. So many things that had to be faked are now calculated in real time, not to mention no needing to rebuilding the lighting constantly. It's going to really speed up production.

Leave A Reply

To add a profile picture to your message, register your email address with To protect your email address, create an account on BlenderNation and log in when posting a message.