Triangle Strategy Producers talk about HD-2D and why other developers haven’t used it

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With the release of Octopath Traveler and Triangle Strategy — and the upcoming Live A Live and Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake – Square Enix has become synonymous with a new style of retro-inspired visuals. The combination of rich HD 3D backgrounds with SNES-inspired pixel art characters and monsters, HD 2D’s color palette, lighting, and beautifully detailed boss sprites helped create a nostalgic, beloved art style that fans will want to see more of.

In a recent interview with 4Gamer, Triangle Strategy producers Tomoya Asano and Yasuaki Arai sat down to discuss how they implemented these retro-styled visuals in their recent strategy game. An interesting question to jump out of the interview – translated by Jarop for Nintendo Everything – is when 4Gamer asks Asano why other studios haven’t tried HD-2D. More and more indie studios have embraced pixel art to capture the heart of the games they’re inspired by, but Asano has a pretty simple answer:

It’s probably worth noting that it costs more than you might think. In that regard, it’s a good match for the titles Square Enix wants. There may not be much to gain from other companies copying it.

This answer is a good reminder that game development isn’t easy or cheap, and despite being inspired by classic SNES-era RPGs, there’s so much extra detail – ignoring the HD backgrounds – that a bigger budget is needed. would be. Asano

Asano also talks about “sharing expertise” between the various HD-2D projects that have taken place at Square Enix, and the producer confirms that development teams have indeed exchanged notes.

The teams on the former titles have released information for the newer teams. If they have information that they think may be useful, we encourage the sharing of information between development companies. If an expression method has been used in a previous title, there is no reason why it cannot be included in the newer titles.

Asano and Arai also talk specifically about Triangle Strategy, including the differences in working with the popular visual style in Octopath Traveler and Triangle Strategy. These responses have also been translated for Nintendo Everything by Jarop. Octopath Traveler is a turn-based RPG, while Triangle Strategy requires a top-down camera to show you the tactical RPG action, so the team faced new challenges.

Asano: Octopath Traveler had a fixed camera, but in tactical RPGs you need to be able to rotate the map 360 degrees. We had to find a way to make cards in Triangle Strategy look good from all angles.

araic: A lot of resources were needed to make the map visible from all sides. At the beginning of development, we spent a lot of time discussing what to do at the edge of maps. In addition to beautiful looking world maps, the artists and art team did a fantastic job putting so many locations together. We hope you’ll explore every inch of the maps and immerse yourself in war-torn Norzelia.

The 4Gamer interviewer also dives into details, focusing on the effect they think HD-2D is trying to create, comparing it to a diorama:

HD-2D is a blend of the real and the surreal and strikes a great balance between the two styles. It’s interesting to see realistic lighting shine on distorted characters – it feels like I’m looking at a diorama or a vignette-like object. I bet it was hard to make.

Asano: We tried to find the right line with the distortion, because the pixel art characters had to be attractive as pixel art. As the proportions change to look more realistic, the resolution increases and the pixels get smaller, making them look more like illustrations than pixel art. Sure, it’s attractive as a standalone artwork, but it would be different from what we’ve built up as HD-2D.

Games have evolved to make pixels invisible, be it within pixel art or on textures applied to polygons, but I get the impression that with HD-2D you’re going in the opposite direction.

Asano: We invited several companies to do HD-2D demo footage in the early stages of Triangle Strategy production, and after reviewing together with Octopath Traveler’s other developer, Acquire, we brought Artdink on board. While other developers created and scaled down photo-realistic images, Artdink was the only developer Acquire said had the “accurate” HD-2D images.

Asano talks about “accurate” HD-2D, also mentioning Triangle Strategy which is more like “artwork” in that the pixels get smaller and the resolution increases. This helps create a more “realistic” look and feel for the game, and when he clarifies what he means by “accurate” HD-2D, he compares the images to photorealism.

They created a distorted image at the writing material level, before adding realistic effects to ‘build it up’. A well-made HD 2D screen has pixel art characters and background.

By contrast, if you shrink a photo-realistic image, it seems like you’re just decreasing the image quality, painting an image that says, ‘Maybe this should have been left clean.

As we get a new HD-2D game in less than two months, we can say that Asano and the team have succeeded in creating and perfecting a now iconic visual style. Asano has even revealed that Square Enix is ​​considering making even more HD-2D remakes in the future. We’d also love to see more new IPs in this visual style, but we can certainly dream of a Final Fantasy VI HD-2D remake, right? Even with the existing Steam and mobile Pixel Remaster…

Triangle Strategy’s visuals were just one of the many things we praised in our review of the game, which we awarded a 9/10.

What do you think of HD-2D? Are you looking forward to the Live A Live and Dragon Quest III remakes? Let us know below!

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