Square Enix finally took the wrappers off its next big thing, the Luminous engine, over the weekend.
The in-house only engine is touted as "photo realistic", and Square announced several new features to this end, including cloth and fluid simulation, realtime reflections and new tessellation techniques; according to Edge, that last one means a higher level of detail on 3D models without blowing up memory usage. Edge has a small gallery of images showing off the lighting effects and detail in side-by-side comparisons with real world source images.
Luminous is also set to support motion capture-informed procedural animation. Drawing on a database of information, the engine will apparently be able to automate a number of tasks by independently calculating changes in movement as parameters are adjusted. Thus, if an artist changes one part of a character model - repositioning the arms - the rest of the body will adjust to match; a heavier weapon will produce a different animation to a lighter one; and walking animations react to terrain types.
On the non-graphical side, Square Enix is promising advanced, scalable AI support. Luminous was first detailed in August, with Square Enix promising native DirectX 11 support and programmable shaders. No games based wholly on the new engine have been announced, but some parts of the tech are used in the upcoming Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Square Enix has hinted that the engine will be compatible with current gen hardware.