I was always amazed how they could make such stunning effects on such limited hardware, especially the battle attacks: youtube.com/watch?v=ttb3-gC2HbQ
1:16 - 1:31
It looks like a collection of particles, billboards, texture offset animation, vertex animation.
Or is it? Maybe its all pre-rendered? What do you think? Should I even think of prerendered animations with alpha as an option?
I guess they use all this techniques in hand to make the effects. If you have the effect’s designer in your mind is just a matter to used or mixed appropriate techniques to make the work.
There’s a important artist’s skill in the roll … you can make simple effects, but very pretty if your artist (or you) have a lot of graphical designer background. Squaresoft have a lot of experiented artists in his bundle … this make a lot of difference.
I just guess the PS2 platform is not a very limited hardware. PS2 graphical capabilities is very superior than a simple, middle pc. I think Panda3D have capability to render hi-quality 3D environments, with millions of polygons and a lot of shaders, like FFX … but if your user don’t have a hyper PC, you’ll lose a lot of consumers.
it is exactly as you guessed. a combination of those.
most important are the textures, those make or break the effects. the rest is the usual geometry with animation of the geometry and uv sets. they also make good use of 2 texture layers which move at different speeds/directions.
the ps2 hardware is very limited compared to most pc’s. the reason it still looks good is because they where able to optimize it for one very well known hardware without beeing forced to suppport dozens if not hundrets of other hardware configurations. as far as i can see the effects done even appear to use any special shader effects.