At last year's CEDEC, Yoichiro Miyake, a lead AI researcher at Square Enix took to the stage on the first day to talk about SAVE, a new initiative at the company that sought to archive and index old development materials and data. And now, a year later, he has given another talk at the same conference, providing us with an update on how these efforts are going (as originally reported by Famitsu and 4Gamer).
As Famitsu reports, Miyake pitched SAVE to Square Enix management in Spring 2020, after he was unable to find data relating to the former games company Enix. After failing to find what he was looking for, he ordered analog materials and realized the preservation nightmare the company was facing.
Square Enix held roughly 10,000 cardboard boxes for Square, Enix, Taito, Quest, and Square Enix titles across multiple warehouses, with seemingly no uniform management rules for how to index and catalog these materials. As a result, he wanted to sort through these materials and index them properly to prevent them from being lost forever from digital decay or from being misplaced.
In Fall 2020, it was announced to staff at the company that Square Enix would be starting this initiative and according to Miyake's speech, the reception was overwhelmingly positive, with former developers donating old materials and data to the cause. Though the project started with only three members of staff, according to his most recent speech there is now a dedicated team that is helping out, some of which come from Square Enix Business Support.
There are currently three tools that are being used to index development materials: a multifunction copier, a camera, and a PC for managing data and assets. The current team, therefore, has to physically go through each box and scan paper materials, source original hardware to check the contents of certain media, and send memory devices off to trained specialists in circumstances where they may be fragile or prone to damage.
It all sounds like a herculean effort, but it's one that we can certainly get behind, especially if it prevents data loss in the long run and leads to more museum exhibitions and showcases in the future.
What do you make of this news? What companies would like to see follow Square Enix's example? Tell us below!