Lighting - a little ranting and a little tutoring.

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Drevlin

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Oct 17, 2006
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Introduction
I've been playing alot of custom RO-maps these last few weeks
 
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Fu. Svedberg

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Nov 21, 2005
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I will sticky this because as a avid UT2004 player and have seen it used with great effect in both customs and official maps in UT2004. I must say this is a important part that is seriously lacking in almost ALL RO maps.
 

JAKL

FNG / Fresh Meat
Nov 27, 2005
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Very interesting post and the comparison photos really help to make the point. Thanks for putting that together.
 

Quietus

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Nov 25, 2005
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Good tips. The thing that agitates me the most is when people have overly bright lighting so everything looks like you are roaming the surface of the sun with 9million brightness. I hate overexposed lighting. It just screams "I have no clue about lighting other than plopping lights in and cranking the brightness". For my map I'll be using a combination of sunlight actors, regular "lightbulbs" & ambient zone lighting (a low amount just enough for unlit interiors to navigated). If you notice IRL during the day rooms with no lights turned on are still fairly bright due to ambient light coming through the windows. However since my map is rainy and overcast there will be no "hard shadows" so the lighting will look somewhat bleak and monotone to simulate the setting. But anyway your lighting skills are top notch Drevlin.
 
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Drevlin

FNG / Fresh Meat
Oct 17, 2006
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I'm just hoping people implement this stuff into their maps. It aint all that hard, just takes a little time and a keen eye but makes a world of difference. :)
 

Nestor Makhno

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Feb 25, 2006
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I agree that lighting needs to be made more dramatic and that mappers need to keep a very close eye on how the lighting interacts with the textures they are using. This is something which is normally some way down most new mappers' 'major things to learn' list so it's not too surprising that not may people are that experienced at it. This will definitely help.

I also think that, for artificial light sources, the 3-light scenario should be the "3-light rule".

But...I think that the lighting on Zavod, although much better than that on just about any custom map (and even some stock ones), looks a bit too 'SF-ey'. UT, as a SF-based game, gives mappers carte blanche to put in lights absolutely wherever they wish for the simple reason that it is SF and therefore anything goes.

I personally, and this is purely my own personal preference, do not enjoy seeing lights in a map which appear to be there just for the sake of it. I am not saying this is the case in Zavod, but I am saying that, in my opinion, lighting should be done sparingly and it should be done well.

As regards the moonbeams etc. they only work when viewed from below. If a player is on the same level as them, looking at where they originate side-on they don't work. I mention it because if you are up on the balconies of Zavod you can look at some of them side-on.

The notes you posted above should certainly help more people achieve good lighting. It's definitely time someone posted this kind of thing and did so in a constructive manner rather than just harping on about how sh*t the current crop of new mappers are. Hearing that just hurts and does no good, other than to the ego of the person who says it.
 
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Drevlin

FNG / Fresh Meat
Oct 17, 2006
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*Note: loooong post with quite a bit of ranting.*

Having made Sci-fi for the last 5-6 years I guess Zavod is a little sci-fi-ish in its overall look and the lighting probably adds to that. In fact, I have no doubt it does as i mentioned in the article every single aspect of a map adds to its visuals. However, I just cant get my head around the ammount of mappers and gamers that have said "buhu a ut-map!!!!!111" but all the maps with practicly NO LIGHTING (ie an ambient zonelight or 3-4 sunlightactors) DONT get comments on the extremly crappy lighting the majority of maps has.
Thats what really puzzles me with this community and I just cant figure it out.

Yea, Zavod is different from what you're used to see in most RO-maps but is the community really so not-open, or used to how certain things should look, that they simply refuse to change an aspect that would make their maps look a whole lot better, bring more atmosphere into the battlefield and make gameplay more interesting? I really don't want to belive that but again, I'm just blown away by the ammount of comments i've gotten saying "Looks sci-fi" or "looks ut2004" when most maps looks like crap and they go without anyone saying a word about it. Quite a tinker, isnti t?

Also, i didnt just "toss" in lighting wherever in Zavod :)
The capture areas are highlighted with the orangey-light along with a few big chokepoints on the map - they're highlighted because for gameplay reasons (you should be able to see the enemy well when they come down the main route) but also to give depth and variation to the enviorment. I very much take a stand against what you say that I toss in light "anywhere" because its "Sci-fi" because you simplify it too much.
There is "realism" in Sci-fi too.

My definition of Realism is that as long there are rules and restrictions in the gameworld that are consistent troughout the game it is a realistic world - so that fits in on alot of games, doesnt it? Don't want to stray too much into this (I'm writing an essay in uni about Realism in Game worlds, so I wanna save myself for that) but RO is realistic and it has a real world setting. The term "realism" is, however, much too undefined for anyone to use in the context of what makes a good map and what makes a bad map. It's up to us to define what the game is and how real world is interpeted in the game. Games are a world of icons. Games that use a Real-world setting chooses icons thats tightly connected to the real world.
Zavod may be taking a radical step in a new direction for custom RO-maps and I welcom critasism as long as its valid and the same across the board. Seeing people saying "Yea, it looks like ut2k4!!!!1" and then looking at other threads for other maps where the lighting is just.... well, not there. It just takes away alot of the weight of what people are saying.
Also, I'm sure your view on realism in games is alot different than mine and thats compleatly fine. Im not saying im right to define realism that way - i'm just saying thats how i define it, many people define it differently and I'm looking forward to engulf myself further into the term in my essay. :)

The lighting in Zavod is extremly simple, but it is consistant and it works well for the gameplay.
I have three types of lightsources in it (Moon, lanterns and a few electrical lights).
And i mean, cmon.... Its an old mostly-ruined industrial complex, patched up by russian soldiers using metal scraps and wooden planks. That is soooo not-real-life-setting cuz russians liked it in the cold winds, rihgt?.
Putting up lanterns to find your way around the dead and dangerous ruined complex - yea, that would NEVER happen, right? Russians have
 
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Mike_Nomad

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Feb 15, 2006
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....See where im going? The setting is not so very not-real-life, even tho not historical correct. I had a theme and i went with it. Its called "Art direction". Perhaps I engulfed myself in it in a sci-fi way but atleast I did engulf myself in it. Give me a custom RO map that has more interesting art direction and lighting than Zavod and I'll shut up. (I know you said it has the best lighting in any custom RO map, nestor so that one didnt go to you but to the general community :)) Also, i think the moonbeams work even from the sides because they fade in and they fade out theres no hard line where they start or end. Personally I think that works great but of course, voulmetric shaders would be much welcome (ue3 = sex) but you cant do that in RO. :)

Man... quite the bit of ranting there. Breakfast awaits! Oh, and thanks for the comments. :) Always nice to be in a discussion. Discussion is GOOD - its evolves the ones involved.
First, enjoy your breakfast... Then think about this; "Illegitimi Non Carborundum" - Then everytime you see a shallow critique that fails to take into consideration the levels of both Artistic Liberty and Direction, you'll enjoy a good chuckle. You know how much I and our members like Zavod. I can honestly say "job well done". ;)
 

Drecks

Grizzled Veteran
Nov 26, 2005
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Interesting and usefull post.

Guess what ?
I agree with Nestor Makhno. Never thought this would happen.

Highlight capture areas for gameplay reasons with orange light and at the
same post telling people ain't used to how certain things should look.
Is a little bit weird.
As you post about the lightning used in the winterversion
of Zhitomir was boring, but that's my believe how a snowy
clouded winterday looks. Their is nothing fancy lighted in a snowy clouded
winterday. No dramatic light just shades of grey.
As an example i link some pictures i took in the snowy Ardennes
spring 2005. La Gleize and Stavelot area

Picture 2

Picture 2

Picture 3

Off course this changed when the scenery changed to
a evening or night map with unnatural light sources.

I really understand how you feel with the fact all the
people telling you Zavod is an UT map or Zavod is SCI FI.
But it's not only the lighting which make them say that.
It's the mix of architecture and lightning which make
people say that. I don't know your intention but in Zavod
their is hardly any position which make me feel like i'm in
a bombed out east european industrial area.

I really love certain parts of the lighting in Zavod and the
map looks great to, but their are other parts where i really
wondered the reason of this light.

Again the post is very usefull and i will see if i can use some
of this stuff for inside areas.

Greetz Drecks
 

Drevlin

FNG / Fresh Meat
Oct 17, 2006
177
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Mike, always the gentlemen =) I did enjoy my breakfast, Cheers!
I had too look up the term "Illegitimi Non Carborundum" and I'm glad I did. It's a good one, and its not gonna happen.
Glad you enjoy the map!


Interesting and usefull post.

Guess what ?
I agree with Nestor Makhno. Never thought this would happen.

Highlight capture areas for gameplay reasons with orange light and at the
same post telling people ain't used to how certain things should look.
Is a little bit weird.

I have no idea what your point is there. You mean its contradicting that i made a decision to, in my oppinion, enhance gameplay using lighting but at the same time im telling people that I think objectives should be highlighted? or... what? :)
Elaborate on that please, cuz i really dont understand :)

Interesting and usefull post.
As you post about the lightning used in the winterversion
of Zhitomir was boring, but that's my believe how a snowy
clouded winterday looks. Their is nothing fancy lighted in a snowy clouded
winterday. No dramatic light just shades of grey.
As an example i link some pictures i took in the snowy Ardennes
spring 2005. La Gleize and Stavelot area

Picture 2

Picture 2

Picture 3

Theres alot more going on in those pictures than it is in the sshots available in "the winter revenge" thread.
First off, there are quite many more things in view in the real-life pictures than there is in the map because the pictures are of wide open areas. fields that goes on forever and that in itself creates drama. Also, in the winter revenge thread the enviorment doesnt strike me as very foggy/clouded.
If you set out to create a foggy/clouded enviorment take it all the way and make it work for the map - not just implement it and leave it feeling empty and flat.
Taking something from real life and directly translating it into a game rarly works when it comes to keeping it interesting. You, as an artist, must interpet what elements in that enviorment works and what elements doesnt works towards to end-goal of adding to a compelling enviorment.

Architecture, texturing and lighting must work for eachother but if you're deadset on creating an exact replica of a certain time of day and mimic real life "to the number" you gotta compensate by making sure the texturing and architecture is all the more interesting.
Hands on example: The houses in The winter revenge thread are mostly plan, fairly featureless boxes with pillars (nicly done broken walls tho and sufficent texturing too).
To break it up there could be larger pillars that casts more shadows on the walls or more angles on the structures. See screenshots for an really simple example.

example1.jpg

To make the example extreme i didnt add any features to the "house" at all. This is pure and plain box thats utterly uninteresting. In the sshots in the winter revenge thread there are plenty of smaller features like pillars, windows and the bigger features such as holes and what not and those are good but they're not enough. The bombed out holes are all good but where there arnt any holes it looks all out flat and boring.
The features on these sections of the wall add detail but no drama and doesnt do much to the tension of the scene. In the end, its still a plain wall - just that its a plain wall with detail.

example1-2.jpg

With such a simple thing as this little additional cubic brush the scene got a whole lot more interesting.

Point here is that, again, texturing, architecture and lighting works together to create interesting scenery. They have to compleate eachother and I was unfair to simply say "boring lighting" in the thread because its not soley the lighting that makes it look bland.

Interesting and usefull post.
Off course this changed when the scenery changed to
a evening or night map with unnatural light sources.

I really understand how you feel with the fact all the
people telling you Zavod is an UT map or Zavod is SCI FI.
But it's not only the lighting which make them say that.
It's the mix of architecture and lightning which make
people say that. I don't know your intention but in Zavod
their is hardly any position which make me feel like i'm in
a bombed out east european industrial area.

Thats what i've been saying all along :) I havnt claimed its just the lighting. Dunno how many times i've said that architecture, lighting and texturing works together in this thread now ;)

My intention with Zavod was to create an interesting and atmospheric map that could have been in europe during the war, could beeing the rule of thumb. Obviosly I failed on one of those two. It's not suprising to me at all that you dont feel like you're not in a european industrial area. All i was going for was a cool "might've-been" setting.

How I feel about Zavod? I'm proud of Zavod, wouldnt have done it any differently had I the chance to redo it. :)
The thing that confuses me is the RO-Community :p

Interesting and usefull post.
I really love certain parts of the lighting in Zavod and the
map looks great to, but their are other parts where i really
wondered the reason of this light.

Again the post is very usefull and i will see if i can use some
of this stuff for inside areas.

Greetz Drecks

Lighting in Zavod was created on two basis: Looks and gameplay. If you find a light that is placed somewhere that you feel is "over the top" its simply because I found it plausable and i found it looked good. Simple as that.
Thanks for the input :)
 
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Drecks

Grizzled Veteran
Nov 26, 2005
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The thing that confuses me is the RO-Community :p

I had my share with that beleive me Drevlin.

I have no idea what your point is there. You mean its contradicting that i made a decision to, in my oppinion, enhance gameplay using lighting but at the same time im telling people that I think objectives should be highlighted? or... what? :)
Elaborate on that please, cuz i really dont understand :)

Well at a certain point i did read it wrong, where you stated
"or used to how certain things should look" I did understand it like people aren't use on how things should look. But it took me some time to understand you mean there is a certain prediction on how stuff should look.

The stuff you showed with the beams i tried to archieve with the smaller beams and it works at some places. It did work well in the interior area.
 

Britney Federline

FNG / Fresh Meat
Nov 22, 2005
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This is a great thread--practical examples and training combined with lighting theory. Keep it up with more examples and thoughts guys!

But I came in really to say that someone needs to make a map of those photos that Drecks posted kthnxbai
 

Drevlin

FNG / Fresh Meat
Oct 17, 2006
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Drecks, I see. :) glad we cleard it up.

Also, Britney, plz post a reply in every thread i ever make cuz girl on girl action on a threadly (!) basis is just kickass! =)
 

Nestor Makhno

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Feb 25, 2006
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That example you showed above, Drev, is a pretty effective illustration of where a lot of maps, mine most definitely included, could be improved.

I'm talking specifically about shadows. No need for a rainbow palette of fancy coloured lights - just a good interplay of shadow and brightness on the face of a building adds depth immediately.

The different lights can go inside the building. :)

When I get back from work I will post some examples of shadow and lightmap settings that I've been playing with so people can see what is gained by tinkering with them.

*sigh* wish I could play with terrain lightmaps that way.
 

spraduke

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Nov 21, 2005
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could you furthe explain the effect of changing the light map resolution of a texture does?

I had a quick fiddle on a WIP but didnt see any imediate differences (note its not textured other than the grid texture and the lighting is just there to check my bsp is ok :p)
 

Drevlin

FNG / Fresh Meat
Oct 17, 2006
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Sure thing, spraduke.
Lightmap resolution option in surface properties defines how crisp or soft the light falls on the surface. Lighting has to be rebuilt before you can see a difference.

A perfect example can, once again, be found in Zavod. Here's a few pictures:)
In the first picture the wall(s) has the defult lightmap resolution of 32.

lightmapres2.jpg

It works well in some situations but here I wanted the light from the lantern under the wooden bridge to shine through the planks clearly defined on the wall. So i bumped it down to a lightmap resolution of 8 (Most situations only call for a res of 16 - i rarly go below it but this is an exception)

lightmapres1.jpg

Also notice that its rather flipped here.... You'd expect that the higher number the better resolution but its the other way around. The lower the number, the more crisp and sharp the lighting is on that face.
 

Rich_Zap

FNG / Fresh Meat
Aug 8, 2006
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If you think of light maps as a grid across your texture, this helps. The value you adjust within surface properties is essentially the grid spacing or size of the grid squares. Decreasing this will allow for higher resolution shadows and increasing it will get lower resolution shadows.

For every grid point you have on top of your texture, the shading is calculated for all light sources when you rebuild lighting. Having a higher resolution lightmap will therefore give you much sharper shadows and obviously much softer and more blurred shadows for low res maps.

Heres an example:

This is an old image of korosten looking at the wall of my church. Currently its set on the default 32 grid spacing (so for every 32 pixels in the texture there is one lightmap point).

KorostenLightMapLOW.jpg


When i boost this up to a grid spacing of 1 (1 light map point for every pixel), i get this:

KorostenLightMapHIGH.jpg


As you can see the shadows are much sharper and more defined and generally look better in this instance.

Try to use high res light maps only where they will be noticed, in fact if you have surfaces which are just bland(ie no changing light) its better to choose an extremely large grid spacing (like 256). Light maps will also take up more memory and increase the filesize of your map. When making the bsp structures in korosten i made sure to only use high res light maps where they would be noticed and on some other cases you might want more blurred lighting (ie the shadow casting object is far away from the actual object the shadow falls upon.

EDIT: Beat me to it Drevlin :p