Lighting - a little ranting and a little tutoring.

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dogbadger

FNG / Fresh Meat
Aug 19, 2006
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553
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here to kill your monster
Drevlin I like your map and appreciate the skills required for it's construction but I'm sorry your lightbeam effects don't seem quite right to me, because for the most part they don't appear to correlate with the roof structure.

My understanding is that a lightsource focused into a beam illuminates dust, smoke or other airborne particles in an unlit space to create a contrasting 'column' of light. In this case moonlight is focused into a beam when when passes through apertures in the roofing and into the dark dusty space below.
It is also my understanding that the cross section of this beam directly relates to the shape of the aperture itself. I appreciate that moving the light source in relation to the aperture, or increasing the area of either affects the cone angle; and also that the cross section is subject to distortion if the source does not hit the aperture perpendicularly.
However this is complicating matters - the basic CS shape is still governed by the aperture.
The numerous beams in your map are cuboid - suggesting an array of identical square/rectangular apertures- yet in many cases they origionate from the edges of differing, irregular shaped, large areas of open roof- much larger than the narrow CS of the columns suggest. An example would be the scraptower, where though a fair sized trangular opening come many smaller individual sharp cuboid beams.

Also in some areas the size of the gaps and openness of the structures suggest to me there may not be enough contrast to create an effect as dramatic as is shown. I am the only person to bring this up so I accept I may be interpreting this wrong- it's just what my eyes and brain tell me thats all.
Sorry to raise this, as I'm sure it would be very time consuming to actually accurately match the meshes to the hole shapes, and as you say it's a good thing to attempt fancy lighting in an Ro map. Don't think i'm saying your map lacks atmosphere, on the contrary, it's very dramatic.
Also the beams do not appear to origionate from the moon in your skybox, but that's further nit-picking and im sure you are aware of that already.
 

Drevlin

FNG / Fresh Meat
Oct 17, 2006
177
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dogbadger, you have a keen eye :)
The moonbeams are in no way accurate. I pretty much threw them last minute, the day before the contest deadline and even then it was uncertain if i should keep them. The reason i made em was that the map felt rather empty. if you check Beta-99 (available in the betaforums) you can tell for yourself.

The idea behind lightbeams is, as you say, that some lightsource illuminates dust, smoke or other particles in the air. I used lightbeams in Beta1 of Zavod and it worked well there to fill out scenes so thats what i decided to do. They were made and implemented really last minute, however and there are quite a few more things wrong with the moonbeams other than the stuff you mention but untill someone finds them out im not gonna mention em ;)

I can mention that as I made em I ran into a few problems involving the moonbeam-meshes occluding particle effects, other meshes and even playermodels. I had to spend some time just figuring that out and then there wasnt a whole lot of time tweaking their placement and rotation so i gave myself a break and figured people wouldnt notice it all that much (always exceptions, tho. you've proven that;))
In the end I looked at the map and it looked better with the not-100%-correct-moonbeams than it did without them.

They're all square because, again, time constraints but also due to mapsize. The map took up 70mb+ and for me to really make a difference in the appearance of the moonbeams I'd have to tweak the holes in the ceiling and make alot of custom lightbeam-meshes to fit those wholes along with complementing the scene with round lightbeam-meshes to add detail.
The workload was just too big for the time available but I hid the not-looking-accurate bit slightlyby having the moon beams fade in and out rather than have a "sharp" line where the moonbeam begins, merging from the ceiling.

And theres no need to excuse yourself, its a good catch. :)
Next time around I'll plan in the moonbeams in an early phase of the map so i can better calculate how they should be implemented.

*edit
I hessitated to mention this because it further points at me making excuses for the map, which I in no way want to do. I'm proud of Zavod but I do want to shed some light over its production phase.

You might remember the first beta i released last year?It didnt look anything like the final version, taking into account both layout, basic gameplay and visuals and theres a very good reason for this.
After I released that beta Uni-stuff kept me occupied until two weeks before the contest deadline and at that point i looked at Beta1 and realized how much it ****ed.
Visually it was okay but it was a disaster from a gameplay point of view and I made a rather dangerous choice...
Zavod-Final and Zavod Beta1 doesnt look anything alike because i compleatly scrapped that beta1 version and remade the map from skratch, two weeks before the contest deadline.
This means the RO-Zavod final version was made in the final two weeks of the contest, including the lighting, the overall architectual design, botpathing, gameplay tweaking, everything - except a few previosly made art assets I made for Beta1 but I still went in an altered/tweaked those two final weeks.

I know I'm crazy to have done that and I even thought to myself "Wtf are you doing? You know this is just a crazy endevor and you should just polish Beta1 of Zavod and enter that in the contest - that way atleast you have something..." but I dont know... I just kept on going and ignored my negative/realistic thoughts and it worked out well ;).
I think Zavod-final is alot better than Zavod-beta1 :)

There are plenty of stuff in there that I wanted to do better, different or compleatly redo but at some point you just gotta take a step back and say "Yea, okay. The map, in its current state, is final" or you'll keep working on the map forever. That moment happend to me about 13-14 hours before the contest deadline. Then i slept a very deep sleep, and it was good! ^^

If you wanna go on a nitpicking tour you should play Zavod more ;) Plenty of stuff in there that doesnt make sense if you go in looking for stuff.
Thanks for the comments. They were well thought through and motivated. That kind of feedback is the best, regardless of its nature.
 
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[=KAS=]doomed

FNG / Fresh Meat
Sep 21, 2006
471
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[=KAS=]wo0t thought of, planned, beta tested, and finalized StaticDefense in 6 days.



6 painful days of him calling me saying "Hey, wanna playtest?"



I feel your pain Drevlin - my poor cousin worked himself to death on his map.
 

Nestor Makhno

FNG / Fresh Meat
Feb 25, 2006
5,758
1,118
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Penryn, Cornwall
They're all square because, again, time constraints but also due to mapsize.

You could probably just fiddle with the moonbeam mesh dimensions using the scale variables which appear just under the viewports. It would still take quite a while, though, as you would probably have to do each one individually.
 

[=KAS=]doomed

FNG / Fresh Meat
Sep 21, 2006
471
0
0
SpecialEffects -> LightCaster


(that's what I think it's named. Poke around in the SpecialEffects SMesh package till you find it.)
 

Capt.Marion

FNG / Fresh Meat
Feb 12, 2006
2,049
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Beantown
sweet. Thanks!

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EDIT: I just copied and pasted those to use up time...
 

Vassili_Zaitsev

FNG / Fresh Meat
Sep 26, 2006
25
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Drevlin ... what can I say? I just looked at Zavod and ... OMFG u haXor! (in a good sense):)

I can see two reasons why people say it looks SF-y and I'm going to say this because I feel (hope) I can say something constructive:

I felt, because I was looking at the lighting, that some of the lights were too bright. However that may just be taste and is, at least, easily fixed.

OTOH, there is a general move in FPS games to try and make things hyper-realistic, complex architecture, bright colors etc. UT does it, Unreal I and II do it and Doom3 was especially bad, IMHO.

When you look at HL2, things feel a lot realer even on a low end system with lower screen resolution and lower poly counts. I noticed that Valve used a lot of unsaturated colors.

I would say that, while I agree that Architecture, Textures and Lighting act together to make a map work, one should also consider the overall Palette both for lights and textures. Look at RL, there are very few things that have naturally saturated colors, flowers being an obvious example.

Sunlight, atmospheric haze, lighting condition all conspire to wash out color. So, I would say that the SF-y feel to Vavod comes from the use of saturated colors. YMMV

In conclusion, I would advise mappers to be careful with lighting and avoid, as much as possible, saturated colors... except when they are really useful, for example the oil lamps in Zavod or a dawn/sunset map.
 

Xendance

FNG / Fresh Meat
Nov 21, 2005
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Elitist Prick Club RS Branch
I will make my contribution to the thread NOW!!!111
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So, have you pumped up your ambient brightness too much? Is everything too washed out?
Don't worry, LE_negativet is your saviour.

Just place a light actor on your map and go to Lighting/Light effect/LE_negative.
Then set light saturation to 255 (if it won't go automatically) and set brightness and voila. Darkened indoors for your map.

It would be even better if you could put LE_cylinder with it too, but it seems that you can only have one light effect/light.
 

Drevlin

FNG / Fresh Meat
Oct 17, 2006
177
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Good tip xendance :)
im thinking about putting everything we've come up with in the first thread to save people time
 

Six_Ten

FNG / Fresh Meat
Mar 12, 2006
1,382
400
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aztecmod.darkesthourgame.com
In my map there is a BSP bridge, just a flat rectangle with a simple texture. A nearby BSP building casts a shadow on it, but the metal railings on the bridge do not. I tried adjusting the lightmap resolution, checked to see that the static mesh railings are set to cast shadows, to no avail. How do I get the railing to cast a shadow on the BSP from the sunlight?
 

FlashPanHunter

FNG / Fresh Meat
Oct 17, 2005
334
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In my map there is a BSP bridge, just a flat rectangle with a simple texture. A nearby BSP building casts a shadow on it, but the metal railings on the bridge do not. I tried adjusting the lightmap resolution, checked to see that the static mesh railings are set to cast shadows, to no avail. How do I get the railing to cast a shadow on the BSP from the sunlight?

That sounds very strange, did you copy them from somewhere? The only thing I can think of is that they are specially lit or that the resolution is still to low. Delete, replace, rebuild, try it again would be my answer.
 

=GG= Mr Moe

FNG / Fresh Meat
Mar 16, 2006
9,791
890
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Newton, NJ
So, to dig up an old thread.... :D

I am optimizing my map, and lighting is one thing I am trying to do right. Map is springtime, daylight, in the desert. Before I go altering all the lightmaps on my BSP surfaces, my question is:

- On wall and similar surfaces out of the sunlight (no shadows), can I raise the default of 32 to a much higher number such as 128 or even 256 with no noticable visual difference and a bigger file size savings?

I have already tweaked a couple of settings down to around 8 to get better and more realistic shadow highlights on certain walls. I also tweaked down the surfaces of interior walls to eliminate the visual effect of light creeping in from outside as well.

Thanks!

PS: Also, is there a way to have shadows show up on terrain a bit more than they do? :D
 
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UncleDrax

FNG / Fresh Meat
Oct 13, 2005
1,494
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Florida, USA
www.endoftheworldfor.us
- On wall and similar surfaces out of the sunlight (no shadows), can I raise the default of 32 to a much higher number such as 128 or even 256 with no noticable visual difference and a bigger file size savings?

Assuming you're talking about BSP surface light maps, Smaller # is better quality (think of it as 'how many objects share 1 light map'.

File size; easist way is to just save it.. change the values, rebuild, save (as something else?) and compare file sizes.. I don't think they vary that greatly; depding on alot of factors actually.

Something else you can use to increase the quality of the light map appearance is to switch (in Build Options) the default from DXT1 to RGBA8 quality lightmaps. This will probably increase the file size of the level a bit more.. but check how much.

Also in general, keep the value to this highest # that looks good (don't just set everything to 1, that'd be excessive in 99% of maps); so use sharper shadows in places that warrent them.. which, lets face it, in the desert during spring high-noon, is going to be most doorways and windows, and the floors they shine on.