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Old 16th Mar 2008, 10:15 AM   #1
Denny
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Level lighting design and layout

Something I noticed when I joined in on the MP test game yesterday was level lighting design. The map was ridiculously unbalanced lighting wise and it felt that if I didn't increase brightness to max, I would be blind if I weren't right under a light source. (no, I don't have any issues with other stealth games regarding brightness)

I think it would be more interesting to have a higher middle ground for the level lighting. I'm not saying that Thieves should get a harder time, I'm just saying that there are other ways to balance the light issue without penalting anyone. I think it's necessary to increase the contrasts between light and dark areas, or for the mappers to think about silhouettes more so it's easier to navigate the maps without memorizing them when you're running in the dark.

For example, if you're in a pitch black hallway and there's a light source at each end, you're still able to navigate thanks to the fact that everything in the hallway that occludes the light, for example a bench, will show a silhouette. Silhouettes doesn't ruin it for thieves, they're still invisible in the hallway as the light doesn't reach there.

Just some thoughts for future purposes.
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 10:46 AM   #2
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Myself i dont have problems looking in the dark at all..
Though with Thievery i often found the Shadows either to light (as Thief) or to dark (as Gaurd), i just couldnt set the Lightning exactly as i liked it.

An idea would be for the Thieves to have some kind of a vision called "Night eyes" or something, it makes the shadows pitch just a bit lighter, making it easyer for them to navigate through them while Gaurds still have the stealthy experience of pitch black shadows.

This would certainly add to the feel imo
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 11:20 AM   #3
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Hm, I have the lighting on default and I was thinking the ambient lighting in the level is a touch too bright (the dark shadows don't look dark for me). Must be difference in monitors. :/
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 04:36 PM   #4
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This is a tricky one. I know that with some monitors, particularly aging CRTs, things can be really dark. When I first played Thievery I the garden in Grange was completely black and I couldn't find my way out even on maximum brightness, for instance. On the other hand if we make it brighter people with decent monitors can get a washed out game.

I might have a look into what we can do with post-process effects though.
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 04:49 PM   #5
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Sigh, it's not a matter of brightness I'm talking about. It's how you plan your level design. I guess I wasn't clear enough with my message...

Last edited by Denny; 16th Mar 2008 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 07:00 PM   #6
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Like old nostalgia sewers?
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 07:55 PM   #7
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So you would want every level designed in a way that each light serves as a beacon so you can navigate the seas of blackness? How bout leaving your gamma cranked up instead (sigh the burden) or lowering the shutters/drawing the curtains if you play during the day?
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 10:09 PM   #8
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 Originally Posted by immortius: ( link to post ) 
This is a tricky one. I know that with some monitors, particularly aging CRTs, things can be really dark. When I first played Thievery I the garden in Grange was completely black and I couldn't find my way out even on maximum brightness, for instance. On the other hand if we make it brighter people with decent monitors can get a washed out game.

I might have a look into what we can do with post-process effects though.
I remember the CRT days.. took me nearly 5 min to find my way out of the crypt/spawn on the City Museum map. Could never understand how people could run out so fast until I got LCD.

I think tho that Denny is referring to the ambient lighting in TUT/NB vs. the complete lack of ambient lighting in games like Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Personally, even with the LCD, and max brightness on my monitor and the game settings... SC:CT gives me a headache trying to figure out what I am looking at. Its like reading in the dark.. feels like I'm straining my eyes to see. I couldn't play more than 10 min of SC:CT at a time without having to take a break and turn the lights on in my room.

So if this is what he is referring to, I have to politely disagree and hope that ambient lighting stays... tho that is more of a mappers choice... like the exits in folly or the old nostalgia sewers as FRH mentioned.
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 11:10 PM   #9
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atmosphere is one thing, but you don't want to give people eye-strain.

imo shadows should never impede the geometry of the map so as to make it difficult and confusing to navigate. Areas of shadow should be dark enough to be identifiable as an area where a thief could hide and no more.

Ever tried fishing Bruno's body out of the ambient-dark waters in the Th-Asylum exit? Its a rather frustrating experience. The exit area in Th-Asylum2 is vastly superior for gameplay purposes.
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 11:24 PM   #10
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 Originally Posted by TafferBoy: ( link to post ) 
Ever tried fishing Bruno's body out of the ambient-dark waters in the Th-Asylum exit? Its a rather frustrating experience. The exit area in Th-Asylum2 is vastly superior for gameplay purposes.
Perfect example
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Old 17th Mar 2008, 02:56 AM   #11
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KAM is a bit onto my point where people should be able to play without eyestrains. There's different ways to solve it and I'm not saying all maps should follow the same routine, so I'm not saying that there should always be a beacon around - it was just one of many samples to solve one problem.

I haven't understood what people mean with "keep the feeling, just turn your brightness up". So I keep the feeling by making everything look gray?
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Old 17th Mar 2008, 03:53 AM   #12
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The other thing worth remembering is lighting is dynamic. Even if a mapper very carefully positioned all the lights in a way that would allow navigation while leaving dark areas very dark, this would only last until thieves watered the torches/gas lights/etc. The alternative, making lots of light undousable, is not very desirable.

The positioning of lights to improve navigation is still a good idea, but it cannot be relied upon by itself. It has to still be possible to navigate in the maximally dark areas.
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Old 17th Mar 2008, 01:28 PM   #13
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And that I fully agree on.
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