It’s Acheron again, spinning the crank on the communicators power Genny!
We are officially into the New Year. Everyone take a look around, that’s 2016 you can see all about you. 365 days, give or take, of possibilities. Will the Star Citizen community see Squadron 42 this year? Well, on the sure side of probably. But what may we see of the big ol’ Universe? That is uncertain; it’ll probably be a year of expanding horizons away from Port Olisar, exciting adventures on the Nyx landing zone and hopefully some new ships to fly, die and cry in.
Lighting, it makes a game.
I’ve often said that lighting makes a game. At least, I’ve said that since Star Citizen. Before this journey with CIG I sort of just consumed games, and complained blindly when the graphics weren’t pretty, or didn’t match the theme. I couldn’t turn and say “…the texturing in that corridor section just seemed completely out of place with the general ‘steam punk’ feel – is this ray-traced?”. Luckily after watching lots of dev reports from CIG I can say really douchy (bullshit) things like that. But boy, what a difference light texturing makes.
In the latest Around the Verse we saw DiscoLando and Emre Switzer, that genius with a globe of light, bring the Nyx landing pad together. At first I was a little taken aback, I thought “…uh-oh that looks a little crappy
the…” that is when the numerous layers of light filters were turned on, transforming the slightly drab surroundings of Nyx to…the dark, mysterious, enticing world of the Nyx landing zone. And this is something hammered home and cried about in the forums and on Reddit so much, lighting is key. It’s why people spend time being keyboard knights for the sake of better shadows in the Hangar, which is also looking sweet based off of what we saw.
The key to lighting, for me, is the difference between feeling like you are in…say a box with very flat walls, to a room with variety, with life, with reality. Similarly when we were taken outside in that stunning shot of the planet surface, with a beautiful sky box and sun; you could see the list of elements to be activated and deactivated off to the right. There were so many that they dropped off the screen, it was that long, and wonderfully complex. Needless to say I’m confident in the environment artists for this game, who showed us that each part of a map was so controllable CIG could make the fog of Nyx pink in a click.
Layering light is definitely part of the magic to the cake mix of successful game lighting, and something one often encounters in good final result games. Thief, Skyrim, and even Dishonored (though it went the route of surreal graphics) had a grasp on the importance of having numerous light sources to add depth to a surrounding. Equally a harmony between the textures and the lighting is important; colors and shades between textures and lights must match. That is why although pink is very my little pony, it is not very Nyx; this focus on reaching light/texture harmony show more of the care CIG are going to. The time required to make sure light sources complimented the grey, wet stones of Nyx, which also had to be textured with enough brightness to be played around with properly so they wouldn’t conflict is a little staggering, as always gamer’s are in awe of the devs (a good page to geek up on this can be found here). All of this work is made no clearer then in that opening scene when Emre has all the sources deactivated; if I had stepped into that world I wouldn’t have been bothered to walk down the passage, not at all. CIG are on-top of this whole lighting game. After seeing that video I hopped into Olisar to take a look around, and honestly thought “…this is already pretty decent”. Fine some shadow stability needs to be worked out, but that could just be server side. They are doing a good job.
Often when I write these little thought splurges I like to do research, so I came across this: click me – The website goes in-depth at the complexity of game lighting, the formulas, and moreover how a shadow can make all the difference. Star Citizen is showing that they are making use of the shadows, light, sprites and sources.
The world is starting to look vibrant folks, the world is starting to look vibrant.
This has been Acheron’s Transmission,
“The asteroid drifted out to slowly eclipse the sun, it’s border clipped by the orange light, which refracted and danced on the panels of my ship…this was home”