Skyboxes and Ambient Light

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LimLam
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Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby LimLam » Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:48 am

What i feel could immerse the XL engine is ambient lighting and skybox support.

Ambient lighting defines the brightness level and the ambient colour. In Daggerfall, ambient colour could be used to simulate the light during sunset and sunrise, by making everything a bit orange-red-ish (not too much, only what's necessary), and adding a tiny bit of blue to the light during the night would look good as well. The colour should fade slowly, off course. And it should be used with caution, as too much colour will ruin the feeling.

Maybe adding some sort of light-and-contrast system to the engine would be nice as well. What i mean is that you could choose if you want a more realistic type of lighting (LOTR, Skyrim), or a magical, colourful lighting (most MMO games, Reckoning, Oblivion).

Skybox support is, for me, necessary for the maximum feeling. Let's replace Daggerfall's sky-system with a sky-system similar to the ones in Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim, Oblivion most specific. During the night, you should be able to see the moons, and clouds should be moving. I think Daggerfall have extreme potential to become the best of all RPG games.

The ability to add effects such as fireflies, butterflies, distant birds, etc, would also be great. Having birds fly around over cities would ease the adventure of finding them by foot, while still keeping to reality. In real life, birds DO fly around above big settlements. And having butterflies similar to those in Oblivion would look so beautiful. Off course, most of these things should be optional.
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Re: Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby HoonDing » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:14 pm

As far as I can tell, Daggerfall does have a Skybox, it's just a weird shape that causes it to not move completely in line with the camera. (it also doesn't help that camera action was limited so that you couldn't look straight up, and that lighting transitions weren't very smooth)

IIRC in a blog post many, many moons ago Lucius talked about how he actually fixed it to behave more like you'd expect a skybox to work, although naturally the vanilla skybox combined with really far view-distance of DaggerXL doesn't completely jive. There's a thread somewhere around this forum that talks about modifying the skybox, although I don't think any resources were made.
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Re: Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby Chris » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:40 pm

Ideally there wouldn't be a skybox, IMO. There'd be the entirety of Tamriel with real-time volumetric clouds and atmospheric scattering. A star field for the night sky might be considered a skybox I suppose, but I think that's really all that's needed.

As far ambient light, IIRC Daggerfall basically already has that. Nighttime has a darker ambient color than daytime, when you're outside or in buildings (that's actually something I like about DF, that the inside of houses and inns and stuff will be darker at night, simulating the fact that there's no sunlight coming in from the windows; Morrowind and Oblivion don't do that and just keep a constant light level for a given interior cell). Dungeons are the only areas that don't respond to the time of day, which makes sense since they're deep underground and unaffected by the sun.
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Re: Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby LimLam » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:52 pm

When i said ambient light, i referred to ambient light colour. :|
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Re: Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby HoonDing » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:17 am

I'm not sure what you mean by ambient light color; if you're talking about being able to configure the lighting to look a certain way, I'm certain that will be possible at least for mods, maybe not in-game.

Actually, expanding on your thoughts, Skyrim had an imagespace system that would modify various aspects of the lightings such as saturation and depth-of-field to reduce art fatigue. Falmer caves had a sort of misty, foggy effect, vampire crypts would be desaturated and way darker, etc. And if you've ever changed rooms in Skyrim and noticed the entire place seems to change color, that's the imagespace changing. If that's what you're talking about, it certainly would add a whole new level of prettiness to DaggerXL, and in my experience the ImageSpace can vary quite a bit without a significant performance hit.
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Re: Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby Chris » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:11 am

HoonDing wrote:Actually, expanding on your thoughts, Skyrim had an imagespace system that would modify various aspects of the lightings such as saturation and depth-of-field to reduce art fatigue. Falmer caves had a sort of misty, foggy effect, vampire crypts would be desaturated and way darker, etc.

Can't say I really like it myself. I hate it when a game adds a desaturation filter, except in very specific circumstances (e.g. temporary spell/magic effects). A number of people hate depth of field or blurring in general... I only care for DoF when it's almost unnoticeable. The style/quality of DoF can have a big impact, too; for example, Skyrim's method is pretty fast, but has a pretty crappy result, whereas a method like Bokeh can look great but it chews up the GPU like nothing.

Imagespace settings are just a fancy post-process shader, really. As such, using it to darken areas can screw up gameplay. A number of "dark dungeon" mods for Skyrim run into problems, because they make the dungeons darker by altering the imagespace settings which leaves an enemy's ability to see you completely unchanged (it can look nearly pitch black to you, but as far as enemies are concerned you may as well be standing in broad daylight). The proper way to make an area darker is to turn down the actual light levels.
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Re: Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby LimLam » Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:58 am

thumbnail

This is what i mean. Note how the ambient colour is orange-purple-ish.

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Here's a photo, where the ambient colour is orange-yellow.

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Inside an oblivion gate. The ambient colour is somewhat red.

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Here the ambient colour is yellow-green.

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Here's when nearby an oblivion gate. The ambient colour is red-ish.
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Re: Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby Chris » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:33 am

Yeah. I don't know if vanilla Daggerfall can have colored lights, though it can definitely do colored fog/fading. Note that Daggerfall uses 8-bit color, so there can only be 256 distinct colors on screen at any given time. I bet some people that use DaggerXL will stick with 8-bit software rendering for nostalgia/personal preference, so that will limit how good certain light colors can look without 16- or 32-bit (or hardware) rendering.
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Re: Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby LimLam » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:40 pm

Everything doesn't have to be included in the software renderer.
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Re: Skyboxes and Ambient Light

Postby HoonDing » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:50 am

Colored lights doesn't sound like a difficult task for modern game engines. I'm all for a purist 8-bit color mode, but support for better color rendering seems important. Colored lights alone certainly would improve the atmosphere of Daggerfall's various locations.

Chris wrote:Can't say I really like it myself. I hate it when a game adds a desaturation filter, except in very specific circumstances (e.g. temporary spell/magic effects). A number of people hate depth of field or blurring in general... I only care for DoF when it's almost unnoticeable. The style/quality of DoF can have a big impact, too; for example, Skyrim's method is pretty fast, but has a pretty crappy result, whereas a method like Bokeh can look great but it chews up the GPU like nothing.

Imagespace settings are just a fancy post-process shader, really. As such, using it to darken areas can screw up gameplay. A number of "dark dungeon" mods for Skyrim run into problems, because they make the dungeons darker by altering the imagespace settings which leaves an enemy's ability to see you completely unchanged (it can look nearly pitch black to you, but as far as enemies are concerned you may as well be standing in broad daylight). The proper way to make an area darker is to turn down the actual light levels.


I was using Skyrim as an example, and I personally like the effects as seen in Skyrim, but I get you. I just think it would be an easy way to consistently beautify all of Daggerfall's locations. Okay, so we'll use these extra-creepy imagespace (or whatever) settings for vampire haunts, but for natural caves we'll use a simpler, more natural looking configuration. I suppose you could do that with something other than post-processing effects, but this is the area where I don't really know what's all going on, to be honest. My main thought for visual improvements is, "reduce art fatigue", because it doesn't matter if everything's gorgeous if the player still gets tired of seeing the same stuff all the time.

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