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On the Subject of Lighting

Much has been said recently of how different lighting looks for folks running with all of their graphics settings enabled.  It’s true; I’ve pushed mine up to see what things look like, and lighting that looks warm and comfortable at lower graphics settings looks garishly bright at the higher settings.

This poses what I see as a dilemma.

Those of us who need to run at lower graphics settings, because our machines and/or graphics cards can’t handle the demands of the higher ones, enjoy atmospheric lighting as much as anyone else.  We simply need more of it in order to effectively light a space.  Our only other alternatives are to walk around in the dark or change our sunlight settings, which detracts from the “feel” of a place.

Unfortunately, this means that those who are making the best of their graphics cards will be assaulted by the massive number of lights that the rest of us require.

The only option I can propose is that those with higher graphics settings kick them down at times in order to let the rest of us enjoy the atmosphere as well.  This seems to be a much more feasible alternative than for the rest of us to upgrade our machines and graphics cards, which can be prohibitively expensive for some.

I just wanted to raise this for discussion after realizing that in order to make the Gangplank tolerable at higher graphics settings (under which I had fewer than 10 fps), I would have to walk around in the dark using my typical settings.

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Flames?  ;-)

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  1. Victor1st Mornington Victor1st Mornington April 18, 2012

    Its not so much the graphics, switching on Lighting and Shadows highlights one basic problem with folks setting up a light.

    They set the light to too far a radius, with absolutley no falloff.  In a room thats 20 x 20 the logical thing for most folks to do would be to stick a light in the middle of the room with a 10 radius and no falloff.  The problem with that however is it causes the light to become a “ball”.  A solid ball of light which just suddenly drops to darkness at the edge.

    Go to the bar in Brunel Hall, its a 40 x 50 room, could have been done with 2 lights, one at each end.  I done it in 4, one at each corner at about a distance of 5m away from the corner itself.  I set the lights to a 6m radius and a falloff (this is the MOST important part) to 0.750.

    “Falloff” in a light setting is the “fade to black” of a light, the lower the setting the further into the “ball” of light the fade starts, a falloff of 0.750 or 1.000 is probably the best, it gives a semi spotlight effect with a faded edge to folks with the graphics all the way up, and it gives a more hazed faded edge to folks on lower graphics settings.

    However the most important part about using a low setting for falloff is that the one thing Mr Tenk hates is stopped, and that is bright, white 100% ball of light escaping from your room not just into the street infront but possibly into your neighbours.

    A good falloff setting for a light source works wonders for everyone, low and high graphics settings alike, and having more than one light source, with each light source having a lower radius of maybe 4, 5 or 6m also makes a room more ambient for all graphics settings :)

    • Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg April 18, 2012

      Victor, this is super helpful.  I like that you’ve given some concrete examples with measurements and numbers.  Now I can do some experimenting and try to come up with something for the Gangplank that makes more sense for everyone.  :-)

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. Edward Pearse Edward Pearse April 18, 2012

    I went through and did some tinting on lights and looked at the settings. Yellow light is evil, so mine are set to a sort of “pale ivory” colour. A little yellow but still white enough to be from an incadencent bulb. Toning down desk lamps is could though for chandiliers and main shop light I still leave them on 10

  3. Kimika Ying Kimika Ying April 18, 2012

    I don’t have anything of a technical nature to add but I think lighting guidelines like this would be good to add to the Builders Guide.

    When I saw the name of this post I read it as “On the Subject of Lightning”, and rushed to look.

    • Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo April 18, 2012

      I read it as Lightning also.

    • Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg April 18, 2012

      I like the idea of adding it to the Builder’s Guide.

      Will have to find something good about lightning to post sometime.  ;-)

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