Posted by Seppli (10251 posts) 5 months, 13 days ago

Poll: Do You Like Modern Lighting Effects? (120 votes)

Yes. 55%
No. 3%
Depends. 41%
Other/Results. 3%
Pretty, ain't it? Or is it?

Eversince Battlefield 3 with its controversial lighting, I'm a huge skeptic of modern lighting effects. Due to the emphasis on light and shadow, I feel like the picture loses vibrancy and life, because the colors get taken hostage by light and shadow. Same goes for all details, which get lost in the dominant interplay of light and shadow as well.

For example, Infamous: Second Son. When I'm playing a level that's set in the dusk of day, I don't know if I really like what I'm seeing. The picture above is downright monochrome due to the very dominant lighting effects. As a picture, it's pretty impressive. In motion though? For a videogame? I'm not that hot for it. I want gameplay relevant information to pop. I want clarity. Clarity gives me control. Control gives me satisfaction. It's different of course, when lighting is gameplay relevant, like in Dark Souls 2, where darkness is a tangible danger. However, in most games I don't welcome the aggrivation that comes with playing in the dark.

Hopefully designers will come up with a way to utilize modern lighting effects without taking away vibrancy and detail and clarity, because really, the singular visual impression that often comes with modern lighting effects - the downright binary dominance of the interplay of light and darkness, it's kinda boring to look at, and often bad for gameplay.

What say you?

#1 Edited by Pr1mus (3914 posts) -

Obviously it depends.

I hate it when lighting gets in the way of gameplay and that happens way too often. Games don't need an obnoxious amount of lens flares for example.

Also coming from a dark room and into the sun and then dramatic bloom! Crysis 2 liked that a whole lot and that was just dumb.

#2 Posted by ViciousBearMauling (1102 posts) -

Totally depends.

I think that Dark Souls 2 handled lighting well because the dark areas were occasional challenges that you could choose to tackle.

I think Dragon's Dogma went overboard with the darkness. No matter how much you didn't enjoy it, you'd find yourself in pitch black darkness, sometimes without oil, resulting in sprinting while eyes glued on the map in order to make it too the Inn. It wasn't fun.

#3 Edited by MB (12423 posts) -

What do you mean by "binary dominance"?

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#4 Edited by Splodge (1613 posts) -

There is a large difference between cinematic lighting and realistic lighting. It very much depends on the game. It is one of the things that makes a MASSIVE difference when it comes to the atmospheric feel of the game and the game's performance. A tricky balance.

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#5 Edited by Demoskinos (14838 posts) -

I'm thinking that Second Son is one of the best looking games I've ever seen and the more fancy lightning effects the better.

#6 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4352 posts) -

@splodge said:

There is a large difference between cinematic lighting and realistic lighting. It very much depends on the game. It is one of the things that makes a MASSIVE difference when it comes to the atmospheric feel of the game and the game's performance. A tricky balance.

This is how I feel.

#7 Posted by Tom_omb (400 posts) -

In life sometimes you get blinded by the sun that's close to the horizon. If games want to continue down the path of realism they are going to keep drawing on these subtle observations of the real world. They'll have to find that line between flashy moments that awe players and lighting that gets in the way of game play.

#8 Edited by Sooty (8082 posts) -

Second Son had cool lighting effects (or should I say particle?), but it had bad lighting. It looked extremely unnatural and over the top.

DayZ has the best lighting in gaming right now, that game is gorgeous.

#9 Posted by crithon (3264 posts) -

I'm surprised how many people can't tell the difference between real time lighting and pre baked lighting.

#10 Posted by Nightriff (5085 posts) -

Depends but I can see what you mean, playing Skyrim with a lot of mods on my computer makes it seems amazing in pictures but playing it I found it very hard to see things with the realistic lighting, which isn't very fun to play. After the second dungeon of not being able to see very far in front of me ruined the experience.

#11 Edited by agentboolen (1787 posts) -

@Seppli: the reason for this has to do with the way real light works. The fact is light bounces off everything, this is an effect that can be hard for computers to do in real time. They fake these effects in games but the more bouncing around you do the more stress on the computer. Sure there are times it can be slightly off especially when lighting changes through out the game.

Another hard effect to achieve is lighting actually going through an object. It's just really hard to get lighting to react perfect and may never happen. There are lighting experts during the game creation that only deal with the lighting and how it should behave.

The only thing I can really say is it's a video game, there are bound to be moments that remind you of this.

#12 Posted by TooWalrus (13203 posts) -

I love it, but then again I loved the way the 2009 Star Trek was shot. I know the lens flare was widely hated, but I think it looks really slick and clean. I think that screenshot looks fantastic, and. Can't wait to play the game myself... Probably, I don't know, next year.

#13 Edited by Vuud (1997 posts) -

I think your complaint about Infamous has more to do with its boring setting than lighting effects. Modern cities by their nature are flat, gray/brown, and boring. No amount of shinola can make it very interesting for a video game.

#14 Posted by wemibelec90 (1671 posts) -

@tom_omb said:

In life sometimes you get blinded by the sun that's close to the horizon. If games want to continue down the path of realism they are going to keep drawing on these subtle observations of the real world. They'll have to find that line between flashy moments that awe players and lighting that gets in the way of game play.

This is basically what I think. Developers will have to walk a fine line between beauty and convenience, making sure one doesn't get in the way of the other.

I personally enjoy overbearing lighting because it feels real. If I'm looking into the sun in Battlefield 3, it makes sense that my vision is going to be shot to hell. While it may get in the way of gameplay at times, I appreciate being awestruck at a pretty game more than a few annoyances in gameplay.

#15 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

@mb said:

What do you mean by "binary dominance"?

Like instead of thousands of colors, all that's left is a dominance of shades of light and dark, which makes the picture kinda monochrome, almost binary - ones and zeros, light and dark.

#16 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3327 posts) -

There are so many variables in lighting, how could there be a Modern Lighting style?

I get what you mean so far as it seems the more complex our lightning is the messier the game reads. Not sure how I feel about it honestly, there are so many things that make/have made games hard to read throughout time and not sure this is any worse/different.

#17 Edited by OptimalPower (113 posts) -

I will always enjoy beams of light through dust. Whether it be in-game or real life.

#18 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5515 posts) -

Yep, I certainly do. I'm not really adept in lighting design nuances, but as a person who's expecting games to look nicer with the ushering in of a new generation, I was impressed by Infamous's use of lighting. I think at some point our expectations and hopes can surpass what's realistic though.

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#19 Posted by Vextroid (1405 posts) -

Yeah I do, except lens flare in First Person games. Does the character have camera lenses for eyes?

#20 Edited by BaconHound (69 posts) -

Depends. The Infamous screenshot doesn't do much for me, but I thought the lighting/atmosphere in GTA V, for example, was incredible.

Edit: Regarding the "dirty camera lens" effect mentioned above - I HATE it. I think it's probably the most annoying "modern" effect that I can think of, and it really takes me out of the moment when I notice it in a game.

#21 Posted by Veektarius (4837 posts) -

The total absence of lighting effects in ESO make it painfully obvious how important they are to me now.

#22 Posted by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

Certainly. I like high contrast.

#23 Edited by fisk0 (4121 posts) -

I certainly like most of them when used in moderation - ambient occlusion can be used to great effect to emphatize depth and make things stand out a little, but many games boost it to a ridiculous degree, giving stuff a comiv book look with sharp black outlines on everything. Same goes for bloom, light shafts, HDR, specularity maps and all that stuff.

Sometimes I really miss the early 90's PC graphics, before texture mapping had become all that dominant, and developers instead experimented a lot with various types of shading and gradients. Digital Image Design's flight sims from around 1990-94 stand out the most to me, and I'd love to see something of a return to something like that. I guess Enemy Starfighter kinda does it, but I think that game has a pretty inconsistent art style.

DID's Inferno from 1994

#24 Edited by fisk0 (4121 posts) -

@vextroid said:

Yeah I do, except lens flare in First Person games. Does the character have camera lenses for eyes?

I've seen that kind of comment several times, and it confuses me, do most people not see lens flares in real life? because I certainly do. Of course I don't mean camera aperture shaped stuff like hexagonal lens reflections or that wide anamorphic lens flare we see in games like Mass Effect, but bright lights give me a somewhat X shaped flare around the light source, and light sources in my peripheral vision do cause some repeated reflections too.

#25 Edited by Vextroid (1405 posts) -

@fisk0 said:

@vextroid said:

Yeah I do, except lens flare in First Person games. Does the character have camera lenses for eyes?

I've seen that kind of comment several times, and it confuses me, do most people not see lens flares in real life? because I certainly do. Of course I don't mean camera aperture shaped stuff like hexagonal lens reflections or that wide anamorphic lens flare we see in games like Mass Effect, but bright lights give me a somewhat X shaped flare around the light source, and light sources in my peripheral vision do cause some repeated reflections too.

Yeah the flare you get from staring at a bright light is fine.The part in bold is what I was referring to specifically.

#26 Posted by Tyrrael (220 posts) -

This is one of those instances where, for some people, the increased realism can actually break the immersion in the game. One of the easiest examples is when you go from a really dark place to a really bright place, and the game adjusts the lighting to make it look like your eyes are adjusting to the bright light. This, on it's face, doesn't seem like a problem, but if enemies start shooting at you immediately after you emerge, it can be a little annoying, even if that's how it would actually be. Reflections can also be a problem for some people. A reflective surface, realistic as it may be, can actually reflect a great deal of light directly at the camera blinding you when you're in the middle of a fight. It could be how light would actually reflect, but it can still be aggravating.

I actually tend to like the more realistic lighting effects. In the example screenshot given, I see no problem with it. I haven't played Second Son yet, but I have seen it played rather extensively, and from what I can tell, this has never really been a problem. The screenshot looks downright amazing and, I hesitate to say it, but very close to a photograph. If the lighting was not as realistic, or "modern", as it is, I don't think it would have the same impact. From the different darkness of the shadows, on the street lamps and buildings, to the way the sun, and even the car's headlights, reflect naturally across the pavement, it only seems to be a good thing to me. Like I said, I haven't actually played it yet, so I could be wrong, but I've never played a game where better lighting actually made me like the game less, or where I felt like I was less immersed or like it was distracting to the point of not wanting it there at all.

There are games that have distracting lighting for other reasons outside of realism. Syndicate, while I really like the game, went overboard with the lens flares, and way the lighting seemed to give everything a soft look to it, if that makes sense. However, it wasn't because it was too realistic that made it a problem.

Anyway, I could understand, to an extent, how some people may not like certain aspects of it, but I love that level of attention to detail. Maybe there will be a game that will bother me in the future, but as of right now, the more accurate the lighting, the better.

#27 Posted by CornBREDX (5306 posts) -

It depends on what they're going for. The light from the city itself is most often the best way to represent the game but with something like Infamous Second Son it seems like they're going for a more natural lighting aesthetic.

I don't think it's really a "modern lighting effects" thing so much as how the game designer intends to use it and if it comes off how they intend.

I think it could be a more common thing to talk about this gen, for sure, now that they have the power to make more use of world lighting. We'll see how it goes, though. I haven't played Second Son but I do like what I've seen of it (as far as what they do with lighting goes). That game, graphically, is really impressive in general, though.

#28 Posted by Hamst3r (4484 posts) -

Yes, I like the fancy modern lighting effects. There's plenty of room for improvement though, they're no where near good enough.

#29 Posted by believer258 (11914 posts) -

It depends on the game. In Mass Effect 2, the lighting is fantastic. Sorry, @toowalrus and I are the only people in the world who seem to like crazy lens flare, and it's done better in ME2 than in any JJ Abrams movie. I also like light shafts, light shining through things, light reflecting off of dust and particles in the air, light reflecting off of liquids, etc.

I thought Battlefield 3 mostly looked fantastic. My problem with that game was the fucking dirt on your camera. Why would you do that? Why? It didn't ruin the game for me, but I did make an effort not to position my camera in a way that made it too obvious. I want to disable that shit, permanently.

That Infamous Second Son screenshot looks all right. It looks like dusk, late in the day, when the sun is almost down and it really does reflect everything in such a way that colors are dulled and tinted. It's not my favorite lighting in any game, but it looks fine.

Sleeping Dogs deserves a special mention here, for those roads.