Functional Lightning

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Functional Lightning

GodlyPerfection
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This post was updated on .

Functional Lightning


With the new lighting system in Halo 4, functional lighting is going to be crucial in your design theory. Learning to direct a player's attention and movement is crucial in level design, and lighting happens to be one of the most powerful tools that level designers have available to them. It is something new to your typical forgers and this is here to serve as a brief look at the uses of lighting with screenshots of how different lighting can achieve different results.

Here are some questions that can help get your reply started:

- What are your thoughts on the new lighting system or the uses for lighting discussed in the article?
- How much of an effect do you think lighting will have on forged maps?
- Have you already been considering the possibilities and the change that light and shadows brings to the table in your designs?



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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

GodlyPerfection
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So I'm going to start off this discussion.

First of all, it is always great to see articles with actual good pictures to relate to the information. Lighting is going to be a HUGE change for forgers and I don't think many people realize how much it is going to affect designs. Especially interior designs. Open roofs, windows, overhangs, etc. are going to have to be built in. Having important areas lit properly and using the light to guide players to important side paths will be a big deal as well. I'm extremely excited for this new lighting system and I can't wait to see how forgers adapt to it. It is yet another skill for us to master as hobbyist designers. :) Bring on the lights...


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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

FuN Fortress
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Lighting's going to to quite a lot for the Halo experience in terms of how much more control over it we now have. It's there for more than just making your map look pretty. Like Godly touched on, lighting is going to be an extremely powerful and subtle tool that we will be able to use to better-influence where our players are going to be and what they're going to be doing. In my experience in the Unreal and Hammer editors, where being able to maniuplate lighting is commonplace, there's quite a bit you can do with it. I mean, just having flashing lights is a way to quickly draw somebody's attention to a specific area, good for weapon placement. Having your lighting be brighter along certain, specific paths is a good way to give your map a main 'track' for players to follow, and of course it doesn't hurt to be able to really bring focus to where a 'base' on a map should be. With our new movement zones that we'll be able to add, we'll surely have to bring focus to what's otherwise an invisible area. Lighting will be a simple and 'clean' way to bring focus to those areas, in that we won't have to pile on decorative objects just to draw our eyes to it. Additionally, with using light in that manner, we can potentially save up on budget and specific piece-sets.
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

Brucer42O
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
It seems to me that players generally gravitate towards brightly lit areas of a map (like moths to a flame).  For example, on Countdown I usually tend to orient myself in regards to the balcony outside.  It is brightly lit, open, and has multiple ways to be accessed, where the rest of the map is sort of dim and narrow.  Or maybe it is just our primal fear of the dark that so infatuates our fancy towards bright light. It's definitely an element worth considering when designing a map, one can use it as an addition architecture and work to create a cohesive tone or theme for a map.  For example building a large intimidating-looking base or stronghold in the shadows of a cliff side.

I'm trying to brainstorm of a map for the contest, but I'm having a hard time intially coming up with something as I don't know what to anticipate from the upcoming Forgeworld(s).  The only one I've seem is the Ravine, but I wasn't all that inspired by it's location and layout (sort of the same as the last Forgeworld only smaller it seemed).  Any word on when or if they will be lifting the Forge's veil anytime soon?
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

GodlyPerfection
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Brucer42O wrote
I'm trying to brainstorm of a map for the contest, but I'm having a hard time intially coming up with something as I don't know what to anticipate from the upcoming Forgeworld(s).  The only one I've seem is the Ravine, but I wasn't all that inspired by it's location and layout (sort of the same as the last Forgeworld only smaller it seemed).  Any word on when or if they will be lifting the Forge's veil anytime soon?
It is tough and the real trick is trying to ignore terrain and design just on paths. Remove the map from your mind and just think of flow and movement. Build structures that you know will be important. Landmarks you want, main areas, bases. You can even try building in sections and figuring out ways to link them together through weaving and merging sections. It is tough... try some shapes on a piece of paper, or make a rough draft in Reach forge. Look for reference pictures.

Right now there is nothing more about forge except the Achievement Hunter vid from RTX and the initial presentation. But there will be some soon. David Ellis said so. :) Hopefully this coming week.

Great discussion so far folks. Keep it up. :)


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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

Brucer42O
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
"Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium."  -Henri Matisse

I'll be brainstorming, but I've never been much of a technically driven planner.  I have to respond intuitively to my medium.  Often times in painting or in pottery my best work happens almost by accident, or be some sort of means which are beyond my control; art and craft, at times, appear to simply make themselves.  I always try to incorporate the "natural" Forge environment into my maps, when Forging at times it seems as if the developers where a thousand steps ahead of me and designed certain areas specifically for what I had in mind. Though of course that is impossible(or is it?).  Also I think that incorporating natural geometry into the play area makes the map more aesthetically pleasing as it lends the player a break from all the repetitive (metal) Forge object surface textures.

Regardless I'll continue building a map in my mind and on my canvas.  On November 6th we will see if it all fits together.

=]
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

GodlyPerfection
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Brucer42O wrote
"Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium."  -Henri Matisse

I'll be brainstorming, but I've never been much of a technically driven planner.  I have to respond intuitively to my medium.  Often times in painting or in pottery my best work happens almost by accident, or be some sort of means which are beyond my control; art and craft, at times, appear to simply make themselves.  I always try to incorporate the "natural" Forge environment into my maps, when Forging at times it seems as if the developers where a thousand steps ahead of me and designed certain areas specifically for what I had in mind. Though of course that is impossible(or is it?).  Also I think that incorporating natural geometry into the play area makes the map more aesthetically pleasing as it lends the player a break from all the repetitive (metal) Forge object surface textures.

Regardless I'll continue building a map in my mind and on my canvas.  On November 6th we will see if it all fits together.

=]
I completely agree, natural terrain does make a map much more pleasing. But you can put together a design in which the whole bottom floor is replaced with terrain, and then you can nudge things around to account for hills and bumps. A path map is just how players move... whether they walk on metal, grass, or on water doesn't matter. Best of luck and I look forward to seeing what you have to offer. ;) Like I said in your intro... you've already got the start of your pre-production process. Wanting to build around the warthog, using standoff and snowbound as a reference, etc. Just put it all down in the thread and you've got yourself a start for sure. :) Free 30 points right there. ;)


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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

Gnappy As5A5sin
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Honestly, the greatest feature I have seen yet for 4. The simple fact that that will anchor anything you add into the level automatically just based on the lighting is a godsend. I do want to have a little more flexibility with what we've been able to do in the past as far as using lighting to guide our players. Valve did a great job of this with Left 4 Dead, fantastic dev commentary on what draws players and the effect lighting has on how you react.
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

GodlyPerfection
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This post was updated on .
Gnappy As5A5sin wrote
Honestly, the greatest feature I have seen yet for 4. The simple fact that that will anchor anything you add into the level automatically just based on the lighting is a godsend. I do want to have a little more flexibility with what we've been able to do in the past as far as using lighting to guide our players. Valve did a great job of this with Left 4 Dead, fantastic dev commentary on what draws players and the effect lighting has on how you react.
With the new lighting system I really hope that we are given a much larger pool of lights. Like 10+ at least. This would definitely give us much more flexibility in our control over the lighting. Two orbs is not going to cut it anymore... lol.


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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

AtlasisShruggin
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Great article. Lighting will be the game changer for Halo 4. We've seen a lot of topics discussed, but I believe the most important that can be taken out of this article is the point that he makes at the end Testing with fresh eyes and a variety of players will allow us to discover the psychology of the players testing our maps. Lighting will mean different things to different people and with the new sandbox of Halo 4, different players will treat lighting differently. A darkly lit power position will be very appealing to a camo player, while other players may avoid that position for a more well lit one. It's one more factor to consider when trying to observe the players who test our maps and determine player behavior.

Gameplay and aesthetics will be completely different in 4 with the addition of dynamic lighting. I can't wait to see how players innovate in a way not seen in halo 3 or Reach.

Don't know about you, but I'll keep to the shadows ;)
"This dread born of risk is not the opposite of joy, or even of quiet activity and calm enjoyment. It transcends such oppositions and lives in secret communion with the serene and gentle yearnings of creativity."
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

Randy 355
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Gotta love the new shadow system. I've been looking at maps in previous Halos, and it is very clear to me that the way they have set them up has affected me on my movement choices constantly. It might be in everyone's best interest in Halo 4 to build a small model of your map first, just to see how shadows will make your map look aesthetically. This way it won't be a hassle when you want to turn your entire map to a different angle. In the project I will most likely be doing, I have no doubt that this new shadowing system will play a great role in this maps look and feel. It is such a good thing.

But, I agree, we had better get the capacity to have more lights than just 2. I may be needing those as well. Also, I hope they aren't big spheres. They should be a bit more discreet than they have been in the past.
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

external memory
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Judging from the AR's compass in the RTX demo build, the outdoor lighting comes in from the northeast, casting shadows far to the west and a bit south. Definitely not at a 45 degree angle, either. For the sake of convenience, I do hope they decide to make the angle of light come in from only one compass direction, so it's easier for those who want to align parts of their map directly to that source or applications that call for symmetry in the lighting also. Snapping to 15 or 30 degrees instead of 90 is an option of course but it makes coordinate measurements a pain.

As the outdoor light source will be the one unavoidable light source on every map, making it as easy to work with as possible seems more important than highlighting the existing geometry of a forge world; the point is surely to show off the player's work as first priority.
EXEM
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

GodlyPerfection
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external memory wrote
Judging from the AR's compass in the RTX demo build, the outdoor lighting comes in from the northeast, casting shadows far to the west and a bit south. Definitely not at a 45 degree angle, either. For the sake of convenience, I do hope they decide to make the angle of light come in from only one compass direction, so it's easier for those who want to align parts of their map directly to that source or applications that call for symmetry in the lighting also. Snapping to 15 or 30 degrees instead of 90 is an option of course but it makes coordinate measurements a pain.

As the outdoor light source will be the one unavoidable light source on every map, making it as easy to work with as possible seems more important than highlighting the existing geometry of a forge world; the point is surely to show off the player's work as first priority.
Yeah I hope they realize that we have to work with the dominant light so having it on a easy to snap rotation angle would be beautiful... but if not then magnets are going to play a bigger role than most of us originally thought.


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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

Solo XIII
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I'm not entirely sure how much control over lighting we will actually have in H4. Certainly more than in Reach, but I have yet to see definitive proof that we'll be able to do any of the advanced lightning tricks that are employed in other games. With that being said, lighted areas certainly can influence player movement, and it is a practice worth exploring.

More than anything, I believe lightning gives designers the ability to make their map more user-friendly. The first time you load up a new map, there is bound to be a lot of confusion. Where am I? Are there doors out of here?  Navigating a new map can be extremely difficult, but doorways that emit light really attract the eye. It's much easier for players to recognize the paths they should be taking if their attention is drawn there in the first place.

The information relayed to the player can also depend on the intensity or color of the light. Reds and blues can help clarify your location on a symmetrical map. Having a lighted and shaded side to your map is an alternative to the theme,. Waterworks is one of the most obvious examples of this lighting style.

Another thing that lights can do is act as spot-lights over important areas -- Think power-positions and power-weapon drops. One of the most frequent questions you get asked when you are making a new map is "Where are the power-weapons?" Lighting can help make it more obvious. We already know that weapons are generally going to be in centralized locations, but with a spot-light, or a bright back-light, the weapons will stand out a lot more. In Reach, there were some scenarios in which a weapon is sitting on the ground but is not clearly visible thanks to the "gray on gray" color pallet. H4's pallet is expected to be much improved, but lighting will be another touch that you can employ to your advantage.
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

P1 Mario
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
The addition of dynamic shadows has me excited for the atmosphere I can create with it.  As it applies to the topic of this functional lighting, I plan on using the lighting atmosphere to convey the feeling I want players to have in certain areas.  In exposed areas, or long, narrow, grenade-prone hallways, there'll be dark, spooky lighting reminiscent of a horror movie.   Ideally, players will feel uncomfortable in those areas and be more likely to move on to areas with more friendly lighting.

And of course, I'd love to see more than 2 lights and for those lights to appear in split screen.  We'll see.
~Ask not why I get to be Player 1.
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

Brucer42O
P1 Mario wrote
And of course, I'd love to see more than 2 lights and for those lights to appear in split screen.  We'll see.
I'd like to have more control over the lighting of indoors playareas, with the lighting overhaul it would make sense for 434 to give us more lights.  If not random floating orbs, perhaps objects which omit light - sort of like some of the objects in Reach, I think it's the 2x2 corner piece which omits a dim white light around it.  They could function similarly only perhaps produce any colored light instead of just white.

  Or if we could place objects that glow such as computers, neon signs, tiki torches, ect.  would be pretty awesome.

Anyways I reckon we'll have to wait n see.
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

InnerSandman
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Hm.......this idea of dynamic lighting, is a good idea, do I think it is the best and most brilliant idea? No. However, this isn't to say that it won't have a large impact on the way maps are designed. I think that this idea of dynamic lighting will make maps become more alive, if that makes sense. One gametype where this will have a huge impact is infection. This idea of lighting being worked perfectly in certain infection map atmospheres I think will give it almost like a Silent Hill 2 feel, especially in large spacious city like maps, where stranded players will truly feel alone against this immenent doom, as they see the shadows of their former comrades along the walls, turning towards it to only see a wall, and then, darkness.
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

GodlyPerfection
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Brucer42O wrote
P1 Mario wrote
And of course, I'd love to see more than 2 lights and for those lights to appear in split screen.  We'll see.
I'd like to have more control over the lighting of indoors playareas, with the lighting overhaul it would make sense for 434 to give us more lights.  If not random floating orbs, perhaps objects which omit light - sort of like some of the objects in Reach, I think it's the 2x2 corner piece which omits a dim white light around it.  They could function similarly only perhaps produce any colored light instead of just white.

  Or if we could place objects that glow such as computers, neon signs, tiki torches, ect.  would be pretty awesome.

Anyways I reckon we'll have to wait n see.
From what has been shown it doesn't look like any of the re-skinned forgeworld pieces are built with any color strips or any lights... which is interesting. I think there are two possible things they could do with coloring... colored lights or that white metal is colorable. I definitely hoping for a more diverse selection of lights. Spotlights in addition to point lights would be great. And if you can get colored tinted metals like this then it would be awesome (perhaps something less vibrant, but you get the idea):






InnerSandman wrote
Hm.......this idea of dynamic lighting, is a good idea, do I think it is the best and most brilliant idea? No. However, this isn't to say that it won't have a large impact on the way maps are designed. I think that this idea of dynamic lighting will make maps become more alive, if that makes sense. One gametype where this will have a huge impact is infection. This idea of lighting being worked perfectly in certain infection map atmospheres I think will give it almost like a Silent Hill 2 feel, especially in large spacious city like maps, where stranded players will truly feel alone against this immenent doom, as they see the shadows of their former comrades along the walls, turning towards it to only see a wall, and then, darkness.
I respectfully disagree. I am using a game engine called Unity and Sketchup together to draft up my design Think Again. As I draft it in Sketchup I transfer it to the game engine and throw some lighting on it to see what kind of an effect it has. And the difference is a lot more drastic than you would believe with indoor maps. The importance of opening up sections in your ceiling and deciding where windows goes is multiplied by at least a dozen times. Windows and sun roofs become very important "imaginary" pieces that need to be accounted for when you are forging. Randy did bring up a good point that building a miniature mock up of your map to see how lighting and shadows are going to affect it is definitely going to be a great idea and something I never considered.


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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

Brucer42O
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I was sort of worried about indoor maps becoming a little to dark, or let's say "shady". I agree as we build a map we will now have to be more conscious of window and sunroof placement. Windows, balconies, and sources of light in general are now less of an aesthetic feature, and more of a 17th man on the field. The light can guide you and the darkness can be your downfall.

 That being said, it's sort of a pain that we have to switch to player mode to see the lighting effect (I hate to complain about such an incredible feature), I can see myself now nudging an object and switching back n forth to check the shadow cast for hours on end.

Wow, no colored strips on the objects? That was one of my favourite little details from Reach, it's not super critical to gameplay I suppose, but I always went out of my way to change the every object to the color I desired. I hope it was just an unfinished feature you saw, but if not I guess I can live without it.  Tinting the metal would be cool, as long as it is subtle and not over bearing; I don't want to play Halo in a map that looks like a brightly saturated inflatable bounce house...well now that I think about it part of me kinda does. lol

=]
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Re: Resource #1 [10/6]

GodlyPerfection
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Brucer42O wrote
 That being said, it's sort of a pain that we have to switch to player mode to see the lighting effect (I hate to complain about such an incredible feature), I can see myself now nudging an object and switching back n forth to check the shadow cast for hours on end.
That is going to suck and as an indie game developer I know that it is necessary. The good news is that this feature not only makes things look great, it also makes performance SOOO much better. Instead of dynamically calculating light, the light "map" is "baked" into the map on design. Think of the light map as a texture that is painted over the map that keeps track of what is lit and what is not. That is what most developed maps use. The problem is that generating a lightmap actually takes like 30+ minutes, but it seems they have found a trick to make it take a couple seconds. For such a powerful feature a couple of seconds is well worth it. :) Trust me bro... as a developer, what they did blew my fucking mind. lol...


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