Dynamic Lights Are In
Yesterday was the creation, placement, editing, deletion and control of the AI characters via waypoints. Today was the addition, placement, deletion and shader integration of the dynamic lights. A particularly popular request for many moons, and thanks to a little infinilight update work and a lot of agonizing, they are now working in the editor and engine.
Before you launch an attack, I 'deliberately' went OTT on the color levels here to illustrate the use of multiple dynamic lights and their reaction against the terrain and entity normal maps. You probably won't see this type of extreme lighting again until we do a SciFi pack, where such two-color styles can really make your levels pop!
Something To Discuss
The system has the natural barrier of only really having a limited number of what I call 'hardware' lights. That is, only three lights actually exist inside the shaders, but the engine can make use of them to create the impression of many more lights in the scene. The downside is that the user has to place them and space them so the light transition as you move about does not look too jarring. I know you want infinite lights in the engine, but trying writing a shader that can accept 10 or 20 lights, for each pixel rendered by that shader, and you will come to know what performance hit really means. I have started with three fixed lights as that is enough to demonstrate the infinilight system and a good starting point for discussion. I also don't want to go ape just before performance tuning so a sensible number had to be selected, and three allows two lights to always be in force, and a third light allows the transitional play of the third and forth closest light to the camera.
One really cool byproduct of 'real-time everything' is that when you place the light down in the editor, it actually lights everything as it would in the real game, and the effect of the normal maps against the dynamic lights is something to behold! I think you will like!
Other Visual Touches
Our artist Mark came through for you guys again and went ahead and improved the bloom shader to include SSAA (screen space anti-aliasing), and I can testify that zooming into a screen grab the pixels are indeed anti-aliased. It seems like dark magic to me, but it works so I ain't knocking it!
As the first shot was a little dark, so I provide another. I must confess to having a little too much fun creating these poses. Hopefully you can see the anti-alias at work if you zoom in enough. Not sure if Google blogger is squashing these shots or not, but the original size is 1360x768 or thereabouts. You will find anti-alias around the edges of things and attempts to remove what are called 'jaggies' from the scene as a whole.
I am also pretty sure that these 'backup glasses' I am being forced to wear at the moment are giving me premature blurry eyes as after about 8 hours of keyboarding, everything gets fussy. I am also the proud owner of one headache per evening which seems to coincide with these damn specs. I am also the proud owner of a moved appointment so my new eye test only happens on the 24th. How crazy would it be if I finished off the beta half blind. At least I would have the perfect excuse in almost every quarter ;)