I have just spent an entire day with removing a substantial amount of ivy and its roots from the garden and am tired
, so I might have some typos in this. Don't want to pass this up until tomorrow because I wanted to get this out there for some time now.
You might have noticed how I have been going on relentlessly about the lightmapping, how important it was, how little people understood its necessity and how shader effects actually work and how broken the system present in Game Guru was.
Well, I am writing this to admit that I was wrong and to apologise to Lee, who actually must have spent quite some time giving us a fairly decent lightmapping system far superior to the one present in FPSCreator, for all my bratty ranting about how bad the present system was. It isn't. Its not perfect but its very well something we can all work with.
After the first version where rather broken I just assumed that it remained that way in the current issue of Game Guru but that is simply not the case.
While it needs a lot of tweaking to get desirable results and most will simply not know how to get them (or care...I have seen GG games on Steam that where perfectly fine with not having proper shadows...survival horror games at that. I can't really wrap my mind around that though).
Why is that?
Well, allow me to elaborate.
Why is lightmapping important?
If you are new to game design you might have wondered why lightmapping has been such a huge thing for many of us on here, well that is because as far as graphics and aesthetics go, lightmapping are 70%.
Yes, everything you concider next gen, visually impressive or "good graphics" is mostly due to how its lit.
So why have way more people voted on adding PBR rather than an improved lightmapping system? Because they don't know that. PBR has been hot in the game dev scene recently and is included and advertised in all the big engine, however, its absolutely useless without proper lighting...so are all visual benefits of DirectX11 and yet many have attributed the muddy graphics in some game guru games to it using DX9... This is simply entirely wrong and my little thread is likely not going to prevent people from doing these claims or demanding these features before the core as been improved but thats not what this is about. This little segment is about showing those people who like to learn and I'm always researching what makes a game look and feel good. Its almost never what is written about in the gaming press and what can be cranked up in the settings
Enough ranting, let me show you how great all your PBR, DirectX11/12 powered shaders and highpoly meshes look without equally qualitative lightmapping.
Current Gen Graphics with and without lights. Unreal Engine (none of these are my work!)
Ya see? I rest my case.
Sorry Lee! You did a good job
The new lightmapper is rough around the edges, yes. It needs a lot of improvments and lacks a few features..sure! But its very good at its core. Its actually the lightmapper I have always wished to have in FPSCreator and I was too incompetent and bratty to even see that.
What does it better than FPSC's? It can render higher quality lightmaps without crashing or flooding the mem-cap we all dreaded back in the day, it can bake huge scenes and the new system which renders in grids allows for more stability.
While baking the map can have plenty of assets look off, we still get the ability to have tons of entities with normal and specular mapping without them looking as ridicoulus as they mostly did in FPSC.
With the surface level feature we can actually tint and color our lightmaps in real time to set the mood which is a greatly useful feature.
Journey to figuring this out
After Lee mentioned in the twitch that we won't see visual improvments enginewise until winter I said to myself, in my previous more negative mindset, that I have got plenty of broken stuff to work in the past and get the results I wanted, lets tinker with the settings to get something at least somewhat ...lit.
My first result was... well, I managed to get rid of all the diffuse maps in game guru. This has proven to be somewhat useful because this way we can actually look at the effect and accuracy of our shader maps.
A little accidental discovery.
I have managed to achieve that by editing the "dividetexturesize = 1" line to "0". You can, of course not, divide by zero.
...and having it set to 1 logically does not divide the texture resolution. What was I thinking?! This might of course be useful to everyone who experiments with Normalmapping.
That last screenshot is however showing strong colors and shadow in an indoor scene. Thats what I was after and after fixing the .ini and further improve the lightmapping quality settings I tried a sample map and it worked. It worked!
The shadows where still a little blurry but none of the scaled models have been distorted, rescaled or even misplaced and there was no sunlight bleeding through the architecture as before.
I have found something in a state far enough to work with that has been sitting under my nose this whole time without me noticing. This thread is here in case you have missed it too.
Recent, more polished baked scenes
Fantasy themed lightmapping test map
Game work in progress "Acythian"
What to watch out for
There are plenty of good tutorials on how to light a good scene out there. Most are compatible with any engine you are working in but I have written one myself aeons ago. Those where for FPSCreator....but game guru is working similar and the spiritual successor anyway:
If you are curious. Its partly outdated.
If you have models glitch out, rescale or distort:
Open them in fragmotion, uu3d or a toaster for all I care and remove all the bones. Static objects don't need them anyway.
Remove all .dbo files in the entitybank.
(untested) Someone mentioned that adding "resetlimbmatrix = 1" to the fpe helps in some cases. I can not verify this.
If you get models that reflect oddly or look like they are covered in wax or wet plastic
The lightmapper can react oddly to normalmaps in its current state, your normalmap might be too strong. replace it with a less intense version.
If you get bad results
Mess with the surface level settings and lower the ambience (depending on scene).
Increase settings in the setup.ini (advanced users only)
Check if the lights that are supposed the be static are static.
What I wish for the future
Just some suggestions. These aren't requests, just ideas.
Please bring back the old lightbulb. Those sun planes are a pain to place correctly.
Having directional and spotlights would be popular with some people.
If we would be able to select what grids to lightmap in test game. That way we can prevent guru from mapping the entire thing everytime we make a scene and save a lot of time
Please check why it reacts oddly to some props with bones. This is really inconvenient and unfixable for many users without 3D knowledge.
Please check why some normalmaps are displayed so extremely
Let us turn off the sun
Being able to switch diffuse maps off by pressing a button to check lights, shadows and normalmaps in test game.
Whew! I guess that was it for now! Let me know if I have missed something and please add anything you found out or think is relevant.
So lets get rid of that blurry, muddy look and add some well lit indoor scenes to our games
-Wolf"When I contradict myself, I am telling the truth"
"absurdity has become necessity"