Wednesday, January 15, 2014

FMP update

So, here's what I've been doing in the past couple of days.
I've made some 20-30 modular pieces of a building, all aligned to UDK grid. Stuck them together to make a rough layout of the district.

Here's the problem. Originally, I intended to have dynamic global illumination in order to be able to get various lighting settings for different moods. I remember seeing Mike's FMP last year, and shadows looked quite good there.
Generally dynamic shadows look horrible in UDK. I tweaked the light settings in the editor, and they still looked awful. Some setting did not affect the quality at all. So then I went and changed certain settings in the UDKSystemSettings.ini, and while the shadow quality improved tenfold, they still looked weird up close. And even such an improvement comes at a cost of performance.

So I spoke to Mike about that, and he told me that actually nothing else can be done. Shadows look okay ish in his scene because of the irregular surfaces and textures with a lot of detail variation. They kind of mask the choppy irregular shadows.
I spoke to Mitch, and got similar response.
Then I though - screw that, it'll do with static lighting just fine. So what if I can't move the lighting, I'd rather go for smooth and beautiful shadows. What can go wrong?
Turns out - a lot. In order to create this rough whitebox I used almost 2000 individual pieces. Instances, obviously. Baking the lighting for the whole scene on the lowest quality takes about an hour, and UDK crashes during the lighmap encoding.
Merging the assets into one object using the Simplygon solution would be a cool workaround, but the issue with it is that it also compiles the horrible shadows into the diffuse map. So in order to combine the building into one mesh to decrease light baking time, I have to bake the lighting first. Not even mentioning that merging a small building into one mesh takes about 5-8 minutes.

So, my options are, currently:
a) Stick to the improved dynamic shadows, and hope that they will be less apparent on textured surfaces. Or maybe I'll find a setting combination that looks better.
b) Combine the pieces of the objects in 3ds max. Which defies the purpose of the modular approach.
c) Switch to CryEngine. Which I used a couple of times, but know nothing about some advanced stuff I'll need.

I doesn't look very pretty at the moment.
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