How bright should a map be?

subshadowsubshadow Join Date: 2003-04-21 Member: 15710Posts: 317Members
In my opinion we should have a discussion here about how bright/dark a map can/should be.

Just to get the discussion started:

Is it fair that some players adjust their brightness levels to get an advantage against other players?
Isn't a dark athmospheric (flashlight-required) room more appropiate in a single player game?
How much of the athmosphere should come from darkness when there are athmospheric lights (and soon fog)?
How much darkness can you remove before you have a feeling of running around in a "fullbright" mode. Do the alien models and structures fit in a bright world?
What impact would this all have on public games and clan matches?
Is athmosphere in a room something you only feel the first time you experience it? Or does the darkness distract from the core-gameplay after the first experience with it has passed?

Comments

  • Electr0Electr0 Join Date: 2011-10-31 Member: 130337Posts: 349Members
    Dark areas and sharp lighting/shadows can look great sometimes but the game suffers from an overly dark theme, there not enough bright areas or decent soft lighting over a large area, also something that's overlooked is the poor black level we have, the contrast is weak because of the default fog setting, the blackest black possible is actually more a dark grey, reminds me of how rubbish lcd's used to be, they need to add a filter/post processing to sort it out or change the default fog setting, you only have to look at the menu screen to see what i mean.
  • zombiehellmonkeyzombiehellmonkey Join Date: 2007-08-31 Member: 62093Posts: 304Members, Squad Five Blue
    From a players point of view I can understand how playing on a dark map can be physically and mentally tiring especially if you're gaming for hours on end. If brighter maps are more popular, then I'm willing to make a brighter map - I mean the map is for the players, I don't map for other mappers.

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  • Electr0Electr0 Join Date: 2011-10-31 Member: 130337Posts: 349Members
    edited January 2012
    Here's what i mean about fog messing up contrast, all i did was change the default setting to black in the menu.level file.

    image

    Looks better but the darkest shadows don't quite look right, probably because the fog is black and not transparent, also i wonder why the fog is having such an effect on the room considering how small it is? Surely it should only be noticeable over a long distance, i don't remember seeing this kind of grey look in other games.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • vizioNzvizioNz InversionNS2.com Join Date: 2003-12-21 Member: 24595Posts: 661Members, Constellation, NS2 Playtester
    edited January 2012
    Here is my take on the "darkness" of current and future maps in Natural Selection 2...

    Natural Selection 2, since day 1 has had a "boiler room/space station" feel in anything and everything that has been designed for it. From the main menu screen to the "dummy" course the Alpha was released with, it has been "dark and grunge". Why do I think it is dark? I believe that the artistic environment that the concept artist and UWE has visioned for the game has a space station, grunge metal, weathered rooms, night-like environment. Do I dislike it? Yes and no and I'll tell you why. I do believe the "wow factor" exists within the environments released and unreleased and they overall are very attractive to look at. You and the player walk around an experience a surreal feeling of "wow, this looks great!". The best way I can compare it to anything else on the market is a similar feeling in DOOM3 or the Dead Space (series) which I like, for single player.

    I consider myself an experience multi-player/competitively experience gamer enough to assume that it will not produce a solid team based multi-player experience. Dead Space was great to play and explore while taking your time walking around with (your flashlight) and observing and appreciating the attractive environment. This would of more than likely not worked in multi-player, which is why EA, who is known for their multi-player interaction, choose not proceed with including in either installment. Instead, they focused on making a rich single player environment that the player is not required squint their eyes to spot things out quickly, and make precise, accurate movements to engage with. The same goes for DOOM3, which never had anything other than Deathmatch for it's multi-player portion of the game. The initial pass by ID Software for the multi-player aspect of DOOM3 only had 4 player(s) max, which, was later upgraded to 8 players with their expansion of Resurrection of Evil after the modding community made mods to support 8 - 16 player multi-player games. Never did DOOM3 or the Modding community, implement a Capture-The-Flag, Control-The-Point or Team-Based-Point system to the game, it just could not support it with the environments that were available. The only success that DOOM3 had, which was well documented and hard to argue were maps

    Let's take a second to look at some games that are highly known for their team based multi-player aspect and the environments which were most popular on them:
    • Counter-Strike 1.6 (HL Engine) - Bright environments
    • Natural Selection 1 (HL Engine) - Bright environments
    • Tribes Series - Bright Environments
    • HALO Series - Mid/Bright environments
    • Call of Duty Series - Bright Environments
    • Battlefield Series - Bright Environments
    • Crysis Series - Mid/Bright Environments
    • Gears of War Series - Mid/Bright Environments
    • Resistance Series (PS3) - Bright Environments
    • Quake 3 Arena - Bright Environments
    • UT2K4 - Bright Environments

    The list can go on forever as almost all of the top multi-player games that were considered "successful" had environments that were bright and easy to spot out the opposing force. Yes, these games did have "some" dark environments/maps, but they were not the maps that were consistently played and helped make the above titles earn the status they did. The problem with dark environments is it requires the user to utilize some form of light source to get a feeling of satisfaction knowing that the dark areas they are engulfed in do not contain anything of interested. With the implementation of wall whacking creatures, "predator" like cloaking (which is not currently implemented properly) and Metal Gear Solid 3 like camouflage (also not implemented properly), the user is put into a situation where they are more often inspecting environments then doing what the game was built to do, shooting/attacking in an First-Person-Shooter.

    The main reason this discussion was brought to light (no pun in tended) was the ns2_veil remake by FMPONE. The map is very artistic and looks very attractive but lacks the same feeling of the original, which is not entirely his fault with the assets available. ns2_veil includes areas where the lighting is acceptable and does not required the constantly use of flashlight/alien vision, but the areas that are important (tech points) are mostly dark and require the "paranoia" feeling that has not widely accepted by online gaming on any platform. Now, if you compare the lighting of summit to veil, it's day and night (no pun intended, again). Summit, as it does have some "dark areas", is majorly bright enough to not require the constant use of the flashlight or the (high contrast) alien vision, which may I comment removed all the attractive art aspect from maps and turns it into a 2 color environment. I recall recently, privately, trying to reach out and point out some flaws throughout ns2_veil to improve the overall appearance of the map and I was singled out for using the flash light to discover the flaws. It's a bit of an oxymoron to reticule someone from pointing out flaws while using a feature that is forced on the user to use due to the environments Shawn is using excessively. I feel that the dark environments are almost used as a crutch for mappers to hide it's flaws throughout the map, which, to myself, is not the right approach.

    Overall, I do not think Natural Selection 2 will have a steadily multi-player environment and produce the successful competitive team based environment we all seemed to love about Natural Selection 2. The biggest point I'm trying to make here is, when you force the player to focus more on the environment then the opposing force within the game, it will not produce enough interest in wanting to replay the game and perfect your skills. I, as a former competitively player and an avid online gamer, am less interested in the environment and more interested in working as a team and terminating the opposing force. Thankfully, we are early enough in development to possibly change how we view and build the environments in Natural Selection 2. The only question is, will anything change?
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • swalkswalk Say hello to my little friend. Join Date: 2011-01-20 Member: 78384Posts: 1,866Members, Squad Five Blue
    I actually think the darkness is handled very well in NS2, the flashlight is really useful.
    It lights up a large amount of your FOV, but you are still able to see if you don't use it. Unless the power just went down.
    I would like to have varity of maps, and I would like them to vary in terms of brightness/darkness.
    I don't mind the darkness when I'm playing, but when brightness adjustments can be made, I will probably brighten it a bit.

    NS2 6v6 Gathers
    QUOTE (Floodinator @ Feb 28 2012, 08:41 PM) »
    it's always a good idea to kill swalk or he will kill you.
  • zombiehellmonkeyzombiehellmonkey Join Date: 2007-08-31 Member: 62093Posts: 304Members, Squad Five Blue
    edited January 2012
    I think we're generally talking about visibility. Competitive players want to see the opposition quickly, take them out and move onto the next kill - This creates faster game turnaround. But NS2 is different from most multiplayer FPS because of the very different styles of gameplay for aliens and marines.

    While less visibility generally benefits a stealthier style of gameplay, more visibility benefits a more aggressive approach. Aliens have the advantage of hive sight, so sighting the enemy is not really a problem, but marines are limited by their flashlight. And I think that most competitive players don't like clutter because it adds to the amount of information that they have to filter to locate a target that is almost semi-camoflaged in a disorderly environment.

    It just made me realize that the less visibility (ie. darkness, visual clutter) then the more it benefits marines, and the less advantage for aliens. So ideally, perhaps a good competitive map will look less organic (easier to spot lifeforms), visually cleaner and brighter - that doesn't necessarily mean boring because many contemporary style architectures are quite minimal but look very modern. Seems to come down to very functional design rules, simplicity and elegance over complexity and confusion.

    Has anyone played Mirror's Edge? As an environment it looks very simple, but it is bright and beautiful at the same time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acD6s4E3xso
    Post edited by Unknown User on
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  • vizioNzvizioNz InversionNS2.com Join Date: 2003-12-21 Member: 24595Posts: 661Members, Constellation, NS2 Playtester
    edited January 2012
    QUOTE (zombiehellmonkey @ Jan 12 2012, 02:27 PM) »
    I think we're generally talking about visibility. Competitive players want to see the opposition quickly, take them out and move onto the next kill - This creates faster game turnaround. But NS2 is different from most multiplayer FPS because of the very different styles of gameplay for aliens and marines.

    While less visibility generally benefits a stealthier style of gameplay, more visibility benefits a more aggressive approach. Aliens have the advantage of hive sight, so sighting the enemy is not really a problem, but marines are limited by their flashlight. And I think that most competitive players don't like clutter because it adds to the amount of information that they have to filter to locate a target that is almost semi-camoflaged in a disorderly environment.

    It just made me realize that the less visibility (ie. darkness, visual clutter) then the more it benefits marines, and the less advantage for aliens. So ideally, perhaps a good competitive map will look less organic (easier to spot lifeforms), visually cleaner and brighter - that doesn't necessarily mean boring because many contemporary style architectures are quite minimal but look very modern. Seems to come down to very functional design rules, simplicity and elegance over complexity and confusion.

    Has anyone played Mirror's Edge? As an environment it looks very simple, but it is bright and beautiful at the same time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acD6s4E3xso


    I've played Mirrors Edge, but again, it did not produce a multiplayer aspect and would not have been successful as it required "cinematic type" engagement with enemies. The brightness was bright, yes, but the enemies were in fixed locations and did not require the brightness of the environments and it's obstacles to become a factor in the game. If it was dark, or stayed bright, it would of felt the exact same as all enemies were stationary, in the same locations, every single time you experienced them. This is not the case with NS2 where nothing is stationary other than the environment and it's props that are in high debate right now.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • zombiehellmonkeyzombiehellmonkey Join Date: 2007-08-31 Member: 62093Posts: 304Members, Squad Five Blue
    edited January 2012
    QUOTE (vizioNz @ Jan 12 2012, 03:50 PM) »
    I've played Mirrors Edge, but again, it did not produce a multiplayer aspect and would not have been successful as it required "cinematic type" engagement with enemies. The brightness was bright, yes, but the enemies were in fixed locations and did not require the brightness of the environments and it's obstacles to become a factor in the game. If it was dark, or stayed bright, it would of felt the exact same as all enemies were stationary, in the same locations, every single time you experienced them. This is not the case with NS2 where nothing is stationary other than the environment and it's props that are in high debate right now.



    Yeah I know, but I'm talking specifically just about the environment level design. Once again it is an environment, even in singleplayer, allows the player to think fast and on their feet, even when you play it for the first time, you're not busy with figuring out the environment (which in this game, is the enemy really). I would love to see a Mirror's Edge style environment in more multiplayer games.

    Post edited by Unknown User on
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  • zombiehellmonkeyzombiehellmonkey Join Date: 2007-08-31 Member: 62093Posts: 304Members, Squad Five Blue
    edited January 2012
    I thought L4D2 was a fairly good multiplayer game in Versus mode. Some parts were quite dark, and you're running around with a flashlight in most of the map - the penalty being to accidently trigger a witch. But it worked because no side was disadvantaged because of the environment and all the players generated sounds to give away their locations. I loved the ability to pick your spawn as long as it was hidden from the opposition's view, that in itself made you want to learn the map better and appreciate possibilities presented.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
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  • Heroman117Heroman117 Join Date: 2010-07-28 Member: 73268Posts: 391Members
    edited January 2012
    QUOTE (zombiehellmonkey @ Jan 12 2012, 07:38 PM) »
    I thought L4D2 was a fairly good multiplayer game in Versus mode. Some parts were quite dark, and you're running around with a flashlight in most of the map - the penalty being to accidently trigger a witch. But it worked because no side was disadvantaged because of the environment and all the players generated sounds to give away their locations. I loved the ability to pick your spawn as long as it was hidden from the opposition's view, that in itself made you want to learn the map better and appreciate possibilities presented.


    Although i think its noteworthy that the only campaigns that really had any significant amounts of dark areas were Hard Rain and Swamp fever, and are easily the most unplayed campaigns there are. Of the l4d2 campaigns, Dead Center and The Parish are easily by far the most popular and frequently played maps, both of which are also the most well lit campaigns throughout.

    However, i still think we should see how dark ns2_veil actually feels when we play the first complete release before we tear it apart.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
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  • zombiehellmonkeyzombiehellmonkey Join Date: 2007-08-31 Member: 62093Posts: 304Members, Squad Five Blue
    QUOTE (Heroman117 @ Jan 13 2012, 12:59 AM) »
    Of the l4d2 campaigns, Dead Center and The Parish are easily by far the most popular and frequently played maps, both of which are also the most well lit campaigns throughout.



    Are you sure about that? I seem to remember an extremely dark mall in Dead Center.


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  • Heroman117Heroman117 Join Date: 2010-07-28 Member: 73268Posts: 391Members
    The mall is only partially dark during the third map in Dead Center, it is still predominently bright in the more important sections of the map, notably the crescendo event arena were you rush to shut off an alarm. Especially the finale of Dead Center, the atrium with Jimmy Gibbs stock car, the entire arena containing all the gas cans is completely lit up. Same can be said for The Parish's finale across the bridge, completely illuminated by the sunset.

    However Left 4 dead is one game and NS2 is another, what you might find atmospheric in one game may only be a nuisance in another, and frankly we can't speak with certainty whether or not it applies to NS2 how popular Ns2_veil will be as a consequence.
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  • swalkswalk Say hello to my little friend. Join Date: 2011-01-20 Member: 78384Posts: 1,866Members, Squad Five Blue
    edited January 2012
    Wrong thread.
    Post edited by Unknown User on

    NS2 6v6 Gathers
    QUOTE (Floodinator @ Feb 28 2012, 08:41 PM) »
    it's always a good idea to kill swalk or he will kill you.
  • ForssForss Join Date: 2011-10-30 Member: 130180Posts: 43Members
    QUOTE (vizioNz @ Jan 12 2012, 06:20 PM) »
    [*]Counter-Strike 1.6 (HL Engine) - Bright environments


    It had a ton of dark areas/spots in the most competitive played maps which is evident by the amount of exploits/cheats used to brighten these areas.
  • LV426-ColonistLV426-Colonist Space Jockey Join Date: 2011-08-05 Member: 114269Posts: 678Members, Constellation
    edited January 2012
    QUOTE (Forss @ Jan 14 2012, 11:10 AM) »
    It had a ton of dark areas/spots in the most competitive played maps which is evident by the amount of exploits/cheats used to brighten these areas.


    I played CS 1.6 religiously and never had an issue with "dark spots".

    You could always adjust the brightness/gamma in-game; or through your graphics control panel.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
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  • ZurikiZuriki Join Date: 2010-11-20 Member: 75105Posts: 503Members
    Competitive players don't care about the visuals. You could present them with 4 white walls, and so long as they could distinguish the surfaces, and the players from the environment, it wouldn't matter. All competitive players care about is how fast their trigger finger is and anything that can give them an advantage -- including using exploits like "r_mode unlit". Designing a map for competitive players is like designing a game for speed-runners*.

    * That's not to say a map should not be fair and balanced. Just that if you want to design a map that's both balanced and visually appealing, then don't listen to the competitive audience.
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  • Evil_bOb1Evil_bOb1 Join Date: 2002-07-13 Member: 938Posts: 915Members, Squad Five Blue
    One has to measure what he whats to do and if he has the means to for-fill them too. When designing turtle, I focused on gameplay, created a layout and carved the visuals out of that. As an amateur, passionate, community mapper, I work without a concept artist or environmental artist. I also don't have the resources of a video game company to put the proper effort into visuals. It does not mean I do not care about visuals, I think turtle looks amazing even if it is no where to the level of UWE's maps and other community mappers.

    My point is, as a community mapper you have to place your focus on other things than visuals. If you want to create a map at UWE's standards, it is going to take a lot of time for a one man army. I let UWE do the beautiful maps and I inspire myself a lot on their work, but I can bring things to NS2 gameplay that official maps couldn't. As most of the construction work is done at a low level of detail, I can judge the engine in a different way and push gameplay environments to new limits. I have yet to see a map as open as turtle from room to room, and rooms like hub which are several rooms merged together. It all comes down to where to put your focus.

    UWE also don't have the resources to bring experimental maps to judge NS2 gameplay from many angles. And I think it is a blessing for UWE to have people put time and effort into maps for their game. A map is a tremendous amount of work and one has to be educated in many different arts and crafts to be successful at it.

    So visuals, yeah they are a plus. But not everybody has the means to provide it to "max detail." Time is also an important factor and as a community mapper you want to bring something that works as quickly as possible. Quality can be found in many different layers: visuals, gameplay, layout, lighting and many more. But you can't concentrate on them all at once, and focusing on one of these will reduce the power of the others.

    So think about what you want to bring to NS2, where the focus is somewhere different to the developers. I think a lot of people don't finish their maps because they put too much effort into visuals when they should spend their time on other things. I think people are pushed away from making a map because they think they will have to provide that level of detail for the map to be valuable. All this makes us have few maps. Quality over quantity maybe, but lack of is not a quality. If community mappers spend more time on working on quality of gameplay I think we would see more maps still very fun to play.

    Because, in the end, its all about having fun :D
    ns2_turtle modid=486cef9 Forum thread / duplexgaming page
  • zombiehellmonkeyzombiehellmonkey Join Date: 2007-08-31 Member: 62093Posts: 304Members, Squad Five Blue
    Hey Bob, I really like what you're saying, you always make sense.
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  • iskunderiskunder Join Date: 2009-08-10 Member: 68414Posts: 17Members
    I used to play half-life 1 deathmatch for hours everyday for 8 years and that game is still by far one of my favorites. I still turn it on every now and then. I also really loved the first ns. HLDM, has a ton of dark maps. Most of which where rats maps(maps that are huge, from the perspective of a small person). I guess what I'm saying doesn't apply for team based game play because most of it is free for all. But theirs something about dark maps that I absolutely love. Perhaps it the camping aspect, or maybe something... I'll have to think about it more.

    I do have to agree with who ever said "if people focused more on game play rather then detail" more maps would be done. I used to make maps in hammer editor(don't get me started that editor is so buggy!) and for a while I would switch off and an on when it came to game play or just plain adding detail to a map. Long story short spent 6+ years making a map that was never released. So when people say focus on game play and detail later, trust those guys they know a thing or two. lol

    The industry standard has shown to have brighter maps, but on the contrary I'm really looking forward to even darker maps, I just love them, love to sneak around and hide, you know that feeling when you strike at just the right time. Wish there was a way to make it harder for the aliens to see in the dark because I feel like the dark maps for them defeats the purpose. But who knows i don't want to speak to soon.
  • swalkswalk Say hello to my little friend. Join Date: 2011-01-20 Member: 78384Posts: 1,866Members, Squad Five Blue
    QUOTE (iskunder @ Jan 20 2012, 06:54 PM) »
    Wish there was a way to make it harder for the aliens to see in the dark because I feel like the dark maps for them defeats the purpose. But who knows i don't want to speak to soon.

    That would remove the advantage aliens have in the darkness.
    Also, aliens would be completely blind when they take down a powernode. Why?

    NS2 6v6 Gathers
    QUOTE (Floodinator @ Feb 28 2012, 08:41 PM) »
    it's always a good idea to kill swalk or he will kill you.
  • zombiehellmonkeyzombiehellmonkey Join Date: 2007-08-31 Member: 62093Posts: 304Members, Squad Five Blue
    QUOTE (swalk @ Jan 23 2012, 06:59 PM) »
    That would remove the advantage aliens have in the darkness.
    Also, aliens would be completely blind when they take down a powernode. Why?



    On the other hand, they could make it harder for aliens to see in bright light. That would even things out a lot, and make it so that aliens aren't continually using night vision mode.



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