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Graphics Shadows or light - style feedback request!

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by Snayff, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. Snayff

    Snayff Guest

    Evening all,

    I am at a cross roads in design and looking for thoughts - heavy shadows or lighter environments? I like the impact and atmosphere of the light points in the heavy shadow but I think the lighter environment provides more visual clarity and allows the player more information (also they can see more of the art work!)

    If it helps the game is aimed at being a medium speed (dead cells, castlevania) combat focused platformer.

    What do you think? Any feedback would be appreciated!


  2. Niels

    Niels Member

    Jun 22, 2016
    Lighter design looks more appealing imo
  3. DividingByZero

    DividingByZero Member

    Jan 31, 2017
    Lighter is better.
  4. MishMash

    MishMash Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    I'm a sucker for immersive lighting, but I think you can achieve both together. A trick I use in my game is to do "eye-adjust". We have a shader which can address brightness, contrast, hue, saturation etc; and we dynamically adjust values based on the context that the player is in. When the player is above the surface, caves appear very dark. At night, the contrast is boosted and everything is desaturated slightly which improves the visual aesthetic at night. It does make things harder to see, but at night, that is somewhat the point. Lights also appear relatively brighter during the night.

    During the day, everything is a bit more level and consistently lit, however the caves are dark. If you enter a cave, everything brightens up so that you can see the outline of the cave even without any additional lighting.

    You may find some of those ideas useful, for example in areas where you need visual clarity for the main world, consider boosting the base brightess, but perhaps also boosting contrast. In dark/immersive areas which have less important world detail, consider flattening/reducing contrast between light and dark areas. You could also consider where you place lighting. There are other lighting effects available such as volumetric shadows or ambient occlusion which involve foreground objects casting a faded shadow on background objects. This can help increase the lighting atmosphere, but equally make your foreground items pop out a bit more, which also improves their visibility.

    It is obviously also dependent on the style you are going for, but some form of shadow is always nice to have. Remember to also bear in mind variations in the brightness of monitors. One of my monitors is a lot brighter than the other, so perhaps consider having a brightness slider in the game if there are any particularly dark areas.

    To poorly illustrate my point, this is what having a glow could look like: (Right image, no glow)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Then you can experiment with mixing in shadows (again, this is a bodge, so will look shoddy):

    Then a super subtle contrast shift can help change how details are perceived:

    Finally, you can crack in some light rays for good measure:

    Loljk, probably taking it too far :p But yeah, take away point is that you can experiment with more than just the overall darkness of the scene and alter how different effects are applied to different objects. I wouldn't necessarily recommend the AO or shadows for your game in particular, given the style, but definitely have a play with adjusting contrast or brightness. Bloom is another option if you want to make certain areas brighter.
  5. andev

    andev Member

    Jul 2, 2017
    In my opinion, the background is too dark to the point you can't see it anymore, but everything else is ok. But in your lit image, the mushrooms and character are too bright.

    But whatever you're doing looks great already, so keep it up!
  6. Snayff

    Snayff Guest

    Thank you for the feedback, all!

    @MishMash legend! Thank you for putting so much detail on there. I haven't worked with shaders at all yet but you have given me some solid things to think about. I am not sure the eye adjustment will work for my game but the other suggestions could make a big difference. Are there any good tutorials you would recommend around achieving those goals?
  7. MishMash

    MishMash Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    For all of those effects I suggested, they are all quite basic ones and I believe you can find free assets on the marketplace: https://marketplace.yoyogames.com/category/5/shaders
    It can sometimes be fun to just try out different lighting engines and plug your graphics into them until you find elements that you like.

    Before really knowing what effects you need in order to achieve a "look", you need to have a rough idea of what sort of style you are going for. For me, this process is normally a combination of finding screenshots and videos of other games, as well as messing around in image editing software to see if colour shifts or effects look good. Once I have a visual for the style, I analyse the source material in detail and try and break apart what is going on in their lighting system. Normally there will be a couple of layers that make up a system: base lighting, coloured lighting, ambient colour adjustment, hue shifts, bloom, additional glow, additive blending, shadow layers etc;

    Once you have broken apart all of these different layers, normally each individual one corresponds to something quite simple. It is then just a matter of building up a system piece by piece :)
  8. Online Handle

    Online Handle Member

    Oct 11, 2016
    They both look great.
    I would use a global variable that can be adjusted in the settings.
    This allows the user to determine how bright they want it.
    Set the default value as what you think the player should play on.
  9. Snayff

    Snayff Guest

    @MishMash Thanks buddy, i'll check that out. I have done the first part and found lots of references I like but when it comes to breaking it down in to what they did I am still a distance away! ;)

    @Online Handle Thank you for the feedback. It's a good suggestion but I changed a fair few things in that second image so adding a slider would be quite complex.
  10. Guest User

    Guest User Guest

    honestly something that is bugging me in both of them is that only some of the mushrooms are producing light, and that light seems....off-center a bit? i'm not sure how to describe.
  11. Snayff

    Snayff Guest

    @hipstercapitalist Haha, so the light being only on some was intentional but they should be centred on the mushrooms - I measured them to the pixel! Though I may have messed up the measuring of course...

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