Saturday, 12 March 2016

DM-Chill Visual Clarity

There's been a lot of gnashing of teeth and throwing of tantrums over visual clarity on the newly released fully meshed version of DM-Chill.

While it's not nearly as bad as some players claim, there are a few minor problems with seeing other players in some spots. Especially necris characters with their white skin and nano black camo clothing blending into the predominately dark grey stone and white snow background.

In addition the shadows are so dark in some spots it's nearly pitch black, making necris practically invisible and other character models very difficult to see, especially if they aren't moving.

But instead of complaining about it, why don't these players who think they know everything and keep trying to tell everyone else how to do everything "properly" (their way that is) just fix it themselves?

It's not like it's difficult to do or takes a whole lot of time...

Here's what I managed in about 20 minutes of editing time (not counting build time).

1. Trees. A lot of players don't like the moving, swaying trees in the background.

- There are only 2 different tree meshes in the map with multiple instances of each. I selected one tree, then used right mouse button menu to select all matching meshes and hit delete.
- Rinse and repeat for the other tree mesh.

No more trees... That took about 5 seconds.

With a few seconds more one could easily do the same for those dangling rope meshes or anything else considered unnecessary eyecandy that hurts visual clarity or performance... Or you could leave them in and set LoD on such items so they only show on the highest settings but not on lower settings.

2. There are many instances of a decal on the floor for shiny, highly reflective ice (actually I think it's supposed to be frozen mud).

- I removed all instances of that decal. Since we can't use select all on decals to find decals with matching materials I had to find and delete them 1 at a time and there were a lot of them.

That took a while, maybe 10 minutes in total. Longer than any other single thing.

3. Lighting, brightening up the dark spots and changing PPV settings to make eye adaptation transitions to/from inside to outside and dark to light parts of the map as unobtrusive as possible.

- The map has 5 active (enabled) Post Processing Volumes (PPVs) and a 6th redundant PPV that is disabled.
- There are a real lot of disabled ("affects world" unchecked) fill lights all over the place.

First I tweaked the PPV settings.

- I set Auto Exposure minimum and maximum brightness to 1 in all PPVs. Effectively (sort of anyhow) turning Auto Exposure off and minimizing eye adaptation when moving between bright and dark areas.
- Then I tweaked AE Exposure Bias in all PPVs to brighten up the inside areas and darken the outside area. In the the unbound PPV I turned it down from 0.5 to 0 making the outside part of the map a little darker. I turned it up in the other PPVs, setting a couple to 1, a couple to 2 and one to 0.7.
- One of the PPVs had AE Blendables causing some really bright odd looking shiny spots. I removed the blendables to fix that.

Then I turned on 2 or 3 of the disabled fill lights and tweaked the intensity setting on one of them to brighten up a few of the darkest spots left in corners, doorways and beneath ledges.

That all took another 10 minutes or so.

Roughly 20 minutes in total not counting build time. Building with lighting quality set to production takes about 40 minutes but that's afk time so I'm not counting it.

And here's the result:

DM-Chill VC

The lighting could still use more tweaking in some spots but this isn't intended as a be-all, end-all, visual clarity version. It's simply intended to show those who want a version of Chill with better visual clarity just how easy it is to do it themselves.

Edit: While FPS wasn't a factor in my reasoning for making this version, I have been informed by several players they see a 15-20 FPS improvement on this version over the unedited map.


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