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cyreda

GPU Eating Shadows

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It seems like that devs are going for full dynamic shadows in this game. Of course its great for visual fidelity and realism, but what about computers that can't run them?

 

For now it seems that gamers who can't run dynamic shadows, can disable then completely and that gives them unfair advantage. Sometimes it might be good idea to hide in shadows, but if your enemy don't see them your cover gets blown immediately.

 

There is also that in the compounds the floor gets full sunlight even though there is a cealing on top of you.

 

If it was possible, the best way to counter this would be to give an option to use baked shadows if your computer can't run them, and not giving option to disable shadows completely. That way dark corners would be dark to everyone.

 

Foliage seems to be a lot darker and denser when dynamic shadows are enabled, and when disabled, everything gets light green and enemies are much easier to spot

 

At this point no one who plays the game competively uses them shadows (youtube videos), and that is gamebreaking.

 

What do you think?

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They are focusing on the combat experience at the time, the graphics will be modified later in to the stage remember its pre-alpha :)

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I'm all for dynamic shadows, it definitely leaves the door open for a ton of possibilities in the future. I do agree some serious optimization needs to, and probably will, occur.

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I think that you should be able to adjust shadows for better FPS but not turn then all the way down. No way anyone would play with the game looking beautiful to have a disadvantage.

Do baked shadows really even work that well to prevent this kind of stuff?

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Later, when it comes to that stage of development, I think shadows should have different quality settings (maybe distances, smoothness etc) but shouldn't be removed full stop. That's the biggest gameplay killer ever, especially in multiplayer games. Shadow distance rendering is already thing if I recall correctly and scales really well.

 

Dynamic lighting isn't all that bad. The game won't be changing / evolving in terms of an environment since there's no complete destruction, weather cycles or time progression in-game. Sure, they might have different variants of a map but it doesn't progress mid game, so it's not as extreme as it sounds.

 

Anyway, I'm pretty sure if there's no plans of destruction / changes of larger prominent static meshes on the environments like large compound walls, trees and structures then they could always use a mix of baked lighting / shadows and dynamic lighting which is what most games do. :)

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I'm glad to see a thread on this. I agree, there should be no setting that allows shadows to be disabled completely, as happens currently with the lowest shadow setting. Shadows are concealment, and people shouldn't be able to remove the concealment of other players through a settings change. I'm not even particularly comfortable with the current "low" setting, which while it doesn't totally remove shadows, it only renders them a few meters in front of you. The lack of shadows rendering at all in the render to texture scopes is also a concern (along with the low resolution of its zoomed portion). I believed they haven't really started optimizing shadows yet, so hopefully they'll find a good compromise in the coming months that keeps them looking good while reducing their performance impact, and doesn't allow them to be completely turned off.

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This is definately something to consider and look into.  I do remember people with the settings on the lowest in PR having an adavantage because gras textures and such would be smaller allowing them to see people hiding in the grass easier.  

 

I'm sure they are aware of this and will do their best to minimize the advantage of lowest settings (I doubt they can 100% get rid of it)

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Shadows are very performance heavy at the moment, but with the new blueprint updates in UE 4.8, it will allow us to optimize the shadows more.

 

As for map lighting, there is still room for it to grow, and we will definitely be pushing the lighting capabilities of UE4. There is certain features that we're also waiting, like Dynamic Global Illumination for large scale maps.

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We have two groups of people screaming in our ears:

1. Make shadows non-optional
2. Make it run on low end PC's 

1. and 2. are virtually impossible to reconcile.

 

We have to make compromises and either 1. or 2. is going to dislike our choice. That is life.

 

So would you rather like a bigger player base and a longer lifetime of the game or the fact that shadows are always there regardless of everything else?

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Part of the reason were going with dynamic lights is it makes updating the levels so quick. Before, in bf2, everything had to have lightmaps baked. Ive heard Irontaxi say he was leaving his computer running for three days to do this process. At the moment UE4 baking lightmaps is still very time consuming, but using dynamic lights mean, you change something, you save the level, you commit, its done.

 

 

I definitely hear you about the shadows problem.....but to be honest, its too early to look at this as a serious problem at the moment. Baking low level lightmaps for low end computers maaaaay be an option in the future.....but this comes at the cost of being able to change the time of day, night etc etc....so its not an option im especially keen on right now.

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Nice to hear more of the technical explanations on the matter, thank you.

What I have understood the problem with "no shadows" and "epic shadows" is that it leaves players hiding in shadows unprotected if someone turns the shadows off. Is there any cost effective way to camo the player in shadows in the eyes of the player who turned his shadows off, like adding something like blur / translucent to hiding players player model in those situations.

Are the shadows as child objects of physical obstacles (like trees) or are they raycasted as on the fly in UE4?

Oh, it is so easy to throw out questions. :)

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So shadows now afaik are raycast from the directional light in the scene in realtime. Baked lights would be rendered onto a seperate texture for each object (i.e the landscape gets all its shadows baked onto a number of textures) This is why baked lights take so long to render out.

 

UE4.8 has a numerous features coming out that will help make shadows cheaper, especially in the distance, and there are also a couple of things we havent implemented yet. Shadows for everyone, including a mega cheap shadows even in our lowest graphics would be the ideal situation, but as tom said, that wont be implemented at the cost of only high end pcs being able to play. We'll have to wait and see on this one.......

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It seems like that devs are going for full dynamic shadows in this game. Of course its great for visual fidelity and realism, but what about computers that can't run them?

 

For now it seems that gamers who can't run dynamic shadows, can disable then completely and that gives them unfair advantage. Sometimes it might be good idea to hide in shadows, but if your enemy don't see them your cover gets blown immediately.

 

There is also that in the compounds the floor gets full sunlight even though there is a cealing on top of you.

 

If it was possible, the best way to counter this would be to give an option to use baked shadows if your computer can't run them, and not giving option to disable shadows completely. That way dark corners would be dark to everyone.

 

Foliage seems to be a lot darker and denser when dynamic shadows are enabled, and when disabled, everything gets light green and enemies are much easier to spot

 

At this point no one who plays the game competively uses them shadows (youtube videos), and that is gamebreaking.

 

What do you think?

 

I asked about this in one of the Q&A's: they answered with that they will find a solution for it, supposedly UE4 has some kind of feature to keep it dynamic but make it less heavy. They won't do lightbaking because they want to be able to keep changing the time of day... so yeah we will just have to see whats gonna happen over time. But I do get your concern but remember this is pre-alpha everything is subject to change

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Honestly from the timeline they have set, the full game will come out at best in 2017 and at worst something like 2019? At some point you really gonna say sorry dude, but we cant make games where very high can run on a decade old hardware.

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I do get the concern about maximizing the player base and ensuring as many people as possible can play, that should indeed be a top priority (my own current GPU is pretty mid-range by now, and I'm planning on upgrading). But I also think that at some point there has to be some kind of cutoff for unreasonably old or low-powered hardware, in order to avoid compromising gameplay and the game's design. Surely large and dense urban maps are going to be just as challenging for low-end PCs to run, even without shadows, but that shouldn't stop Squad from pushing the limits in terms of map design beyond what recent multiplatform games have done and achieving the best multiplayer urban battles in any game to date. And after shadows are optimized, will displaying those shadows at least to a short distance really be unplayable for low-end hardware with all settings turned down?
 

Shadows are concealment, and similar arguments for allowing shadows to be turned off completely can be made about disabling grass or shrubs in order to save on FPS; some games allow that too, others don't out of recognition of the negative gameplay impact. Of course shadows and grass will inevitably stop rendering at some distance, I'm mainly talking about short ranges where they are still a hugely important tactical element. I'm only concerned about this out of experience with other games where I have seen how these types of issues (major discrepancies between the concealment you see around you and what the enemy might see, influenced by settings manipulation) undermine PvP gameplay and eventually wears on the player base. Too many people use these settings primarily for the advantage. For them it's worth the game looking worse in order to spot enemies sooner and die less often.

 

Hopefully future Unreal Engine updates help with this in a way that can make both camps happy.

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Surely large and dense urban maps are going to be just as challenging for low-end PCs to run, even without shadows,

 

Yes indeed. you hit the nail on the head yourself :) so FORCING shadows on top of that isn't really helping anyone? ;)

 

 

 

I have a challenge for you and any other readers of this thread that is worried about settings vs ingame advantages....

 

Find me games and specific examples where they limit this.

 

Here is a hint, unless there are no graphics settings at all, you can always get an advantage by lowering this, or that or upping this or that. View distances, shadows, geometry detail, draw distances...

 

Hell even without graphics settings in a game, you can still just go and play with your screens gamma or brightness/contrast values to get advantages on.. say night maps or just in general.

 

Or in most traditional shooters where the bullets come out of the center of the screen - put a little marker on your actual computer screen and turn off your crosshairs in game.

 

 

My point being - it is simply impossible to guard against this. And that is why I predict the length of the list of games I just requested will be VERY short indeed.

 

 

Our best defenses is the player base itself and the maturity of the community over nearly all other FPS communities. people actually want to play Squad for the immersion, not the kill streaks, cause this game isn't about instant gratification and rewarding things that has to do with twitch shooter mechanics.

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Remove kills from scoreboard, problem solved

 

They will be, sooner rather than later.

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