Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To HDR or not to HDR

One of the benefits of the new renderer used in Euro Truck Simulator 2 is the ability to use High Dynamic Range (HDR) internally - basically work much better with light in the scene.

We are still learning how to use this new technical feature for the right artistic effect, but the early results are promising. Just check out this screenshot comparison - it's the same scene, once taken with forward renderer with the old light method, and once taken in the new deferred renderer with HDR enabled. We still keep the functionality in the engine to switch between the various methods simply by changing a variable value, so it's very easy to do performance and visual quality comparisons.

The new method screenshot may be a bit over-saturated, but it's still work in progress, we keep tweaking the parameters. The promising thing is that we'll be able to portray the "mood" of the weather and time of day much better - to use high contrast on a sunny noon versus soft shadows in the evening etc. So the world should feel far more vibrant and alive through the day and night cycle than with the relatively flat colors range that we were limited to with our older games.