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Ambiance - A Vanilla(plus) Ambient Lighting Overhaul (by TheMilesO)

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The Ambiance main plugin doesn't touch exterior lighting. The optional Light Colors plugin changes the colors of light bulbs which can be used inside or outside.

Nice shots, Z. How about some comparison with vanilla, hmmm? Just teasing. But seriously, it seems Luminosity is being used as the reference here, which is fine and all, but isn't the mandate to improve upon vanilla rather than upon Luminosity?

May I suggest you try some comparisons of NPCs under light. As a quick test for example, the prisoner in the character creation menu*, with the light on and off. I recall Luminosity seemed to make all NPCs faces very orange and oversaturated, which puts me off. It may not have been Luminosity's fault, mind. But switching to Ambiance made a big difference, for the better IMHO.

Just my 2 cents, FWIW.

(*) Edit: inside the ASLAL abandoned prison, not after the vanilla carriage ride.

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I am more of an Ambiance fan. What Z says about the contrast between shadows, dark and light is spot on. This contrast helps with understanding where to stand and remain in the dark/shadows. This is very evident in quests that have guard patrols (dwemer museum, Goldenglow Estate). Guard line of sight overlaps so even with decent sneak you have to wait in the dark for the right time to pass.  With RAID and Ambiance sneaking feels intuitive. I can base where I sneak on what I see.  Sneaking feels great while in the moment of play. 

I like the tweaks made to the image space and light color. This is like keeping some part of that pleasant luminosity look. Z, your changes really help with some of the fires in your shots. The shots with Ambiance (no tweaks) make the fires so saturated it is hard to make out the flames themselves. 

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8 hours ago, Mousetick said:

The Ambiance main plugin doesn't touch exterior lighting. The optional Light Colors plugin changes the colors of light bulbs which can be used inside or outside.

Nice shots, Z. How about some comparison with vanilla, hmmm? Just teasing. But seriously, it seems Luminosity is being used as the reference here, which is fine and all, but isn't the mandate to improve upon vanilla rather than upon Luminosity?

May I suggest you try some comparisons of NPCs under light. As a quick test for example, the prisoner in the character creation menu*, with the light on and off. I recall Luminosity seemed to make all NPCs faces very orange and oversaturated, which puts me off. It may not have been Luminosity's fault, mind. But switching to Ambiance made a big difference, for the better IMHO.

Just my 2 cents, FWIW.

(*) Edit: inside the ASLAL abandoned prison, not after the vanilla carriage ride.

Indeed, I should have vanilla (Step wo/lighting-color mod) for reference, strictly speaking :whistling:... it's just that for lighting color, we have clearly already deviated from vanilla as far as the game mechanics go (Luminosity 'breaks' some of them), ... it's well know that vanilla lighting is inconsistent. Models and textures are very different in that we want to stay true to the vanilla style. Having a reference shot for that is usually key. This is more like fixing a seam in a model/texture: we know it's broken, so the reference is just there for proof and not for stylistic assessment. In this case, we like the style of Luminosity (which we have been using for years now) and are asking: Is it worth changing to a more vanilla-friendly lighting-color mod? What are we sacrificing visually for higher-fidelity stealth mechanics? Can we make some visual improvements whilst retaining this gameplay fidelity?

Regardless, it's always interesting to see a vanilla comparison, so I will add that when I get situated again ;)

 

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8 hours ago, Eliian said:

I am more of an Ambiance fan. What Z says about the contrast between shadows, dark and light is spot on. This contrast helps with understanding where to stand and remain in the dark/shadows. This is very evident in quests that have guard patrols (dwemer museum, Goldenglow Estate). Guard line of sight overlaps so even with decent sneak you have to wait in the dark for the right time to pass.  With RAID and Ambiance sneaking feels intuitive. I can base where I sneak on what I see.  Sneaking feels great while in the moment of play. 

I like the tweaks made to the image space and light color. This is like keeping some part of that pleasant luminosity look. Z, your changes really help with some of the fires in your shots. The shots with Ambiance (no tweaks) make the fires so saturated it is hard to make out the flames themselves. 

Thanks for confirming. It seems you and Tech are in agreement with me on the changes. I will keep experimenting without touching what we know is involved in the detection system to see if I can squeeze any more out of Ambiance. I may revert the bloom changes, as I can't really see any improvement from that change ... saturation was the issue. I know I removed that evidence for simplicity, but take my word for it. I will continue to update the shots with worthy changes and add some shots as well (char-screen and Riften needed).

The question is: Is it enough to sway us to trade Luminosity beauty for Ambiance practicality for Step? It's a question about competing priorities for sure. I think preservation of gameplay mechanics wins out, since both of these lighting-color mods are an improvement over vanilla (proof pending as I mentioned previously) ... so IMO, Ambiance entirely adheres to the Step Mandate (and is an improvement), whereas Luminosity compromises gameplay for beauty. Other lighting-color mods deviate more extremely from vanilla than Ambiance, sacrificing visuals for gameplay ... or gameplay for visuals.

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The saturation/color tweaks is much better. Now the thing I'm curious about is Blackreach. What Ambiance wants to do to the "sun" looks bad. I'm curious as to what vanilla looks like, if it is more pink or orange. I prefer the appearance of Luminosity's pink. I like the idea of the depth of field blur that Ambiance adds to the imagespace, but I'm not a fan of such overblown colors in a cave. It should be very low saturation underground.

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47 minutes ago, DoubleYou said:

The saturation/color tweaks is much better. Now the thing I'm curious about is Blackreach. What Ambiance wants to do to the "sun" looks bad. I'm curious as to what vanilla looks like, if it is more pink or orange. I prefer the appearance of Luminosity's pink. I like the idea of the depth of field blur that Ambiance adds to the imagespace, but I'm not a fan of such overblown colors in a cave. It should be very low saturation underground.

For Blackreach, I prefer the "Ambiance colors, CW fog distance & image spaces" patching method, as it gives the best result, IMO. I venture to guess that vanilla lighting will be very similar to Ambiance, so more orange than pink halo, which is apparently CW. However, that is easy to change in the patch, so I will have a look. Vanilla compares coming later this evening. I also want to 'fix' exterior flames in fires, braziers, and torches, so hopefully will track that down as well.

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Screens updated (linked from OP)

After looking more closely at Ambiance and the vanilla screens, I now see that Ambiance is actually enhancing shadows where they exist in the game (vanilla). This was done specifically with stealth gameplay in mind as possibly a way to assist the player in finding true vanilla shadows ("hide here") ... note the increased shadow depth of Ambiance in the interior screens. The mod description on Nexus also goes into some detail on this.

The RAID MA also suggests this being the case in terms of true vanilla shadows. Night, certain weather and lighting mods and mods like EVLaS all can accentuate or even add shadows where they don't exist in the vanilla game to begin with (e.g., EVLaS in exteriors). These look like shadows, but the game doesn't interpret them as shadows, so this breaks sneaking realism, particularly outdoors. I believe Ambiance mitigates this indoors --and to some extent in exteriors ... and mods like Luminosity explicitly break this indoors.

And the 'sun' lighting DY likes in Blackreach seems to be Luminosity now that we have the vanilla reference. Amazing what we can discover by having the vanilla reference ... this is why we always need a vanilla reference! :P

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The way Ambiance enhances shadows are what I was trying to describe in my above post. This does assist in stealth gameplay immensely with RAID. I personally enjoy the look of the increased shadow depth.

Sneaking is finicky and not consistent outdoors with the current STEP set up. This does not bug me much. There are only so many options for sneaking outdoors. Preventing line of sight is generally more important. Large structures in forts/ruins work well enough for sneaking in their shadows. Getting the indoors right is way more important for me. I believe ambiance does this job well while looking good.

I still vote for Ambience with your Tweaks Z. For Blackreach I like option 4. Keep that vanilla creamy pink.

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On 5/11/2022 at 2:28 AM, z929669 said:

Amazing what we can discover by having the vanilla reference ... this is why we always need a vanilla reference! :P

Exactly what I had in mind. It helps to look at vanilla with the designer's original intent, even if it's inconsistent/ugly/bugged, in order to understand what kind of changes the mods make, to assess whether those changes are an aesthetic improvement and/or beneficial to gameplay, compared to vanilla, and not arbitrary for change's sake.

Thanks for adding the compares. Much liked.

Personally I dislike Luminosity and lighting mods other than Ambiance because they tend to modify the 'atmosphere' (or ambiance, no pun intended) of the game, and in doing so its immersion and cohesion. Skyrim is supposed to be a cold, harsh environment, as reflected in the 'blue-ish' and 'grey-ish' hues and the mostly neutral light. Luminosity makes it a warm, cozy environment, as reflected in its 'orange-ish' lighting. Look at the comparison shots of inhabited interiors for example. Luminosity gives a Mediterranean feel (e.g. Dragonsreach), except in the Winking Skeever, where the changes are curiously opposite.

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I agree with all the arguments for Ambiance. It sticks closer to vanilla, which aligns better to the Mandates. I think we'll have do so some tweaking here and there, as Z has already done. However from the compares and what I've seen in my own game, I prefer Ambiance. Especially as it doesn't cause any issues with any other gameplay mechanics.

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Marked as accepted for 2.1.0.

We may yet modify the L/W patch and screenshots for this mod, but we seem to have admin and user consensus to make the switch next release.

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