Live For Speed – Graphics Progress Report
Live for Speed might be old, but after 15 years, many community members out there, still regard it as a golden title. Therefore it is great to see that the development team is working hard to give the classic sim racing title an extensive graphical update.
The LFS development team shared a big batch of in-game screenshots showcasing the updated textures, the new detailed shadow system, the more realistic road surface, and more.
Keep in mind that all the included media represent a work in progress.
The first progress report features a selection of in-game screenshots of the updated Blackwood track and includes some information about the technical aspects of the shadows and lighting.
The new shadows use shadow mapping methods described by many sources. The LFS shadow maps are called “stable cascaded exponential shadow maps”. Stable means they don’t jiggle around when the camera moves.
Cascades are the separate shadow maps drawn over increasingly large areas (at lower resolution) as you move away from the viewpoint. The correct cascade is selected for each pixel to decide if it is in shadow or lit by the sun. Exponential refers to the calculation used and allows for softened shadow edges.
Before the shadow updates, the LFS development team worked for quite a while on new material settings that allow a much wider range of specular effects. Eric, the graphics artist, can now specify how shiny a certain material is and how rough the surface is.
Rougher surfaces give wider highlights and a softer sky reflection so the observer gets a much better feeling for what the surface is made of or how it would feel if you could touch it. Also, the shine level at any point on the surface can be controlled by the alpha channel of the texture map.
Another thing which is harder to notice, but simply makes the lighting look better and more realistic, is the use of gamma correct lighting. This means that the lighting from various sources is now calculated and added together in a linear color space so the output is more realistic and visually pleasing.
If you would like to know more about gamma correct rendering, there is plenty of information about it on the internet. In this sequence of images, you can see the separate components of lighting that are added together to produce the final image.
The new updates cannot simply be released in the new system. Eric needs to visit each of the tracks and carefully update textures and material settings. Some objects need to be updated so the shadows work properly. It is an opportunity to make further updates to the older tracks.
Most of them have been done but there is still a way to go. The LFS team is looking forward to showing us some more images in a few weeks from now.
The second progress report is featuring new preview screenshots of the Rockingham circuit, shows us how shadows are working with moving objects, and lets us have a look at the layout editor. Furthermore, we can have a look at some impressive real photo vs virtual screenshot comparisons.
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Official Webpage – www.lfs.net