Philosophizing about Doom's lighting

Ever pick up light amp goggles in a map and suddenly notice how bland and flat everything looks? Imagine if neither Doom nor Doom 2 boasted lighting effects and everything was uniformly bright. Even with the variations in luminance, a lot of the game's depth would be lost without the diminishing effect, even though it's not particularly realistic.

I've occasionally played maps that had good design, but were unsatisfying simply because very little thought went into the lighting. Contrarily, other maps have suffered because an over abundance of meticulous light banding exposed the simplicity of the architecture.

It's interesting that lighting in Doom is necessarily odd or even a bit absurd. The limitations of the engine allow for rudimentary shadow casting at interesting angles, but most of the time there's a peculiar implication that nearly every light source is directly overhead.

When in software mode, dark lighting creates unusual degradation issues that look extremely interesting and are consequently lost in high-color source ports. More than one person has commented to me on the changing colors of the fleshy textures, an effect I've always enjoyed for some reason.

Doom can also allow for lighting that you won't see in a modern game: The ability to set any sector to an arbitrary light value can result in strange effects that are impossible in modern games, where light maps, shadow maps, global illumination and other techniques strive for photorealistism.

It's interesting that we don't experience light diminishing in real life; why does it seem to convey a sense of realism in Doom?

I'm drawn to the glow for one second tag. It's quite possibly the single most dramatic effect the engine is capable of.

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I love nice lighting effects in Doom maps, especially when playing in software. The contrast and the gritty look is awesome.

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GoatLord said:

Ever pick up light amp goggles in a map and suddenly notice how bland and flat everything looks?


I wish they had kept that green colormap range for the light amp, as in the beta, instead of using the fullbright range.

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GoatLord said:

It's interesting that we don't experience light diminishing in real life; why does it seem to convey a sense of realism in Doom?

It provides depth. When you have graphics as simplistic as in Doom, you have to rely on tricks.

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GoatLord said:

It's interesting that we don't experience light diminishing in real life; why does it seem to convey a sense of realism in Doom?



It doesn't. You'd get most of this (if not better) by simply using real lighr levels instead.

I think it looks stupid that even in very dark areas the walls close to the camera are nearly fullbright.

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GoatLord said:

I've occasionally played maps that had good design, but were unsatisfying simply because very little thought went into the lighting. Contrarily, other maps have suffered because an over abundance of meticulous light banding exposed the simplicity of the architecture

Generally true, but Andy Badorek's maps (MM MAP21, Strain MAP27) have no light variation, yet they look good.

Also, when it comes to lighting, there were two periods in history of Doom mapping: before Lutz, after Lutz :) (example)

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Graf Zahl said:

I think it looks stupid that even in very dark areas the walls close to the camera are nearly fullbright.

This is a bug in some source ports, and doesn't occur in vanilla.

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esselfortium said:

This is a bug

or a glow-in-the-dark helmet

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Interestingly enough, both my brother and I were talking about this today.

Lighting is one of the most important aspects to a maps playability. Boring lighting can result in boring maps (though not always), but really good or even atmospheric lighting can add so much, even when the layout isn't necessarily intricate or very big.

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TimeOfDeath said:

or a glow-in-the-dark helmet

Naturally developed night-vision due to recurring missions in pitch black areas with no flashlight.

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I wish someone would try implimenting gradient lighting in zdoom/gzdoom again and actually be successful this time.

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esselfortium said:

This is a bug in some source ports, and doesn't occur in vanilla.


It's actually fixed entirely in EE since cardboard was added.

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esselfortium said:

This is a bug in some source ports, and doesn't occur in vanilla.

Interesting. Is there a reference for which source ports this bug does or doesn't exist in?

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Antroid said:

Those shadows look extremely stupid on the ceiling though.

This would be where one would break out the flat-bleeding trick in Vanilla, right?

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esselfortium said:

This is a bug in some source ports, and doesn't occur in vanilla.

I thought it also happened in vanilla if reducing the screenblocks to a tiny window.

Avoozl said:

I wish someone would try implimenting gradient lighting in zdoom/gzdoom again and actually be successful this time.

You mean Doom 64-style gradient on the walls?

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Shadow Hog said:

This would be where one would break out the flat-bleeding trick in Vanilla, right?

I'm not sure it would be possible to do it perfectly, but at least the small crate shadows could easily be hidden from the ceiling using that trick.

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I hate picking up the light goggles!

As OP said, everything looks bland and boring, completely takes emersion away.

I avoid them like the plague!

If the effect could be green-ish and possibly fuzzy it would be pretty cool! Maybe make the monster eyes have that flare like effect so show they are demons or possessed at least. (though that would be pretty hard)

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bcwood16 said:

If the effect could be green-ish and possibly fuzzy


Maybe if it added a 16-32 unit increase in lighting so there was still some form of contrast whilst still making the surroundings brighter?

Also make items/monsters full bright to really give a visual advantage?

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traversd said:

Maybe if it added a 16-32 unit increase in lighting so there was still some form of contrast whilst still making the surroundings brighter?

Also make items/monsters full bright to really give a visual advantage?


Ideally I'd love the night-vision goggles to apply a red colourmap (because FUTURISTIC, the goggles are red in colour, and also it looked kind good with the infra-red in Metal Gear Solid) and make the monsters fullbright, possibly adding the increase in lighting; which is a great idea because it preserves the level designer's shadows.

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Actually infra-red does sound like a great idea.

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I really don't like how Brutal Doom makes certain textures full bright in an attempt to suggest that the texture is composed of some light emitting substance. Logically, it seems appropriate, but it destroys the shadows you worked so hard to implement.

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Gez said:

I wish they had kept that green colormap range for the light amp, as in the beta, instead of using the fullbright range.

The beta light amp actually makes things harder to see in light areas, which is probably why they changed it. It was only useful in dark areas.

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