Lately I've been reworking aspects of the first few levels in An Instinctive Fear. Tweaking, Optimising and so on. Eventually I considered the shadows within the game weren't up to scratch. They simply weren't distinct, meaning it was either darkness or light, and this had to change.
After gaining a better understanding of light mapping settings, what it means for the level size limit and how shaders effect shadows I was able to find a balance a between shadows quality and keeping my levels from becoming too large. Higher quality = Bigger levels. Performance hasn't been effected, with the latest source betas frame rates can achieve 200+, but average anywhere between 60-150. Higher shadow quality only means pushing levels closer to the size limit.
With the upgraded shadow quality there are several situations that are more visually appealing. The darkness fits the tense theme of the game and so better shadows go with it well. Here are some pictures to demonstrate the improved light mapping settings:
(The shadows in the above image are still being worked on but it turn they should look like the shadows below)
The last image is my favourite example of shadows in game. That's all for this update, and be sure to try out the AIF demo: