Post news RSS Half-Life: Enriched - Media Update #3

A look at some developement background and the building of the top tier 1999 gaming rig!

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What this update lacks in downloadable files, it makes up for in shameless self-promition! The MOTD Mod of the Year competion is currently running and looking for people to click its vote button. If you're one of the people visiting this page on a (semi-)regular basis and you feel that Half-Life: Enriched should make it on the shortlist for best Upcoming Half-Life MOD for 2022, then I'd be very grateful! I doubt it'll win with all the other great HL MODs out there but getting into the Top 100 would help greatly towards getting that warm fuzzy feeling people always talk about around this time of year.

This also gives me an opportunity to finally talk about some technical background information regarding the developement of the MOD: the updated lighting!

Modern games have very complex and sophisticated light calculations and rendering. From ray tracing to ambient occlusion all the way back to bump mapping. Half-Life's engine (Goldsrc) predates all of those. By default, Half-Life only gives developers three different options when it comes to lighting.

light types

The point_light originates from a single point where it was placed and emits light in a 360 degree sphere around this point. The spot_light only creates a circle of light from its origin point and lastly there is texture lighting. This uses the texture on the wall as the light source. Arguably there is a 4th type: environment_light, which uses the skybox as it's origin point. This is how outdoor areas are generally lit in Half-Life.

Let's take a look at some examples:

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Here is a hallway lit with just point_lights, placed close to the light textures. As you can see, the light scatters all over the place. The red light should only emit its light forwards but there is a large blob of red light around it, because point_lights emit in a 360 degree sphere. The light from the ceiling fluorescent tubes bounces in all directions and this bounce also becomes an issue. The light coming from the ceiling lights is pure white but the entire scene has a slight yellow hue. This is because Half-Life's LIGHT compiler treats every surface as if it were extremely reflective. Brown light from the ceiling bounces off and is added to the floor and walls.

Now here is the same scene using texture lighting.

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The light now comes straight out of the light fixtures texture and doesn't scatter around. It also stopped bouncing the brown light from the ceiling over the entire scene. I've also used a few advanced tricks to make the lighting look better.

The ceiling light actually consists of three different ellements. First there is the brush with the un-lit fixture, then there is a thin additive layer of fluorescent tubes. It is this layer that the engine uses to calculate the texture light from. Lastly, there is an oriented sprite covering the entire fixture to give a a soft glow, which expands or shrinks as you approach.

lighting example 1

I'd like to dedicate the last bit of the article to my test rig! Since you all enjoy retro games, I'm sure some of you might also appreciate the monster I built especially for testing Half-Life: Enriched. When I started this MOD, I fantasized what Half-Life could have looked like if consumer hardware had been further along by 1998. Or what if Valve delayed to update the graphics and released around Christmas 1999? I wanted to know how well my MODs design would run on a top-tier system from that time, so I put together the ultimate 1999 rig for testing.

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This baby has a Jetway J-7BXAN motherboard running the tried and true 440 BX chipset with 133 FSB. CPU slot filled with a Slot 1 Pentium III Coppermine CPU running 733 mhz. Total overkill of RAM: 512 MB of SD-RAM (133) and just in time for Christmas: the fastest videocard you could get: The GeForce 256 with 32 megs of DDR memory. All paired with a 17 inch monitor and a 7.1 sound setup (with EAX!). So far HL:Enriched runs quite well even on this old hardware and I hope to keep supporting it all the way to the end.

Thanks for reading and see you soon with another alpha build!

fresco - - 144 comments

The retro rig is still pure gold :)

Lighting in GoldSrc always fascinated me back then. You can really achieve great results when you know about little tricks like using the additive brush. I guess we see some updated lights in HL: Enriched?

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Qwertyus - - 2,555 comments

Lol, that's one hardcore testing :D

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