Night lighting issues still present - The community solutions

I am not discarding this discussion, I think that it was very constructive but I am not sure if we are going to get any solid results from the devs due to its length.
I could try what you said and hope for the better…but again not sure…
Let’s see if this will make any difference …

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Even though I see your point, I have to agree with CptLucky8 that we should preserve this discussion for the wealth of information in it. The night lighting still needs a lot of work to bring it back to the quality it had when we purchased the sim (I’m referring here to the VFR flights).

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I have changed the topic of the thread ,which should be kept as a great ‘‘database’’ for night lighting, and updated my very first post, even though I still think that at this point separate individual threads could get us better results…

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I’m just wondering whether we should get someone that can give direct input to devs to gather suggestions from community what can be done in regards of night lighting, listing it from the easiest (the one they can easily implements and release in next small update), to more of a long-term features to spruce up the night lights.

From Update-7 IMO, I agree with @Grinde81 for stuff that devs might be able to quickly implement, such as:

  • Decrease the size of light bulb / orbs. Decrease it by approximately 50-60%.
  • Reduce the amount of main streets / highways / motorways street lights. Currently we can see 4 orbs per “light point” that needs to be reduced to 2. Also increase the distance between “light point” so they don’t seem to packed together.
  • Then increase the “throw” or “light coverage” for highway/motorway lights as above (not by much, maybe a 20-30% increase in light coverage).
  • To increase more “randomness”, lights at suburb streets should be placed closer to the ground (if not already so), maybe 5-6 metres off the ground normally for normal suburban street lights? This can give trees the chance to cover it at night, thus creating more randomness.

In the longer run, more “light/lamp classes” can be added to differentiate between normal main street lights, to highway/motorway lights. The latter should be placed higher, and spaced further between lights. Halo can also be added to light point with varying intensity.

(Edit / add): Another “lamp class” that can be considered by Asobo in the medium / long term is for vehicle headlight / tail lights. This class of lights should be approximately 1 metre off the ground, and not omni-directional (headlight shining to front, tail lights to the back). This can create illlusion of traffic at a distance, and the amount of lights should be randomized along the roads. The alternative would be to actually use the headlights/tail lights of vehicles in the game (like X-Plane).
Currently it seems to me that devs trying to add illusion of vehicle lights by adding more light orbs per “light point”. The thing is, this is not randomised and caused roads to appear like laser light lines in the distance… Not to mention the weird dots of red lights along the freeways etc when viewed from above.

And the continuous strings of lights at distance, I think it can be partially fixed once they fixed the tree LOD or increasing the view distance of trees and buildings. Trees and buildings can block those lights and create more randomness in the distance.

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Would be great if we can get one of the devs to come here and tell us what they would prefer… Continue this thread, or start new one.

My concern is right before update-7, this thread was already not included anymore in their “bugs list”. Will that continue to be the case if we keep discussing in this thread?

I have to show you something. I have installed GeForceExperience and there is an option called Freestyle ,where you can apply filters while you play.

This is without Freestyle

And this one is with filters applied, reduced clarity, HDR, sharpness etc.

Reduced clarity for example seems to be reducing the effect of the light bulbs.In the screenshot it looks more blurred but while you fly it looks better to me.

This is my first tweaking attempt. For me it seems that it doesn’t need much from the devs to tweak it and get an improved more realistic look. But again this is my opinion…

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Great point! I can second this having an IRL pilot license. For those of you that haven’t taken a flying lesson I’d definitely recommend a night flight from the cockpit. It’s an awesome and surreal experience looking out over the sea of lights. Depending on whether or not a moon is present it can get incredibly dark.

I too am not the biggest fan of the night lighting update but it seems to be moving in the right direction- we just aren’t there yet!

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Well I wouldn’t call this real life because it was recorded with a very bad camera or bad camera settings. It’s as removed from reality as the east from the west. And honestly these devs should stop leaning towards the camera but should lean towards the human eye. That’s more authentic.

Awesome find!

Definitely a nice touch giving a more organic and tuned appearance to it all. I especially like the “glow” around bright areas, as well as the softening of the current overly bright & highcontrast “ground-splash”. After trying out some different settings, the current/default MSFS definitely looks overexposed and oversharpened.

I highly Highly recommend people trying out Geforce Freestyle as per @ScenicAtol3300’s find here
Really cool to be able to tune quite a lot of the night appearance in real time.

Reducing Clarity definitely reduces the “pop” of current overexposed streetlights, and also getting good results tuning HDR toning, color vibrancy and temperature as well as shadows/gamma. Will use this tool a lot in the coming days, especially handy for those not having a black belt in photoshopping.

(edit: a good tip is to regularly turn the Freestyle off & then on again to “recallibrate” your eyes, since it’s very easy to wander off too far when tuning like this.)

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I believe the context of that comparison was the pre-patch lack of visible lights for medium & long distances, plus the excessive use of the “Sepia Mask”, illuminating hole cities daytime texture in a uniform brown glow.
While after the patch, streetlights are visible at much longer distances with highways and street-blocks finally visible, and the ground glows less, just like in real life, and in that video.
So for the sake of comparing those features, the video works fine.

I think that heavily depends on the weather. If there’s a cloud base above (or moisture in the air), urban areas will definitely glow.

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@InhumanCash2369 If I understood u, what u are telling is about the glow of lights in the urban areas and what he is referring to is the “ground glowing in the dark” and not the glow of the lights in the urban areas. The whole ground illuminated by an uniform brown sepia texture (the sepia masking) instead of being dark irrespective of whether lamps are there or not to illuminate the ground is completely unrealistic and that is what he is referring to.

Agreed. I misunderstood the post. I thought the reasoning was that it should be brighter, as bright as was in the video.

Well we know that this a temporary solution and this has an effect when outside is pitch black (different settings can enhance daylight as well) but at least for now it makes it more bearable .
I would be really interested to see your results .

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OK so I just had some night flying over Las Vegas, Seattle, and Hobart (Tasmania, Australia) and found out that while update-7 bring changes to night lighting in the right direction, there’s something Asobo might be able to do fairly quickly and easily (again, i’m not devs, and I don’t know of the technical development aspects of it so apologize if this is not “that” easy to do).

That is: Reduce the size of light orbs! Especially when viewed mid-long distance! I am playing 1080p and the further it goes in a distance, the lights turns into this "rectangular"ish shaped orbs that don’t really decrease in size much! This create an “out of focus” effect where I had to squint my eyes and asked myself if it was me having myopia, or it’s actually the night lighting effect.

So Asobo / devs… if you see this thread, the next step is to reduce the orbs size by 50-60% while keeping the effects (luminosity and coverage area) the same. Runways / taxiways light orbs need to be reduced in size also I think… They’re just too big.
Even if reducing / halving the orbs size resulting in slight decrease in luminosity, this should be ok.

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ah ok, my bad. I was indeed referring to the light reflection from ground to air.
Anyway, although nightlight in earlier versions wasn’t perfect, it was a LOT better than current state :frowning_face:

And next thing I’ve noticed that Asobo should fix in the longer run, is the height of the light orbs from the ground. Just found out that light orbs “floated” above grounds like on an “invisible sheet” in the sky that tries to follow the contour of the ground, but failed to mimic the ground contour 100%.

The result is that you can have a suburban street light at the correct height (about 6 metres) at one spot. But if you go 500 metres forward, the street light can sometimes only be 1 metre off the ground (similar height to vehicle head light), or sometimes it can be 50-70 metres in the sky! Waay too high!

And this is not only suburban street light, but all lights! I saw highway lights on correct height, and sometimes too high.

Once they addressed this issue in the future and the lights are in their correct heights, i’m sure the night lighting will look much more realistic!

And this is just one thing they need to fix in the longer run… Devs also need to address the issue of “too many light orbs per light point”, duplicate light orbs, and would be great if they can create other sources of lights (porch lights, building/store front lights, vehicle head/tail lights etc).

They fixed it a little bit with smaller lamps now, but they are still too big. Also, the lack of sepia / amber mask at the distance makes the landscape looks like a cold place like we are flying in Alaska, where we can see everything clear for miles and miles. The sepia / amber mask did mimic humidity and that light / glow diffusion at the distance. Yes, in some very cold / dry days the sepia mask should be very thin, but still present.

I’ll see if I can put together some prints, but it is so much work to gather some considerate information and prints. Most of us don’t have time for that.

So, yes, it improved a bit from the horrible lighting update, but taking a look at both versions in my videos (the original one and the version after the update 7), the way should be more a compromise of the two. The current version needs smaller lamps and some of the sepia / amber mask of the original version at the distance. But in between the two, the original one is still a better representation of reality, even though it does not have the bright at the distance.

It is not burning my retina anymore, but it is still giving out the "computer generated grid’, and I can say it is mostly due to the size of the lamps (still too big) and the lack of sepia / amber mask at the distance.

I’ve been trying different comparison this morning because it seems to me the discussion is taking the specific direction of light bulb size.

I can’t find where I’ve posted this in the forum in the past (too many posts) but I believe one important issue with the light bulbs is not their size but their lack of size variability with the distance. In effect, the perceived brightness depends on the power which is the intensity over a surface. If you’re displaying two light bulbs with the same size on the screen but one farther away than the other, it will appear brighter.

Some screenshots and comments below.


Light bulb size hasn’t changed between updt 3 and 7

Light bulbs are displaying at the same size as in the past. However there used to be smaller light bulbs in the distance with update 3.

Also size doesn’t vary with render scaling which is expected (it might vary with monitor size but I’ve not tested and I doubt it). However because TAA and the new CAS shader is ‘creating’ new pixels from the existing ones, the lower the TAA the brighter the light (try to flip between the 3 back and forth to see it).

EGNX (Update 3):

EGNX (Update 7 TAA 100):

EGNX (Update 7 TAA 70):

EGNX (Update 7 TAA 50):


Light bulb size doesn’t change with distance

This is the main problem to me with the size in that it gives a false sense of brightness the farther they are. Flight Simulator franchise has never changed the bulb size with the distance and this has always been wrong.

Compare with X-Plane 11 and reality: if you look at the runway lights (the brighter white ones), you can see XP11 is reducing the size of the bulb with the distance which in turn gives a uniform luminosity along the line. In real life, you can perceive as-if they are getting smaller with the distance as well and luminosity is even along the line as well. However with FS2020 they never vary size and in turn, the runway lights seem more bright at the farthest edge than in the closer one.

EGNX FS2020:

EGNX X-Plane 11:

EGNX Real:


Here are other screenshots to compare the evolution of the lighting between update 3 and update 7:

RJTT Update 3:

RJTT Update 7:


Why does size matter?

Comparing EGNX screenshots I’ve posted, side-to-side, FS2020 Update 7 vs X-Plane 11:

Because they’re not varying size with distance this even makes a color shift in the opposite direction:

  • the red lights at the end of the runway are supposed to be the same red lights at the begining.
  • in FS2020, then are washed out at the front and red-ish at the back
  • in XP11 they are red-ish at the front and washed out at the back (atmosphere absorbing)

Suggestions

I believe they should:

  • Revert to update 3 bulbs.

They where having a semi transparent ‘glow’ which is a visual trick which you can use and is effective when you’re displaying lights at different sizes

  • reduce the light bulb size with the distance.

This is mandatory in order to simulate light as a power value, not as intensity value (power means intensity over a surface)

  • use the ‘sepia mask’ only after a certain distance (gradually displaying over a certain range)

This sepia mask is wrong when close up, but necessary in the distance. It is not very difficult coding a Shader blending in the sepia mask as distance increases. Think the reverse of the LOD function which takes smaller resolution ground textures as they get farther away. Do the same with the sepia mask but also using distance for the blending factor.

  • probably keep update 7 distant light bulbs but only sporadically (and much smaller)

These are necessary to make believe there are point lights in the distance, not just a sepia mask texture. With a little bit of twinkle it can also give the illusion of atmospheric distortion the farther away you look.

There 4 items alone are easy to code based on the existing implementation and should give better results immediately.


Nov. 25 2020 Q&A info and concerns

They are working on it… what concerns me is what they intend to do because I don’t see this solving the issue we’re describing in this discussion. Which begs the question whether night lighting will solely be something under the creative decisions at Asobo, or, whether like many other things the community doesn’t want they’ll change direction and adopt some if not most of our suggestions here.

In effect Sebastian was describing the problem of sampling multiple lights in the same pixel and he is right, there is no way you could this properly (simple signal sampling theory). In addition, he said they’ll add density to the road lights base on population statistics.

My point of view is road light should mostly and nearly solely be a factor of road traffic. You can see in all screenshots they’re adding yellow/red bulbs over the street and roads. So in turn with the population density data you’ll still get light bulbs over the roads and the streets, only, you’ll get less bulbs and spread apart. Now imagine you’re flying country side and you see a few dots there and there, 500m apart, they are no longer helping you spot it is a road (there is not enough points to see that), and they are static in the scenery.

Therefore, in adition to the 4 points I’ve enumerated above there are 3 more in my opinion for convincing night lighting of roads:

  • Use OSM data with population density to generate a ground illumination texture

This will pave the ground with the refracted light coming from the light poles which are present only where there are buildings and cities mostly.

  • Use OSM data with population density to generate non emitting light pole point sprites

Because light is baked in the ground texture generated by OSM data, there is less need for actual lights (with the Shader code doing the computation for illumination like it is now, if it is). Point sprites could be sufficient but point lights as they are currently implemented have the added advantage illuminating the nearby buildings which is neat.

  • Add Head and Tail lights to cars and don’t cut car range to the 1st LOD ring

You’ll get moving red/white lights on the roads and this will give you the sense of the road shape laying out below you. With the population density they can modulate traffic density too (like in X-Plane).

Attention: FS2020 is for now cutting out any car beyond the first LOD distance ring (maybe up to the 2nd). For car lights to work they have to display them farther away. In order to avoid the cost of it far away, they could use impostors or blinking lights like I’ve indicated above.


Why do we need a Legacy / Modern Light Setting

(like Legacy / Modern flight model setting)

Regardless it is more accurate perceptually, some prefer left, some other right…

PS: of course there are different performance implications doing one approach or the other but ultimately it appears FS2020 is rendering point sprites anyhow, so in the end it might not change much between doing what they do which looks like:

  • they’re changing brightness using the halo as an indirect size changing effect, instead of changing size using the halo as an indirect brightness changing effect.
  • the former makes distant and close lights look nearly the same size and distant lights seem brighter
  • the later makes distant and close lights look accurately sized from each other and accurately emitting the same power.
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You’ve been offering great suggestions for a long while now, yet Asobo doesn’t seem to be paying attention.

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