Operation Health Diagnosis – Map optimization and lighting

This is part one of a three-part series on data clean-up and optimization. In this blog post, we will cover the work that is being done on maps.

Data Cleanup on Map Textures and Meshes (Kafe)

Over the course of the next year, we will be reworking the textures of every single map. We are starting with Kafe Dostoyevsky, our most expensive map in terms of memory-budget. We have been going through all the textures and meshes of Kafe, smoothing, optimizing, and standardizing everything we could. In essence, we are streamlining and reducing its overall memory footprint. Technical Director Olivier Couture put it this way:

“Imagine we have a box, and we filled it to capacity. It is difficult to improve on the items that you have in the box when there isn’t any space. With Operation Health, we are rearranging the contents of the box to give us more room to work.”

This is a first milestone that will allow us to optimize stability and frame rate, while maintaining visual quality.

Once these changes go live in Year 2 Season 3, you will notice a few material changes on Kafe, as seen below! We are targeting texture and meshes cleanup for all maps within the next year.



Lighting (All maps)

Rainbow Six Siege is built around the concept of a fully destructible environment. As such, we needed to develop a lighting system that works well in tandem with the changes that come from having that level of procedural destruction. To deliver this type of system, we use both dynamic lighting and static, indirect lighting. Not only that, but we also have multiple post-effects which control the brightness and color of what you see displayed on your screen. All of this works together to help build the atmosphere you enjoy in game.

All of that being said, we have heard your complaints regarding lighting, and how it can sometimes negatively impact your experience. We are currently looking at implementing the following changes.

Reduce the exposure value (All maps)

Initially, we wanted to use realistic values to have contrasted and realistic lighting, which works in the same way as a camera would in real life. Additionally, the bloom was intended to limit the effectiveness of Defenders peeking outside.

We are excited to tell you that we have completely reworked how exposure is handled on all maps, and reduced the exposure values. Bloom issues are now a thing of the past.



Sky model update (All maps)

In an effort to deliver a more immersive experience, we used procedurally generated skies tech from Assassin's Creed. This tech is great for providing us with dynamic time of day, but it wasn’t a perfect fit for our game as we only have two static times of day.

We will now be using image based HDR skies. This allows us to have more artistic control of the ambient lighting, as well as increase the overall quality of lighting in general.



BDRF update (All maps)

Updates are being worked on for our shading model, also known as Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function, which calculates reflections. It now matches the same model as our external texturing tool, which improves the workflow for our artists. What this means for you is that you will see an improved reflection quality in some materials, particularly in terms of glossiness.

We hope that you enjoyed learning a bit about what goes into the creation of a map, and more specifically the lighting. The next blog that we will be sharing with you will focus on our data cleanup for Operators! We would love to hear your thoughts on this blog, so join the discussion on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and the forums!

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