How well does Cryengine handle shadows?

#1
Hi everyone, i'd like to ask Cryengine users how well does the engine handle shadows?
To explain my query - I come here from two other popular engines, that advertise themselves as AAA game engines, but produce unexpectedly low quality shadows. Here are examples of what I mean:
Unity creates jagged shadows https://forum.unity3d.com/attachments/ortho-png.131716/
Unreal Engine creates jagged shadows https://forums.unrealengine.com/attachm ... 1457286570

I don't mean to belittle these engines in any way, but we are a small indie team, and in order to create our game in a reasonable amount of time we need to focus on the games' content, not how it is rendered. It's not like we ask for high quality, both of the above images demonstrate very basic scenes being problematic. I know that the problem example I've posted is not without workarounds like using bias, increasing shadow resolutions and scaling objects etc., but the more our team faces and works around these kinds of engine quirks, the more we get tangled in the graphics that the engine should be handling and fail to move forward in development of the actual game. Our workflow is constantly dealing with the engine telling us we can't have things.

Right now I'm exploring the possibility of starting with Cryengine IF Cryengine proves less problematic on the technical side. I've already explained what we're looking for, now I'd appreciate your opinions/experience on how well Cryengine handles these sort of things. Is your workflow in Cryengine more like you tell it to draw stuff, and it does, or is it more like what I described above?

Thank you for your time.

Re: How well does Cryengine handle shadows?

#2
With CryEngine, so far I have not had to dabble in the graphics at all, from what I've experimented with shadows are handled very well with features like per object shadows, Voxel based Global Illumination, fog shadows etc. These features give CryEngine a leg up over competitors because creating a scene in CryEngine in 30 minutes with about 5 minutes paid attention to lighting can get results that would otherwise take hours or even days to weeks to achieve in other engines, from my perspective at least.

The best course of action is to test CryEngine, put a cube or whatever is your testing object in the level with an environment probe and see if it meets your requirements, then maybe create a basic scene in 30 minutes to see if you can incorporate this into your workflow.

Re: How well does Cryengine handle shadows?

#3
I agree that testing the engine myself is the best way, but in many cases the real showstopper problems surface when you move on from simple tests to serious comitted development. It can be a week or a month, or two months into development when we suddenly discover that indirect light from realtime GI goes through walls for spot and point lights, or that terrains produce shading artifacts at certain time interval during day-night cycle. I'd appreciate if people who already know the engine well gave a warning in case there are unpleasant surprises waiting for us at the point where we're too deep in to abandon.

Re: How well does Cryengine handle shadows?

#4
Hi all,

I'm in the same situation as the OP here.

I'm currently trying to previs a fairly large open world single player game that has real time of day (Dynamic sunlight) and structures above and under ground in UE4.
Instead of being able to concentrate on the look, I've wasted weeks trying to overcome the lighting/shadowing artifacts associated with this and have got nowhere. (See screenshots)
I've only got as far as making a really simple setup but even that doesn't work like expected.

I've posted on forums, watched tutorials, read the wikis and emailed people- all to no avail. At this point I have reached the limits of what I can do myself as I'm an artist, not a coder.
Like the OP says, it's pretty much always there but gets noticeably worse during certain times of day.

Believe me I've tired combinations of every associated setting from cascading shadows to bias etc etc.. at best some parts of the scene look good then you go round the corner and there's the artifacting again..!
It's like an impossible juggling act that can never be fully resolved. I understand at some point someone can say this is how it is, you just need to find a combination that works best but it's pretty bad even then- not gameworthy at all.

Does CE also suffer these kind of issues, as I was lead to believe it excels at large outdoor and indoor dynamically lit environments.
Did OP ever get it resolved or run tests? If so, how did it go please?

ANY help or advice on this is greatly appreciated guys, as right now it's a game killer for me.

Thanks for your time.
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Re: How well does Cryengine handle shadows?

#6
I don't want to sound condescending nor i work with Cryengine or the other engines mentioned here.

meshcarver that is a problem with the shadow maps not the engine itself, because of the light being over head, so, pretty much all engines using shadow maps will suffer the same problem, there's shadow maps techniques to minimize those but they make them more performance heavy and not really suited to real time games, fortunately you can minimize those problems with careful placing of the lights and objects, btw stencil shadows don't suffer this particular problem but they have their own big limitations.

To the op, if you expect to find the perfect engine for your particular game that renders what you want from the get go, with no tweaks, then you will never find any, all engines have different limitations and quirks, there's no single "perfect" engine for everything, what i recommend is for people to stick with one engine, learn it the best you can and doing so, you will certainly do fantastic stuff with it no matter its limitations.

Re: How well does Cryengine handle shadows?

#7
HI guys,

thanks for your input- appreciated..!

Smoothing groups are fine Johan, thanks man.

You don't sound condescending at all Argoon, no worries. :)
Yes, I understand that depending where the light is placed it can really intensify artifacting because of the angle (Ie- mid day, directly perpendicular to the sides of the walls as in this case which is ALMOST unavoidable for TOD). But, there are a lot of other games out here that use dynamic lighting for large open worlds- look at MGS V or Skyrim for example, if not these then there are more I'm sure.
Anyway, why are dynamic lights even in there if they pretty much unusable? Or is the assumption they have to be carefully managed placement wise? If so, this kind of negates their purpose?

How do they manage this setup? They need TOD passing by and I've seen Skyrims shadows seem to "step" or "jump"- is this to get around this issue does anyone know? For example, could you set up these jumps so they DON'T jump directly overhead at noon? Ie- Sun jumps to 5 to noon, then 5 past noon?
Saying that, there will always be a polygon somewhere which is at right angles to the sunlight source at some point surely? A spherical object springs to mind here...

If it helps, the game will be fairly low poly (Stylized look) with next to no texture work if that will help performance?

Bottom line is- if I want to make an open world game with real time of day (Which should be doable, has been done and isn't anything out of the ordinary after all), what would be the best methods to use- really, I'm open to listening here guys..! :)
IDEALLY I don't want to go down the light map baking UV unwrapping direction if I can help it as I know from experience that takes a lot of time and has its own issues. Not to mention tweaks, tweaks and more tweaks to get them just right in some cases. Also the amount of light maps I'd need for a fairly large open world..!

Ok, thanks again for your input and I'm all ears for any other advice on this- I'll keep whittling away at it as it seems to be one of those issues that can only be managed and not fixed unfortunately.

Re: How well does Cryengine handle shadows?

#8
Sorry I can't really help you there, never worked on a open world game, nor i know how Bethesda implemented their shadow mapping system, but imo the jumps in the shadow on Skyrim are just a performance optimization tho, i don't think it has anything to do with solving shadow mapping artifacts, but i'm not sure.

But this is a good article about shadow maps and its artifacts, nice way to know what causes them.

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ee416324(v=vs.85).aspx

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