Geomerics announced its Enlighten real-time global illumination technology is to deliver large-scale dynamic lighting to open-world games. The enriched technology can halve the performance cost of dynamic global illumination effects, such as time of day, in games where map sizes are vast and draw distances are long. 

The new feature set was showcased at Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2016 in a new demonstration for PC and PlayStation 4, titled Seastack Bay. The demonstration was developed in collaboration with Ninja Theory, the developer of Hellblade. It delivers dynamic global illumination to a 25km2 playable world made up of interior spaces, gorges, forests and beaches, while maintaining a steady 30FPS.

“ARM’s Enlighten global illumination technology is continually enhanced to unlock new potential for game lighting,” said Mark Dickinson, vice president and general manager, Media Processing Group, ARM. “The new capability it is now offering for large worlds will allow gamers to experience a quality and a style of gameplay that was previously impossible due to performance constraints. It will help inspire studios to implement the latest dynamic global illumination effects in a host of upcoming open world games.”

Enlighten’s new technology includes advanced level of detail mechanisms for terrain, non-terrain light maps and probes. By solving the global illumination for distant geometry at lower resolutions than nearby geometry, users can achieve higher quality dynamic global illumination within the same map size and performance budget, or improve performance without sacrificing the user experience.

“Reproducing the beauty of natural lighting is central to the look and feel of Hellblade,” said Tameem Antoniades, co-founder & chief creative director, Ninja Theory. “In a world as rich as ours it is a challenge to achieve realistic dynamic lighting effects at our target frame rate, but this is something Enlighten will allow us to do, adding great value to the overall Hellblade experience.”

Other key benefits of the new large world feature set include:
  • Physically correct results even in highly occluded or vertical areas, such as gorges or cliffs
  • Continuous traversal between different environments, from enclosed spaces to large, open vistas, with consistent global illumination updates
  • Support for common open world features including foliage, rocks and grass.
Enlighten is known for providing customizable performance budgets that deliver greater control to game developers whether they’re developing dynamic games on consoles, mobile platforms and PC. Its global illumination is computed on the CPU, asynchronous to the main GPU rendering, and does not directly impact frame rate.  Programmers can chose how much CPU time to dedicate to Enlighten. Enlighten’s proven high-quality results are showcased in games such as Star Wars: Battlefront, Need for Speed and Street Fighter V.