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Topics - Grrt

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Planet Coaster Parks / American Heritage - Planet Coaster Park
« on: September 04, 2018, 08:29 PM »
So in an attempt to actually nail down my final theme going forward, I'm finally going to start a thread for this park and try and document some of the things swirling about in my head.

My park pays homage to American heritage, focusing on its growth and prosperity following independence. The goal isn't to make some one dimensional image that tries to make claims about the REAL America, or overhype the poor and disenfranchised over the rich, or turn it into some binary political fantastyland that discounts large and important aspects of American life, making some pointless social statement. Rather, its goal is to put the achievements on display and let people make their own decisions. Which itself is what America is supposed to be about. /rant

American Heritage



Upon entering the park, you're greeted with a grand Victorian style train station. This is the gateway to the park's entrance plaza. The Victorian style is an image of grandeur, of promise, of prosperity.



Upon entering under the arches, you see the Victorian stylings blend into something more reminiscent of New Orleans, a city that sees itself blended between the grandeur of intricate ironwork, and the more utiilitarian rough and tumble cities of the Northeast.



As you move into the plaza, the theater, a classic symbol of American culture, shines bright. Now playing is the movie 'The Untouchables'. The theater is also equipped for full scale live stage productions and concerts.



The plaza showcases a wonderful green space, and at its center, a hearty oak tree which existed on the site prior to the park being constructed and the park was built around it. It's a symbol of America's resiliency and longevity. (No worries, the American flag will be prominent at the end of the street, in a far more obnoxious display of America. :mad:up:)



The opposite side of the plaza has a hotel.. a more modern addition to America. Thinking of restyling this to age it back quite a few more decades to a pre-modern styling since I can't really rectify it with its surrounding as is.



Circumnavigating the whole of the entrance plaza is an early out-and-back style coaster. This coaster is modeled after a defunct one which once existed near the site around the turn of the century. The blueprints were dug up and the ride rebuilt (with some liberties and modernizations) as close as possible to the construction methods of the time.



At the corner of the plaza leading down the street, is of course, your classic corner store. Here, the elegant stylings begin to really give way for a style more akin to Chicago.



One further, you see a stocky, yet quaint building selling ice cream. Right next to it run the subway tracks, bisecting the street as the march of American progress brings new technology right against the small town.



At the other corner, another blunted off, sturdy building marks another key to American culture, and really any culture, a restaurant and bar. This particular restaurant is a bar and grill, selling some of the best food at the park.



More rugged buildings continue down this side of the street. An alleyway cuts the street, and beyond are many quirky shops and bars.



As you crawl under the tracks, you see the grandeur of America, though less ornate, continue to creep through. This building is to house a roller rink. Once a prim and proper custom revolving around dance reserved solely for the rich, one entrepreneur sought to bring the hobby to the middle and lower class by undercutting the monopoly by selling his own model of skates at a much lower price, and removing rules restrictions at his rink, making the hobby ultimately way more fun and marketable to all. Soon, the country had tons of the places.

Roller rinks aren't very popular anymore, though roller skating and ice skating are still quite popular, and roller derby has seen a resurgence.



Further up, there's bits of modernity coming through. The buildings start to take on a more refined look.



Some more modern touches again, as the construction styles of the past begin to mash into modern storefronts.



And you turn the corner..

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That's as far as I've gotten. I obviously need to try and bring forward its American character more than I have, that's something that I'm working through as I add signage and storefronts etc.. I'm trying to avoid having it be a caricature of America and turn into that bright, cartoony feel that the Disney main streets have. Walt saw Marceline through the eyes of a wide eyed child and sought to preserve this utopian vision with a perfectly trimmed park that had no imperfections. I'm going for something more human.

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Planet Coaster Parks / East Side Lagoon Reborn - Cyclone POV
« on: September 05, 2017, 06:14 PM »
So it appears I've been in a massive rut trying to get a new idea off the ground. So I decided to do something I'd been holding off doing for quite a while, and that's give East Side another go in Planet Coaster. I've got as far as remaking the Cyclone track so I'm hoping to do some streams at some point to get this thing going.

You can check it out here if unfamiliar. Unfortunately, most of the beginning pages have been butchered by photobucket hosting issues, but the back half remains intact.

http://www.shyguysworld.com/Archive/index.php/topic,5242.0.html



So here's the new layout. The spirit is the same, though with all the flexibility of the game it's also much different. Notably, the first drop spiral is different, and the hill that went over the lift is gone.



I went a bit nuts with this first drop, since the original version couldn't come close to being as intense as I had initially intended. I have the track there painted brown since I imagine it's retracked pretty damn frequently. I'm also considering trying to get the topper track RMC to line up there.

It pulls about 4 G's, so it's not awful.. by 1920's safety standards.. but certainly very intense when you add in the laterals as well. More akin to it's original purpose.

Here is the original drop:





Another thing that never quite worked right in RCT3, was this little turnaround. It never had as dramatic of a criss cross as I wanted. So now it does. Also, it's situated on a hill just as it was before, though the sight lines are all different.



The biggest change was the first hill that dove over into a valley, is now this weird crossover type thing. I found it to be more suited to this type of ride, and much more aesthetic. The dive into a valley has been recycle to later on in the ride.

You can also see the spaghetti bowl of track mess in there. The original was kinda meh in this area since clearance was very restrictive, but now it's as chaotic as I had always wanted.



The dive into the valley has been recycled to be at the end of the little set of bunny hills that you encounter in the middle of the layout. This decision made the layout much more compact, and gave it that weird blend of out and back and twister styles that came from this era.



All the headchoppers and crazy track crossovers remain, only they are much more active ride elements now, rather than just bland helix pieces.

And of course, a POV of what I've got so far. There's a few shaping issues still, though I think some of them give the ride a bit of an inprecise, classic feeling to it..





And since this is a park thread, here's some of my initial layout work.. I realized as I was doing it that I need to back everything way off the park edge. Probably will retain a large central carousel and an eatery, with a third large building being a grandstand stage type of thing. The rest will fill in.

Not sure yet which year I will start with, though I imagine I will pick up where I left off in RCT3 and get to building newer stuff.

3
So a little while ago I started looking at how lighting behaves in RCT3 and how to deal with some of the shortcomings presented in that system. I also outlined some of the basic qualities of archtiectural lighting and how they pertain to a typical building installation. That thread is here for those who care to browse the terminology.

http://www.shyguysworld.com/index.php/topic,18667.msg425672.html#msg425672

I won't be restating this narrative so if you have questions regarding anything on these topics you can reference them here. I will try and be as generic and inclusive as possible so that you won't have to, but there will be circumstances where you might want to backtrack. The general gist of the thread there was that RCT3 has a garbage lighting engine and you have to trick it to do anything. With Planet Coaster lots of opportunities have opened up and I intend to explore them and this new tool we've been given.

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As you all may or may not know, I study architectural engineering at college, and in particular am within the lighting/electrical focus. This means that I essentially study everything about buildings and architecture and how things get built, but focus heavily on how to light them up. I'm also studying theatrical lighting as well so I have a bit of that area to fold in as well. This obviously transfers to RCT and PC and I kind of obsess over lighting. I find it to be equally, if not in some cases, more important than the architecture itself. Lighting can make or break a space. Good lighting can make an average building look amazing and bad lighting can make the Vatican look like a broom closet.

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Sources

I'll start by getting into the different light sources the game gives you and where they are useful. This list will hopefully grow over time as I start to analyze different things.



Boxlight - This light is very useful for small accentuation purposes. It can create very tight beams of light with an easily disguisable fixture that can be mounted within walls, beams, ceilings, etc. If you are struggling at getting something to feel important and want to add a little extra pop, these little lights work great. They have the downside of not being recolorable, which can create conflict when paired with other sources.



Arm Mount - This light creates a very wide beam spread that can be manipulated easily with rotation. This fixture is great for lighting vertical surfaces and has the benefit of actually resembling a real wall mountable fixture. This light has incredible versatility and you can tweak it to do lots of great things. They put out a lot of light for the9r size and put it all on the same general plane which makes them great for facades.



Uplight - I hate how the game names this thing because it really sucks as an uplight. It mounts at a really strange angle and a lot of the light isn't even going up, it actually goes down when you mount it on a wall. This light does a good job at washing surfaces with just general light. It creates a spot near the source and the rest of the light just goes everywhere. This is awesome when you just want to light something easily but it sucks at creating any real sort of focused beam.

It works great as a sign lighter.



Colored Event Light - This is the workhorse of lights in the game. It produces far more light than any of the other little dinky fixtures they give you anywhere else. For this reason, it is essentially the only light that is functional on larger areas. They have the downside of being rather bulky and require some extra planning to make sure they stay hidden.

They also work great as floodlights, producing overall light on facades, trees, and other important architectural elements. As you start doing lighting you'll find yourself using these everywhere. They also have the benefit of being colorable which makes them infinitely more versatile.



Path Lamps - These are for general decorative purposes on pathways. They theoretically would be all you would need to light up a pathway, but they are terrible at this and really just add some color and a point of luminous interest. Your goal should be to trick guests into thinking these are what's actually lighting the pathways, as that's typically how it works in the real world.

They enhance theme and provide a very familiar light source. Use these frequently along paths regardless of how much light they put out. They are great at filling in decorative details and people generally expect them. If your path feels empty, try adding a few more of these. Be careful to choose lamps that fit your theme.



Hanging/Mounted Lamps - These are basically the same things as the pathway lamps only they are mounted on or near a building. You can attach these to custom poles if you wish, or use them as wayfinding pieces on building facades. They again don't provide much light but are good decorative cues for guests that fill in details that they generally expect.

As I go forward I will try and make note of which of these fixtures I am primarily using to achieve the effect.

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The Lesson

So to begin, there will be a few things that I will harp on frequently as I go. I will start by emphasizing them here for easy reference.

1. Layers, layers, layers. The basis of lighting design is that you are adding many many layers of light to your buildings to create a collective effect.

You should not be lighting a whole facade with one floodlight. You use the floodlight to wash the whole facade, then you emphasize your column lines with uplights, then you emphasize a sign with a wall mounted fixture, then you add some stringlights along the cornices and windows to make them pop out. This process can go on forever and it's an iterative process of going over and over things till it's right.

A note of warning when doing your lighting, more layers = more money. Every. Single. Time. The more light fixtures you are placing the more money it will cost realistically. In the real world there's obviously tricycle level fixtures vs. Ferrari, but you don't get that choice in PC. If you want a park to look cheap, use less layers and less fixtures. Places like Disney spend millions on lighting and have 4 or 5 layers of light on one facade. A dinky fairground would probably just install some general floodlights and call it a day.

2. Emphasize the EFFECTS of light, not the fixtures. The goal of lighting is to emphasize the pre-existing architecture and space. In rare cases, the actual fixture is meant to be the centerpiece, but generally speaking, you are simply adding lights that fit an already present architectural style or theme. They are there to highlight your buildings, signage, etc. Visible fixtures often make a space feel very cluttered.

When fixtures must be visible, say for lights mounted on lampposts and things of that nature, they should try their best to mimic the architecture and theme that is already in place. Look at Disney, Frontierland poles look very different than the ones outside Space Mountain. This should be obvious, but it sometimes gets overlooked.

In cases of facade lighting and general illumination purposes where artistic looking things aren't important, the best thing is to have your light source be as invisible as possible. Floodlights should be out of sight lines, wall mounted fixtures should be as tiny as possible. The only reason to have a light source be visible is if it somehow contributes to the overall scene. Which brings me to my next point..

3. PURPOSE. Each light you add should be doing something. If you shine a spotlight at a random wall that has nothing on it you should be asking yourself, "why do I need light there?" If you cannot justify it, then remove the light. Things like signage and pathways and facades are very important to illuminate, as they contribute to the purpose of the park and give valuable information about what is there. Lighting up some random plant in the corner has questionable merit.. In the real world, there is limited money and you can't light everything.  Which brings me to my final point..

4. It's ok not to light certain areas. Infact, it's recommended. A pitfall I often see with nighttime parks is that there's a tendency to light EVERYTHING up super bright. Don't do this. You wouldn't load up your facade with 600 windows or columns, so why are you loading it up with tons of light? Light is a tool to accentuate and heighten the experience. It is meant to be nuanced and modest. Areas of contrast are usually very desirable and only make your lighting look better. A few windows on a building create a much more telling building than a thousand, and the same goes for lighting. Be selective and critical, just as you would for a building.

*Other minor caveats are certainly present and worth considering but these are the big ones and the basis of all lighting design.
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The Installation

So now it's time to move into how these things play out in a typical installation. I've built a small section of a mainstreet with pathways and landscaping. I'll begin with the facades and move downwards onto the pathways. This was how I moved forward when I built this so it seems only logical to explain it in this fashion.



Here is how the space looks in the daytime.



And here it is at night. Notice the areas your eye goes at night are the same areas that your eye wants to go during the daytime.

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Facades




Here I have illuminated the entire face with a single arm light. It hasn't been aimed and it is disguised from the pathway by being mounted right above the awning. The wide beam angle creates a wash up the face that brings out various textures and creates some nice shadows. It emphasizes the wall extrusion as well as the windows. The sign at the top is self illuminated so adding additional light to it is unecessary. This is how I have chosen to accentuate the architecture. There are other solutions but this one highlights what I find to be important.

There is an opportunity to light the flanking wall space, but reiterating that you shouldn't light everything, if they were illuminated it would likely draw away from the extruded space with its windows and the signage at the top. There is also nothing on this space really worth lighting. It is just wall mass. If I decided to add another layer of light I would probably put some string lights along the top. This would emphasize the top of the structure and give it a proper border.



Moving right, I found this intermediate facade to be unimportant. There is no information of importance that needs to be gathered from this facade. There is no signage, no wayfinding keys, and no interesting architectural features. I have left it dark to give contrast between the two facades which neighbor it.




On the side of the shop which was just discussed, I did however decide there was something here worth highlighting. The ivy is an interesting feature that would feel strange if totally darked. Illuminating this wall gives depth to the building and makes it more than just a 2d facade. Additionally, I have imagined that some sort of electrical box and equipment may lay here. These would likely need to be illuminated in case they needed to be reached. This effect was done with a simple boxlight buried here.

Something I wish I would have done was bury some sort of light beneath all the ivy to make this planter glow at night.




Moving right further, this signage was a must for illumination. Being different than the self illuminated sign previously, I had to mount some type of fixture here. I tried working with the arm light, but found that the wide beam spread and excessive brightness made for an unrealistic look. I moved to the basic uplight and found its tighter beam worked better. In order to combat the light which actually doesn't go up.. I rotated it up towards the sign to manipulate where the light was going. I also pushed the source as close to the wall as I could prevent too much light from leaking up the wall.

To harp again on previous points.. "what is the purpose of this light?" To which I answered, to light up the sign. Since my intent was not to light the wall, I have kept the beam very close to the wall and made sure that I am lighting the sign, and as little else as I can. I have also tried to hide the fixtures as much as I can. They are ugly and especially in the daytime they will look ugly when they aren't doing anything.




At the top of this facade I have put a clock tower type.. thing. I asked myself the same question, "what is the purpose of this light?" To me, seeing the time on a clock seems like something that is very important. As such, I have decided to place a light here that maximizes the ability to see the clock.

Now, looking back at my solution, I would have to say, the uplight maybe produces results that don't work great at that. A simple boxlight could easily be hidden up here to produce a much stronger spot onto the clock. But, if you look at the facade as a whole, you also have to ask yourself, "is the clock more important or is telling guests whats in the building more important?" Now I have told myself that the signage is much more critical than the clock. As such, I have opted to go against this initial solution and choose the softer uplight that does not distract as much from the main facade. This is, again, ok. Remember, you can't light everything. Creating contrast is essential to producing effective lighting.




Now simply lighting the signage is not nearly enough, the rest of the facade needed lighting as well. So I looked at other wall mounted fixtures and things, but they all just added clutter to the facade. There is nowhere else on the facade that a fixture can realistically be disguised. More fixtures on this wall would just look ugly. So I looked to nearby areas for help.

Luckily, I had placed a planter adjacent to the buildings that see all of these facades. It is raised slightly and a great way to hide potentially dozens of fixtures. I decided ultimately to place a colored event light here and point it towards the facade. I highly suggest that you give yourself as many free areas available as possible to hide fixtures in. You'll find it very very difficult to get enough light on your pathways and buildings as you widen your pathways more and more.



Here you can see where I've strategically hidden plenty of fixtures in a planter where they will never adversely affect what I already have in place.

**Short Color Discussion**
Now.. my next consideration here was color. A bright white light would totally wash out the facade and ruin the contrast I wanted to create with the signage lighting. My solution was to create a colored light. So here's where the colored light becomes invaluable. With the full color palette that is present in PC you get total control over brightness. You see, when you move towards black you are essentially changing what I will call 'relative power'. That is, within the same shade of a color you can make it appear darker or brighter simply by moving the slider towards or away black. Be careful to avoid full white colors if you can help it. I've discussed this in my RCT3 study a bit more fully. Pure white colors are unnatural and what we perceive as 'real white' is just an illusion presented by our shiny computer screens. :)



The top layer of colors are the brightest in a given hue, as you move up and down, you are essentially making that light less bright, and the hue will remain exactly the same. Saturation can be independently manipulated too to produce even more results. This is great for tweaking light levels when you have many fixtures present.



Illustrated another way here. Total black, at the bottom, produces no light. As you increase brightness, you have a much wider range of color values available to you. What I did with this facade was manipulate this brightness level until I got something that looked appropriate in the overall setting.




Moving over a bit more, I have envisioned that some sort of employee entrance would exist at some point along this facade. It would not be unbroken. SO, how do you illuminate these entrances without directly making them a point of interest? Well.. ask yourself what the purpose of the light is. Here, the answer is simply to put some light on the ground so employees don't hurt themselves getting in and out.

In these instances, a very small light that doesn't leak over into other areas, is probably the most desirable. So my answer was to put a small little wall mounted thing here and bring it as close as I could to hide it while still keeping the door and immediate ground in front lit up. Usually, there isn't any need to aiming these little lights as you'll find the beam spread to work pretty well for this type of general illumination.






You can see here how much of a difference the beam angle makes. To achieve the top affect, I have simply angled the boxlight into the wall. This causes the beam to tighten up a bit. In the case of this facade, I found it overwhelming to have all of the beams overlapping. To accentuate the flags, the tighter beam works. I simply asked myself, "what is the purpose of this light?" My answer was to highlight the flags, so my choice was to find the best light to highlight the length of the flags.

You will notice that when I angled the beams inward, some of the wall texture and shadowing created by the rockwork on the wall is removed. This is an important thing to note and may not be what you want. It is of course up to you which type of solution you prefer, but don't forget to compare.






A bit more obvious of a comparison here. Again, trying to hammer home the idea of intent. If you were to choose the bottom solution you would no doubt have guests wandering around wondering "of? what is so important about of? is this a cafeteria for of? What do they do here?" It would make far more sense to try and illuminate the entirety of the lettering, since that is, after all the intent of why you shined a light there, right?
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Landscaping

I'm going to start a small section on landscaping here and will hopefully expand it in the future. For the purposes of this small main street space I've not included much landscaping.

Illuminating nature in your theme parks is one of the most powerful ways you have to enhance the nighttime perception of a space. There is obviously landscaping present and visible in the daytime so why should you ignore it at night?







Perhaps the easiest and most dramatic measure for landscape lighting is to uplight trees. It is not only simple and easy, but remarkably effective. Nearly every single experience you will have with a themed environment in your lifetime will have a floodlight illuminating a tree. Without fail, designers absolutely adore using this technique because any idiot can point a light at a tree and the results are almost always positive.




All I've done here is hide a floodlight in a planter and aimed it up at the tree to try and illuminate as much of it as possible from as many angles as I can. The real benefit here is that any spill light that's not hitting the trees just goes into the sky and doesn't hit anything else. (In real life this creates about a billion code problems but who cares, it's a game. :P)
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Pathways

So when you start to look at providing illumination for pathways the narrative changes entirely. No longer are you trying to create artistic effects and such. You're putting sufficient light to see people and where they're going. You can advantageously manipulate overall light levels on pathways at entrances to guide people towards things, but this is really secondary to the prime directive of making sure people can see where they're going.

This is where my education divulges. The field of design is typically separate from the field of illuminating engineering. Illumination engineering is concerned with getting enough light on a surface and making sure its uniform. It is highly driven by codes and there's really no art there whatsoever. It's very boring and involves hundreds of calculations and charts that take forever and are the bane of my college existence. Now thankfully none of that stuff matters in PC, but the ideas are certainly important to be aware of.

1. Uniform light is key. If you were walking down the street at night you wouldn't want a single super bright light on a mile long stretch of road. This would create tons of complications not the least of which is glare. Your eyes would constantly be adapting and your pupils dilating and expanding and it'd be a disaster.

You would ideally have a million low powered fixtures creating perfectly uniform light, but that's not the case so you find the happy medium that costs the least to get the job done. To be clear, uniformity means that if you move one foot to the right or left of some location, the light you are seeing is pretty much identical. There are all sorts of metrics and limits to what can really be perceived, but for the purposes of Planet Coaster, uniformity means that everywhere on a pathway has basically the same amount and quality of light. In other words, as you build down a pathway, nothing should change and people should look identically lit no matter where they are on that path.

2. You are constantly in a battle of raising your fixture height and changing brightness. Basically, to create really good uniform light, you'd want something like the sun, that is, very high in the sky and far away to create very diffuse light that doesn't really shadow much. Low angled lights create really bad shadows on objects, but they also tend to be able to be placed much closer to the object so they don't need to be as bright. A 5 foot pole can be half as bright as a 10 foot pole, but the quality of light will also be half as good. You want your light to be pointing vertically down if you can help it, but not have to be so far away that you need it to be excessively bright.

3. The more overlap you have, the less shadows you have. The takeaway here may be more intuitive than people realize. The more light you shine on an object from different angles, the less you will see shadows or the object in darkness. One point source can only illuminate one side of an object. Add one to the other side and you illuminate both sides. Add 10 sources and you've effectively eliminated any shadows.

When you overlap the effects of lighting, you are increasing the chances that something at a given point is being illuminated by more than one point source. Ideally, there are no scenarios where a moving object is ever captured by just one beam of light.

5. Wayfinding - As important as it is to see in front of your face, there are also scenarios where seeing yourself is pretty useless. For example, if you are alone walking through a garden, you don't really need to see anything else but the garden and where that pathway is leading you. So the solution most used in these cases is lower height lighting to simply illuminate the ground. You see this everywhere. I'm sure if you went outside your house or took a walk down the street you'd probably see half a dozen houses that have little path lamps leading up to their house.

This essentially amounts to wayfinding. Being able to see the ground so you don't trip on things, and more importantly, knowing where you're supposed to be going. I will touch more on wayfinding in the future as it's super important in parks but for now I'll just consider it as ground visibility. In reality, wayfinding is all of the cues that help you get around. This includes but isn't limited to, signage lighting for shops, bathrooms, etc. Darkening areas of parks that you wish for people to circumvent. Turning off all the lights except those that move you to the park exit, say for closing time. Using a blue light to indicate an ATM or phone booth, etc.

When you're dealing with huge park layouts, keeping things from being monotonous and confusing is very important. Without proper nighttime lighting, guests can easily get lost.

5. Global Illumination - Yikes, let's just leave this one out of the discussion for now. ;D All you need to know is that global illumination affects the default lighting that strikes surfaces based on how obstruted areas are by other things. It helps to iron out problems with lighting engines since they are not doing full ray trace calculations. This is more important in the daytime when you have a very intense source, but nonetheless, it's important to be aware of this setting, especially when playing on higher graphical settings. I'd love to discuss this topic more if people are interested, but since it obviously doesn' t exist in the real world, it's merely a curiosity confined to the PC world. (Planet Coaster or personal computer I suppose, haha.)

Now when you look into Planet Coaster, they essentially give you a couple options for this type of lighting. And they both suck.



You get a few low powered lights that have a bit of variation on their color temperature or whatever to these, but if you have a pathway that's more than maybe 10 feet wide, they don't give you nearly enough light.


That's where these come into play. You will unfortunately have to use these if you want to have sufficient pathway light. Problem is, they don't have any sort of discernable theme and are very large. You have to hide them.



Now what I have come up with is basically a pole with fixtures 'mounted' to them. It's just an iron pole with as many event lights as I need. They are a bit bulky so I'd recommend thinking where you might need them when planning for your facades. If you make your pathways very wide and bare, these lights will stick out like a sore thumb, and look back at consideration 2. Your lights shouldn't be the emphasis. It could very well look ugly if it is not your intent to have them visible. Little dark corners and planters are great places to disguise these types of larger fixtures in a park. Rhythmic patterns along streets work ok but you may not want this in your park. It's good to get a feel for how many of these you'll need before you go crazy with layouts.




Now to go back to my previous point on how crap the standard lamps are. Here you see a typical person on my pathway. Half of their body is in the dark, even though they are directly facing a lamp. They are not nearly visible enough.




Adding in a pole of event lights helps to diffuse this low visibility.





Here is an overhead comparison of how the light levels differ with just a handful of event lights turned on. The above picture they are 'blacked' out, as in the color they are is set to black. This effect translates to higher visibility and less ugly shadows and unphotographable peeps. RCT3 had serious problems with this type of thing since it could only handle so much light in a given spot but with PC the doors are wide open to exploring this type of stuff.

I won't delve too much into the aiming of the fixtures, this is largely at the discretion of the individual, but you will likely find yourself re-aiming things as more peeps pour in. It is best to do these aimings with a full pathway of peeps.






Here you see another example of how this lighting plays out. The shadows reduce with added sources. The typical pathway sources that the game gives you are added alongside the event lights. The path lamps can give an interesting lighting effect for very close by objects that draws focus to entrances, but it is important to augment this with lights that create visibility. If there weren't any people you would see almost no difference in the lighting effects on the ground plane.

The last little thing I wanna touch on is accent lighting for pathways. Often times to indicate where you're going it's easier to just put light directly onto the pavement. It is very efficient considering how close the source is to the path and can look really pretty if used to create rhythm. There's a billion different ways to do things like this. You've no doubt seen bollards and low path lights to light the way.







Here's a handful of installations that do this to varying artistic degrees. All equally valid approaches to the same design.




Now what I have initially explored is just recessing the boxlights into wall surfaces. If you recess them just right you can even get the effect of optics and glare control. (Real light sources aren't just a flat piece of white luminescent material, they have reflectors etc.. Optics are one of the biggest problems in real light sources and for now, Planet Coaster has basically decided to ignore the problem entirely and make everything point sources.) The goal here is to create a rhythmic lighting pattern that is both interesting and functional. A quick Google of pathway lighting will return hundreds of creative design solutions and there is some real opportunities in the future with PC if they choose to expand their lighing capabilities.

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That is all I have for now. I plan on expanding the scope of this thread in the future to include things like floodlighting for supports and coaster structures, lighting ride structures, station lighting, landscape lighting, and others.

I'm barely scratching the surface here, but I'm hoping to do my due dilligence here to spread my knowledge of lighting to the forums. Lighting is one of those weird things that you don't notice until you notice.. but then you notice it all the time. Especially bad lighting. It's inherent purpose isn't really to celerate itself but to celebrate the work of others so it often gets swept under the rug but I hope I can change that. :D

Apologies on having such a formal presentation approach as well.. I suppose endless college reports have conditioned me into intensely organizing and justifying every little meaningless thing.

Thanks for reading, all. If you have any questions or really anything at all you wish to contact me about please do! I will try and make myself available if I can.

4
Well since Planet Coaster came out I've been struggling to get a good foothold on a good park layout. The problem I've had is that zoning and scale is so strange with the game. So I basically decided to scrap my usual methods and just go for it. The result is a total mess of a park layout with some cool stuff dotted between it. I didn't really go into this park with any idea of what I wanted to do so it's really all over the place as you'll see. I basically just ended up using the map as a learning sandbox for different things I wanted to tinker with in the game. The park is heavy on fluff and rides and light on architecture and infrastructure considerations.

It's been a while since I've posted a park so I'll try my best to put together a believable narrative. You'll notice that it's all nighttime shots. That's cause I study lighting at school and I sort of obsess over the lighting in my parks and want to show it off, haha.
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Landry Point Amusement Park



The park was opened in 1909 as a small gathering spot with a few fair rides and a coaster. (The entrance building was the first thing I built for the park and as things grew around it I've come to find it as extremely ugly and nonfunctional. I like the coaster over it but the rest.. doesn't work.)



Flying outside the park is the park's 1997 B&M, Forge. (As the park grew this ride sort of totally constricts the layout of the park as you'll see more later.)



As you enter the park you're greeted by a Schwarzkopf Enterprise ride. (I believe I initially had a carousel here but I changed it out with a larger space to fit the space. It's very unpopular but I like the lighting I put on it.)



The park's original coaster was a side friction ride that was demolished in the 20's to make room for Wildcat, which sits in its original spot. It is one of the most popular rides in the park and features a very standard out and back layout. (When I initially planned the park I had hoped to make a small sized park with a few fair rides but as the scope grew, this ride is sort of dwarfed by everything else and doesn't exactly fit in with the theme of the rest of the park.)



Right across the path from Wildcat is the parks newest coaster, a B&M hyper called Dragon's Rage. It was by far the most expensive addition in the park's history. (This ride was my first foray into themeing with the game and like everything else in the park, its scope again grew out of control. The result is a bloated, overpowering attraction that looks cool but is just way too much to be right at the center of the park.)



Here you see the massive lift hill and entrance for the attraction. It has a medieval theme.



The queue has been extravagantly themed. (I had a lot of fun doing the queue and lighting for it, but it certainly doesn't belong in the park. It's just too much stuff.)



Moving towards the back of the park, we have the 1983 Arrow corkscrew, Arbiter. (I'm not sure exactly what drove me to add this, but the spot I chose puts an absolute stranglehold on the park layout. It blocks any expansion into the back of the park. I basically just copied the layout from Darien Lake's Viper and adapted it to fit the park. It was a good excercise in coaster creation, but meh.. The lighting was fun, but the beam angle on all the PC lights is 90 degrees, which is so woefully inefficient at lighting anything.)



Rounding the corner at the back of the park we come across the Wild Mouse plaza. Here there are various shops and the Wild Mouse coaster. (This was my first exercise at creating some sort of food plaza or 'land' and it's alright.. The circulation here is pretty poor. I put the mouse in to fill the spot and I like it but I feel like here could be something better here.)



Moving over the hill you come across the parks prized CCI woodie, Nighmare. It weaves through terrain, navigating two tunnels and two lift hills over its layout. (I like this woodie a lot. I did struggle at creating an entrance plaza for it and just kind of added some food buildings that don't really make any sense. The composition here is ok, I wish you could see more of the station building from the path.)



The two lifts intersect here.



The coaster makes two interactions with the water here. One is a dive over the water followed by a deep dive into a tunnel. The second interaction is a large fan turn leading to the midcourse right before the rides finale, which features another deep dive into a tunnel.



Here is a nighttime POV for the ride.



And the daytime POV.



Looking up the hill you see the B&M diving over. Just to the left is the CCI woodie and at the top of the hill is the Wild Mouse. Over the hill is the Arrow Corkscrew. Directly to the right is the entrance for the Invert. (My god are those in game streetlights ugly. Realistically you'd need about 1/4 the actual lights here in the real world to achieve this same effect but PC doesn't understand lighting ugh. I've started trying to place event lights higher up and aiming them at the path for lighting and that seems to be a better solution.)



Here is the B&M Invert. It traverses the edges of the park and the looming lift flies right over the park entrance. (Another example of an early park decision that ruined the layout of the park. It takes over prime real estate and makes any expansion through it impossible. I enjoy the actual layout, but it really needs moved.)

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That's all I have for now, I'm considering moving these rides and layouts to a totally different park and getting a fresh start with an actual good park layout. The park has basically already been filled out. Comments are appreciated!

5
Apologies for creating a new thread, but since East Side has since been archived this post cannot be made in the original thread.

Enjoy the park here: http://www.shyguysworld.com/index.php/topic,5242.0.html

Final Farewell (for now)

On the cusp of CGI closing down Brighton Sands yesterday I unfortunately have to deliver another blow. I've come to the realization that East Side is officially dead. The full map is no longer compatible with my system, possibly due to new drivers or something, but it cannot run on any settings above no textures, no shadows, no anti-aliasing, no 3d trees, and no draw distance. I had made an attempt at benching the park and was able to retrieve all graphics settings but due to its layout benching unfortunately removes all of the parks depth and it looked lifeless and sad. None of the stretched vistas and overlooks could be maintained, and overviews were similarly weak. I had tried finding excuses to place trees and attractions along the edges of the new benches to disguise the transition but took a step back and realized that I would never allow them there if I didn't have to bench. Chopping the park to bits destroyed the core unity and cohesiveness that I had spent literal years trying to achieve. On top of this, all of the attractions I had planned were no longer able to be built on the benched map. I tried everything I could to get this park up and running, but it simply cannot be. East Side has reached the end of its life.

I want to extend a special thanks to all of those who have stuck with the park throughout its 5 year life span. I don't have any long speech to give about the park, since all that will really stick with you is the work I've done, but I hope I have inspired some of you guys in that time. I have enjoyed every post I have made in this thread as well as every post that you guys have made back. Do not fear, however, since while the RCT3 version of this park has died, I will be reviving it in spirit in my coming projects. I am currently learning Maya and hope to carry over the vision of this park into a true 3d format, one that will not be susceptible to a poor game engine. Don't expect that anytime soon, but be sure to keep a lookout for my progress.


2011-2016

6
Real Color Lights - A Study of Light in RCT3

Hello, this topic probably comes too late to seriously effect the way we view lighting in RCT3, but with any luck it can hopefully carry over and help many of you in Planet Coaster which has a much more powerful lighting engine.

My goal with this set is not to create a whole alternate standalone set, but to create lamps that 'patch' old fixtures with a more natural lighting scheme, and also to provide flexibility so that design can be done easily.

But first, a quick science lesson on how light works:

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How Light Works

I'm sure you're all aware that light tends to emit from sources in a spherical manner, though this is very misleading. All light fixtures have a very precise way in which they emit light. This is typically expressed in an ies file which has an embedded light ditribution over some geometric box along with lumen output that you then use in a lighting program. It all gets very complicated when you start dealing with these files but that's not important to RCT3..

To simplify, lights are created to serve a very specific purpose and each fixture is tailored to a specific need. They put out light in ways that are almost never spherical.




It is easy to see how what is just a point of light can quickly become a mess without some means of simplification.

So Does the Game Care?

Light Distribution: RCT3 (un)fortunately treats all lights as having equal distribution at all angles (spherical) from a single points source and gets rid of all the fun of playing with these subtleties, which is great for most, but does present problems which I will address in the future. Much trickery is needed to mimic these fixtures.

Light Output: which tells us where the light goes and how much of it there is. This seems very straightforward, and mostly it is. RCT3 equally distributes light everywhere, and further analysis is not necessary to the nuances of this since RCT3 does not care about them. Higher radius essentially means more light, very, very simple.

Diffuse Light and Specular Light: Can be ignored in the game for now since the game only mimics the properties of light and does not actually transmit any information from light that is sent from a light to a surface. The game simply doesn't have the resources to bounce light off of multiple surfaces in real time. A light source tells the game to be bright or dark. Vodhin explains that here.


You're talking not about reflections, but casting light onto objects.

Light in the game does not exist.

Instead the engine uses shaders to darken the normally "flat" lighting that is actually everywhere.

Light sources in the game tell the engine to "be bright here" and fade to darkness away from that point. Get too many light sources in one area and the math behind the "fading" gets out of an acceptable brightness range; the result is max bright or max black, and might flicker between these states.




Demonstrated here, no light is added to the column even with the addition of a reflective surface.

Textures can fake diffusion and specularity, but as evidenced by the lack of mirrors in the game, are not actually doing this with light. I don't know how the information is carried for this type of thing and I don't particularly care.

Color Rendering Index

This topic can get very complex and is very important to how I will be faking natural light in the game. Luckily, the game takes a very simple approach to this.





These two images sum up the basics of color rendering. Different lights contain a certain portion of certain wavelengths which sum to whatever color we see them as. This leads to us perceiving different colors under different light. Since the game is made using only the RGB colors, it can mix them to essentially match any color, and you only notice an issue when the light is shined on a surface. Low CRI basically means a deficiency in RGB values for this study. This is inaccurate in reality but is the only way to process things in the game.



You can see that here. Anything contained in the triangle can be created using the RGB color scheme. Color rendering gets very complex past this, but for RCT3 purposes we can simplify a bit more. Vodhin has already pointed out that the game uses a flat lighting scheme and shaders, and this makes a big difference. This means the game has no light to begin with, and comparing to a complex reference like the sun or moon is unnecessary. The reference becomes merely a saturation slider between gray and whatever color you are looking at. Saturation is a little different than brightness, and I will clarify that when it comes time.



A higher saturation value corresponds to a higher value in the Red Green and Blue when you create a light. This is why we will say anything with the max value of 255 in the Red Green or Blue has perfect color rendering for that color. A deficiency in any will lower the total CRI by some unknown total amount that isn't particularly relevant.



Here you can see how that effect works out. This shouldn't be news to anybody, it's basic color. The color rendering for the whole light is very poor, since it only contains exactly one wavelength of light. It's impossible to define it exactly, but only 1 in 5 walls looks as intended. As you increase the amount in the green and blue categories, you will start to see walls as they are supposed to look. Likewise, a perfectly blue light wouldn't render any reds.



Here you can see that the reds look the same under the white light as well. (My example isn't perfect since it isn't pure red wall.. but you can just trust me on this.)

So that sets up the general rules for color as follows:

A fixture with 1R1G1B has virtually no color rendering, despite being pure 'white' since all colors are desaturated.

One with 100R100G100B also does not have perfect color rendering. All colors are desaturated by some amount.

A fixture with 1R0G0B likewise also has virtually no color rendering, not even for reds.

Only the fixture with 255R255G255B has perfect color rendering.

A value of 255 corresponds to perfect color rendering at that wavelength.

One with 255R255G0B has 2/3 the max CRI and can render all reds and all greens.

One with 255R0G0B has 1/3 the max CRI and can only render reds.

One with 0R0G0B has no CRI. There is no light and therefore nothing can be seen.

This is unfortunately not the way the real world handles lighting issues so the lighting engine takes another hit. This wil start to have application as I go into the next section, which addresses the proper color to use in the game.

If you were to make your screen 255R255G255B and shine it into the real world, it would have a CRI close to 90, but since RCT3 isn't real and is contained in your screen, I'm going to pretend that peeps can only see variants on the three perfect wavelengths and that this white value is the source that is used to compare CRI to. The real world identifies CRI when comparing to the sun.

Correlated Color Temperature

The final and one of the most important issues in lighting with RCT3 relates to color temperature. Light fixtures are typically rated by a CCT (correllated color temperature) which specifies essentially how warm or cool a fixture is. The measurement is obtained based on what color an ideal black body radiator (like tungsten or something) is at a certain temperature.

To put it plainly, when you heat up a metal, it starts very red then moves to white, and eventually blue if you get it hot enough. 1000K would be very red and 9000K would look blue, with white somewhere in the middle around 6500K. Nearly every fixture follows this color model and is assigned a CCT number based on where it fits along this curve.



RCT3 treats CCT as some weird nonexistent engineering thing and instead replaces it with the same basic color palette that the whole rest of the game has. This is very wrong and massively limits RCT3's awesome dynamic lighting engine and has unfortunately made even the best parks feel a little off.



Here is a chromaticity diagram which shows how colors interact. The arc in the center is called the black body locus and is where most fixtures are modeled along. This is an important reference as I go further.

Addendum:In the real world, the sun is the reference for color rendering rather than the three RGB colors and typically anything along the black body locus is considered to have a CRI of 100. This is why I have chosen to create fixtures based on this, as the game takes a very cold computerized approach to lighting and using the locus creates a more natural feel to lighting.



A black body radiator has this distribution of light. As you can see, it contains pretty much every wavelength of visible light in large amounts. By simplifying this curve into a simple RGB value, you lose color rendering, but the tradeoff is small enough to not really be of any worry.

http://www.vendian.org/mncharity/dir3/blackbody/UnstableURLs/bbr_color.html

Here is the website I used to pull the RGB values from. As you can see, as CCT increases, so does the green and blue content present. This large section may seem frivolous, but when dealing with very warm colors in the game, there is a very drastic reduction in visibility for green and blue colors. This is not the case in the real world.

Also, though I won't go into details, warmer colors have a lower relative power due to how our eyes see, so a very warm color, even with the same radius, will feel less bright than a white one. This is because we have more rods and cones that can see green than for red and blue. This is also the reason why there are more shades of green in the game than any other color.

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My Actual Study..

So, awesome right? The game takes three very complex measurements that have spawned an entire profession and boils them down to one shape, one number, and one color. Super. Now what? Well, the first step is to look at what the game gives us as a point of reference. My focus here will be on color temperature for now since the game pretty much ignores the other two considerations entirely.



Here is one of Vodhin's recolorable lamps set to the basic white color. This is pretty much the most stock light choice you can pick. It eliminates every variable that is typically found in real fixtures. It has a perfectly spherical output, with perfect white light, and a very well optimized light output. It looks ok, though without any tweaking to color it doesn't really do much but light the path. Guests are rendered in a gradient of light and all colors render perfectly. This appears to be the most common lighting choice in RCT3.

This correlates to the exact center of the diagram and a CCT of about 6500K, higher than any common light.



Here is the game's orange and yellow colors placed next to each other. While this has more warmth to it, the colors feel artificial and oversaturated. The problem with these colors is that they are simply too far from the curve to be considered natural.



The tannish color choice appears to most accurately resemble natural light, though the slight pinkish hue makes it feel unnatural much like the orange and yellow, and park designers stray from it. This emphasizes how important color balance can be when creating a light. Again, this color is too far from the curve to look natural.

Now comes in my study.. I have matched RGB values along that all important curve and imported the results as lights. I will start with the warmest color and move up to cooler.



2000K This is a very warm temperature typically reserved for only special applications in the real world. Guests here are rendered in a very warm light which is much more natural than the in game colors.



2500K This is typically the lowest value that most manufacturers will offer their lights in. It is very warm but can be practically used in lobbies and areas where a welcoming environment is required.



3000K This is where most people will begin to see a similarity to real light fixtures. Less warmth but better clarity with viewing actual surface colors.



3500K Again, more shift to white.



4000K The shift becomes less noticeable as you move up the curve in this small scale model, but applying this to large areas shows very visible differences.



4500K Though it may not be super evident when viewed sequentially, comparing 4500K to 2000K shows a massive difference in the warmth of a light.

If I were to continue the trend you would see these lights hit a resemblance to Vodhin's then begin to look very blue as the red content disappates.



Another look. Here is the fully white fixture. Lights everything great. You would not notice how unnatural it is unless compared to another light.



Here is the same exact fixture with a 3500K color temperature applied instead. The difference is very substantial and so much more is contributed to the scene by a simple color shift. Everything suddenly has character and the nuances of the structure can be finally appreciated.

Design Considerations:

-When you design an exterior space like an amusement park, blue content should be limited as people prefer warm light at night, espcially when outdoors. Blue light tends to fry your brain. If you are trying to create a realistic RCT3 park, blue (whiter) light should be avoided. For exterior spaces I wouldn't recommend going over 3500K.

-Warm light is comforting and cozy, but if you go too warm, you lose visibility and colors start to wash out and become hard to see. Wouldn't recommend going below 2500K except in small areas or where lots of fixtures are present.

-Super high light levels are not advisable, energy costs are too high and you lose any areas of visual interest. This goes in hand with avoiding blue light. It is hard to create an interesting space if you just wash everything in white light. This is unnecessary and will probably crash your game too.

-Let the light's do the talking. Don't just place fixtures everywhere so that dark areas are lit. Light can do really wonderful things and you should take just as much care placing lights as you do constructing buildings, paths, planters, etc.. Nighttime is half the battle.
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So the point here.. light is a very fragile thing and should not be used solely to light things. There is truly an artistic touch to it and utilizing natural looking colors can drastically affect the outcome of your project. Even a small shift from warm to cool has large effects.

I will amend this and simplify it as I go forward with the set. My next step is to create working fixtures that can tackle the next issue of RCT3 lighting, which is how to aim things directionally. Any tips, suggestions, questions, etc. are welcome.

I suppose this could be moved to tutorials, though I am creating a CS set so thought this would be its best home.

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