Thursday, March 17th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

Video: Enlighten’s Seastack Bay real-time GI demo

Geomerics has released Seastack Bay, a beautiful new demo showcasing the new open-world features of Enlighten, its real-time global illumination middleware built into Unity and integrated with Unreal Engine.

The demo – shown above in pre-rendered form, rather than its full 30fps glory – was released at GDC 2016.

Real-time GI for open worlds, even in occluded or vertical environments
Developed by Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West developer Ninja Theory in UE4, Seastack Bay shows a 25-square-kilometre playable world made up of interiors, gorges, forests and beaches.

The demo is notable in that it generates consistent real-time lighting effects between exterior and interior spaces; and in highly occluded or vertical areas such as the gorges.

“If you look at open-world games today, they’re typically flat and quite 2D, with a camera above the player,” Geomerics director Chris Porthouse told CG Channel. “We’re enabling verticality.”

Enlighten’s open-world tech, available as part of the new 3.04 update, uses a level of detail system, solving GI at a lower resolution for distant geometry to permit higher-quality lighting without hitting performance.

Five different levels of detail are available, for both terrain and non-terain lightmaps and light probes.

The solution, which is CPU-based, also resolves asynchronously in the background, rather than needing to be recalculated for each frame.

“You don’t need to compute the background lighting at 60fps,” pointed out Porthouse. “The solution can converge over three or four frames. We take advantage of that.”

Pricing and availability
Enlighten 3.04 is available now. The update is free to registered users. Being middleware, Enlighten is priced on demand, typically on a per-title or royalty-share basis.