Lighting for Thievery UT - Section 1: Gameplay considerations
v1.0 - 18th May 2002 - Dalai

This tutorial is divided into three sections:

  • Section one on gameplay considerations
  • Section two on how to place dousable torches and switchable lights
  • Section three on shadowing and lighting tips
Firstly: Always check with the lightgem
  • When lighting your level, be sure to go through it as a thief and check the lights affect the player's lightgem properly. High radius lights tend to affect the gem outside their apparent circle of light, therefore low radius, high brightness lights are recommended.

  • If you wish a light to not affect the player's lightgem, bring up its properties, go to the Events section and set its Tag to 'NoLightPlayer'.

  • Ambient light does not affect the player's lightgem.

How lighting affects the game
  • The lighting in Thievery isn't just there to make your map look good, it has a strong impact on the gameplay of your level. The amount of light in an area directly influences the difficulty of that area for the thieves and the ease with which that area can be protected by the guards.

  • Be sure to balance the lighting in your level. If the map is too bright, the thieves lose their ability to hide in the shadows. If it is too dark, the guards will not only have a hard time catching the thieves, but they will also feel lost. Guards will often concentrate on 'safe', well lit areas, so use your lights to guide them.

  • Be mindful of the lighting progression through your map. Typically the thief spawn points are shrouded in darkness, this keeps them safe at the start of the game and prevents spawn raping. On the other hand, the objective items are usually placed in areas of high lighting to provide a challenge that must be overcome for the thieves to succeed.

Go Dynamic
  • Dynamic lights, such as torches or switchable lights, really help bring the lighting into the gameplay. The guards and thieves can battle to keep an area light or dark.

  • Dynamic lighting will hurt performance, particularly in areas of complex geometry. If an area of your map is running too slowly, replace the lights with static ones. Having surfaces set to high shadow detail creates 4 times the work for dynamic lights, so use the two with caution.

  • Have some static lighting, both to prevent the thieves' hiding from getting out of control, and so people can still see.

Ambient Light
  • Although ambient lighting doesn't affect the player's lightgem, it affects their perception of the shadows. If you set the ambient light too high, they won't easily be able to see the hiding places, as everywhere will appear lit up. If you set it too low, then in the areas without lights, they won't be able to see at all.

  • Typically, Thievery maps use an AmbientBrightness of 4. Setting it lower will give harsher shadows, but you'll need more normal lights so the player can see.