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xLODGen Terrain Settings Compare

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#31 z929669

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 02:28 PM

Compare set 2: xLODGen Brightness Settings Compare
 
Now that we have a 'good' starting point for xLODGen quality settings (see previous post), we will examine the best way to fix the 'dark' LOD problem next. The following compares use xLODGen quality settings where applicable as described in the previous post ... with the exception of the HDT noise map compare set: rather than capturing the screens yet again, I opportunistically used a set where I had the 'otional' settings active + HDT Light noise map, because we already agreed that there is NO difference in the quality output of these settings (see previous post). Additionally, I experimented with brightness and gamma xLODGen settings.
 
SPM stats are included in the images (you can do this in Windows using ALT + WinKey + Prtscn while SPM is running).
 
NOTE: all of these and forthcoming compares look at terrain LOD ONLY. Do not be fooled by crappy tree and object LOD - DynDOLOD modifications are NOT included here so that we can examine STEP under different xLODGen quality scenarios. Also, do not be fooled by smoke and clouds. These are dynamic in some shots, so many diffs noticed when toggling between any given compare set are due to this texture interference in SOME compare sets.
 
These and forthcoming compares examine 9 different locations. For this set, we are looking at five variants per location in the following order (including xLODGen generation time and output size):

  1. (Tech's) revised settings                                               23:45, 2.91 GB
  2. >> 'optimal' settings + HDT Light noise map                  36:22, 4.19 GB
  3. >> revised settings + brightness = 8                            24:23, 2.91 GB
  4. >> revised settings + brightness = 2 & gamma = 1.20   24:04, 2.91 GB
  5. >> revised settings + brightness = 0 & gamma = 1.25   24:05, 2.91 GB
Brightness Compares
 
 
Conclusion
xLODGen produces LOD textures that are too dark, presumably due to it's using the base textures as the input ... which for reasons I don't understand wind up looking darker than expected in LOD. The fix is to either brighten using a noise map (as suggested by sheson) or using brightness/contrast/gamma settings in xLODGen. Altering the applicable noise map (not included in this compare) may be viable, but simply using a noise map not meant to be used with Cathedral Landscapes (or whatever the STEP landscape mod may be at any given time) is not appropriate. While it has the effect of brightening terrain as desired, the noise filter just doesn't facilitate the desired blending as the CL authors intended (especially noticeable on the darker, more colorful terrains). This is fixed by modifying brightness or gamma settings during LOD gen. It turns out that either works well and results in good blending, but using gamma settings produces the desired correction and also retains more of the color saturation of the original textures (especially noticeable in the Riften and other darker terrain compares), so I'm proposing that we use gamma to alter brightness (gamma modifies mid tones without affecting darkest/lightest, whereas brightness lightens everything in a linear fashion) ... this post explains it nicely.
 
... see next post for final results


#32 z929669

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 03:33 PM

Compare set 3: xLODGen Final Result Compares
 
To summarize, the following compare is the final compare showing 1. native CL terrain vs 2. xLODGen CL terrain with new optimal settings:
 
SPM stats are included in the images (you can do this in Windows using ALT + WinKey + Prtscn while SPM is running).
 
NOTE: all of these compares look at terrain LOD ONLY. Do not be fooled by crappy tree and object LOD - DynDOLOD modifications are NOT included here so that we can examine STEP under different xLODGen quality scenarios. Also, do not be fooled by smoke and clouds. These are dynamic in some shots, so many diffs noticed when toggling between any given compare set are due to this texture interference in SOME compare sets.
 
Final Result Compares
 
Conclusion
I think we can agree that the xLODGen version is staying true to the CL terrain texture patterns and blending. There is a notable difference in brightness in the first compare set and less so in some of the other darker terrain compares (the new optimal settings are a bit darker and more saturated, but it's not noticeable on lighter terrains), but I think it still blends nicely. There is no real brightness difference in most of these compares though, and saturation is a bit better with the new settings (I slightly prefer the xLODGen results). We could arguably increase gamma to 1.26-1.28 to eliminate the brightness difference if necessary ... thoughts??
 
Now to address LOD32 and map quality ... I found that we can lower the quality of LOD32 to '4' from Tech's value of '0' without any noticeable impact to quality, further reducing the output size and gen time by small fractions. The following show the diff. The first set uses a quality of 0 under the old 'optimal' settings without any brightness correction and the second uses the "new optimal" settings. Although the brightness difference is a bit distracting, I think that there is no perceptable quality loss:
 
LOD32 Map Compare


#33 TechAngel85

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 06:09 PM

Wow that is a great find on the gamma! I had never played with it. I much prefer the gamma to the rest. Getting some of that color back is great!



#34 DoubleYou

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 08:12 PM

 

Now to address LOD32 and map quality ... I found that we can lower the quality of LOD32 to '4' from Tech's value of '0' without any noticeable impact to quality, further reducing the output size and gen time by small fractions. The following show the diff. The first set uses a quality of 0 under the old 'optimal' settings without any brightness correction and the second uses the "new optimal" settings. Although the brightness difference is a bit distracting, I think that there is no perceptable quality loss:

 

You don't need to worry too much about the map, as that is easily changed to better LOD quality:

 

Skyrim.ini

[MapMenu]
uLockedObjectMapLOD=4
uLockedTerrainLOD=4

 

I've been testing it out and haven't had a crash related to these settings yet. I think the crashes that users used to experience with this may be fixed by DynDoLOD/xLODGen.



#35 z929669

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 09:14 AM

You don't need to worry too much about the map, as that is easily changed to better LOD quality:

 

Skyrim.ini

[MapMenu]
uLockedObjectMapLOD=4
uLockedTerrainLOD=4

I've been testing it out and haven't had a crash related to these settings yet. I think the crashes that users used to experience with this may be fixed by DynDoLOD/xLODGen.

Do these settings tell the game what LOD level to use for the map? Won't there be a cap based on available LOD for the map?

 

Do you help to maintain the INI wiki? I see these values in that, but advice there does not match yours for these settings, and the defs there don't really explain what these settings are doing.



#36 DarkladyLexy

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 09:37 AM

hey guys another question this isn't related to xLODGEN settings that I am testing out your new recommend settings for my own guide but TexGen and DynDOLOD I note for TexGen you raise to 1024 but in DynDOLOD Max Tile stays are default which is believe is 512 or is 256 been so long is I checked DynDOLOD default settings why is this?


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#37 z929669

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 10:37 AM

hey guys another question this isn't related to xLODGEN settings that I am testing out your new recommend settings for my own guide but TexGen and DynDOLOD I note for TexGen you raise to 1024 but in DynDOLOD Max Tile stays are default which is believe is 512 or is 256 been so long is I checked DynDOLOD default settings why is this?

I think this post answers your question. The DynDOLOD doc does as well, but I have yet to read through it with any real understanding. I've read it and need to read it again and again ... my brain does not easily extrapolate to "ah-ha!" with limited explanation, which I think is the case with the DynDOLOD doc. It assumes that the reader understands some prerequisites, without which, the doc can look like word noise.
 
Tech has more XP than I at this point regarding relationship of TexGen textures and DynDOLOD object texture generation, but from what I am reading in that post, I want to be certain that my "Max Tile" equals my TexGen res. Leaving all as default should be good enough for most custom replacers, but with all the high res stuff out there now, I'm inclined to use 1024 for everything if performance isn't an issue. I think you can go higher than this even. Not sure if that is necessary or dependent on replacers in the load order, but it seems like it. From TexGen doc:
 

Adjust texture size if desired. When DynDOLOD.exe creates the LOD texture atlas, the max tile size should be adjusted to at least match the LOD texture size in the advanced options of DynDOLOD.
 
Typically there is no need to change the default formats. These options are for advanced users / mod authors. Since TexGen.exe generates LOD textures that will be later combined into LOD textures atlasses by DynDOLOD.exe, any desired format changes for the final texture atlasses need to be set in '..\DynDOLOD\Edit Scripts\DynDOLOD\DynDOLOD_[GAMEMODE].ini'. However, there is the chance that single LOD textures are also used by models directly in game, for example by dynamic LOD or if the UV of a shape is tiled. Hover the mouse pointer above the drop downs for more info.


I'd like to improve the TexGen and DynDOLOD instructions in our guide to provide more context and explanation of settings used and their interrelationships, which at this time are limited and we are not saying much about the relevance of the DynDOLOD Resources SE 'mod', when to activate/deactivate, Max Tiles, and relationship to TexGen to name a few. I plan on starting another thread for this testing and disambiguation.

 

I don't think that process is in any way interdependent on the xLODGen process described here; although, it all contributes to total LOD gen.



#38 z929669

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 11:15 AM

Unfortunately, I've been unable to find much of anything relating to xLOGGen doc outside of what comes with the program:

  • Terrain-LOD-Readme.txt - definitions of settings only ... no context as to how it relates to other LOD gen tools like DynDOLOD or SSELODGen -- > links to this Nexus page, but no clue as to the relationship to this tool
  • Skyrim-Occlusion-Readme.txt - Technical aspects of the 'Occlusion' tool in xLODGen but not a lot of context.
  • NO doc on "Object LOD" tool and relationship to or redundancy with DynDOLOD
  • NO doc on Trees LOD tool and relationship to or redundancy with DynDOLOD

One of the main reasons for the existence of STEP is to explain this otherwise disjointed information within a contextual framework that makes sense ... to provide an easy-to-comprehend summary of modding tools, relationships, actions, and reasons. To bring it all together for a common understanding and disambiguation.

 

Much is needed on that front with respect to LOD gen tools as they exist today. I have little doubt that ALL of the needed info is scattered among the official doc, links to ancillary doc, and within forum threads, but nowhere can I find it consolidated and brought together for the layman except for in our main guide, which skims over most of the relevant context.



#39 DoubleYou

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 11:15 AM

Do these settings tell the game what LOD level to use for the map? Won't there be a cap based on available LOD for the map?

Do you help to maintain the INI wiki? I see these values in that, but advice there does not match yours for these settings, and the defs there don't really explain what these settings are doing.


You can use lod levels 4,8,or 16 for Object LOD (or if you modify DynDoLOD ini, you can make a level 32 to be identical to level 16 without 3D trees just for the map).

Terrain LOD can be 4,8,16,or 32.

The ini guide is for original Skyrim, and the description reflects issues noticed on Oldrim. Those issues do not seem to be a problem on SSE. We do not yet have a specific SSE INI guide.

#40 z929669

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 11:43 AM

You can use lod levels 4,8,or 16 for Object LOD (or if you modify DynDoLOD ini, you can make a level 32 to be identical to level 16 without 3D trees just for the map).
/snip

Where? in DynDOLOD or xLODGen "Object LOD" tool? is it even relevant in xLODGen, given hat DynDOLOD exists? The terrains stuff shouldn't be impacting object LOD at all (hence my questions about the relationships among all four tools inside of xLODGen and to DynDOLOD/TexGen).
 

 

You don't need to worry too much about the map, as that is easily changed to better LOD quality:

 

Skyrim.ini

[MapMenu]
uLockedObjectMapLOD=4
uLockedTerrainLOD=4

Still not understanding how these settings can affect what we're doing in xLODGen "Terrain" tool. These INI settings would seem to be limited to the res of the source files. Apologies for all the Qs, but I've found poured over doc and posts to little avail.



#41 DoubleYou

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 05:13 PM

Skyrim LOD is separated between terrain LOD and object LOD. Map LOD is separated between the same terrain LOD (set by the game INI setting uLockedTerrainLOD) and object LOD (set by the game INI setting uLockedObjectMapLOD). Terrain LOD should be made by xLODGen "Terrain" tool. Object LOD should be made by DynDOLODWhatever changes you make to the game's terrain LOD (generated by xLODGen) and object LOD (generated by DynDOLOD) will be reflected on the map. This is why generating 3d tree object LOD with DynDOLOD places trees on the map.

 

Object LOD is independent of terrain LOD. I merely mentioned the object LOD setting (uLockedObjectMapLOD) for the MapMenu for completeness sake, as it is independent of the terrain LOD settings being discussed here. However, the terrain setting (uLockedTerrainLOD) can be changed to improve the terrain LOD used on the map, by increasing it from level 32 (default) to level 16, 8, or 4. This is why I said "you do not need to worry" about terrain level 32 from a map perspective, as we can increase this to level 16 if we find that, from a game perspective, different settings for level 32 terrain LOD are better. The uLockedTerrainLOD INI setting I mentioned does NOT "affect what we're doing in xLODGen 'Terrain' tool," but instead, modifies the results that the xLODGen "Terrain" tool has on the map's terrain LOD.



#42 z929669

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 11:20 PM

I get the differences between the LOD types and what app handles those, but I was confused as to how uLockedTerrainLOD worked. I think I see now from your explanation. It sounds like this setting cannot equal any number like scale data but it is discrete data that only accepts LOD level values? That clears it up for me if we can just ell the map to use LOD level 4/8/16 if we don't care for 32.

 

I thought the map was limited exclusively to using LOD level 32, so couldn't understand your statement "[The map] ... is easily changed to better LOD quality".

 

Anyway, it still seems preferable to just use a level 32 treatment that makes the map look good, since people are running xLODGen. I think it would be interesting to experiment with it though. Thanks for the tip!



#43 DoubleYou

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Posted 19 August 2020 - 05:02 AM

It only works correctly with lod level values. Setting it to nonexistent lod levels removes terrain lod from the map.

#44 sheson

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 03:48 PM

xLODGen produces LOD textures that are too dark


If the brightness settings are left alone, the LOD textures generated by xLODGen match the splatted full textures perfectly - if the "improved" snow shader is turned off this also applies to the snow sections.

If the results seems off, it is only because Bethesda decided for Skyrim to mess around with the brightness/gamma of the vanilla LOD textures that required a special noise texture to darken it again, With the famous results that vanilla terrain LOD texture can be very different in the snow sections, especially for Skyrim Special Edition.

Just like Bethesda did for the vanilla Fallouts LOD textures, I strongly suggest to leave the gamma and brightness alone and instead use a proper noise texture.


Edited by sheson, 20 August 2020 - 04:13 PM.

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#45 sheson

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 04:28 PM

Unfortunately, I've been unable to find much of anything relating to xLOGGen doc outside of what comes with the program:

  • Terrain-LOD-Readme.txt - definitions of settings only ... no context as to how it relates to other LOD gen tools like DynDOLOD or SSELODGen -- > links to this Nexus page, but no clue as to the relationship to this tool
  • Skyrim-Occlusion-Readme.txt - Technical aspects of the 'Occlusion' tool in xLODGen but not a lot of context.
  • NO doc on "Object LOD" tool and relationship to or redundancy with DynDOLOD
  • NO doc on Trees LOD tool and relationship to or redundancy with DynDOLOD

One of the main reasons for the existence of STEP is to explain this otherwise disjointed information within a contextual framework that makes sense ... to provide an easy-to-comprehend summary of modding tools, relationships, actions, and reasons. To bring it all together for a common understanding and disambiguation.

 

Much is needed on that front with respect to LOD gen tools as they exist today. I have little doubt that ALL of the needed info is scattered among the official doc, links to ancillary doc, and within forum threads, but nowhere can I find it consolidated and brought together for the layman except for in our main guide, which skims over most of the relevant context.

xLODGen tree and object LOD is explained by Zilav on the TE5LODGen description.

 

Also this post explains the advancements DynDOLOD adds to the tree and object LOD generation of xLODGen.

 

Time/Money prevents me from consolidating everything LOD into what would basically be a dissertation worthy of a degree. Ask me anything at any time though to clarify.


Edited by sheson, 20 August 2020 - 04:29 PM.

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