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UE4: Bring back oldschool skyboxes!

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    UE4: Bring back oldschool skyboxes!

    Just as it says above: Bring back old school skyboxes!

    As to why, you simply have to look at Mass Effect. A game (series) which plays in space, but where the stars and planets have a visible parallax.

    This is especially visible when moving across the Moon in the first Mass Effect game, where you can see the Earth moving across the sky when driving along, which should not happen at that distance. Looking outside from the cockpit also shows that it's just a texture wrapped around the cockpit, showing even more visible parallax...

    Mass Effect 2 also has this problem, even in the wide open levels where you move a lot, where the parallax is *very* visible. Inside the Normandy, looking out the windows, this is also done very poorly.

    ME3 shows this problem less, but still has it.

    Almost every UE3 game has this problem, especially where you can move very fast (ie Transformers) - That kind of stuff would have been solved easily with a UE1 style skybox.



    The option for the current 'skybox' should stay of course (as it's effectively just a part of the level).

    If possible there should also be the option for a Source-style skybox, where the skybox stays in the same position as the level, but is scaled up 16 times. Maybe add an option for 64/128 times aswell.

    In combination with the current skybox, the relative skybox and the parallax skybox you could make areas look truly vast, aswell as making more settings possible, like space.

    #2
    Shouldn't there be a way to emulate the effect of the old style skyboxes? Never tried it but I could see it being possible in theory with some kind of material tricks..

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      #3
      add a skybox with only emissive on its material, attach to player using Kismet or Unrealscript, profit

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        #4
        That works in a single player game, anyway..

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          #5
          Vertex offsetting relative to view for the win.

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            #6
            I think most of these methods were far too intensive to use, not to mention buggy - I haven't heard of vertex offsetting though.

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              #7
              Could probably try using a portal render target.

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                #8
                Couldn't you just use a cubemap as a skybox? That was one of the proposed solutions for a long time ago.

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                  #9
                  Why not just make a ridiculously large sphere? I have done so, starting with a diameter of 525,000uu from Softimage, I then scaled it further in the editor (X4 I believe). The result is an astronomical mesh that is so large it would be difficult to notice any parallaxing. I was worried about rendering artifacts with such a large mesh, but so far I have encountered none.

                  Still though, I also hope for a proper sky implementation in UE4. I would say, forget a sky mesh altogether; just fill the background with a simple gradient material that can be set in the world properties. The clouds would be actual placed interp actors (like CryENGINE), and the sun... well, maybe that can be its own object too. The sun is really the only thing that suffers from a lack of mesh. For stars, a cube map could be used.

                  I may be wrong, but I think cube maps were used to make the sky and distant background for Halo 1.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by TheAgent View Post
                    Couldn't you just use a cubemap as a skybox? That was one of the proposed solutions for a long time ago.
                    I believe that this method was very resource intensive given the size and visibility of the cubemap, aswell as buggy - Hence no one actually uses this method (as far as i know). I did notice very little to no parallaxing in TERA, i wonder how they did it there.

                    Originally posted by SeanO'Connor View Post
                    Why not just make a ridiculously large sphere? I have done so, starting with a diameter of 525,000uu from Softimage, I then scaled it further in the editor (X4 I believe). The result is an astronomical mesh that is so large it would be difficult to notice any parallaxing. I was worried about rendering artifacts with such a large mesh, but so far I have encountered none.

                    Still though, I also hope for a proper sky implementation in UE4. I would say, forget a sky mesh altogether; just fill the background with a simple gradient material that can be set in the world properties. The clouds would be actual placed interp actors (like CryENGINE), and the sun... well, maybe that can be its own object too. The sun is really the only thing that suffers from a lack of mesh. For stars, a cube map could be used.

                    I may be wrong, but I think cube maps were used to make the sky and distant background for Halo 1.
                    While it "works", it's not a definitive solution. Stuff like celestial bodies (stars, sun, moon) should not exhibit any parallax, so there should be a way of doing it "right". There are 2 ways to do this: Either make them actually as big and as far away in relation to the level as they actually should be, or make a hl2-style relative skybox with the correct proportions. Both are not possible in UE as far as i know, technically the best solution for this is the old style skybox (which technically has the problem of no parallax at all), but this is not a standard function in UDK.

                    The workarounds that are there are, as far as i know, buggy and messy at best.

                    Volumetric clouds (ala Crysis and, dare i say, Trackmania) are a good idea, combined with making null space possibly act as the skybox instead of a null rendering reference?

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                      #11
                      Or just update the position to match the camera viewpoint each tick.

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                        #12
                        Would it be possible to make a spherical mesh around the player, which always comes last in rendering?

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