Skyrim

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  1. defosh369
    defosh369
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    Sticky
    To everyone, and this is quite important so I'll make this a sticky:

    I did more research on Skyrim shadows level of detail (LOD) switching issue, what is causing it and what type of shadows it affects.

    It turns out that this issue is a possibility of having bad shadows in Skyrim, because it affects all of the shadows in game, making them way lower quality thet they should be (halves the overall quality of all shadows). The thing respoinsible for shadows switching their level of detail is actually a increased field of view (FOV) setting.

    I have made a video that should showcase and expalin this issue far better than typing hundreds of lines of text (though, typing a wall of text would probably be less time consuming in my English speaking capabilities ), but be aware that this video was made using High shadow settings and High shadow tweaks, though, the rules of this issue are the same for Ultra shadow settings, here's a link:

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc2FLhRnTLY

    If you don't have time to watch it, or don't have the patience for people violently butchering English, to sum this up:
    The higher your field of view setting is, the lower your draw distance must be, in order to have bug free shadows. It goes like this:
    For fShadowDistance=3800.0000 a good FOV is up to 64.
    For fShadowDistance=3500.0000 a good FOV is up to 68.
    For fShadowDistance=3000.0000 a good FOV is up to 75.
    Game vanilla FOV value seems to be 75. And for that FOV, as shown above, shadow draw distance should be set at fShadowDistance=3000.0000 to avoid level of detail switching bug.
    If you have a FOV set higher then those suggested values, you will most likley be encountering a shadow level of detail switching that halves the quality of all shadows in the game.

    When it comes to Ultra shadows, halved shadow quality actually doesn't look that bad, so if you must play on high FOV for health or comfort reasons, you can easly do so. But, if you want the best shadow quality Skyrim can offer (and believe me, quality is great), then well, there you have my recommended FOV settings.

    This discovery really changes a lot when it comes to tweaking Skyrim shadows, where overall shadow quality is actually set by field of view alongside with shadow draw distance. It will require changing the tweak description, and that I'll do right away.

    I will also update my tweak description with information about glitchy ground shadows, that you might notice after latest patches (as far as I remember, issue was fixed in 1.7 and in 1.8 it returns). To avoid this glitch, set this:

    bDrawLandShadows=0

    EDIT: Funny thing is, to play with vanilla Ultra setting (fShadowDistance=8000.0000) would require a ridicolously low field of view setting to avoid this issue (like FOV of 35 or 40). At least I think so

    EDIT2: If you are going to change the FOV to get a better shadow quality, then please remember, changing the FOV over the vanilla setting might give you some clipping issues when having a bow equipped in first person perspective. Those instructions are most likley for people that already changed their FOV setting over vanilla and/or are fine with said clipping issues (I personally played quite a lot with FOV at 80 and the clipping was almost not notieable for me, though, this may vary for different systems and game instalations).

    EDIT3: I will be doing all sorts of testing, and I'm planning on posting a small text file, that you can download from the download section as a miscellaneous file. This file will contain max field of view that is issue free for a range of shadow draw distances. I think that a file like that should be helpful. It will vary from:
    fShadowDistance=1000.0000 possibly up to 5000.0000.
    I'm planning on testing field of view settings and increasing shadow draw distance by 200. For example:
    fShadowDistance=1000.0000 max FOV of xx
    fShadowDistance=1200.0000 max FOV of xx
    fShadowDistance=1400.0000 max FOV of xx
    And so on...
    You can expect this file to be ready in a day or two, because it will require quite a lot of testing (a lot of entering and exiting the game, I hope my Skyrim will not go mad on me while doing all this testing ). My planned update on "Shadow tweaking basics" file will have to wait a bit more.
    1. Valorien
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      Hiya brother, long time since we last spoke, ...I hope you've been well.

      I wanted to help with one code you have here that Bethesda themselves labeled strangely - so it has had everyone confused as to how to make it work correctly:

      "fInteriorShadowDistance="
      As you see, this is the One piece of code - of all the rest that does not start with "fshadow", but rather starts with "finterior", ...this is because it is NOT responsible for shadow-texture level of detail at all, but rather how far away LIGHTS will be drawn for the viewer to see. It is a distance factor for light-draw distance ONLY. (Bethesda SHOULD have labelled the code as: "fInteriorLightDrawDistance=")

      This is why I highly recommend for this setting to be: "fInteriorShadowDistance=8000" = because 8000 is the distance that light is seen from. Light that can cast shadows, yes, but not responsible for the shadow resolution at all.
      Interior shadow-casting seems to rely on "the resolution of the light-source", rather than the same memorypool used for exterior shadows.

      I hope that helps clear up some more, ...take care everyone!

      ~Valorien (https://twitter.com/Tenshihan_Quinn)
      fInteriorShadowDistance=4000 https://imgur.com/QwahXVM
      fInteriorShadowDistance=6000 https://imgur.com/xXEv49P
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Some clarification of what these codes do; (Source; I'm a game-developer with background as a light-smith for films. I've tested each of these codes individually since this game came out - in order to really know
      what each code actually does.)

      SKYRIMPREFS.INI:

      [Display]

      iShadowMapResolution=8192 (Size of ENTIRE memory-pool used for shadow-texture distribution on surfaces)

      iShadowMapResolutijavascript-event-stripped4096 (Size of memory-pool used for secondary shadow LOD-textures on surfaces PAST the "iBlurDeferredShadowMask" range)

      iShadowMapResolutijavascript-event-stripped8192 (Size of memory-pool used for primary shadow LOD-textures on surfaces
      BEFORE the "iBlurDeferredShadowMask" range)

      fShadowBiasScale=0.6000 (The ANGLE the Shadowmaps are aligned to surfaces. 0.6 is recommended
      because going up to 1.0 makes the shadows detach from the feet of game characters.)

      iShadowMaskQuarter=4 (How many Quarters of the Shadowmap are being visually aligned to the players viewpoint. (1=25%, 2=50%, 3=75%, and 4=100%.)  The game engine does not recognize any value over 4.

      iBlurDeferredShadowMask=2 (The amount of blurring added to shadow-edges. 0=Sharpest with ZERO blurring, making shadows very choppy.
      5 is standard but causes whitish HALO'S surrounding everything silhouetted against a darker background. I recommend a value of 2 so that shadows seen up-close are still slightly 'soft' around the edges.)

      fShadowDistance=3000 (Distance of shadow-maps displayed to the player, highly recommended value is; 3000, but no higher since you lose quality the further away shadows are drawn, and most of the
      landscape of Skyrim was designed with hills and other surfaces to 'mask' these shadow-transitions.)

      fInteriorShadowDistance=8000.0000 (This value determines the distance to player that LIGHTS are displayed
      to DRAW shadows, if this value is below 8000, then players will see lights flashing on & off in dungeons and other interiors. Changing this value to smaller numbers does NOT improve shadow-resolution
      quality, this is strictly a light-casting draw-distance factor.)

      iShadowFilter=3 (Recommended value of 3, since 4 causes 'Crash To Desktop'!)

      fShadowLODStartFade=200.0000 (This is the number that changes the quality of a shadows appearance
      up-close, the smaller the number, the sharper the resolution. Tested extensively to be best at 200, since 100 is doesn't start drawing for the players point-of-view until 200.)

      iShadowMode=3 (Recommended value of 3, since 4 is buggy in some areas, particularly
      around waterfalls - which will be either too-bright or too dark.)

      bTreesReceiveShadows=0 (Personal choice)
      bDrawLandShadows=0 (OFF = CAUSES STRIPING!)
      bDrawShadows=1 (ESSENTIAL TO  BE ON OR NO SHADOWS AT ALL)

      bShadowMaskZPrepass=0 (leave at 0)

      VIDEO-PROOF: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIcHz9TSrTY
    2. defosh369
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      Hello There Valorien! Long time no chat. I am doing very well. Still little internet active, but personally very well.

      I hope you're doing fine aswell, especially in those troubled times. I can't stress enough how much I thank you for helping me developing this tweak.

      As for the issue:
      I am very rusty whem it comes to Skyrim tweaking nowadays, but I am sure that I've covered shadows in interiors in my tweaking guide. As you pointed out, shadows are not affected by lowering this value. But lights are. Whole scene lighting is being shifted back and forth.
      Yesterday's computers weren't powerful enough to run higher values of draw distances without some framerate dips, so I've kept them at mostly default values. Nowadays, with modern hardware, you can do whatever you want with this engine. Also, as far as I remember there is no way to tweak interior shadow quality besides changing the shadow resolution itself.

      And as you have said it is labeled rather... well... wrongly. Thanks for helpful comparison images!

      Cheers and stay safe.
  2. HateChanIzumi
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    nothing.
    still pixelated juming shadows
  3. heleanarodo2012
    heleanarodo2012
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    Most of these tweaks (which I tested) in SE are useless. Nothing's changes.
  4. ProggX
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    thank you bro and very informative tweaks keep up the good work
  5. nalex14
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    any idea why i can't get this to work in SSE?

    [DISPLAY]
    fSunShadowUpdateTime=0.10
    fSunUpdateThreshold=2.0
  6. martinvlad0123
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    Extremely useful tweaks, it's such a pain when you get all that ultra-high textures from STEP and then see pixel flickering shadows..
    But with the help of this tweaks shadow now look nearly perfect and even with notable boost in fps (in comparison to vanilla ultra parameters).
    Thank you!
  7. disi30
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    Thank you, this is a very good preset for the ini.
  8. Zylice
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    Excellent tweaks! They even make 1024 shadows look good! I don't have to use the performance-hogging 4096 shadows anymore.
    iBlurDeferredShadowMask=10 makes them look even less jagged/pixelated.
  9. P3ndu1uM
    P3ndu1uM
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    can't find the iShadowFilter
    1. jigs117
      jigs117
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      Just add the line then.
  10. defosh369
    defosh369
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    So, I think I am back. I think. I will try to respond to questions that simply missed an anwser, even if the question is way out of date, just for future reference for possible new users of my tweaks.
    I am back because I want to go back into some good old tweaking. Reason is quite simple, new Bethesda game has been released latley. New Fallout. I want to dig into tweaking Fallout 4 step by step and try to solve some issues here and there by tweaking stuff.

    How it works out, we will have to see.

    I think that that game needs some tweaking of shadows aswell. Of course it's not at the same level of Skyrim, since not much visual tweaking is needed, as this time we got soft shadows with a cherry on the top, and that is the best next gen thing ever, proper shadow blur, with what it seems variable shadow penumbra, that was much needed in Skyrim shadows in general.
    Why I will try to tweak Fallout shadows then, you might ask, well, it simply needs performance optimizations. And to be brutally honest, the whole game not only needs optimizations in the shadow related side of things, but general settings optimization aswell. Which I can try to do in my spare time, which is sadly not much latley, since past year and a half I have a full time job that, as you might imagine, is taking most of my free time and I'm really focusing on it. In the end, I will try to do something about this.

    As you might now, in some areas of the game the performance is quite horrid and some systems aren't able to run the game as well as they should. Simple as that. Which I believe can be fixed with some good old tweaking.

    Anyways, enough of the chit-chat already. Will see how things will turns up. I am digging into Fallout at this very moment and, if I discover someting substantial, or simply something worth sharing, I will let you know straight away in Fallot Nexus. And since I will dig into Fallout Nexus, I will check Skyrim Nexus a lot more, so please post your question straight away, I will try to anwser them as soon as possible.
  11. JohnQGalt
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    Hi defosh369,
    S.T.E.P. recommends a FOV of 81 to account for an 16:9 aspect ratio. Would the 2800 value you noted in the video cover that?

    S.T.E.P. reference page: http://wiki.step-project.com/STEP:2.2.9.1#3.B.1._Optimize_Field_of_View_.28FOV.29

    Thanks!