This thread is mainly for some of the core developers, namely Squally, Cresty, Ravanna, Eloth and probably some concept artist, most likely Lukkar as he has already done a lot of the atmospheric concepts.
This is a combination of some ideas that have been kicking around in my head for years and the fact that getting some headway with Ash Storms has got me into technical aspects of making these ideas more reality.
The first concept is what I'm going to label as "Farlighting". The idea came from the original work that I did on Bitter Coast weather and specifically adding strong lights into the region, so that the backgrounds have eerie/atmospheric glows to it. It mimics a bloom popularized by a lot of fantasy paintings (and ENBs). It had some problems, namely it looked good from a distance and not so good up close as it was too bright and in sunny weather just way too bright.
So my intention was to find out how to fade lights so that as the player got closer they would dim. Same for particular weathers, to turn the sources off or dim.
A few enquiries went in at the time and it seemed like doing anything dynamically with lights was not really possible. Years went by and there was always something more important. But I'm feeling frisky for this again, so hence the thread.
Farlighting is a concept for Fogs in Ashlands, Lava glows in Molag Amur and Vine Clusters in Bitter Coast. Its possible that we extend this for other regions, but leave it at that for the mean time.
Farlighting is ONLY used in foggy weather. Here is an example(ish) of Ashland Fog, but this is literally an automated placement of objects, for testing, blah ,blah, blah. (*it seems you guys take testing concepts far too literally :P)
This is without ENB, and lets be honest, ENBs are all about bloom and saturation. Right. So the idea is we get to control the look in a much more definitive way. It allows for scenes to be quite dark and moody, but allows large areas to be viewed in this darkened atmosphere.
OK, so that looks like a cool concept, whats the problem? What it looks like in sunny weather and if up close is like a person shining a touch in your eyes, not good.
So the idea is have these objects control by scripts according to conditions. Not the easiest as CK and SKSE doesn't have exactly the functions to to this, however there is always a way. I've got a few different object manipulations to tackle it, but you'll just have to trust me.
We already have the glowing Bitter Coast vine cluster, so what we need to do is make sure that the glows are full LOD, give them the scripts for less intensive up close and low for non-foggy weathers. Now Squally I know you've added new light reference around those, but this will be an easy add to the model itself.
Squally again, Molag Amur will be similar, but the "Farlighting" will be red hues to lava. Whats different to the lighting you have at the moment? Well we can add them to the lava models, and the idea is to make them really intense at a distance. You'll notice with normal lighting is that when you get up close they over saturate the scene. Too bright. I just want to get this post out, but hopefully I can do some sort of sample scene so you'll get a better idea. Also the lighting doesn't specifically need to be on actual lava. Not all areas have lava in Molag Amur, but we want the Farlighting to be subtly added in all scenes for the general look and also as a way for people to navigate in the dark foggy acidic atmosphere. It will be fog that is lit up by distant Lava, so white/red hue.
I guess the important part is for landscapers is "So what do I have to do?" Well ultimately, as I've said Bitter Coast and Lava for Molag Amur can just be added to the existing models. However some fog/atmosphere lighting will need to be added manually. IT WILL BE THE ABSOLUTE LAST THING TO ADD. You can obviously add anytime you want, but I want to make it clear that its not a job I want to pile up on anybody at the moment. But its important to get the concept across now, as people have lighting in mind when landscaping, especially lava regions as its a natural source of light,
Alright, also for development purposes I want to move weathers into a plugin. For general testing it should be a very clear set of lighting, so that people can see objects for errors (clipping/floating, bad models, etc). For videos, screen pics, etc can add the plugin. Plus it will be easier to pass the plugin between us between releases, as I'm sure Squally and Cresty will want to get some awesome tweaking done to lighting/weathers :) Hopefully I can work on the scripts and you guys work on the actual lighting?
Also as far as regional weather I've gone off this idea, simply because I think having the sunny, cloudy, fog mild, fog heavy, rainy, thunder, ash and blight will be enough, and the Farlighting will set the tones more. Also there are so many settings to a weather that having the core set above will make it easier to control our final looks. If we start branching out then tweaking them all becomes a nightmare. Having been the person to branch out the regional weather, it really didn't work out all that well. We added green tones, etc, but it just wasn't the best in the end. We ended up using a more natural lighting and its the same foggy weather as used in the Ashland Fog picture above.
Sorry there is more... people keep mentioning using "Real Clouds" http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/39450/? Its a volumetric cloud system, i.e. it adds real meshes to the world. Now maybe we can do something like this, not actually using this mod as it has bugs, but it leads to a possibly bigger thought process/plans for the skies of Skywind.
It might be that we start with a completely clean slate. It all really comes down to how we want the skies to look. With the advent of making volumetric ash storms, obviously its got me thinking. This is where concept art might leads us onto what we actually want Vvardenfell to look like. There are a lot of tools with CK to do what we want. We already have the Red Mountain plume, but it might be that this is extended to be more accommodating to be an overall solution to the sky. If we are adding volumetric clouds, etc, we need better control as a lot of bugs/glitches come from models overlapping each other with alpha layers. You can literally add Real Clouds as a mod and it work with Skwyind, but as you can imagine will not fit what we want to do, especially with Ash and Blight storms.
Nights. Do you explore at night in Skyrim? Do you explore at night in Morrowind? I've always been a person who doesn't roleplay and just skips the night time with the wait function in favor of exploring during the day, well because its easier to see stuff :P Currently our Skywind nights are impossible to see anything. But I was thinking that between Farlighting and using the excuse of a lit up Red Mountain plume (and Blight storm) we can have nights that are quite perceivably explorable, but retaining a very dark nighttime look still.
Finally, Mace, when I get a bit closer to solutions for some to these things I'll do a blog and incorporate the Ash Storm as part of the writing