Just wanted to share some advice on the Editor. Couple of things have been bugging me for a long time, and only recently I've figured how to fix or explain them.
1. If you are using Parallax Occlusion Mapping feature in your materials, you may be familiar with this issue:
^ PoM off
^ PoM on
To avoid incorrect self-shading (especially pronounced under projector lights) make sure to change the HeightBias parameter (becomes available in material properties after enabling PoM flag) from default value of 1 to 0.
^ HeightBias = 1
^ HeightBias = 0
2. Do not use DestroyableLight Entity in SDK 3.4.0 (build 3410) as a shadow casting light source, it's bugged. If you need a shadow casting lamp consisting of geometry and a light source, I'd recommend to use the Light Entity coupled with a Brush into a Prefab for the moment. Not as customizable setup as DestroyableLight (lacking destructibility, for one), but at least shadow maps aren't broken like this:
3. Release 3.4.0 included some changes in shadow map rendering. As you may have noticed, shadow maps casted by every light source have a significantly more pronounced shadow acne. Previously that was solved by tuning these CVARs:
e_ShadowsConstBias=1 [ ]
e_ShadowsLodBiasFixed=1 [ ]
e_ShadowsLodBiasInvis=0 [ ]
e_ShadowsSlopeBias=1 [ ]
r_ShadowsBias=8e-005 [ ]
These, though, are now obsolete and would not affect the shadow maps in any way. Shadow bias is now configured individually for each Light Entity with a new ShadowBias parameter. Default value is 100. The value of 500 is, in my opinion, good for most light sources. Additionally, you can now configure shadow map update rate for each light source to improve performance. Unfortunately, these new parameters aren't yet mentioned in the official documentation.
Additionally, and most importantly, these parameters weren't implemented for the DestroyableLight Entity class, leaving it (as traditional global CVARs are now obsolete) without ANY way to fix shadow acne. That's a second reason why it's best not to use DestroyableLight in the current build.
From what I've heard, none of these problems persist in current internal builds (DestroyableLight Entities work great there and so on), but we're stuck with 3.4.0 until early 2013, so there's that.
4. Some of you may have noticed that terrain is completely unaffected by some ToD settings like ambient light levels. Took me a while to realize that, I've previously blamed everything from too bright diffuse texture to terrain layers settings:
Again, it's a bug of the current build that I expect will be fixed in the future, but for the moment, I've stumbled into a workaround solution.
Enabling the e_GsmCastFromTerrain CVAR should work most of the time. If the terrain still looks wrong, there is a way to force lighting conditions with cloud shadows.
Just specify any CloudShadowTexture in the Environment tab, set the ExtendLastShadowLODMinSpec to 1. Funny thing is, cloud shading is completely broken in this build (texture is not being loaded for some reason), but some kind of influence bugged cloud shading provides seems to be just what's needed there. Terrain lighting wakes up and behaves properly:
As far as I see, nothing is darkened additionally and shadow mask itself is not taken into account (this build won't render cloud shadows properly). It's a 100% lit terrain that (for some obscure reason triggered by aforementioned Environment changes) started taking ToD values into account. Unfortunately, broken cloud shadow masks out direct sun light everywhere, so use that only as a last resort for overcast weather. For other cases, e_GsmCastFromTerrain 1 is as far as it should go.
Now, you probably know that e_GsmCastFromTerrain is a CVAR enabling the shadow casting from terrain. Obviously, that can be somewhat undesirable, as it brings problems like shadow acne, flickering on distant LODs and performance drop, not to mention it's not really benefiting for most, relatively flat landscapes. But, again, until the next release it's what we have as a workaround.
5. A warning here: opening the Change Tile Resolution window and hitting OK without explicitly selecting the resolution from dropdown menu (for example, in a case when you realize you'd like to keep an existing value) results in selection of 64x64 tile resolution upon closing the window. It's a simple oversight (window won't load an existing value properly) and will be fixed later (probably), but for the moment, be careful not to lose your terrain work like that:
6. If you've tried to place sample assets into your levels, you're probably familiar with a peculiar look they have.
This overly dark appearance is not your problem (some would think there is some problem with lighting setup on their levels). It's just that lots of materials (characters, weapons, helicopter, some environment assets), were configured with extremely low diffuse color parameters, at times being practically black. That was done to match everything to at times very dark environments of the Forest example level, but these values look unsightly on any level with neutral lighting conditions.
I'm not sure why other means to achieve lower environment brightness weren't used on Forest (ToD?), but tweaking hundreds of materials to make scorched dark images out of diffuse textures (while losing color in the process) seems counter-productive. Not to mention that being example assets, they will confuse some new users who will wonder why everything looks so inconsistent on their maps.
So, just nevermind and use your own assets. :) Also, here is a quote from Crytek community manager:
We're completely overhauling the assets for a big release next year
These assets be configured better, I hope. :)
7. Material Editor is unloading a material and directories that were opened in it every time you close the window. Not a bug, but extremely inconvenient if you're working with a material from some folder hidden five subfolder levels below. So, either keep the window open or make use of "Pick Material from Object" and "Get Item From Selected Object" tools. There are some issues with these, though, and I want to warn about them.
"Pick Material from Object" tool is unable to open the same material twice during a session. Once you need to find some material for second round of editing or something else, clicking on objects gives you nothing, tool is just not functional. Try not to throw your keyboard at your screen like I often do and let's hope this bug will be fixed in the next release. Good thing is, issue is partially compensated by "Get Item From Selected Object" tool, which works every time. Sadly, it has no use in selecting materials from terrain or other unusual sources. So while editing these, try not to close Material Editor to avoid lengthy manual searches in the material library.
That's probably all I can remember for now. :)