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Lighting Up Frostbite 2: How Enlighten Takes DICE’s Engine to New Heights in Medal of Honor: Warfighter

October 19, 2012 Written by Alex Osborn

There’s more to making a game look pretty than just packing on polygons, and Enlighten’s lighting technology is evidence of that very fact. DICE’s groundbreaking game engine Frostbite 2 makes use of Geomerics’ Enlighten, and its astounding effects can be seen in titles like last year’s Battlefield 3 and Danger Close’s upcoming shooter Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

Fortunately, we got a chance to connect with the COO and founder of Enlighten, Chris Doran, who shared with us how the inclusion of his lighting technology has served to enhance the overall experience in MOH: Warfighter. “EA and Danger Close knew that stunning graphics add to the mood and realism of the story, and set out to make the best looking game of 2012. Lighting is a key component of graphics and the Frostbite 2 engine, with Enlighten integrated, gave Danger Close total control over how their game was lit,” he explained.

“Their artists could focus on the details such as how light bounces off surfaces, the effect of fire and explosions, and how light diffuses when seen through smoke, mist or clouds. All of these creative details add to the realism of the whole experience.”

Doran also elaborated on the Frostbite 2 engine itself, explaining how important it has become for Electronic Arts, as a number of the publisher’s titles are now being built on the tech, and likely will for years to come. “Frostbite 2 is one of the most technically advanced engines in use today and is setting new standards for graphics quality on PC, PS3 and 360,” he said, noting that “EA Exec VP Patrick Soderlund has stressed that what we have seen so far is only the beginning for an engine that was clearly developed with a generation transition in mind.”

If you’ve seen Medal of Honor: Warfighter in action, then the visual benefits of DICE’s engine should be pretty obvious. One of the most essential aspects in any visually engaging experience is the lighting, something that Frostbite 2 excels at thanks to the integration of Enlighten. Of course, lighting must be dynamic and mold around what is happening within the game world, a challenge that Doran believes Enlighten tackles quite well.

Enlighten solves a particularly challenging problem when computing the lighting in a game world. Over time developers have worked out many techniques for computing the direct lighting in a scene. This is light that travels from the light source onto a surface, and then directly to your eyes. The problem is that in reality much of the light we see has bounced off multiple surfaces.

Computing this bounced light in real-time was thought to be impossible until Enlighten was released. With Enlighten bounced lighting can be computed in real-time on a current generation games console. DICE were sufficiently impressed with the technology to adopt it early and fully integrate it into their Frostbite 2 engine.

Earlier this year, Geomerics was given the Develop Industry Award for Technical Innovation thanks the the incredible capabilities of Enlighten. As video games continue to improve visually, the bar for realistic lighting continues to elevate higher and higher, and this company’s tech will undoubtedly play a major role in that evolution. “Great lighting technology is to games what great cinematography is to films – it can raise an artistic achievement to an entirely new level. Games like Medal of Honor: Warfighter will set the standard for games graphics and lighting is a key part of that story,” Doran concluded.

Fortunately, we’ve only got a few days of waiting left until we all can experience the visual splendor that can be found in Danger Close’s military first-person shooter when it launches on October 23rd.