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Lighting technique in The Sims 3

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I was watching my girlfriend play the Sims 3 and the specular reflections on the fridge caught my eye. The shiny material appears to have diffuse interreflection from the rest of the room. I had her change the wallpaper a few times and the reflection certainly changes- leading me to believe its not baked in. Here are a few screenshots of said fridge. It might be a really simple or well known technique, but I am curious how this is done? I did notice that it will take a few frames for the fridges to respond to environment changes, my guess is some sort of realtime light probe at the fridges location?

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Your guess sounds pretty good; MJP's post at the end of this thread covered all of the techniques I was aware of as well as some I wasn't, so it may be helpful to you.

 

I wonder if maybe the light environment isn't calculated in the center of the "room" rather than at the location of the fridge itself; since the scene probably breaks down fairly naturally into different rooms, this might be a way to avoid having to calculate a light environment for every single object. This could also potentially explain why it takes a few frames to respond: if the light environment for a different room is calculated on each frame, it'd be much faster than doing it for every room every frame, and the amount of time taken would still be quite consistent across frames (although I suppose this could be the case if the light environment for a different object is calculated each frame as well). Does the lighting happen to "pop" at all if you drag the refrigerator from one room to another?

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