HDR and Bloom - developers go overboard?

Maybe it’s ATI drivers, but so far there are several games that I bregrudingly have turned off HDR and Bloom because the games look too washed out and texture detail is compromised. Primarily because it appears they use a nearby Nuclear deivce as a light source instead of a sun. A few that do this -

  1. Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 (Bloom)
  2. Guild Wars (Bloom)
  3. Age of Empires III (HDR)
  4. Oblivion (HDR)

Additionally, I often see sunlight trailing in on HDR scenes - and once again, instead being a sourced by the sun, it looks like it was sourced by a 50-ton phospherous grenade. ex:

Another example (this one from AoE III)… the Cathedral facing the sun almost looks like metal the light is so overwhelming…

I see a lot of this in screenshots for upcoming games as well and it has me concerned I’ll be forced to turn more of it off to see sharper texture detail when the sun’s out (HDR often seems to muddy or blur objects & textures based on its implementation).

Am I alone in thinking these lighting effects are overdone too often?

HDR is like the new lens flare. Developers love to overuse things like this for the first couple of years, but eventually they settle down and begin to use them more subtly and not make them the focus of a game’s graphics.

Right. HDR’s one of those effect you have to overdue if you want people to notice it. A subtle, natural effect will look better and feel right, but it’ll be harder to putt your finger on why that is.

Valve’s use of HDR looks pretty nice to me.

Hmmm, Thomas Kincade called, he wants his shtick back.

Yes you’re absolutely right. And though I don’t like EQ2 as a game, I did like they’re use of bloom. The skies “torn star” effect was subtle but very nicely done. On vs. Off made a big difference.

So does anyone know of a way to compensate for overblown HDR? Oblivion and AoE III are frustrating me the most.

Hmmm, Thomas Kincade called, he wants his shtick back.
Maybe not-so-ironically, I never liked his art style.

Brandon Bird is the real painter of light!

Concerned’s take on the subject:

Interesting is how the affect appears much better when the designers have to work around technical limitations to get it (Team ICO), but dreadful when it’s just there as a feature of the video card and, presumably, new programming interfaces (all this modern stuff).

But then, I guess that’s no different to hand-painted lens flares vs. the obvious, mindless photoshop one.

I guess what I’m trying to say is people should stop with the cheap easy HDR, because it will debase the perceived merit of overexposed lighting in general, when that it is fact often a beautiful and evocative effect when done well.

hehe, nice.