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[OPEN] Shadows disappear in tab mode when tilting the camera

by pictureamoebae
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Original Post

[OPEN] Shadows disappear in tab mode when tilting the camera

[ Edited ]
★ Apprentice

Product: The Sims 4
Platform:PC
Which language are you playing the game in? English
How often does the bug occur? Every time (100%)
What is your current game version number? 1.72.28.1030
What expansions, game packs, and stuff packs do you have installed? All except Bust the Dust
Steps: How can we find the bug ourselves? Go into tab mode camera. Look into the middle- to far-distance, find a shadow, watch it disappear as you move the tab mode camera up (up means anything other than tilted slightly downwards, they start to disappear even when the camera is level), watch it reappear as you tilt the tab mode camera down.
What happens when the bug occurs? When in tab mode camera, shadows disappear as you tilt the camera up, and reappear when you tilt the camera down.
What do you expect to see? Shadows should remain in place and consistent regardless of the angle of the camera.
Have you installed any customization with the game, e.g. Custom Content or Mods? Not now. I've removed them.
Did this issue appear after a specific patch or change you made to your system? Neutral/Not Sure 

Extra info: I have repaired my game and generated a new The Sims 4 folder in Documents. I have tried in fullscreen and windowed mode. The issue has persisted for several years now, across multiple driver updates, and seems to happen to everyone I've spoken to. It is easily missed because it's sometimes hidden by the game's distance blur.

 

I think this might be related to why depth effects in ReShade (I removed ReShade while I was troubleshooting this problem to remove any potential conflicts) change their distance and strength as you move the camera up and down in tab mode.

 

Troubleshooting this with ReShade installed and various depth effects turned on suggests it might be that the game's depth buffer recalculates the far distance plane as the camera moves up and down, so effects begin farther away or nearer to the camera depending on the tilt of the camera, which isn't usual behaviour, and seemed to start happening at around the time Get Famous was released. This is not how the depth buffer generally works in other games, and it's not how it used to work in TS4. It seems to be broken in some way, breaking vanilla game shadows and ReShade depth effects with it.

 

To clarify, even if someone doesn't use ReShade, the vanilla game shadows disappear when the tab mode camera is level or tilted up, and return again when the tab mode camera is tilted down. This makes the graphics look flat and sterile and makes it seem like you're not using high graphics settings. It entirely changes the look of the game for the worse.

 

My guess is that around the time Get Famous released the devs were talking about having to make compromises because of performance (hence playable lots becoming fewer around that time), and as part of that the way they calculate the game's distance blur may have been changed. Rather than using a real auto-focus, I believe it was changed to move the depth buffer distance itself as you tilt the camera, so when you look down distance blur moves closer, and when you look up distance blur retreats back. The problem is the depth buffer distance should be static, otherwise it doesn't function correctly when calculating distance that ReShade effects rely on. Likewise, the vanilla game shadows seem related to this as well, and now disappear when tilting the camera up because they think they're in the far distance, rather than only being in the middle distance. The result is a sterile looking scene with no shadowing. 

 

Two photos are attached to show a middle distance shadow that completely disappears when the camera is tilted slightly up (without ReShade installed, no mods, repaired game, new save, new TS4 documents folder). Two photos (side by side) are also attached to show how ReShade is affected by this, in this case MXAO - notice the shadows on the trees in the far distance and at the front behind the yellow dumpster and how they are strong and apparent with the camera tilted very slightly down, and far weaker or non-existent with the camera level or tilted slightly up.

 

Edit By Crinrict: Added Tag to Title, adjusted title to fit.

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