Copyright Sierra Stdios & Valve Software

Visual CVARs Names, Values(Range or Toggle), Default Values, Explanations and Performance considerations 
based on 3Dfx Interactive's Voodoo2 running 3Dfx's MiniGL driver
by )))Reverend(((


Four settings that are probably the most important


1. brightness 1(1) Value 0 – 30  **Doesn’t affect speed. index

Glare of light itself, surfaces on which light falls on and entities. Needs game re-started if changed. If game not re-started, only entites will brighten up on-the-fly, not walls and surfaces. Also, it's important you read the sub-section below.

I have tested this setting extensively and contrary to quite a few recommendations from various web-sites that this be set to 3, 4 or 5 together with gl_texsort set to "1",my own recommendation is to leave it at "1" with gl_texsort also set at "1". Most people will say that "1" is not enough,that compared to "3" and above, scenes,especially in-door ones,look way too dark.Let me say that Half-Life is one of the most immersive game todate. And that depends a lot on the amount of lighting to set the mood.Sure,setting brightness to "1" leaves a lot of scenes dark but that’s the way they should look. What you want to do is reach a setting where textures actually show and not look so bright as to not see any textures at all and for lighting effects to appear right. There are two good map examples to show this,one is at the start of the game in the room with chequered floor in Anomalous Materials, and the other is at Questionable Ethics, just before you go out into the open area.

I will show four screen shots to illustrate my point(yes, thay are what bump up the size of this guide but they’re important).
The shots were taken at 1024x768 on a Voodoo2SLI, compressed at highest quality from .bmp to .jpeg , and resized to 320x240.

Unchanged variable in all shots are (1) gl_texsort "1" and (2) gamma "3" :

Map in Anomalous Materials
Two things to notice:
(1) The table
(2) The wall next to the coke machine

(image 1) (image 2)
Anomalous b1g3 Anomalous b3g3
brightness 1, gamma 3, gl_texsort 1 brightness 3, gamma 3, gl_texsort 1
Textures on table are discernible, wall next to coke machine has red glow. Textures on table is gone, wall next to coke machine has no red glow. Also notice the wall on the scientist's right, absolutely no texturing visible.


Map near ending of Questionable Ethics
The thing to consider here is basically the lights in the room,or rather the lack of it.It only has a sunlight rooftop. Also the hallway to the left has very small lights,so really,it should appear dark and foreboding.

(image 3) (image 4)
Questionable b1g3 Questionable b3g3
brightness 1, gamma 3, gl_texsort 1 brightness 3, gamma 3, gl_texsort 1


Basically, for the Brightness setting, what we’re aiming for here is a realistic look, based on the amount of light sources available in each and every scene. gl_texsort plays the major part in setting the overall "mood" of the particular area you’re in.Think of gl_texsort as the variable that controls whether you want to set the "brightness" the same in every scene (i.e. texture-sorted : gl_texsort "1") or whether you want the "brightness" to be set according to map (i.e. map(.BSP) sorted : gl_texsort "0").
Again,really a user preference but my recommended setting (i.e. Brightness "1") is for a realistic,visually correct look.

Now, if you still prefer the game brighter but don’t want the glare associated with increasing the Brightness setting, see the Nos.3 and 4 ("texgamma" and "lightgamma") further below.

2. gamma 3(2) Value 1.8 to 3 **Doesn’t affect speed. index

Brightness of red, green and blue (RGB) colors. Needs game restarted if changed. If not restarted, same effect as brightness. Also, please see sub-section just below this.
Really per-user subjective preference.

These two settings DO NOT load up automatically even if you specify them within the 3dfx.cfg (see further on) in \Half-Life\valve\hw\. They are absolutely ignored and never gets written to the appropriate path in Windows9x's Registry (and therefore it's useless to even try restarting the game). If you followed the (B) route (i.e. naming the config as 3dfx.cfg and placing it in \Half-Life\valve\hw\ ), you'll have to start the game and type the following at the console :  

exec hw\3dfx.cfg  

and then still have to quit and restart the game for these two cvars to take effect. However, if you followed the (A) route, then you're set (i.e. these two settings will take effect if you followed the 3 steps outlined in (A) below, which, again, includes a quit+restart routine). And changing the values of these two in the console followed by a game-restart will work also. 


3. texgamma 2(2) Value 1 to 10 (higher values are darker)   
4. lightgamma 2.5(2.5) Value 1 to 10 (higher values are darker) 
**Both no effect on speed. index

I’m grouping these two cvars into one section as they’re related. Needs game restarted if values changes in-game.The values above are the default and is my recommended setting with Brightness at "1". If you want a brighter scene without the glare on surfaces (that makes textures disappear) that happens if you increase the Brightness setting above my recommended "1",then set these two to:

texgamma 3
lightgamma 2

keeping Brightness 1,Gamma 3 and gl_texsort 1

I have found these two values to be the optimal, brightening up the scene without introducing glare plus increasing the brightness of entities as well (monsters,scientists,pick-ups).What these two values do is to change the brightness of textures(texgamma) and the intensity of lightsources(lightgamma). You’ll want to strike a fine balance by playing with these values.

Some screenshots at the values specified above (texgamma 3, lightgamma 2,Brightness 1, Gamma 3) for illustration.Compare these with those in the Brightness section above( the ones with Brightness at "1").

Map in Anomalous Materials
Notice the same two things,table and wall next to coke machine plus the floor.
You’ll notice quite a bit of an increase in texturing,much less glare and still get the red glow on the wall next to the coke machine.

(image 5) (image 1 as above)
Anomalous t3l2 Anomalous b1g3
gl_texsort 1, brightness 1, gamma 3, texgamma 3, lightgamma 2 gl_texsort 1, brightness 1, gamma 3,  texgamma  2, lightgamma 2.5


Map near ending of Questionable Ethics
Here it appears to be darker but look at the walls(brighter),the hallway on the left(brighter) and the overall lighter shades of shadows in
the background.

(image 6) (image 3 as above)
Questionable t3l2 Questionable b1g3
gl_texsort 1, brightness 1, gamma 3, texgamma 3, lightgamma 2 gl_texsort 1, brightness 1, gamma 3, texgamma 2, lightgamma 2.5


You’ll also obviously notice another thing,the colours and its depth.They’re now less washed out,more vibrant,deeper and much richer (compare the red color of the cokemachine between [image 5] and [image1 as above] and the blue color of the gas-cannister thingy in the weapon between [image6] and [image3 as above]). Heck,bet you didn’t even know the floor in the Questionable Ethics map is blue,huh? Yes,the pics look “rougher and grittier” but it’s because of the amount of textures now visible.

It’s an individual user’s call again.As per the title of this document,it is merely a guide.

Personally, and as reflected in my configs, I have "texgamma 2" (yes, it's a lower value than described above, which means brighter textures) and "lightgamma 2" , keeping Brightness 1, Gamma 3 and gl_texsort 1.

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