How the Makers of “Dying Light” Created Killer Lighting Effects

by Leslie Pirritano

By day you forage, scavenge and build. As you explore the ruined city of Harran, you do all you can to steer clear of the infected.

But as night falls, that changes. Safety flees with the light. Creatures gain speed and agility. Their senses are heightened. They travel in packs and strike fast. Your best chance of survival comes with smarts.

This is the setting in Techland’s Dying Light. This new open-world survival horror challenge isn’t your typical hack-and-slash zombie apocalypse. It’s a thinking man’s zombie game. Players use strategy, traps and parkour-style movements to work alone or in teams.

Enlightened: the shift from day to night is a key element in Dying Light's gameplay.
Enlightened: the shift from day to night is a key element in Dying Light’s gameplay.

Good Night, and Good Luck
One thing that sets Dying Light apart is its dynamic day and night cycle. This is a game that counts on lighting to set the mood. And that’s where NVIDIA GameWorks – and our NVIDIA ShadowWorks visual effects library – comes in.


NVIDIA HBAO+ handles the work of lighting and shadowing. It adds realistic shadowing and shading around objects and surfaces. It’s more precise than previous AO techniques. So, the result isn’t just better lighting. It’s lighting that doesn’t get in the way of great performance. It delivers, among other things, a more immersive zombie outbreak.

Like a Movie
When you play Dying Light, the story, graphics and presentation have a cinematic quality. That comes courtesy of our NVIDIA PostWorks Depth of Field library, which enables developers to apply film-style depth of field rendering to their games. This DirectX 11-powered effect increases the precision and image quality of depth of field blurring.

To see Dying Light at its best, grab the new GeForce Game Ready driver, release 347.25 WHQL. This Game Ready WHQL, released last week with the new GeForce GTX 960 ensures you’ll have the best possible gaming experience with Dying Light.

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Seeing the light: when light is a key part of the gameplay, as it is in Dying Light, lighting is a key technology.

It’s an experience that will only get better. We’re going to continue working with Techland to add even more GameWorks features to the game. Look for it in a patch sometime in the future.

Building great experiences is why we created GameWorks. NVIDIA has created a large amount of graphics techniques and code used to create special effects in games. GameWorks packages this library of graphics technologies in a production-oriented way. That makes it easier for developers to add them to their games. By extending the state of the art in graphics technologies, we make gaming a richer, cooler and better experience.

And Techland has made the zombie genre cooler, too. See you in Harran.

Want to dive into the details? Check out our complete Dying Light graphics and performance guide on