Hi, I am ManDynasty and I will tell you something about different environments in the Beat Saber Editor.
This guide covers pre 13.0 (Beat Saber version) Lighting, which has slightly changed with 13.0. You can find a plain demonstration of all effects (based on the template found at the end of this guide) here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjEBC8nEvxdCE2OgvYK27LQNHVyItERTV
This is an advanced guide. It will not tell you anything about how the lighting track in the Editor works or what a Flash-Note is. It is focussing on actual In-Game appearance of different environments and what possibilities you have with those.
So if you think, that the environment does not matter, you will learn, that there are huge differences between those. I will show you a direct comparison between environments and list the down- and upsides, as well as their recommend use. At the end you will find a comparison video, showing the main lighting effects in comparison.
First of all, there are currently 4 different environments used for mapping: Default, BigMirror, Nice and Triangle.
There is also the KDA-Environment used for Pop/Stars – KDA, but I would not recommend using it, since it is very specific and also very restrictive. Though you can still do cool stuff with it like Joetastic for example with Pop/Stars VS Megalovania (Check it out: https://beatsaver.com/browse/detail/10760-11343). I also included a Bonus clip including the environment at the end.
There are a lot of custom environments you could do specific lighting for, but I will naturally focus on the 4 main ones.
To give a quick overview:
The most prominent traits:
All environments have lightable outer rings and all, except for BigMirror, also have unlightable inner rings. Those can be zoomed in or out, which means they stack together close to the player or they expand to the back. All have some kind of runway, where the notes travel over, except for Nice which seems to float. All have Bottom/Back/Side Lasers, which stick to the runway (except for Nice of course), as well as a Back Top Laser (not in image). All have Left/Right Lasers, though for Nice they kind of turn into Top and Bottom Lasers.
To be more precise:
BigMirror: Wide runway, no inner rings
Default: Rectangle inner rings, runway lighting besides runway
Nice: No runway (floating), rectangle inner rings (more centered), Top/Bottom instead of Left/Right Lasers
Triangle: Triangle inner rings, runway lights directly on runway
Going more into detail:
Since BigMirror has no inner rings, it is the easiest to use environment. The major point to use this environment is the overall visibility of effects. Since no obscuring inner rings are in the way, the other effects can be seen much better. Of course, you cannot use those inner rings for cool effects as well. So if you mainly use Back Top Laser and Left/Right Lasers for effects, this will be your main environment choice. You can also do some fancy effects called Slides, which is basically letting the light travel between those 3 Lasers. The Back Top Laser is between the Left and Right Lasers. Therefore you can: turn on left, turn off, turn on middle, turn off, turn on right, turn off. And it will look like the light traveled from left to right. This has an even greater effect when the Laserspeed is set on 0 (since the Back Top Laser is static as well).
This is a solid basis for every light show. This environment now has inner rings, which add some really cool effect to it. It has good visible Left/Right Lasers. The main downside is the strongly obscured Back Top Laser. Sadly it is barely visible, so you should try to avoid placing significant effects on it. It works best when coupled with some other light source (mainly Bottom/Back/Side Lasers). Also the zoom effect of the inner rings is not very strong and therefore barely noticable.
As its name says, it definitely brings in a new touch. Its Left/Right Lasers are actually moved to top and bottom, which makes for a really cool and new effect. Since the runway is missing, it looks more tidy and gives more room to the Back Top Laser (in comparison to Default). The most important downside though is, that it is placed far in the background (especially the lightable outer rings). So when you add some more subtle effects, they are most likely not or just barely visible. On the upside, if you go haywire with your lighting, it will not be annoying to the player. It uses very similar inner rings as Default, they are just more centered, but can be zoomed and spinned the same.
This is the hardest environment, since you can do the weirdest stuff with it. The main point is its strong zoom effect combined with its size. When zoomed in and spinned it obscures most of the visible lightsources. So you need to make sure to zoom it out when you want specific effects to be seen (e.g. Left/Right Lasers and Track Ring Neons), or to zoom in, when you want a darker part (or the background goes haywire and you want to obscure it). I will call this Darkness Control, since it is the crucial part of this environment. A big downside though is the 0-Speed Left/Right Laser position. It kind of hangs above the inner ring and looks a little bit weird. You might want to avoid it. Though you can also make cool stuff with it (e.g. make it blue and use it as a rain animation since it comes from above).
0-Speed Left/Right Laser position comparison:
Summing it up:
- Pros: Left/Right/Back Top Laser Visibility
- Cons: Inner ring zoom and spin disabled
- Best use: Easiest environment, when many strong effects lay on Left/Right/Back Top Laser (for example with Slides)
- Pros: Left/Right Laser visibility, inner rings
- Cons: Back Top Laser hidden, weak inner rings zoom
- Best use: Solid Basis, ring spins
- Pros: Left/Right Laser turn to Back/Top Lasers, no runway (floating)
- Cons: Far in the background, bad visibility of effects
- Best use: Extreme lights that should not annoy players, smooth lights without too many effects
- Pros: Strong ring zoom, Darkness Control
- Cons: 0-Speed Left/Right Lasers
- Best use: Hardest environment, when in need of Darkness Control
I tried to put the enviroments into specific classes like easy or hard to use. That does not mean that you are a better lighter when you use the harder enviroment. It just advises you to be more careful when using those and better double check ingame to see if the effects are the wanted ones (e.g. make an awesome Left/Right Lasers lightshow on Triangle and completely hide it behind zoomed in inner rings, OOF!). So you can basically do less wrong with the easier ones. Depending on the song and your lighting aim every environment can stand its basis. I personally dont have a favorite one myself and use all of them, depending on the actual song.
I prepared a little video showing the same sample lightshow in every environment. Keep in mind that the field of view (FOV) in cameraplus is a little different than what the player might actually see. I tried to create a player FOV in the second video, but it surely depends on the players, where they look and even partly on the hardware used. You can also download the sample files and test for yourself.
As a little Bonus I also included the sample for the KDA-Environment. Though you will see that it is very basic and I do not recommend to use it for normal maps. Probably there are some songs out there where it would make sense though. Just dont let me tell you what to do.
Sample files download: click here
If you have further questions, suggestions or just want to talk about Lighting, feel free to add me on discord: ManDynasty#4729. Most of it is based on my perception and I always like to hear other oppinions!