As a Roblox developer, it is currently too difficult to simulate lighting beams under realistic atmospheric conditions - this is incredibly useful functionality which is currently missing from the engine.
Currently, developers can only use
Beams to simulate volumetric lighting beams. In most cases, such as background elements - this is an acceptable workaround. However, there are common cases where this method proves undesirable.
The illusion is immediately broken as soon as the player is viewing the beam from a straight-on perspective. Consider the following flashlight & streetlight example:
This side-effect can be remedied by instead using
ParticleEmitters - however, this will quickly become a performance bottleneck with how many particles are required.
Unfortunately, all of these workarounds share a common problem. The light beam goes through objects and, at best - ruins immersion, at worst - seriously affects gameplay.
Volumetric lighting beams are an expensive technique to render. Instead of supporting this system globally on every emitter (this would be ideal though) - it could be Instanced, for example -
VolumetricBeam with configuration options available.
These new instances could be rendered in HD or use a lower-quality Fallback version depending on the performance of the device they are rendered on.
Developers could also tune this behavior manually on a per-instance basis to optimize distant beams while maintaining visual fidelity on near and important beams like player flashlights or overhead lighting.
These are just a few rough ideas that come to mind when thinking optimization, engineers will, of course, figure out a solution that works best for the engine. Compromises will need to be made to balance performance & visual fidelity.
The market for realistic experiences on the platform is rapidly growing as the technology developers have at their disposal is advancing. To continue the innovation, developers are going to need more post-processing and lighting effects.
With so many new environmental experiences appearing on the platform lately, horror games, adventure games, and FPS games alike - there is no shortage of demand for this new technology. If implemented, it would be a groundbreaking achievement.
To conclude, here are a few example use cases where this technology could be leveraged. Some examples are not volumetric, but convey a compelling use-case.