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This is the final of the four compiling programs. It takes data from the VIS program and assigns a light value for each texture so that the game engine doesn't have to trace the values during game play. RAD requires lots of RAM and time. The bigger the map and the more lights, the more time RAD will need to compile.
I compiled a map on a PII 400 with 128Mb RAM and then the same map on a P4 1.6GHz with 256Mb RAM. The difference in the time the RAD compiling took was about one fifth that of the older machine.
More info from DOE, Snowdog: RAD: The RAD tool, or Radiosity tool, is responsible for generating and applying all lighting effects in a level. Everything from entity lights and the "sky" down to the lowly texture light has to be handled by this tool. A .bsp that has not had RAD run on it will appear pitch black in game or full-bright depending on video-mode and console-settings. This tool is normally the one responsible for slowing down compiles most of the time as it has to process huge amounts of data in the completion of its task.