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What is low-poly (nowdays)

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#1 Misery   Members   -  Reputation: 352


Posted 14 July 2014 - 11:14 AM

For games 3d models are usually created as low-poly models. What I would like to ask - what does it mean nowdays? Low poly model 10 years ago was something absolutely different than now. However I was unable to find any hints (if that is 30 or 300 triangles for example).

I am working on my first game. I will create it in Unity, for 3d modeling I use Blender. I would be very happy if I could have graphics like in first part of game Condemned criminal origins. I would be very grateful for images containing example meshes for characters, buildings and weapons so I could just see what is general density of the mesh.




#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 39023


Posted 14 July 2014 - 11:27 AM

It largely depends on your engine, your target machine, and the number of objects in the world.

If you have few objects you can have a higher number of polygons and denser textures. Lots of objects means fewer polygons and smaller textures. On the hardware side, if your game is mainstream and works on anything P4 or greater, or targets shader level 2 or greater, or otherwise allows for older machines, it is very different from a game that requires a 64-bit OS and 16GB of memory and a DX11 class graphics card.

On most projects the art budget was specified based on the size and importance of objects. A small object (quarter meter or less) had a limit of around 150 triangles and 1024 square textures. For important characters and large objects, 4000 polygons and large textures are acceptable.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.

#3 mark ds   Members   -  Reputation: 1678


Posted 14 July 2014 - 11:58 AM

Another thing to look into is the concept of LOD (Level Of Detail), which is still relevant today. The idea is that you create multiple versions of each model with progressively lower numbers of triangles, and you choose an appropriate one to draw based on the distance from the player. For example, a nearby human character may have 10,000 triangles for the face alone, including inside the mouth, nostrils and ears. If you draw the same model when it's 300 metres away, you'd end up with thousands of triangles smaller than a pixel - so you'd choose a low-res version to render.


There are techniques to do LOD using tessellation shaders, but I'd suggest not worrying about them for your first game.

#4 GoCatGo   Members   -  Reputation: 1653


Posted 14 July 2014 - 12:49 PM

Both of the above answers are spot-on.  I'd like to add some Unity-specific experience from the standpoint of a guy with ZERO artistic ability:  Be wary of your drawcalls and the performance hit your materials (textures + shaders + normals/etc.) are having.  You'd be amazed at the difference optimizing your drawcalls and making a texture atlas has over just using lower poly models.


Optimization, smart LoD management, occlusion culling, and knowing when it is appropriate to pump up your polycount will get you a FANTASTIC looking game on lots of different rigs.  Ignoring those things in Unity will often lead to a sluggish, stuttering game (check out most anything on Steam Greenlight that has "zombie" or "survival" in the description to see how NOT to use Unity).


ETA:  Looking at those images of Comdemned makes me think that you need to explore using Substances in Unity.  For instance, the poly count on the walls/floors can be minimal, but the application of Substances will give it a great tactile look with tweakble grunge and all sorts of parameters to play with.  The character models seemed like they had a very mid-range poly count, but well done textures with normals, specular maps, and a nice cloth shader. 

Edited by GoCatGo, 14 July 2014 - 12:54 PM.

Indie games are what indie movies were in the early 90s -- half-baked, poorly executed wastes of time that will quickly fall out of fashion.  Now go make Minecraft with wizards and watch the dozen or so remakes of Reservior Dogs.

#5 Misery   Members   -  Reputation: 352


Posted 14 July 2014 - 02:38 PM

Thanks a lot guys! :]

#6 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 48376


Posted 14 July 2014 - 03:58 PM

As long as you don't have triangles that are smaller than a pixel, triangle-count doesn't matter very much these days (that is for PC/next-gen... On mobile phones it will matter more).
In the worst case, you want every triangle to cover about a 2x2 pixel area, or in the optimal case about an 8x8 pixel area.
Games will use LODs, as mentioned above, to try and keep the triangle-pixel-area values somewhere above this range.

The original model for a character might be created with over a million polygons in the art tools, and exported with LODs that have 100k, 10k, 1k and 100 triangles :D

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