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Can animated objects share meshes?

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Hey! In the book I'm reading, it says that the only way two objects can share the same mesh is if they're static, and that two animated objects can't reference the same mesh because the mesh data changes... This sounds kind of gross to me, and I was wondering how games like "Dead Rising" make it feasable to have hundreds of the same zombie on the screen. Is it possible to have two animated characters/objects use the same mesh, or are you doomed to have separate vertex buffer data for each individual animated thingy? Thanks!

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It sounds like your book is sort of talking about morphing animation or some other scheme that does not allow re-use, but a skeletal or basic rigid body system can certainly share most of the data between instances.

Typically with a skeletal animation setup there are some classes that are shared, because they represent the unchanging portions, like one for the triangles and indices in the bind pose, another for the bind pose skeleton, and then some classes that are unique for each instance, that would allow you to vary materials, perhaps some scale parameters, the particular current skeletal transforms, the currently running animations and weights, etc.

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