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Efficiently drawing instanced and hierarchy meshes?

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What is the best way I can draw meshes of the same type? For instance, if I have 8 of the same moving ship on screen, how can I best do that so most of the processing power lies on the graphics card? I am trying to limit my CPU usage as much as possible. The best method I can think of would be to set my materials/textures/fvf one time then draw what I need and repeat for any other meshes. On a similar note, for drawing (and updating) hierarchy meshes I am currently using a recursive function to go down the branches of children and siblings. Is there a better/faster way to do this? Say, some sort of loop that would work?

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