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one quad + huge texture vs multiple quads + smaller textures?

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I am working on a sports game and when it came to rendering the ground (playing field - which is totally flat) i was wondering if having a single quad with a huge texture mapped onto it is faster than having multiple quads with smaller textures on it. i have culling in place so, if i have a set of smaller quads on the quads that are in the frustrum will be rendered. which one do you guys/gals think is faster (rendering/resources wise)?

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That's hard to tell without more specific information. What rendering system are you using? What other optimizations are in place? What sort of textures are we talking about here? How much of the field can be expected to show up on screen?

However, I wouldn't hardcode things like this. Use a model instead. If a single quad is inefficient, modify the model or use multiple models. Either way, I don't think you'll notice a significant difference. If your game has trouble drawing a few quads then there's something more serious going on in the first place.

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I am using c# and managed directx. The textures i was considering were:
large one : 512x512 or more if my system can take it
small ones: 128x128

if i break it down to quads, i will be breaking it down the one large quad into 16 smaller quads.

the amount of field that is visible at a time is generally about 1/4th the large quad. maybe ocassionally i would have to render the whole field.

i did not understand what you meant by rendering system.

the only opimisation i have in place is Quadtrees.

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My two cents. When I think of rendering a playing field I would break it into pieces. The pieces would be based on the field markings. For example soccer (football, whatever) I would create one texture with just grass and this would be used for empty space. Then I would create a textures for a corner, the goal area, the middle line, and then the center circular thing. That is just from memory so I am not sure I have mentioned every detail of the field. You could even break these into even smaller textures. The idea with this is that I can reuse smaller textures to save on VRAM and state changes.

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One large quad maybe faster as there is less geometry to process. It may look worse because lighting is only calculated at the verts. If you are doing lod stuff the larger one is more likely to "pop" because it will cover more distance. Same for texture filtering. I don't know anything about your engine, so all this and more may apply or not.

The first step to an answer is to profile. I would start with the larger one because it will be easy to tessalate to the smaller version.

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Let me stress this a bit: you shouldn't worry about a few polygons. Even 10 years old games could draw a few hundreds to thousands of them. Hardware has improved significantly since then. If you're still unsure, then run a few performance tests. Don't optimize based on vague assumptions or theories, profile first to find the real bottlenecks.

Also, a 512x512, 32bpp texture takes roughly 1MB. Most 3D cards nowadays offer quite a bit more than that. Of course, you should keep this in mind, as you're likely going to load a few other textures as well. Either way, how much texture memory you can afford depends on what systems you're targeting (as in, minimum requirements).

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