Yesterday’s final lesson was with Martin, where we looked level of detail and how it affects props in video games. I understood what Martin meant, having noticed and read about this before.
Basically, a prop or model may have a few different versions of itself, each designed to be viewed at different distances by the player. So while the highest detail model will be used when the player is near the object, as they move away the model is replaced by the reduced quality one, to free up computing power for the rest of the scene.
Martin tasked us to create a bridge, using 200 polygons. He then asked us to create the same bridge three more times, each time reducing the polygon count by half.
I feel that I achieved the target of reducing the level of detail on the bridge, by removing some unseen polygons, the handrail supports and supports under the bridge at the lowest levels. I also feel that, if I was more familiar with 3DS MAX, that I could have achieved a much better-looking result in this exercise because the player would see pop-in of the supports when approaching the bridge. Though I have seen this in games, I often feel it can be forgiven when it does not affect gameplay directly, as you’re trading off visual fidelity at a distance for the benefit of the overall graphics.
I am happy that we are given challenging tasks like this in Martin’s lessons and I respect that he is being honest with us, about how this works into the role of a modeller in the industry.