Recommended poly count for game models?

Discussion started by ivr

  • How many triangles is acceptable for a human video game character?

  • Is it important to use triangles only, or is it ok to mix polygons and triangles?


Posted over 3 years ago

hi there,
As with everything in 3d, it depends of the platform where the game is going to be played. (mobile, console, PC)

Talking from experience in contemporary PC games, the polycount can be quite generous,
A human character can be around 15.000 and 25.000 triangles, only the body, naked.
And it can go as high as 50.000-60.000 triangles if you include the character's clothing, props, weapons, etc.
Probably some characters in really high-end AAA games can be much more, but my guess is that they use a lot of programming magic to make it work.
But, as always the basic idea is just to use as few as posible. In general terms, if you are not really sure, anything between 10.000 and 30.000 triangles should be safe, for PC.
For mobile, logically it should be much less, but I wouldn't dare to give you numbers.

As for the other question, you can mix quad polygons and triangles, there is no problem with that and every game model has a mix of those. The only important thing is that the topology is good for animation.

ivr wrote
Alright, thank you! But are you sure about the fact that it's ok to mix quad polygons and triangles? I've read on other forums that game engines only works with triangles.
madefun3d wrote
oh ok, I see what you mean now. What happens is that when you export the model as an FBX, the mesh gets converted to 100% triangles, so in the game engine all meshes are triangles. But while you are modeling and animating in your main 3d package, you can use quad polygons, or a mix or quads and triangles. Again, when you export, each quad becomes 2 triangles.
Posted over 3 years ago

Basically all geometry calculation happens with triangles internally in all major 3D apps so madefun3d is right.

Its just that in modeling apps like for example 3ds max etc. you have the option to not view the mid edges if working with quads is what you need, but basically those mid edges are still there but hidden from view.

For example in 3ds max you can switch on edit tri mode to view those mid edges and turn them if necessary.

Personally I prefer to work with tris if it involves game models as one can maximize the topology of the model more easily (I mean better determining placement of the points and edge flow), working with quads on game models it is not always that obvious to see when a hidden edge would be better placed in one or another direction to contribute better to some aspect of the contours, and constantly switching to view the hidden edges is not that practical.

Tip if you work with 3ds max:
In 3ds max you can go to sub-object level vertex and select all vertices in the model, then simply hit connect and then all edges become permanently visible. Alternatively you can also switch your model to edit mesh type, then go to sub-object level edges and hit select all (the mid edges would now also be visible as dashed lines), then scroll down to surface properties and hit visible, this also permanently makes those hidden edges visible, now you can switch back to edit poly type with all edges permanently visible.

Quad editing is actually meant for sub-d workflows as it gives better visual feedback as to avoid areas where more edges would flow to one vertex (would produce continuity problems in edge weights and introduce bumps in the mesh division and finally distortions in ray traced reflections etc.), this problem is not an issue in game engines as one would provide smoothing information through normal maps.

About the poly count in game characters, I would also add that it is important to know how much of unique characters would be visible in the scene at any given point. For example if you have allot of unique characters with lots of details and they would all come together at same spot (need rendering in same frame) that could hit performance. You basically have to bring everything into account when you absolutely want to max out on everything (witch almost never gets done). Having that said I think for a PC game 30 to 60.000 triangles is good average to make something that is visually descent and if there is headroom left then maybe spend it on more stuff to put in the scenery or stuff that can be added for ultra settings.

From a standpoint of a 3D stock media developer these are variables that cannot be known as they are the decisions of the game developers and there unique use cases, but we can make different versions of the same model varying poly count/details to accommodate the different possible scenarios and widen possible appeal to different use cases.

madefun3d wrote
Very cool tips about the edges in max, I didn't know that, thanks!
ivr wrote
Great, thanks!
Posted 11 months ago

very helpful

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