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Descent into the ... Lower Expectations

Last week showed me where I was going wrong. Not too wrong, but still outside the realistic workload for the NWN engine. I had found that a single tile can only have approximately (or exactly) 10000 faces in the total mesh content attached to that aurorabase. That may seem like a large number, but just one of my higher poly rock sections was 9467 faces, and the single cave column I showed last week was over 12000 when fully assembled. Yes there are ways of working around this, such as putting some parts on one tile and other parts on the adjacent tile, as has been done with many tilegroups. However, I'd like to manage tiles as individual assets when I can, to allow for swapping in/out of alternate tiles to give the room a slightly different feel and shape (in walkmesh too).

One of my main goals this week is to reduce the complexity of shapes I've already made, and then do that 10x variety creation I talked about last week. What I'm doing is taking my highest-poly shape down to 1000 faces, mid range shapes down to 500 faces, and lesser shapes to 100 or less. Using the GMAX optimize modifier, and plugging in silly decimal numbers, I can get a shape down to exactly those numbers. Doing this helps me count the number of faces in a scene region without having to take up screen space with polygon counter. It also lets me trade in/out boulders of certain categories without going over the tile face maximum.

So far, so good. I've reduced the complexity of many of my largest shapes without reducing visual appeal. The only thing that gets messed up is the speleothems. So, what to do? Well, I already reduced the complexity of that cave column I showed last week by quite a bit. It does look ok, but the original was far more spectacular. One thing I can do is reduce the complexity of regions not within normal character eye level by replacing those regions with high texture and low poly clones of the original building blocks. If I also make a single texture atlas carrying both the high poly and low poly textures in one, then I can still run many of my single object scripts on the whole. Or maybe I'll just rewrite the script a bit.

For now, I will focus on the poly count and variety. I'm checking out the low poly game asset pages right now, and spent much of yesterday doing the same. I'm looking for shapes that give the look and feel I'm after and then comparing them to actual cave photos. One of the problems I'm having with reconciling this is that the shader in NWN can't be tweaked without extensions. This will cost more manual labor in deciding how to smooth parts, and not smooth others. But really, that should be the only big obstacle now.

I'll post some screens probably tomorrow (attached back to this post most likely).

First Release: 
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merricksdad

Sorry for delay. Changes in work have left me working on a dead end project that could have been avoided. After tomorrow night, will be back on the rock. Wait, that sounds like I do crack. Ah, whatever.

I did manage to reduce all my parts without too much visual loss. Objects are now in sets of 200, 500, and 1000 poly parts, with other parts being less than 200, like basic rocks. I've also added a bunch more 500 poly parts, and am working on smoothing with the intent of not losing too much edginess.

I've also added about 20 of the SCL extracts (reducing their poly count substantially), built a new centering script, and then used it to clean up position issues when placing unity-engine-like parts.

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sherincall

I had found that a single tile can only have approximately (or exactly) 10000 faces in the total mesh content attached to that aurorabase.

For what it's worth, I believe the exact number is 10922. Comes from 16bit vertex indexes/IDs. I don't think that's ever getting fixed.

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merricksdad

why that number?

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merricksdad

oh, I get it. 32767/3 gives that number. Three parts per vert.

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