Game character polygon count

I was just wondering if anybody has a “thumb rule” for the poly(or triangle) count for character meshes. By character meshes i mean meshes like one would use in a RPG for example (games where the player expects some detail). I’m currently modeling a dragon and only the head currently has about 414 polygons (about 852 triangles) and i don’t know if the model is suited for games with that poly count. I mention the head because it has more detail than the rest of the body. I could also add more detail but i don’t know if that would make the model even more unadequated. Well what should i do now? Add or remove detail?

Depends. If the dragon is a final boss or something, or the main character you’re doing great.

On the other hand if it’s the land of dragons and 1,000 of these are going to be on the screen then you’re in trouble.

The polygon count for a seen depends on the target system requirement. You need to multiply the polygon count of each of your models by the number of models on the screen at one time and compare it to the target amount.

One way to get high detailed looking characters is to use normal-mapping, which will probably be available in v0.8. The idea behind normal-mapping is, that you create a high poly mesh and use a tool to reduce the poly count. At the same time the tool creates a normal-mapping-texture. When you now use the low poly mesh in connection with this normal-mapping-texture via normal-mapping, the details from the high poly mesh are again there.

Here is an example:


well, i just modeled the creature without exactly thinking of what role it would have in a game. initially i thought that it would be simply a big monster (the kind of monster to be defeated by a small army - like a “boss”).


i don’t understand what you mean. do youmean that my current poly/triangle count already reached the max?


I know it depends on the target system. I thought of an “average” system, not the high-end kind of system. “Average” like the system requirements games most have nowadays.


now THAT would be a nice feature to have in jME!

I'm currently modeling a dragon and only the head currently has about 414 polygons (about 852 triangles) and i don't know if the model is suited for games with that poly count.

I'd like to point out that your count of 414 polygons is misleading. When dealing with games ALWAYS count in triangles. I know a lot of modelling packages are set up to count quads as polygons but when you convert that file to a model each quad will get converted into 2 triangles so save yourself the pain and only go off the triangle count.

With that said the count for a character really does depend on how much is on screen at once. Like Badmi said you have to add up all the models you expect to be on screen and make sure that's lower than the maximum acceptable poly count. I would have your programmer (assuming you're not also the programmer) load up some medium complexity models. Keep loading models until your computer can't keep up at a respectible speed, then you'll know the max poly count on that machine (taking into consideration other things that will be running like AI and physics). If the PC is a hotrod you're going to have to test on another machine or be very concervative and cut your numbers down considerably.

In your situation with a dragon that is a boss type character 2000 polys would be pretty reasonable. IIRC the UT2k3 models had 2000 polys each and there were many of those running around in any given area + considerable level geometry.