Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

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Eliascreate
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Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by Eliascreate » Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:09 pm

When it comes to indie games. What do you think is favorable when developing and selling your games: Having great 3d graphics or lower quality graphics but a great theme. I think that it goes faster to create your lower quality graphics of course, but it can still be great if you have a unique theme. I am considering doing that, maybe even go for orthoview you know? But I'm not sure what will be best. I mean 3d view with higher polycount is nice with great lighting but a great themed lowpoly in orthoview can also be good, especially when it's an indiegame. Hm... Is it easier to develop a good theme in highpoly or lowpoly?
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by xrgo » Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:24 pm

The main reason to choose one or the other is the target platform, for mobile you might one to keep polycount low to have good performance on most devices. I am a big fan of hyper realistic graphics and all the new techniques used to accomplish that... but with good art you can make awesome worlds at very low poly or even just sprites. Just start making concept art and see where it goes! you can always post your concepts here and get constructive critics, like this dude: http://www.ogre3d.org/forums/viewtopic. ... 25#p521054
have fun! :D
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by dark_sylinc » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:22 pm

This line of thought can be very dangerous.

Low poly doesn't mean you can focus on the game mechanics faster because now you don't care about the graphics. Low poly means your artists now need to focus more on producing aesthetically pleasing graphics with low poly constraints. The effort and time spent is more or less the same.
At the end, you still need talented artists to make it look good.

Some artists are used to making cartoonish low poly assets and are proficient at that. Other artists are used to making high poly realistic assets and are proficient at that. But that doesn't mean if you take the latter to make cartoonish low poly assets, he will do it in less time. In fact he may take longer because you're taking him away from his specialty / comfort zone.

That doesn't mean games can't be good if they're really fun despite using programmer art. Minecraft got away with that (though Minecraft does look aesthetically pleasing!); it's just that the line of thought can be very dangerous.
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by mkultra333 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:52 am

Unless you have a low poly aesthetic clearly in mind, you should probably go for whatever polygon number works on the platform you intend to run on.
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by Eliascreate » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:47 pm

Yes, but don't you think it's a faster development process to create lowpoly models. I think that if you want highpoly with great textures and animations it takes a really long time to create, therefore a lowpoly approach can be better because you might actually complete the game. That's my story, I always start new projects. I want to finish one now, that's why I'm starting to think a lowpoly themed game might be faster to do for me in blender. However when you create models using sculpt techniques you create models with really high polycount and it can go pretty fast to sculpt compared to creating a lowpoly model. At the same time, my game will have many many models displayed at the same time which wont work if I have too high polycount on each model.
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by c6burns » Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:07 pm

Just basically reiterating what's already been said, but ...

If you are the artist, and you are fast at creating low poly assets, then it's faster to go low poly. If you are not faster at low poly, then it's not going to be faster. It's as simple as that.

One technique I have started using on a very large project is completely white-boxing everything to begin locking down gameplay. For example, every asset is a just a box (or other primitive) of an approximate size to the final asset. The only thing that matters is that gameplay specific elements are there (eg. physics are approximate enough to work on character controllers). Even the character starts as just a physics primitive. Almost all gameplay elements are worked on in this manner until they are consistent and at desired configuration. Then add character models + animation, then add assets bit by bit until there are no white boxes left. I wouldn't say this is necessarily faster in terms of overall time spent, but it's a faster way to work at the heart of the gameplay mechanics while art is moved forward by a separate team. But it sounds like your question is more along the lines of "total effort" ... still thought it might be worth mentioning.

Also this is of course purely opinion, but I whole-heartedly feel that your gameplay and overall polish is much much much more important than your graphical quality. Good graphics don't save any of the AAA games with glitches or boring gameplay. I spend about 20 minutes in those games going "ooooo pretty" before getting bored and going back to work haha
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by Eliascreate » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:23 pm

Also this is of course purely opinion, but I whole-heartedly feel that your gameplay and overall polish is much much much more important than your graphical quality. Good graphics don't save any of the AAA games with glitches or boring gameplay. I spend about 20 minutes in those games going "ooooo pretty" before getting bored and going back to work haha
Yes therefore I think it is smarter to focus on a good "theme" rather than superb graphics, especially when you're indie.

Also low and mid -poly models are probably faster to create as a highpoly model (that looks good) will take a longer time to make because it requires more detail.
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by dark_sylinc » Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:14 pm

Eliascreate wrote:superb graphics
What the others and myself are trying to say is that you're confusing two concepts and calling them the same as "superb graphics":

Technical graphics:
The quality of the graphics is given by technical aspects like the polycount, reflections, ambient occlusion, high resolution textures, physically based shading, HDR, bloom, motion blur, global illumination, and lots of other effects.
Most of this is taken care by graphics programmers (except for stuff like the polycount and texture resolution).

Aesthetics:
It's an artistic concept. It's about consistency in the colours and shapes, such as following colour theory (here's an awesome tool), shape theory (i.e. pointy shapes: evokes threatening stuff round shapes: evokes friendly stuff). Follows the 12 principles of animation.

Good aesthetics + High level of technical stuff = Battlefield, Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Crysis games, Need for Speed, Final Fantasy movies etc.
Good aesthetics + Low level of technical stuff = Kingdom Hearts, Sonic games, Mario games, Toy Story movies, "Tales of" games, Minecraft.
Bad aesthetics + High level of technical stuff = crap (Prototype 1 game comes to mind, it looked horrible).
Bad aesthetics + Low level of technical stuff = crap (Superman 64 comes to mind).

For example this stickman drawing by a 5 year-old looks really bad.
However, sitckman vs wall is really awesome.

Both present a low degree of technical quality and are very similar: They're both hand drawn, black and white, and simple shapes are used. They're also very far from being photorealistic. However Stickman vs Wall stands out much more. It's because it has good aesthetics. The other one does not.

The same happens with 3D polycount. Reducing polycount is a way of decreasing the technical quality. But that doesn't mean the aesthetics will go up or down. Reducing the polycount may even make it look worse depending on the artist in charge.
Some people have it easier keeping good aesthetics with low poly count and cartoon-like characters. Other people struggle with that and have it easier when they work closer towards realism and high polycount. Yes, making a high polycount character takes longer. But making a low polycount character means doing magic with the textures, and going back and forth with the rest of the scene to ensure it has a consistent superb look all the time (since there is no real photo reference to work towards), which increases the time spent.

Just like some people prefer automatic transmission while other people prefer manual transmission.
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by Eliascreate » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:00 pm

Aesthetics is an artistic skill that you apply regardless. Yes so low vs high poly doesn't really matter if you're skilled. However with higher poly you will probably also have higher texture quality and also more detail fixing of the model which means more hours will be spent.
"it is smarter to focus on a good "theme" rather than superb graphics" means that it's better to not spend too many hours on every model if you make your game yourself as an indie creator. What I mean by superb graphics are more in class of AAA and lowpoly more in class of old AAA. So both have great aesthetics. However it is harder to create a highres model with great aesthetics than lowres and great aesthetics because the lowres minimizes the required detail. I realize this now I think it is smarter to go for lower quality models because you can deliver more models.
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by mkultra333 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 5:37 am

It's worth re-iterating that low poly modelling isn't necessarily faster than high poly modelling. It can often be quite the opposite. In some ways hi-poly is easier, you can just throw on extra widgets and gizmos, teeth, tentacles, whatever. Plenty of very high-poly public domain models available too.

Low poly modelling can be quite difficult, you have to get really fussy about what polygons you keep and lose, how you "turn" the triangles.

And then there's the textures and normal mapping... The industry standard is pretty much to have a very high poly model, make a low polygon version of that, and then use special programs to "copy" the details of the high poly model onto the low one. This is all quite tricky.

Have you thought about how you are going to texture your models? You may end up having to construct high AND low polygon versions of everything... that would be pretty typical.

Without knowing the details of the game and look you are going for, it's an impossible question to answer. But you had better start thinking about how you are going to texture those models as well, because that feeds into the whole issue of poly count.
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by Eliascreate » Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:30 am

Okey yeah. I suppose I think of my own experience in Blender and I'm probably thinking in terms of detail not polycount so yeah it is not necessarily faster than high poly modelling.
I'm going for an RTS game, similar to Warcraft III. The theme of the game is not decided yet though. But because it's an RTS it is probably better with lowpoly because of many models will be visible at once.
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by syedhs » Tue Jan 05, 2016 3:49 pm

For me, low poly is always faster provided that you can give the same 'theme' to all characters.. with low poly objects, you can skip normal map and this result in faster game production.
In the old time (80s,90s), a lot of games can be produced with small budget, small team etc.
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Re: Indie games, highpoly or lowpoly graphics?

Post by Eliascreate » Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:54 pm

I think it's smarter for me to focus on making models that don't take too long to make and have a theme so I can make many models for my game and start focusing on polishing the game now because that is what I want now, complete the game. You can always spend too many hours building your engine and model your models for too long, optimizing, sometimes it's good to complete your games as well.
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