Take a good look at the picture below.
Take a good look at it because this is the last that anyone will ever see of this snake. Even before I give it the gift of life, it will die stillborn.
When I wrote my last blog post, I thought I was ready to transform the snake I’ve been working on into a hydra. I was wrong. I made a shocking discovery, one that I should have realized before I started texturing the snake. I found out that my model comprised 5,628 triangles, 82% of which comes from the head and neck. If I had made a five-headed hydra out of it, the creature would have weighed in at 24,180 triangles. Just to put things into perspective, the creature with the most number of triangles in NWN2 is probably the blue dragon, which is made up of only 5,810 triangles. Any creature that goes way over this number will be a resource hog that may slow down the game.
Clearly, this situation is untenable. I’m sorry, but the snake must die.
Ironically, only a few weeks ago, I advised Eguintir Eligard to reduce the polygon count of his model before he textures or rigs it. Sometimes, the person who most quickly dispenses advice is the last to take it.
As with real snakes, the biggest offender in my model is the mouth. The teeth alone comprise over 32% of the snake’s polygons. Even with the teeth gone, the inside of the snake’s mouth is still a complex piece of topography, with far too many polygons dedicated to accurately depicting its hills and ridges. Despite that, players are unlikely to look closely at its mouth, especially if they play with the camera zoomed out. All those polygons would have been for nothing.
I spent an entire day reducing my model to its bare essentials until I was left with 1,432 triangles. Making a hydra out of the new snake would have brought its polygon count to 5,368. Good enough.
With all the trimming I did, my UV map was practically useless. I had to retexture the snake from scratch. It is said that there are two kinds of outcomes: successes and learning experiences. Mine was definitely in the latter category. The good thing about having so many learning experiences is that they enable one to work faster than before. I spent three days on the normal map and one day on the diffuse map. Within five days of my startling realization, I was done.
Meet the new snake. Same as the old snake… minus a few thousand polygons.