View Full Version : Modeling enviornments for MMO
I have never made anything for an MMO before and was wondering if it's similar or the same in terms work flow in modeling, texturing and restrictions in textures and 3d models for environments created for a FPS. I'm doing an art test at the moment for an environment position. I don't really have any limits it just has to work for current gen (next gen in my book) MMO games. I have to model a scene. If I make my models in the quality of say HL2 is that good enough for an MMO needs or is there more to it. For example if I make a trash can should I model it so the lid and trash contents fall out? Is that the kind of detail I have to add to my props? Thanks.
09-24-2007, 08:20 PM
This is another one of those, 'well it depends' type of things. With any object that's going in a game that has restrictions, the interactivity with the object (of any) will help dictate its level of detail. If this is for a garbageman mmofps where you go around virtual citys taking out peoples trash, then you would want to make a trash can(or many different cans) with lids and garbage and everything.
For some kind of mmo like city of heroes or some other mmo like that, the only case you'd probably make the lid and trash contents would be if there was some kind of event where you'd interact with a trash can (looking for clues) and then there'd be some kind of spilling animation made for it. Kinda like in Diablo where you can smash open pots and barrels.
For purposes of a reel should I texture say the walls of the buildings with 1024 x 1024 or is that too small now a days. I plan to have normal maps for these. Thanks for the reply Xenobond. For a game like say City of Villians or the latest Grand Theft Auto, do the details have to be kept lower because of all the assets used?
09-25-2007, 07:22 AM
I don't think 1024 x 1024 maps are too small for most outdoor architecture, although it all depends on how things are broken up. I never see maps larger than 1024 x 1024 on the MMO I'm working on.
To keep things current I think it's a good idea to do normal maps like you are planning, as well as specular color/level maps.
The cost/time per aset usually has to be kept low because most MMOs have huge amounts of content, although that doesn't necesarily mean keeping detail low. Once again it all depends on the specifics of the game, though.
What's a good polycount to keep, or not to go over. I'm just looking for opinions at the moment if you saw an ally scene or slum for example that had 10,000 tris for the entire scene would that be to much or too little. I'm going for a realistic style as well. Thanks for the feedback. I can't really see myself using more tris than that, but I guess I'll find out soon enough. /images/graemlins/wink.gif
Kevin I just looked at your site I really liked your work.
A lot of it depends on how much is static or instances content. Some MMO's go overboard (Vanguard) with their capabilities and create graphics that will never run on an average machine, while some really try to keep it extremely low poly with no normal mapping and a more painter style (WoW obviously) Others, like CoH and CoV keep a nice "big" style where you don't populate the everyday world with tons and tons of tiny details, but do a nice blend with instanced content that only the player and his group will see on their missions. This is key in creating an MMO with higher end "This Gen" graphics.
You have to shoot for the lowest denominator a lot of times. MMOs don't want to lose 1/4th of their possible market because they can't run it on their machines. So, instances are always a good thing. Even on consoles you have to stream levels. With as many badass looking normal maps and "next-gen" graphics that Gears of War had, you also have to remember that each level was very intelligently streamed and was relatively small.
In short, there is no "right" answer about MMO's. You can have relatively "high" graphics and texture sizes by today's standards, but you have to be working in a situation where streaming and instances are key. Otherwise, giant open worlds can't realistically hold hundreds and hundreds of normal / spec / diffuse maps.
Keep in mind that polygons aren't your real enemy anymore so much as texture counts / sizes. Standard GPU's and CPU's aren't as ancient as they used to be.
If you want to be efficient with MMO or online objects, stick with "smart" modeling, but keep the textures very very well thought out.
09-25-2007, 05:26 PM
10k polys for an alley scene in an MMO sounds fine to me.
Based on some stuff I was looking at on your site (I'm digging the evil little tank), I would suggest modeling future pieces with about 2-3 times as many polys as you use for your current stuff.
My last gen mind tells me not to go over 512 x 512 for this, but I know I would be hurting myself if I did that, plus I noticed that normal maps don't really look too good at that res, at least when baked directly to that res. I was given a week to do this but since I work the third shift I won't have much time at all to do this. If I get over 20 hrs for this I would be lucky. I'll probably call out to have some extra time for this, since it's a warehouse job and not what I want to be doing full time. I'm almost done with the designs and reference hunting. Crazybump seems to make really nice normal maps, so I was wondering if I making my normal maps with just height maps would be alright to save time or do the best I can with the time I have and model some high res stuff and bake them and combine the tiny details with crazy bump. Probably the last question I'll ask about this. Modeling will be fairly quick since it's the part I enjoy the most. Any thoughts are welcome and thanks for the feedback.
09-26-2007, 07:50 AM
512 can be more than enough if you consider other layers that can be added to create the illusion of more detail. Using detail textures in ways other than adding high frequency noise for textures seen up close, you can have a brick wall texture that tiles both vertically+horizontally, and with the detail texture have some grime or water damage coming from the top of the wall where it could meet with a larger brick trim piece, or where it lines up with the ground can have it get grimy looking.
The same idea of using a detail texture can apply to normal maps as well. Look at Gears of War and Halo. They try to make up with having to use smaller res normal maps by having a detail texture add noise to the normal map. Although sometimes it can be overdone, and can make everything look like it's made of sandstone, or english muffin.
It also doesn't really matter how you make your normal maps. As long as they look good and get done on time.
Thanks for the feedback Xenobond, very helpful.
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