Re: Modeling enviornments for MMO
on 09-25-2007 02:40 PM
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.