Originally Posted by The Master Elite
Mainly I was aiming at FPS's and RTS's [for characters]...
...thank ye for your patience thus far...it does appear I have again missed a key part of the subject...apologies...
Well...yes. You have missed a key component to this subject. Game development is a very broad field, and one that is expanding constantly. The question you asked was equally broad and vague.
And narrowing it down to FPS and RTS genres doesn't really help all that much. A single player FPS can afford to have characters and enemies with higher polycounts, because the developer has greater control over the final experience. An FPS that focuses on on-line play will have lower polycounts for its characters because performance and framerates will be far more crucial.
With RTS titles, you are faced with a new set of criteria. What universe is the RTS going to be set in? A fantasy setting will likely mean that you will need more organic characters, and thus would probably benefit from higher polycounts. But the unit cap in the game will also effect the target average polycount per unit. And the on-line features have to be taken into account for this genre as well.
And to top it off, all of these elements are relative to the engine being used. Some engines handle high numbers of polys better than others. Developers custom tailor their engines for all sorts of purposes, usually relevant to the design of the game they are working on.
And of course, there is also the target hardware platform, and its relative rendering power.
It's not a bad question you are asking, this same question gets asked all the time. You are simply not being specific enough. Narrow down your question, and you will get more useful answers.