[QUESTION] Polygon budget

Hi, would it be possible to have some guidelines for the poly budget per class of ships and LOD?


I’ll leave this for @scole and maybe mr Evan Gill if he ends up talking on here… But I don’t see why we wouldn’t tell you what the guides we generally used are!

I’d ballpark it at 2-2.5k for scouts through frigates, 3k for frigates, 5-6k for capitals, motherships start at 10k. We don’t use LODs.


Thanks a lot!

We don’t need no stinkin’ LODs! Wait, seriously? Wow computers have gotten powerful. o.O

Thanks for the info guys!

no lods? then is it dynamically generated? because with hundreds of ships flying about, no lods is kind of silly.

Not really:

  • The Vertex shaders are very fast
  • The per-mesh cost is the same at any LOD
  • Most of the ‘complex’ engine stuff (shadows/etc) LODs anyway
  • The fragment shaders are costly - but smaller ships make fewer fragments, everyone wins!

The cost to build and test LODs is more than not - and we had a TON of ships to remaster and give love to - along with many pipeline and feature changes.


You did keep the HW 2 ship lods that already existed, though. They are clearly visible when zooming out. Mistake or intended?

shhh, don’t mention that. i like one game to still run smoothly.


He said the meshes themselves have no lods, but the new shaders, lighting, and shadows do have lodding. At least that is what i am picking up.

If the new ship textures use DDS format, and they have mip maps that is a form of lodding. Plus from what i gather the shaders are scalable too.

It doesn’t take very much to render a ship mesh itself now. You can have high poly meshes without it making much of an impact. Still you do not want to go overboard. So i can see why they did away with mesh lod’s. What eats up all of your resources is the textures, and shaders (we found this out the hard way in Sins of a Solar Empire).

the shaders and textures are mainly gpu dependent. the geometry is more the work of cpu

We kept some LODs and often removed others. It wasn’t an edict per-se - we just didn’t usually author new ones. As for ‘run smoothly’ - that’s not LODs.

HW1 has a MUCH higher texture density (2x+) - if your hardware is a bit more happy with HW2 it may be texture sample bound - and has jack to do with LODs. You may often see that impact with high AA on - as it will sample larger MIPs vs no AA - where HW1/HW2 should be approximately the same.

They can be higher vertex count too, but again, the vertex shaders we run are crazy simple. And no, Geometry isn’t a CPU issue - everything is stored in optimized VBOs and transforms on the GPU. As I said before, the CPU cost for most items in this engine is uniform based on distance, not discrete LODs. I wrote the entire graphics pipeline and renderer from scratch, so this is one area I have no doubts about.


Hi few quick q’s, is there an upper limit on what we should aim for, if we stick in 20-30k cap ships is it going to cause problems. I was making models with the guidelines given 10 years ago and would like to go a bit higher. I know the higher rez textures and normal maps can cover a lot but imo they dont give the sense of scale geometry does. Also you say lods arent used, is this not used by the engine or not used in build process

I regularly used 3k for fighters 10k for frigates and 30-40k for capitals with no real issues in 2005, should be less of an issue today, but Tex sizes of1024 vs 2048-4096 today and the addition of the normal map really add to the ram overhead

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That was with LOD’s though right, geometry not big bit itself, its aa, shadows, lighting etc that ramp it up. Though that seems to be lodded at least. I was on the swnr team back in the day btw

Yes polycounts! I really needed that info, I asked for it before release. Glad to finally know, now I can finally jump into model updates without any hesitations and doubt.

And if I understand it right, goblins no longer exist? Now they are part of the main mesh, right?

No, they can and do exist - Hiigaran MS, for example. For HW1 the remastered ships didn’t bother when them - it’s not that they can’t exist. The issue is that they either ‘pop’ off, or they fade off. But the pop looks like ■■■■, and the fade interacts with shadows ugly, and costs quite a bit more than just drawing them. So overall, there isn’t a huge positive to using them, at all.


I love having the actual devs around to be able to talk to. Thanks!


They still exist on the HW2 ships, we just jacked up the distances to minimize the popping. If anyone finds one any we missed or spots one that bothers them let us know here on the forums.