Thoughts on polygon count for characters for an MMO...

Anyone have an opinion on a suitable polygon count for an MMO for character, clothing, and weapon(s)? Is it significantly different from a first person shooter for example, or is the only difference the amount of characters on screen? I’m just trying to get an average polygon count using mid to high-end hardware.


Anything up to and including about 20,000 COULD work depending on your platform. Look at the content examples. The Epic Mobile Character is around 7,000 I think, for consoles or desktops you can actually get away with as many as 100,000. Though 100,000 polys would include weapons and still be used mostly for up close viewing and not regular gameplay. Half-Life characters are less than 10,000 and still look great to me. I’m trying to stay under 25,000 with 1 LOD and a good normal map for my first project just to keep it simple.

You might want to have more than one LoD actually.

Thanks for the suggestions. Right now my character is around 15k in polygons, including gear and clothing.

@Mootjuh if I can keep my character poly counts down there’s no real reason for LODs. It’s just extra geometry and work for little or no real gain.

It’s not just extra geometry. GPU’s are painfully slow to render small triangles that cover just couple pixels.

@Jenny Gore - your lowest poly LOD’s poly count is probably my ‘standard’ poly count for a character. LOL So…what’s the difference?

Is your character just a few hundred triangles?

Most of my characters are 5,000 - 10,000 (like I said Half-Life 2 still looks great to me and is as far as I need to go as a solo developer) and my games are designed to run on consoles and/or desktops. My guns are 1,000 to about 7,000 (don’t know how the one got so crazy). My other props are all under 1,000 (everything is modular). All my detail is in the normal maps. It would take some serious work for me to even get near a million polys in a given scene.

That doens’t mean nobody should use LODs for anything, ever.

Even if your characters are 10k tris you gain performance benefit from having LODs. Whether you need the performance or not is a different thing, but saying that LODs are useless is ********.

Good, so your LoDs can be like 1k tris.

WHERE DID I SAY LODs ARE USELESS??? Please outline THAT specific phrase in ANY of my posts. Otherwise stop reading NONSENSE INTO MY STATEMENT. I said I don’t use LODs because it’s a lot of work for little gain. AND I’ll say it again Half-Life 2 ran great on a computer I owned which had NO DEDICATED VIDEO CARD AT ALL - with around 5,000 polys per character and it still looks great. Why should I spend all of my time working on visuals? Guess what? Crysis had AWESOME visuals but it SUCKED AS A GAME. Had no story at all, was boring as hell after about 15 minutes of ‘lather-rinse-repeat’ style gaming. On the other hand Borderlands, Portal, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Bio-shock - all had worse graphics but seriously BETTER RE-PLAYABILITY. Nobody cares how great your graphics are. Aside from developers looking for artists and artists who can’t come up with a decent story (and who wind up sporting high poly counts and complex code like a badge), nobody even really pays attention. All people want is something fun and relatively simple. Story first - then point, run, shoot, etc. Portal started out as a freeware game (Narbacular Drop - which actually had portals INSIDE of portals as well) that Valve bought. The original game had **** graphics BUUUUUUUUUUUUT IT WAS FUN. Stop worrying about the quality of the set dressing, without a good story it won’t matter one bit.