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What are master materials?

So, I’ve been seeing a strange term pop up whenever I go and look at some of the more impressive WIP threads and/or various other areas, and that term is Master Material. I’ve even seen a few screenshots of said master materials, and though I try, all I see is an unholy mess of links and other things that I don’t know about. What are master materials? Where would I learn more about them? What makes them so great? Etc. Would love some info on this frustrating subject.

Might be what you’re asking about-

They’re a base/Parent Material that will work for over 75% of your assets…From there you create your child “material instances” to actually use on the assets in the map…
So you’ll need some planning as to how to adjust colors, texture maps, strength of effects, and really about everything about the material…but in the end it should be easier for the engine to compile the scene because most of the assets in it come from 1 master material…

more info on it here…
http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=75364

For example you have a base metal master material and then you make instances to change the colour.