For games too run smoothly and at optimum frames a few things have to be decided first. Like whether the game is for mobile, console or a high performance pc. Big games such as recent release “The Division”(Ubisoft) are not going to run on mobile, and for it to run on consoles certain settings has to be changed to reach optimum performance, such as changing the resolution, anti aliasing among others to reach the desired frame rate. Frame rate also taxes performance, of course, faster frame rate equals more performance. So a game running at 60 fps will be harder to run than at 30. Mobile games usually consider different graphics styles because of performance limits and due to these limitations create beautiful art styles from this. “Monument Valley”(UsTwo) is a great example of this-
Cartoon styles art often a popular choice with a top down perspective such as boom beach-
This is because polly count on these games art not high which allows it to run on as many devices as possible with the least amount of performance issues. Some mobile games even started increasing the graphics settings on new releases of hardware, such as Oceanhorn on IOS. See pocket gamer article here.
Draw distance is one way to improve performance, this technique does not load all pollys at once and instead loads them up to a certain distance which the player should not see. But depending on the implementation, it is possible to see and can break the immersion if not done carefully. With performance increasing year over year it is possible to have super high polly characters which look incredibly realistic. “Infamous second son”(sucker punch productions) uses 120,000 per character and “Uncharted 4”(Naughty Dog) uses double the pollys over there previous game “last of us”.
A post over on polycount by Rogelio gave some insight into the modelling and shading side of the development by uploading some screen shots
These screenshots give you a general idea of the polly count within a medium sized environment, and from looking at it they are not overly high.
As you can see by this shot with textures compared without, you can see the incredible amount of detail that can be added with high quality textures.
Here are also some polly shots of some maps in uncharted 3 courtesy of Autcon
Other ways to reduce polly count when tying to optimise a game is to rely on textures instead of more detailed pollys. Especially if it is something small and not to noticeable, maybe like a wallet on the corner of a desk. The player is not likely to look up close and inspect its detailed so it is unnecessary to allocate precious resources to it.
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