January 13, 2024

January 13, 2024

January 13, 2024

How Do You Optimize Game Art Assets on Blender?

How Do You Optimize Game Art Assets on Blender?

How Do You Optimize Game Art Assets on Blender?




3D Art & Game Development

Whether they’re 2D, 3D or 2.5D, realistic or cartoony, played on a phone or a PC, video games are everywhere. The global video game market scale has been estimated at around $224.9 billion in 2022, and it’s expected to hit $610.6 billion by 2032. Since it’s promising for many investors, the market’s expected to grow even more than that, especially after all the technologies that appear almost on a daily basis.

Game asset optimization has always been linked to reducing render times. At the same time, decreasing the required users’ devices’ computing power increases the game sales as the number of devices that can run the game increases.

It’s crucial to not go too far with game optimization as this would eventually lead to a blocky or low-resolution video game, so there always has to be a balance between game optimization and game quality preservance.

We’re going to discuss the general idea of game optimization, and we’ll focus more on 3D assets optimization for 3D games done on Blender3D and how we can get to the optimal point of balancing between Quality and Performance.

Techniques for Game Art Optimization in Blender

1. Reducing Polygon Count

Polygon count is a nightmare for both the developer and the 3D artist, and it’s always been an endless fight as the 3D artist tries to preserve all the details without sacrificing any. Eventually, the game asset has to be optimized to meet the developer and game engine requirements.

Here’s an example between a high polygon mesh and a low polygon mesh:

It’s obvious that there’s a huge difference between both of them, and it’s also obvious that the low-poly version has lost most of the features, yet some games’ styles are considered to be low-poly, so it was intended in this example.

Here are some techniques to reduce polygon count:

  • Using a Multires modifier and after adding all the needed details on the high polygon version of the asset, we’d bake these details on top of the low version of the used asset, which is a technique that has always been used in the industry.

  • Manually reducing the unneeded edges while maintaining the silhouette of the object as much as possible.

  • Getting rid of the hidden faces.

  • Getting rid of duplicate vertices.

2. Reducing Texture Resolution

Obviously, this will lead to a decrease in the file size and loading time for the texture, which will eventually lead to a decrease in the needed computing power mentioned before, so it’s always wise to keep the resolution at a reasonable number.

Using different file formats could also lead to decreasing the file size, and getting rid of unneeded channels would also help you out. For example, using an alpha-less image when an alpha channel is not required, or using a BW image when we are using it for the purpose of metallic/roughness/displacement.

3. Material Simplification

Aiming to use one material for the object plays a good role as well in optimizing the game asset. Complex materials are always a red flag when it comes to game optimization, so it’s always better to use a simple node tree.

4. Using the Same Object

Repeating the usage of the same object decreases the needed time to load it, which is sometimes called instancing, therefore the PC has to use less computing power to load the objects in the scene.

5. Using LODs(Level of Detail)

LODs are basically using different versions of the same object and swapping between them based on the player’s view. For example, if an object is too close to the player’s view, the highest LOD will be loaded, but if the object is far, a lower LOD will be used, which will lead to less computing power to run the game.

Retaining Quality in Optimized Assets

1. Arranging UV Islands on the Texture

Making good use of the texture space is done by arranging UV islands, this could be used by a variety of UV unwrapping add-ons like UVpackmaster 3 and Zen UV.

2. Creating High Level Details on Low Polygon Objects

As mentioned before, this could be done by using a Multires modifier or by retopologizing the high polygon count and making a low poly version then baking the details of the high poly one ontop of the low poly one. Retopology could be done by several plugins like RetopoFlow or by using Blender Quad Remesher.

3. Using Post-Process Techniques for Textures

Using post-process techniques like increasing texture sharpness could help you retain the quality in your assets. This could be done through other 2D image-manipulating softwares like Photoshop/Krita/GIMP, or by using Blender’s Compositor’s Sharpen filter node.

At the end of the day, we always have to aim for that balance between quality and performance, so make sure to decrease the polygon count as much as possible yet maintain the main edge flows of the object and the general silhouette. You can decrease the texture file size as much as possible, yet make sure it is sharp enough and appealing to the players’ eyes.

There isn’t a specific number to follow when it comes to polygon count or texture resolution as this depends more on the level of the game and its target audience, whether it’s low-end PC owners’ gamers, mid-end or high-end. New technologies are appearing every day like Unreal 5’s nanite system which lets you use very high poly objects without the need for optimization.

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