Today I’m working on making LOD versions of the model. For those who don’t know what this means, here’s a brief explanation:
In SL, when you get further away from an object, you visually get a simpler version of it to replace the complex version. This is because all that detail would be lost anyway, and it reduces the burden on your viewer. Each version is called a ‘Level Of Detail’.
To make this happen, we can import a mesh and tell SL to create these simpler versions for us in the upload options. This is quick and gets the job done (creating a couple of simpler versions of your model) but since it’s automated, they often look pretty gross and my horse could end up losing a leg or looking like its head is smashed in, or something.
Y’all know I’m kind of a perfectionist, so I don’t want to leave the LOD levels to the automated uploader. The alternative is to build them myself. This means I’m working on them today. Rather than jump into my old way of doing it, I assume that workflows and options have arisen in the last year and I have been researching new ways to do it. One of the big problems with reducing the polygon count on your model is that it can play havoc with your UV map, making a mess of your textures (because the map is keyed to your polygon vertexes, so if you remove them…)
Therefore, I’m trying it out in Blender with the Dissolve option, which I’ve heard is a good way to work downward from the complete high poly model (instead of starting with a simple model, copying it, and progressing to more complicated meshes for each stage.) I really, really prefer to work ‘top down’ with a completed model so I know for sure how it’s going to turn out.
However, unlike a lot of you out there, I’ve never used Blender, so I’ve been spending a couple of hours learning its basic functions. It definitely wasn’t designed for a laptop user so I’ve had so switch default settings a bit just to zoom and such. I figure once I get a few reduced models, I’ll import them back to Maya where I will be more familiar with the tools to adjust the mesh and UVs.
But anyway, I doubt y’all care about that stuff, so it’s enough to say that I hope to have the LODs done tonight or tomorrow. The end result is that the model will look as good as possible even from far away in SL. Hooray!