Creating LODs using Character Creator 3

Jun 11, 2021 at 05:30 am by nemirc

During the past weeks, I have been working on my studio’s last game for the PlayStation Vita, a top-down hack-and-slash game titled “Killer Dolls United.” For the game, I used characters made in Character Creator 3, with a combination of custom clothing and clothing available in the CC3 library. So far, besides my small experiments, I had only worked with the full quality models from CC3, since I have only been using them for “Just Let Me Go” (which is a pretty high-end game on Unreal Engine 4). However, since the Vita is an old system, it is not powerful enough to display the models in full quality, and I had to optimize them a lot.

Usually, if you want to optimize a model, you either do it by hand (manually removing faces, edges and edge loops you don’t need), you use your 3D modeling application’s polygon reduction tools, or a third-party application. Character Creator 3 includes several options to optimize your characters.

The first option can only be used on characters. You can convert your character to a Game Base character. When you do this, you have the option to bake all texture maps into one, which is useful if you want to optimize resources for your game (this is something I have not done for “Just Let Me Go”, since I want the highest quality possible). While you can’t use this on clothing (since only characters have a “Game” model), you can use this game model as a template for your custom clothing, if you export the game character and then model your clothing around the model so it fits the game model (specially useful for tight clothing, like I describe here)

You can also use the Polygon Reduction operations. There are three different options: Wearables, Object and Element. Wearables will apply a polygon reduction to all the clothing objects. The Object option will apply the reduction to the selected object, and the Element option will apply the reduction to an element of your object.

All of them have a similar options window, where you can set the reduction by a percentage or a polygon count. You can also rebake all textures into a single texture.

The options I have described so far will reduce the character and wearables/props, while keeping objects separately. When testing the game on my Vita kit, I realized that was not enough, and that I needed to reduce the polygon count even more (because I can have up to 10 characters on the screen, and the Vita is not powerful enough to display 10 mid-resolution characters at once).

Luckily, Character Creator 3 includes yet another optimization method. The Remesher. If you select Remesher from the options I showed you above, you will get the export dialog and, on the right side, you will see the InstaLOD options. If you select Remesher, you can then set a number of LODs, and the polygon count for each one. What this option does is reduce and remesh all your objects into one, merging all the textures into a single texture.

You can create up to 5 LODs with this option, ranging from very high quality to very low quality, and the idea is you will use them distinctively depending on how far or close these objects are to the camera. The following image shows different LODs I created for one of the characters for “Killer Dolls United”.

And this is the full resolution character in Character Creator 3.

The highest quality LOD has a very good quality for characters that will be somewhat away from the camera. What you could do, in most situations, is have a full quality mesh (be it the full resolution character, or the full resolution game character) and then use the LODs for the different distances. However, if your characters appear small on the screen, you can get away with using the mid or low resolution LODs.

And this is it. I hope you find this useful.

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