What is a polycount and what number of them is appropriate for a game

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Optimus triangle
Hi, I've recently started using ZBrush, and I've heard the word "polycount" thrown around a lot (no pun intended) but what is it? is it the number of vertices on your model? take this for example:



I've done some retopologizing on this guy, and i took him down from 188,000 vertices to 5,349 vertices . So would you say "this guy has 5,349 polycounts"?

thanks in advance, i am a complete noob at this, just need some opinions.

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  • Polynurb
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    Polynurb polycounter lvl 9
    You're close. The poly count is the amount of "polygons" used to create a 3d mesh. A polygon is made up of vertices. Reducing vertex count is one way of also reducing the polygon count. You will also hear some modelers refer to triangle count. It's the amount of triangles used to create a 3d mesh. Game engines tend to use meshes as triangles so I personally prefer to always keep an eye on the triangle count. You can view this in 3ds Max by adjusting the "Statistics" in the viewport settings. Try to keep your triangle and/or poly counts down as low as you can get them whilst maintaining the same silhouette. Just keep optimizing until you notice you are ruining the overall shape and then stop.

    As an example with your little guy up there. You can remove a bunch of those edgeloops running around him without impacting the way his form looks. That means those edgeloops are unneeded and can be removed. When you remove the edgeloops you will be reducing the overall poly count as well.

    I wouldn't obsess over any "standard" polygon count for a model, it really varies depending on other factors. You have to ask yourself a few questions. If I'm making a game level that a character is running around in, how many polygons am I willing to use for everything...500,000 or 1 million. Depends on the type of materials/shaders you are using, depends on how much post processing you are using, draw distances, how good your culling is working. Shader complexity and large areas of transparency in level rendering will kill performance more than poly count. However poly count plays a role and reducing it can help lower the overall load on the computer.
  • cryrid
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    cryrid polycounter lvl 8
    If you hover your cursor over a tool or subtool thumbnail icon inside zbrush, a popup will tell you the polygon count of the model in addition to the vertex/point count. 

    ------ Otherwise:

    Polygons are two-dimensional shapes that are made out of straight edges. It could be a triangle, a square, a hexagon, an octagon, or some completely monstrous creation with 532 edges. 'Polygon' refers to the planar face of this closed shape, edges are the straight edges that define it, and points/vertices are where those various edges connect with one another. 

    Because of this, "Polygon" can be a loose term to use. It's like saying "coin". If you tell someone you have 6 coins in your pocket, it doesn't really tell them how much money you actually have. Likewise if you tell someone you have 6 polygons, they don't know the shape of them. Are they triangles, quads, n-gons, mixed? 

    Triangles can be a more accurate to report since they are more specific. Three edges are the bare minimum requirement to create a closed shape (polygon), and since they are guaranteed to be planar, every other polygon shape will get converted to triangles one way or another. Sort of like how a dime is actually 10 cents, or a quarter 25 cents. Reporting the triangle count of your model is like telling someone you have "55 cents" rather than "6 coins". It's more useful information to them. 

    For example: A cube has six sides, so a cube could have six polygons (quads). But since each of those square faces are actually split into two planar triangles at render time, a cube could also be said to have 12 polygons (12 triangles). When someone sees a polygon count listed as triangles then they know exactly how many polygons they're getting. 

    Points/Vertices can be even more accurate to report than polygons since they can take into account your hard edges / user-normals, geometry splits, and your UV seams as well. As a result a cube could have 8 points, or 16 points, or even 24 points. Because this is all under the hood though it is harder for people to visualize how the points are actually being utilized, unlike triangles where you can see exactly how each one contributes to the final form and topology just by looking at them. 
  • Optimus
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    Optimus triangle
    so basically your saying the polycount is another name for a polygon which is made up of vertices?
    cryrid said:
    If you hover your cursor over a tool or subtool thumbnail icon inside zbrush, a popup will tell you the polygon count of the model in addition to the vertex/point count. 

    ------ Otherwise:

    Polygons are two-dimensional shapes that are made out of straight edges. It could be a triangle, a square, a hexagon, an octagon, or some completely monstrous creation with 532 edges. 'Polygon' refers to the planar face of this closed shape, edges are the straight edges that define it, and points/vertices are where those various edges connect with one another. 

    Because of this, "Polygon" can be a loose term to use. It's like saying "coin". If you tell someone you have 6 coins in your pocket, it doesn't really tell them how much money you actually have. Likewise if you tell someone you have 6 polygons, they don't know the shape of them. Are they triangles, quads, n-gons, mixed? 

    Triangles can be a more accurate to report since they are more specific. Three edges are the bare minimum requirement to create a closed shape (polygon), and since they are guaranteed to be planar, every other polygon shape will get converted to triangles one way or another. Sort of like how a dime is actually 10 cents, or a quarter 25 cents. Reporting the triangle count of your model is like telling someone you have "55 cents" rather than "6 coins". It's more useful information to them. 

    For example: A cube has six sides, so a cube could have six polygons (quads). But since each of those square faces are actually split into two planar triangles at render time, a cube could also be said to have 12 polygons (12 triangles). When someone sees a polygon count listed as triangles then they know exactly how many polygons they're getting. 

    Points/Vertices can be even more accurate to report than polygons since they can take into account your hard edges / user-normals, geometry splits, and your UV seams as well. As a result a cube could have 8 points, or 16 points, or even 24 points. Because this is all under the hood though it is harder for people to visualize how the points are actually being utilized, unlike triangles where you can see exactly how each one contributes to the final form and topology just by looking at them. 

  • cryrid
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    cryrid polycounter lvl 8
    Polycount is just a blend word; a quicker way to say "polygon count".

    So you wouldn't say "this guy has ______ polycounts", you'd say "this guy has ______ polygons", or  "the polygon count is ______"

  • Optimus
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    Optimus triangle
    okay, i understand. with your examples i felt like this was 5th grade English class :D
  • Optimus
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    Optimus triangle
    and thx for the quick reply

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