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volume 1, issue 6

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

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Thinking Outside the Box:
Low Poly Tricks, Tips & Techniques


By Paul "Villam" Steed

Anything I say comes from me and represents my personal opinions, views and subtle plans for influencing society. Read, ruminate over and remember at your own risk. If I teach you something and it helps, teach someone else.

 he following is mostly an excerpt from the June, 98 issue of Game Developer magazine with a few tweaks. Next week I'll post the modeling part of the article using these terms and techniques. What I've tried to do is to give terms and definitions to the way I model and optimize low polygonal models. Optimizing is not easy. There is definitely a learning curve to not only all art tools but training your mind to be able to sort out a mesh from any angle and identify areas that can be pared down. Although I use 3D Studio 4 or 3D Studio Max, most of these techniques are applicable across the board in other modeling packages as well.


What I call model 'accommodation' is nothing more than making sure the model's geometry supports its animations. For example, take an arm (grab the guy's next to you or better yet the girl's). Low-poly limbs (arms, legs, tentacles, etc.) need to bend and flex yet still hold their shape in their optimized state. I always these stock models you can buy with their typical outstretched arms and legs frozen-halfway-through-a-jumping-jack looking pose. This is no prob with a zillion faces to work with but with low-poly it's actually better to model limbs slightly or fully bent so the proper detail can be given to the elbow or knee.

At the very least manually bend these limbs at their intended joints and see if their shape can be held and then straighten them back up if necessary.


Gives characters life and identity. Don't be afraid to make your creations have personality. I exercise my imagination quite freely when imbuing my characters with virtual life.


Tessellation is simply adding faces and vertices to an object for more detail. This is most useful with curved surfaces yet can be used with anything. Of course with low-poly objects the last thing you're likely to do is tessellate an object since it adds even more face you're trying to find a way to get rid of.


The act of reducing the number of faces making up your model is optimization. Almost every modeling tool out there has some sort of optimize command and some are good - some aren't so good. I'm a neat freak with my models so I try to keep a sort of order or symmetry to the design of the mesh whenever I can.

A lot of optimization programs aren't so aesthetically-inclined to say the least. I always prefer to optimize by hand when I do low-poly meshes (unless the mesh needs to go from 10,000 faces to 500) since I have ultimately more control.

(Continued on next page)


Credits: Thinking Outside the Box logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. Thinking Outside the Box is © 1998 Paul Steed. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't even try it. We've got really big guns, and we're ripped, baby.