Ashes of Creation
High res Vs low res models
I always hear Steven mention creating high res ZBrush models and then the low res "in game" models. Are these just differences in in-game graphics options or will we only see the low res models in game and the high res are for cut scenes and such?
I'm not a professional, so I might be wrong about some of these things, but this is how I understand it:
Typically in game development, when they are creating 3D models they sculpt it in ultra-high resolution. And then they can scale down the resolution for different graphics levels (using algorithms, followed by a tiny bit of tweaking). Obviously this is much easier than starting with low-res and trying to scale up, or just making each resolution manually.
Texturing is a also an important part of this process, because some of the finer details in a model can be "baked" into the texture. Basically, the highlights and shadows created by tiny ridges or folds will get painted onto the texture, while the model is simplified/smoothed out.
I can't say for certain if they use the original maximum-resolution models in game at all. Probably not. It might not even be compatible because game engines tend to use 100% triangular polygons, but you can sculpt other kinds of shapes, including curves, in modelling programs. Those shapes have to be translated to triangles, regardless of resolution. But again, I'm not certain of this part.
However, there will definitely be multiple options in game for different levels of graphical detail (like most AAA PC games), and models will be a small part of that. Typically, the textures, shadows, and post-processing make a bigger difference than the models though.
Oh and I almost forgot LoD, which is a system that graphics engines use to swap in/out low-resoultion versions of stuff when it's further away. Since, you know, there's no need for high-resolution assets for stuff that is 50+ yards away. So even for people running ultra-high graphics settings, it helps to have lower-res models/textures in the game, for performance reasons.