Polygon Tools: Quality Control for Game Models
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Polygon Tools: Quality Control for Game Models
24 January, 2017
Interview
The developers of Polygon Tools Pack discussed the way this tool can help beginner modelers create better assets for games.

Introduction

Dmitry Ivanov — 3D artist with more than 14 years of experience. Specialized in low poly art and non-organic surfaces. One of the founders and instructor at Polygon.by, 3D artist working on several game projects.

Dmitry Drynov — former 3D artist, managing outsourcing the creation of 3d art for games. One of the founders and executive officer at Polygon.by. A producer working on several projects in game industry.

There were several reasons for to start this project. Firstly, after several theoretical talks on the culture of modeling, at Polygon.by we decided to do something practical. We started with the tools that could help the novice modelers with basic quality control. Secondly, I had experience in developing tools for the semi-automatic quality control of 3D models in Maya. However, the generated toolkit was focused on a specific project and had its own specifics, and was not for public use. We came up with an idea of making public and more versatile tool for 3ds Max. Thirdly, we also had a goal to help novice 3D artists get an answer to a question “Did I do everything right from a technical point of view?” An objective answer to this question accelerates your work and training. To get an answer you have to work hard, watch tutorials and talk to experts. But you can’t get help 24 hours a day from some expert, so there is a need for automatization. 

That’s how we came up with Polygon Tools Pack. It consists of:

  • Polygon Checker – for the final check of your model
  • Polygon Tools – to prepare the models.

Now Polygon Tools Pack’s scripts are, so to speak, in public beta.

Parameters

First of all, Polygon Tools are designed to work with low poly models.

Checking with Polygon Checker is about universal, objective and measurable parameters of a 3D model. We mean units of the scene, naming, pivot positions, etc. Now it features 14 parameters, but in the future, the list will be expanded. A full list of possible inspections can be found in the documentation. In fact, this is more like an accelerated review of basic technical requirements for game models that 3D artist performs during the production. Scripts have the function similar to checking the spelling in a text editor – they help you notice problems, such as excessive amounts of smoothing groups or wrong materials. Some of the problems that can be solved with some standard operations can be corrected in the Polygon Checker with a single button click. In fact, we set a standard or universal solution, which has been suitable for solving this problem for the last 14 years. Polygon Checker is doing its work with the help of logical sequence in 3ds max written in MaxScript. All the measurements are compared with the standards and then the results are given so that the user can make a decision.

A simple game model created by a person with some experience. There are two easy to notice problems – pivot is below the model, outside the bounding box, and there is something wrong with smoothing groups.

Here is a model created by a beginner.

And then there is a model made by an experienced specialist. Pay attention to points 3, 7 and 8 – elementary mistakes, people just don’t notice them. Dim tool from Polygon Tools highlights the size of the geometry if there is transformation.

If we talk about the mapping, we have Polygon Tools. Firstly, using them, we can check texel density to compare values for all polygons and detect deviations. Our tools also allow you to detect UV clusters with very little or no space. You can obtain information about the density of UV mapping and if it is inadequate, improve the quality of the texture. It is also possible to find out if some elements of the UV mapping are beyond the standard size (0-1) and improve the situation.

Evaluation of texel density and mapping. It can be seen that the entire mapping range at 30% difference is good with texel density, but there are places with higher texel density. There are 80 polygons less than 1 sq. mm and two very little UV clusters.

Let’s look at the problematic UV clusters. Pressing ‘sel’ opens Unwrap UVW modifier and highlights the problematic clusters. Indeed there is a problem –  “twisted” polygons. This element should be expanded planar.

Game model. No correct polygons. Conclusion — there is probably no mapping at all.

Polygon Tools have a set of texture checkers which allows you to quickly assess the quality of mapping and notice any problem.

Here is what you can see with the help of the checker. Stretched UV clusters.

The full list of features, with examples, can be found in our documentation or you can watch video tutorials.

Several Uses

Beginning 3d artists and those who are responsible for the quality of work (lead artists, supervisors, outsource managers) are our target audience.

So, we can assume several scenarios for working with our scripts.

  1. You are a novice 3D artist / 3D junior. You need to create a proper model for a game. You have a bunch of problems in mind, technical and creative, and the time is running out. A stressful situation. Stress is necessary for professional growth, but it can have a negative impact on the quality of work. You apply Polygon Checker and see if your model meets the requirements of the industry.
  2. Lead artists and supervisors get a quick tool for feedback that objectively evaluates the model using a number of parameters and points out common problems. You just have to ask other artists to use it before sending models for review. It increases productivity and helps you to get rid of the routine, especially when it comes to creating a large number of models in a short period of time.
  3. Outsource managers and other managers. People not familiar with the secrets of 3D. Their task is to follow the time limits, check models that are made outside the studio, etc. Using a set of Polygon Tools Pack scripts will give them some valuable information.

Access 

Polygon Tools can be downloaded for free from our website. No extra charge. Our project has been tested with 3ds Max 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Dreams

I would like to work with game studios and make local versions of the tools for their needs.

Plans

  • work on functionality and speed of scripts
  • create Polygon Tools for other 3D packages
  • integrate neural network capabilities with 3d model tests

And since we have this opportunity, we’re always lookinп for new partners. Please contact us, if you:

  • know how to improve the checking algorithms
  • optimize code
  • full of ideas about new tests and you have some algorithms
  • want to make similar scripts for other 3D-packages
  • …have other ideas to improve the world or want to cooperate

We also act as consultants, testers and publishers. You can reach us by email (info@polygon.by) and be sure to check our official website (polygon.by).

We’d also like to give our thanks to Alexander Pleshakov for some good ideas an support. Thanks, man!

Dmitry Ivanov, Dmitry Drynov, The Team of Polygon.by

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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