Entry: 16/09/2016

Working Out a Poly-Count:

I want to discover the answer to how many polys I should set myself for the

dissertation. Given that, I know I want to produce a fleet or fleets of different

ships I need to start to build up a picture of how many ships are

required. I’d prefer to use a type system for producing models as it allows you to

have distinct ships and varying roles from one another. The type system used in

naval combat should be perfect for what I want. From researching WW2 ships

types (James E.S Davies. 2016), there seems to be around 12 distinct types.

Aircraft Carrier  Battleship  BattleCruiser PocketBattleship
Cruiser  Destroyer  Topoedoboat Monitor
Frigate  Corvette  Passenger Liner Merchant Vessels

Figure 1.(table)

They all have their characteristics, some slightly similar to others. But they have

specific roles within a fleet. Given I don’t want to do all 12, I’ll pick 3/4 to

maintain a good variety of my models. Those I take forward in ship types I’ll

take from this list.Figure 1.(table)


Figure 2: Ship Type List


Working from the top Figure 2.(image) would be a battleship class. This would be

the flag bearer of the fleet. It’s got the heavy guns but suffers from the lack of

speed. The next three are as follows Cruiser(Optional), Destroyer then

Corvette. I’ve made an image to give some sense of their general characteristics

such as scale, speed, firepower. This information alone is enough to start to

gauge how the poly counts are going to be split, with the biggest ship collecting

the most polys, the smallest the least. However, this still doesn’t give me an idea

on actually how many polys I should be looking at. The maximum I’ve made a

spaceship before for a module is 5,000 while outside of university I’ve produced

100,000 plus models, these of course take must longer to produce. Primarily my

poly count will be set to many factors, one the time it takes and the detail that I

can realistically achieve within that timeframe.


It’s an abbreviation I see everywhere LOD ( Level of Detail)

It’s dawning on me that the ability of a game engine to be properly optimised is

a crucial stage. Producing different models and leaving them all at High-

Poly is not the best way of helping that optimisation process, using LOD means

processing power can be spent elsewhere in the scene, as the further away an

object gets from the camera the lower poly model used. Figure 3.(ChaosDev.

2012)This is why I believe I need to focus on shaping just one fleet of ships,

but with the addition of creating different LOD models. At the moment a simple

High-Medium-Low set for each ship should suffice unless I discover otherwise. I

want to dedicate another blog to this subject, but I’ll be stating it now for

reference purposes.


Figure 3: LOD Geometry (ChaosDev. 2012)

Finding poly counts in the types of games which reflect ships design such as

Elite Dangerous(ED), No Man’s Sky and Star Citizen(SC) can be somewhat

challenging and slightly skewed (MrDude. 2010). No Man’s Sky’s ships

are low poly variants, looking at Figure 4.(Re-Dhah. 2015)you can see most of

the detail is contained in the texture maps and not in the base mesh.


Figure 4: No Man’s Sky Ship(Re-Dhah. 2015)

This could be down to the art style of the game which is mostly blocked

colour and very angular structures.  Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen are

however much more evenly matched with arguably SC aimed at the next

generation of PC componentry while ED is very much here and now. This is

shown through the poly counts I’ve managed to find through different sources,

Figure 5.(IceyJones. 2013) that gives examples poly counts for the

SC 300i fighter, being around 178,000 Polys, other sources state the SC Cruiser

is estimated at 7,000,000 Polys. Obviously, I don’t have the capabilities nor the

time to create such a model.


Figure 5: Star Citizen Ships (IceyJones. 2013)

Looking at Elite, I followed a tutorial (Kmai. 2016) showing how to pull 3D models

from games. Using it on ED, I was able to extract the Vulture from the game,

importing it into blender I was able to find it had a count of around 30,000 Polys

Figure6.(image). The Vulture is relatively small in Elite, with much

larger ships than itself, meaning I’d have to take this into account when deciding

poly counts, as a the texture will need that extra amount to texture evenly.


Figure 6: Elite Dangerous Vulture



No Man Sky = ~ 5,000

300i fighter = ~ 178,000

Cruiser = ~7,000,000

Vulture = ~30,000


Overall I think SC is truly next generation with the amount of polys they use, Its

not something I believe I have the time to achieve with the three models with

LOD’s I want to create. ED’s poly counts I know is something I can achieve, with

it high enough for detailed models, but not too high that I can only produce one

in the timeframe I have. These benchmarks are something I believe I

base my figures for my models now, using an estimate for LOD’s

(Arno. 2011) that each LOD has an estimated 40% fewer

polys than the last. If I can keep the shape of the final LOD after a total 80%

reduction (High-Medium-Small) I should be happy with my poly count for each

ship. I’ll outline a rough set of poly limits beneath.


Battleship 40,000 24,000 14,400
Cruiser(Optional) 30,000 18,000 10,800
Destroyer 20,000 12,000 7,200
Corvette 10,000 6,000 3600



Arno. (2011). LODs.. Do you recommend them? | FSDeveloper. [online] Available at: http://www.fsdeveloper.com/forum/threads/lods-do-you-recommend-them.100238/ [Accessed 16 Sep. 2016].

ChaosDev. (2012). How change LOD in geometry?. [online] (image) Gamedev.stackexchange.com. Available at: http://gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/31883/how-change-lod-in-geometry [Accessed 16 Sep. 2016].

Davies, J.(2016). World War Two Ships: Ship Types. [online] Available at: http://www.ww2ships.com/documents/doc0002-ship_types.shtml [Accessed 16 Sep. 2016].

Jones, I. (2013). Polygon counts for all the ships. [online] Available at: https://forums.robertsspaceindustries.com/discussion/50214/polygon-counts-for-all-the-ships [Accessed 16 Sep. 2016].

Kmai. (2016). How to extract ship models from Elite: Dangerous (or any DirectX game). [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPLxCm3SyPU [Accessed 16 Sep. 2016].

MrDude. (2010). 3D model polygon count… How much is optimal? | Unity Community. [online] Available at: http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/3d-model-polygon-count-how-much-is-optimal.54832/ [Accessed 16 Sep. 2016].

Re-Dhah. (2015). Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet. [online] (image) Available at: http://i.imgur.com/Mf1pMKx.jpg [Accessed 16 Sep. 2016].