How to make 3D gothic architecture look good?


Hey everyone! I need some advice or artistic ideas. I am working on my personal computer game during my free time. I have recreated 1:5000 scale Lithuania world map for it, where I procedurally generate all the environments. Game takes place in a fantasy setting, hence, I am also generating fantasy buildings. One type of the building, for the capital city and the large cities, are the gothic-styled estates. The ground level is covered with fog, so aristocrats are trying to live above the ground levels in tall buildings closer to the sunlight.

The problem is, because I need to display more then 15000 buildings at some instances of the map at the same time (I am using Unreal Engine), my polygon budget is quite limited, around 500-2000 per building maximum.

I made complex Houdini script, which outputs me all the buildings like that:

The problem is, that when I try to add details, I immediately run out of budget. But, gothic architecture is veeeery detailed. And because I am generating hundred of thousandths of buildings (remember, I am recreating almost full-scale country territory) and can not rely on the high-detailed mesh baking or anythings. I tried to apply some textures, like, with gothic facades, but it looks silly, as I have a lot of very different building shapes. I feel like I need some kind of artistic solution here, but can’t think of any. Fantasy setting allows me to cut many corners, and yet, I struggle to find some magic formula, which will yield me nice building style and low poly budget. Any ideas are welcomed


Have you considered using LOD?
Unreal LOD documentation


LOD will not solve all the troubles completely, the map scale is 1:5000, so you kind of see all the details (same, as I on my screenshot right now); On the very dense cities, this will end up with too many polygons. Around 7000 houses are visible at extreme cases. Unreal can handle 70 000 000 polygons with ~20FPS on modern GPU, so, this is my last resort and what I will do, if nothing else comes to mind. Just generate many good looking gothic details, and then LOD on zoom-out


try pulling normal maps off your high rez models as maps, do not bake but do as simple normal mapping. Also pick your camera angle and only add detail that is seen from those angle. Mr. D


Actually!! Your replied trigger a very good thought… I am using only 1 angle, which means, I can at least save and cut on about 50% of a model, which is not going to be visible at all