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Hi guys, freelance gamedev here. I got into the developer side of gamemaking with a very strong 2d art foundation, which has allowed me to actually make some really nice stuff leveraging texture painting skills. So I'm also a little bit good with blender. I can make decent low poly models and texture them quite nicely.

Now I have a new project in mind, it's a 3d shooter that will attempt to capture the low poly charm of quake1 (the game that defined my childhood).

I'm torn between a crucial question though: how hard is it to animate low poly enemies? they don't have to be beautiful animations by any means, but I'd like them to read and transition somewhat cleanly ofc. If you guys advise me against it, I can always do billboard agent enemis in the style of doom and duke nukem3d (pic related). but that would be a bit less awesome than if I were to manage to model and animate them.

I look forward to you guyses advises
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examples of the look i'm after
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Quake was all animated frame by frame with no interpolating from the looks of it
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It probably depends on how you want the enemy to move. Low poly rigging and animation is reliant on smart topology, but if the enemy needs to twist and wiggle a bunch it's going to be tough to maintain the silhouette.

Unless the enemies are designed with that in mind of course.
>used sprites
>keeps "realistic" shadowing/shadow maps for map geo

into the trash it goes.

Is there a modern retro shooter game that has texel consistant shadows?
I doubt it. It's almost as if whoever makes these doesn't think consistently when it comes to the aesthetics .
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Someone who has worked with Quake & GoldSrc:

There is two big ways you can go with if you want that old feel, for starters Q1:
Quake1 used Vertex animation at 10fps with no interpolation. Later games used interpolation like Q2&3. With vertex anims you have the limitation of animations made that are tied to that specific mesh. Now the one big advantage is you can animate right down to the individual vertex so say you could have an animation where the mesh inflates or turns spiky or whatever. I forget the name of the "wobble" present in Q2 i think its floating point rounding or something.

If you want the classic texture look be sure to read up on the old limits, for quake its a static pallete index for everything with a few key fullbright color ranges. For goldsrc its 8bit index BMP per-texture.

GoldSrc implemented Skeletons but had the old limitation of HARD WEIGHT; this means no weight blending at all across bones, vertex = one bone only. This is same for N64 games did this as well. Now with hard weight there is two ways you can approach: If really lowpoly you can use some topology tricks to limit stretching but you do have to approach it in a specific way that few people know well these days since everyone is so used to weighting/weightpaint. The second way is if you have somewhat higher poly you can "overlap" detached limb parts to clip into eachother so you can deal with shoulder issues better at higher poly.
If you are for real, I just want to say do not go as low polly as quake, forcing yourself to go that low for a look looks FAR worse then this is a hardware constraint we need to work with. there are some low poly modeling threads that happen here from time to time, note how almost all of the work to make those look good is in the texture and into the model itself.

as for animation, how hard is it to animate? not very hard at all. you have overall less bullshit to worry about looking wrong or stretching weirdly so problems are easier to fix.
This is assuming you are able to animate something believable though, but this is a skill set shared with high end and low end so its a requirement before you even go low.
It's not really any harder to animate a low poly model than it is to animate a higher poly one. Honestly, in many ways it's easier.
its pretty easy to animate low poly characters, just remember some key points about vertex weighting
Quake has plenty of tools to import models into the engine with like QME and noesis.
Just model, unwrap and rig the mesh to a skeleton as normal and the animations are converted to vertex animation automatically, no need to mess with the old methods
All you really need to keep in mind is that Quake animates at 10fps and that vertex positions in MDL are compressed to 8-bit integers. This means that models have their vertices snapped to a 256 3D grid, so don't make verts too close together.
As for model creation, MDL supports up to 1k tris and verts IIRC but most of Quake's are ~200tris
Textures were limitted to 200px vertically but no limit horizonatally, no idea why. They used the game's 8bit palette
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OP here. So I tried a little bit, and I failed a little bit. And for now I'm sticking with sprites lol. It just solves so many problems I'd otherwise have, as a terribad noob modeller and not even noob animator. I might revisit animating and modelling at some point throughout the project, but for the moment it's going to be sprite based enemies.

I do however tremendous appreciate your feedback anons.

How low is too low? Quake is too low? I think with skillful texturing and normals and proper management of softened and sharp edges even quake level low poly could be made to look kinda nice in this day and age. My game is pretty 'retro' looking all over, I feel like it could work if a skilled (not me) modeller/texturer/animator did it.

Whoa, that's a lot of technical info I can only barely interpret. Might come back to you in a week or so. Considering how slow this whole board is the thread will probably still be up by the time I finish my game.

BTW I'm also the guy who was also spamming about his shitty rocket launcher model (which is now scrapped because it sucks).
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oh, don't get me wrong, low can work especially with skilled people doing the work,

Its been awhile since I played quake, so forgive me if the image isn't from quake.

This model is particularly low res, to the point that animating it is likely stretching parts of the model.
now with a higher res texture or normal texture, while it wouldn't look retro, it would still have the feel of retro while looking modern.

the problem you are going to run into is several fold.

1) when most people think old/retro 3d, they are thinking idealized 3d, not what it actually looked like. like if you mention quake graphics, most people will default to quake 3/unreal tournament level graphics.
with good modeling and texturing, you can go lower than these, but its still running a risk.

2) people who made the models back then were very skilled artists who were constrained by what the hardware could do. if you get an artist today who doesn't specialize in low polly, you will run into trouble there too.

3) when you use retro as a tagline in a game, people automatically go 'its shit' and move on, people like me will at least look at the game
You can not market the game as retro, you have to market it as a normal game,

honestly the pic related you posted looks great at least as far as the weapon is concerned, looking old but not so old it looks like shit, it looks like its this way by design, a markedly non retro style that still falls into retro...

the main problem you will fall into is my pic related, where if you go that low, you will have hard metal pieces stretching, you need to have enough pollies that doesn't happen.

Hope whatever you end up doing turns out well.
I recommend you Wings3D and the so called Box Modeling.

Wings3D is perfect for low poly modeling

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