Yes, but how many polygons?

Previously, I’ve explained that it is very difficult to answer the question “How many polygons should I be using in a character/vehicle/environment?” This doesn’t stop the question being asked however, so I thought I’d approach it in a different way – how many polygons have other games used?

By listing the game, the hardware it runs on, and any art information I could find, I hope that this will be a good starting point as to suitable polygon counts and texture sizes. Ideally I’d like to list as many games as possible, from different genres and platforms.

This is very much a work in progress, and if you haven’t read my previous thoughts on the “How many polygons?”, I suggest you do check it out.

So, I’ll warn casual readers again – the number of polygons used don’t matter if they are not used well. This is simply a technical markerpost to try and identify what certain games used on certain hardware at a certain time. Supposedly Halo 2 used less polygons for Masterchief than Halo 1, and I’ve heard that Call of Duty 4 used less polygons for the character models that CoD2 did – I suspect this will due to relying more heavily on normal mapping to create the details.

Dead or Alive series, Xbox, 2001-2004
Character – ~10,000-15,000
Gears of War, Xbox 360, 2006 (according to D’Artiste book)
Wretch – 10,000 polygons with diffuse, specular and normal maps
Boomer – 11,000 polygons with diffuse, specular and normal maps
Marcus – 15,000 polygons with diffuse, specular and normal maps
GTA San Andreas, PS2, 2004
Characters – 2,000 polygons with 1 256×256 8bit texture
NPCs – 1,200 polygons with 1 256×128 8bit texture
GTA IV, Xbox 360/PS3, 2008
Story Characters – 8-10,000 polygons with multiple 256×256/512×512 diffuse, specular and normal maps
NPCs – 3-4,000 polygons with multiple textures
Half-Life, PC, 1998
Zombie – 844 polygons
High Definition pack Zombie- 1700 polygons
Halflife 2, PC, 2004
Alyx Vance – 8323 polygons
Barney – 5922 polygons
Combine Soldier – 4682 polygons
Buggy (without mounted gun) – 5824 polygons
Classic Headcrab – 1690 polygons
SMG – 2854 polygons (with arms)
Pistol – 2268 polygons (with arms)
Halo, Xbox, 2001
Masterchief – 2,000 polygons
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, GC, 2002
Link – 2800 polygons
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, GC/Wii, 2006
Link – 6900 polygons
Lost planet, X360/PC, 2007
Wayne – 12392 polygons (but finally 17765 polygons for compatibility with motion blur effect)
VS robot – 30-40,000 polygons
Background – ~500,000 polygons
Mass Effect, X360, 2007
Sheppard + armor + weapons – ~20,000-25,000 polygons
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, PS2, 2005
Snake – 4,000 polygons
Project Gotham Racing 2, Xbox, 2003
Vehicles – 10,000 polygons
Project Gotham Racing 3, Xbox 360, 2006
Vehicles – 80,000-100,000 polygons
Quake, PC, 1996
200 polygons with 1 320×200 8bit texture using predefined palette.
Quake 4, PC, 2006
Player model – 2,500 polygons with multiple diffuse, specular and normal maps
Resident Evil 4, Gamecube, 2005
Leon – 10,000 polygons
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, PS3, 2007
Main characters – ~20,000-30,000 polygons
Drake – ~30,000 polygons
Pirates – ~12,000-15,000 polygons
Unreal Tournament, PC, 1999
Player model – 800 polygons
Unreal Tournament 2k3, PC, 2003
Player model – 3,000 polygons
Unreal Tournament 3, PC, 2007
Weapon models – 4,500 to 12,000 triangles for the first person view
Virtua Fighter 5, Arcade/PS3/X360, 2006
Character – ~40,000 with diffuse, specular and normal maps
Background – 100,000 – 300,000 polygons

Please feel free to add QUALIFIED information in the comments, or drop me an email with information that you think deserves to be here..

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35 Responses to “Yes, but how many polygons?”

  1. Yes, but how many polygons? - Game Artist Forums Says:

    [...] Yes, but how many polygons? Yes, but how many polygons? rsart – home of Rick Stirling, games artist, designer, egotist and raconteur Blog Archive Yes, but how many polygons? Previously, Ive explained that it is very difficult to answer the question How many polygons should I be using in a character/vehicle/environment? This doesnt stop the question being asked however, so I thought Id approach it in a different way – how many polygons have other games used? By listing the game, the hardware it runs on, and any art information I could find, I hope that this will be a good starting point as to suitable polygon counts and texture sizes. rsart – home of Rick Stirling, games artist, designer, egotist and raconteur Blog Archive Yes, but how many polygons? [...]

  2. Adam Bromell Says:

    Rick, it’s about time someone did this! Kudos to you, because now people will have a point of reference when wondering about triangle counts!

    Good job, I’d like to see this done for environments as well.

  3. Rick Says:

    I’d love to do it for environments also – and props and weapons and everything.

  4. rAVEKN Says:

    Thank you Rick for the info I could not find anywhere else!
    Yes, PLEASE DO one for environments/props ets.

  5. anngrymann Says:

    Perfect! Its an odd question but helps us beginners. Please do enviroments, etc

  6. Poly count goals what are they?? - Game Artist Forums Says:

    [...] Check it. Word. __________________ TF2DEV – A Fresh Community for Team Fortress 2 Players and Developers [...]

  7. Bob Chance Says:

    Actually, your information regarding MGS3 is incorrect.
    1) It’s on the PS2, not GameCube.
    2) Snake is made up of around 8K poly–this is the same amount as a single enemy zombie from the GameCube version’s Resident Evil 4.

  8. Rick Says:

    Bob – I’ll have to check out the MGS stats, and change that to the PS2.

  9. Eric Chadwick Says:

    Thanks for this Rick!

    Here’s a linkback from the Beyond3D forums, in case you haven’t seen it, with more stats in the thread.

  10. Rick Says:

    Ta! I’ll have to rip off the numbers from that page and put them on here.

  11. Rick Says:

    I’ve copied in a few new details from the link Mr Chadwick sent. I could really do with some weapon stats.

  12. 60Hertz Says:

    Umm… Am i the only one wondering where do these numbers come from??? Have you actually grabbed the model off of the media, reverse engineer any proprietary formats? Or are you just winging it? I love the IDEA of the page but I can’t seriously use this as a metric unless these numbers are based on real data. So i guess references would be great.

  13. Rick Says:

    These numbers are based off personal knowledge of some products. I used to modify some of the older games so the numbers for those are bang on. The old archives at Polycount had exact polycounts for a good number of the Quake/2/3/halflife/unreal models.

    Obviously a lot of the numbers are rounded off for writing sake, but as you can see several have exact polycounts that were lifted from the raw model (PC games makes this so much easier).

    The Gears of War numbers are based on the figures stated in the Art of Gears of War section in D’Artiste Character Modelling 2.

    San Andreas was a game I worked on.

    Some of racing games are based on online interviews with the developers, the Halo model was dissected online (Bungie discussed it and reported that Masterchief in Halo 2 used less polygons than the first Halo). RE4 Leon was posted online, I think half the budget went to his hair.

    Some of the numbers are taken from a thread that picked up on my original post – I then incorporated some of these numbers back into the post. Although I cannot guarantee these numbers, the sources are somewhat credible as the posters on that forum contained several game artists (and coders).

  14. Lancer Evolution next gen - Game Artist Forums Says:

    [...] days is how smooth the car looks You’ll find at this link some info about polycounts in games: rsart – Rick Stirling, games artist Blog Archive Yes, but how many polygons? Not sure how true those are but an article from someone at Bizarre Creations (Bizarre Creations in [...]

  15. Coridium Says:

    Hi Rick,

    Thanks for the interesting article. Like others would be great to see a similar article on Environments, but I realise that its even harder cause of the differnce between unique geometry and instanced geometry, as well as other things like streaming tech, etc.

    Don’t know if you can disclose this info, but was wondering how the polycounts and texture budgets for GTA 3 and GTA 4′s characters differ? I also imagine that there were lot more polys in the main characters, than in the pedestrians.

    Great site, will be back regularly.


  16. Rick Says:

    Hey Chris – it’s quite difficult to list the GTA4 polycounts and textures because of the way the characters are constructed in multiple parts to create as much variation as possible.

    Generally I’d say that the standard models are around 3-4 thousand polygons and the story characters are 8-10 thousand.

  17. Coridium Says:

    Thanks for the info mate!

  18. tsne16487 Says:

    Hi Rick, I was wondering if you could let me know what sort of poly limits were used for the in game cars in GTA IV, were they full modeled meshes, or were some parts instanced, with shared textures/geometry etc?

    Cool site by the way, very helpful.

  19. Rick Says:

    I’ll have a look at see what info I can dig up. Offhand I couldn’t really say.

  20. Behrooz 'Bezman' Shahriari Says:

    Thank you very much. I’m studying 3D animation, just now trying to work out the logistics of my final animation and this is really useful as I want to make something I can show off to games developers.

    One request though – could you share more poly count of models that aren’t the lead character or ‘lead vehicle’? I’d love to know how many polygons are in a lightpole, telegraph pole or section of wire-mesh fencing.

    In any case, thanks again for the info and everything.

  21. Dan Frederiksen Says:

    I was curious where the data was from too.

    I’ve played GT5 prologue and the cars and menu scenes are very impressive. I do some 3d rendering, small time d3d coding and generally interested in photorealism and I heard it suggested that the models could be extracted from the game into an editor. do you know how that could be done rick? and do you know if the geometry would be compatible with renderings or are they using some cryptic displacement/normal mapping to give the smooth surfaces so the apparent geometry isn’t really there.


  22. Dave Says:

    Thanks for posting this info, its really very awesome to know.
    I was wondering though, these are all labeled “polys”, so does that mean its double the tris? For example, the original Quake models were 200 polys, does this mean 200 quads, so 400 tris?

    Thanks again!

  23. Rick Says:

    As far as I know, all of these are triangle counts.

    A poly is not a quad, a poly can have 3, 4, 5, 6…20 sides, but generally when poly is used in the word polycount it’s taken to mean tris.

  24. 360 XNA game poly count limits - Game Artist Forums Says:

    [...] this out here. An insider view on poly counts of various object on various systems, makes for some interesting [...]

  25. ‘Yes, but how many polygons?’ « me blog Says:

    [...] wonder just how high or low polygon the work in their portfolio should be. These lists here and here provide a good idea of what to work with, from the current handhelds to current generation home [...]

  26. "Low Poly" - Game Artist Forums Says:

    [...] [...]

  27. A Few Words on Polys and Portfolios Says:

    [...] recommend you read his answer to the “How many polys in my game” question and also his list of poly counts for characters in major games from the last 10 years. Cancel [...]

  28. ShiVa Developer Network » How many polygons ? Says:

    [...] an interesting blog entry from Rick Stirling, a character artist, about the polycount of game character [...]

  29. 9 Game Art Sites :: Gaia Gallery Says:

    [...] ago Side-on pixel art RPG enemy sprites ultimate smash friends Game Ready 3D Models Sidescroller Game Art Overview – Learn why RMCAD is one of the top Game Art .Interested in game art? Enroll at RM… in the [...]

  30. Naughty Dog in the Market for Next-Gen Console Technowizard | Piki Geek Says:

    [...] up from the 80,000 used per character in Uncharted 2. For comparison with other popular games, see this excellent blog post by Rick [...]

  31. Mixamo Auto-Rigger Now Free For Character Models Under 10k Polygons ‹ Says:

    [...] Gears of War on the Xbox 360. While Marcus Fenix fidelity is a little over the limit, according to graphics artist Rick Stirling, you can make something almost equivalent to the Boomer or lower. Check it out [...]

  32. Ankur Says:

    Can you please tell me what is the tri budget for Prince in POP Forgotten Sands and also the different props?

  33. shizel Says:

    I would advise posting up some of blizzards work. You can use World of Warcraft Model Viewer or WMV for short and post some of what blizzard is doing just to let everyone see what is okay and not okay to use for a mmo. Here is an example, Deathwing is a very nice dragon blizzard came up with. It uses 20370 verts and it has 6790 polys and from what i can see there all tris. So this would help alot of people with mmo games.

  34. How many polygons ? | ShiVa Engine Says:

    [...] an interesting blog entry from Rick Stirling, a character artist, about the polycount of game character [...]

  35. Solid-Mystik Says:

    Thank you so much. Having recently started a 3d diploma I have always wondered what a good polygon count would be.

Thoughts on this?