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Modeling for games is always a balance of the amount of geometry and the desired look versus what the game engine and platform can handle. Part of planning for a game is analyzing the reference photos or concept art. For major elements such as overhangs, doorways and key shadows, these need to be made in geometry, not in texture. I'm working in Adobe Photoshop to start here and these are pictures I took running around Seattle. This is in the Belltown neighborhood and can see a collection of buildings here between old and new. What I look at first is this modern building right in front and one of the things we look at for geometry in the low polygon environment are key shadow lines, such as the concrete frame against the window, which I've highlighted here.
The yellow is where we would have a texture and the gray outside would be geometry. We also look for recessed entries in geometry, as we can see in this older building actually underneath the Seattle Monorail. This recessed entry here, again, marked out in yellow, is perfect for cover mechanic and a first person shooter. We need to duck behind a wall in order to not be seen. Additionally, in this building we see the same deep recessed window openings, where the brick to the side needs to be geometry, but the window can be handled with texture.
Finally, we also want to look for awnings and in this case this is a more modern building here with an awning out over the street, as is prevalent in Seattle because of the rain. As we can see here, this awning really protrudes in front of the building next to it and so clearly needs to be geometry to show up in silhouette correctly. Now if we jump back to the first image, we can see awnings on this building as well in blue, but again need to be very low polygon geometry so the silhouette works correctly.
When planning out your game it's very important to analyze the concept art and reference photos for key geometry and shadow lines before you begin building.
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