Here I’ll shortly conclude what we learned so far:
Avoid small meshes
Check if small meshes are necessary or if you could connect several small to one big mesh. If you have small, talk to a graphic programmer to get infos about the polycount “sweet spot” (meshes below that triangle count aren’t rendered faster). So maybe yo want add some tris to make things round if you need to keep a small mesh. You should also care about multi materials. If you have one big mesh but with 5 sub-materials assigned, the big mesh is ripped apart during the rendering and this means you now have 5 small meshes again. Maybe an atlas texture could help?
Avoid too many materials
Speaking of materials: think about the material management. Sharing materials between assets might be possible if you plan ahead before the asset creation. Bigger atlas textures can help.
Talk to your programmers if you can get ingame statistics so that you can assume how problematic your asset might be. Sometimes it’s hard to have the overview over complex assets. But if a tool can warn you, that this asset could be a potential performance problem, you might solve the problem before the asset is committed as final.
Ask the coder
As you see this topic is highly technical and very context dependent (hardware, engine, driver, game perspective…). So it might be a good idea to ask your programmer how assets should be setup. Or just wait, because if performance drops because of your assets, programmers will find your office and poke you until your optimized your stuff. :)
Wow, you read until here? You’re crazy! Thanks a lot! Let me now what you think. I hope you learned something. :)