4.1– Bigger is Not Always Better

... not when it comes to textures, at least. You have to make wise decisions on what size textures to use for any and every piece of geometry in your level. The larger the texture the more video memory is consumed. If too much video memory is used then your level may not run or, if it does, it will look more like a slide show than real-time 3D. Let's take a look at how much memory a single texture can use:

Texture Size Memory Used
512 x 512 746 Kb
1024 x 1024 2992 Kb
512 x 1024 1496 Kb
256 x 256 187 Kb
256 x 512 374 Kb

As you can see, the larger the texture the more video memory it uses. If you create a level using all 1024 x 1024 (or larger) textures you will quickly choke most video cards. As we are in the process of texturing our levels we need to think carefully about each texture we apply to see if the memory consumption of that texture is justified by its value to the overall level. Let's think about this for a moment.

Let's say we are in the process of texturing our level and decide it's time to texture the ceiling. We need to ask ourselves a question. Will the player be looking at the ceiling? If so, how much time will they spend looking at it? Will the player have to look at the ceiling in order to solve a puzzle in the game? Questions like this (and others) will seriously help you decide the size of the texture you place there. In most games the player barely notices the ceiling at all. They are usually looking around a corner to see what is going to attack them. If this is the case in your game, then why waste precious video memory on a ceiling texture? Why not use a smaller texture, even if it is not as nice and crisp as the larger one?

On the other hand, let's say your game requires the player to examine a piece of level geometry very closely to look for a clue. If this is the case, then you may very well decide to use a larger texture so that the player will not see too many individual pixels when viewed up close.

Return to Part 4 - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Go to Part 4.2 - Using Texture Scaling