Real-time 3D gaming relies on speed and must use only the bare basics of 3D to accommodate the extensive calculations necessary. These basics include limited geometry, limited texture map sizes and color depths, and often the use of Binary Separation Planes (BSPs) rather than slower z-buffering calculations for depth.
Modeling is the most critical process in real-time 3D. If your models are too detailed, the real-time game engine will simply not be able to process the data fast enough for the players. If it is too simple, then the interactive title does not look professional-or worse, the models do not look anything like what they are supposed to represent.
Either way, effective modeling can make a title. Poor modeling can break it. Use templates when possible. Creating a 3D template over which to model is a useful procedure for creating real-time objects with enough detail in the right places. This way, you can construct the lower detail models as close as possible to the originals, yet have enough of a low polygon count to be usable in a real-time environment.
Be conscientious and primitive in your modeling. The basic procedures in creating a real-time model are “conscientious lofting” and the manipulation of primitives. Using lofting, you can build low-detail models based on simple shapes.
With primitives, you can push and pull on the faces or vertices of an object to build more interesting models. Texture maps are the key to realism in real-time. Detail that cannot be accomplished with mesh can be created with texture maps, using Opacity, “faked” Bump maps, and rendered images of high detail meshes manipulated for real-time use.