I’ve largely finished the final level of Where Monsters Are in Dreams (chronologically within the story, not in terms of development cycle). When I finished my first draft of the geometry, there were 1,970 polygons. Aleph One wouldn’t load it. I expected this and deleted several ambient sound objects, but each of them had no discernible effect on whether the map would load. So I thought, “OK, the problem must be partially related to polygon count.” I simplified the map geometry by twenty polygons, and it loaded fine.
Now, it’s possible that it was just coincidental that I got below the limit right after deleting those twenty polygons – maybe if I’d deleted the polygons first, it still would’ve crashed until I deleted the ambient sounds. But I’m sceptical of this, and the screenshot below is why. At the risk of a minor spoiler:
There are about 500 polygons in this general area of the map. My original understanding of map indices was that Aleph One creates one map index for each polygon an ambient sound object is audible on. However, if that’s the case, this sound object should be crucial. I don’t know if it’s audible from all 500 polygons, but it should be audible from at least 200, maybe 300 of them. But the map still works now.
This isn’t the only ambient sound object I’ve placed near a complicated segment of the map, either. Again, the map still loads fine. It’s as though reducing the number of polygons greatly increased the number of sound objects Aleph One will let me get away with.
At the same time, the limit can’t be exclusively polygon count. The current revision of “The Haunted Beacon” has 2,062 polygons, and obviously, Aleph One still plays it without a hitch. It’s possible that the difference is that Windbreaker just didn’t use as many polygons in a single area, but if that’s the case, is the problem also partially that there are so many polygons clustered together, beyond the mere usage of ambient sound objects in those clusters specifically?
I just feel like I’m flying blind here. Can someone explain the limits more accurately for me? I can keep doing a trial-and-error approach here by just seeing whether a map will load, but I think I’d be able to work better on this level (and on Ryoko’s Chronicles level, and on others yet unbuilt) if I had a more solid understanding of what I’m up against. Obviously the easiest solution would just be not to create levels with more than 1,024 polygons, but I think that era of Marathon mapmaking is over. And honestly, I’m fairly glad – there were several Chronicles levels I never finished back in the Forge era because I hit the polygon limits and couldn’t figure out where to go from there. But I’d like to have a more solid understanding of exactly where the boundaries are, because it will give me a more reliable intuition for what I can get away with, and thus a greater ability to plan future levels.
If anyone can help, I’d be greatly appreciative. I suspect I’m not the only one who would benefit; I’m almost certain this will also help Windbreaker with further revisions to “The Haunted Beacon”, at the very least. Thanks in advance.