Do the small details really matter?

I’ve always said to people, “Small details matter.” But then I question myself, do they really matter? It would just cause lag. What do you think. Do you think putting in the extra effort really matters?


It really depends entirely on what you are creating. If the game is a bigger game, then you would probably do low poly, and in that case you wouldn’t want as much detail. If the game was smaller or even a showcase (for that I would put in a lot of detail), then the detail really does matter. Unless the part count is in the tens of thousands, then lag won’t even be noticeable (basing this off of my semi-powerful computer). The most important part is to make the level of detail you put into building consistent.


For example, a simulator map. People don’t look at small detail, they just play the game. But yeah, a showcase I would definitely put detail into.

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A lot of people enjoy quality of life things and good attention to detail, such as water dripping off your character when you get out of water, certain things moving when the environment is windy, etc.


Attention to small details absolutely do matter. It’s the little things that grasp the attention of people. When you pay attention to small details, it shows that you care about your product that you are putting out.

Obviously you can only be so detailed without experiencing slight issues with delayed loading and frame-rate drops.


Yup. Some people just focus on gameplay, and not focus on the building, but small details really make the effort stand out, even though it’s small.

I guess it depends what you are talking about, little things like “Z-fighting” where you have overlapping textures or overlapping parts could be annoying to the users. If you are concerned about lag then smaller details like pictures on walls for example might not be the best idea, however, things like that can also be rendered in and out depending on the players position. I enjoy seeing smaller details as it just tells me the developer took the time to do it really. Makes me appreciate the content more.

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The impact of details can vary. If a game is mostly built to a certain level of detail, it becomes expected that all parts of the game have that level of details. In some cases, I’ve even seen a game become jarring because of over detail in a spot not matching the expected detail.

Where detail matters, is where there is meaning. An example would be if you had a shop in a town in your game. Does the logo on the sign represent the flavor of the game and the shop, or is it just a generic icon?


So what your saying if you add too much, people will think too much of you? Like they would think that every stage/house/whatever is amazing/ or even better than the first one?

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Yeah, basically, be consistent with your detail. If you model blades of grass in one area, people are going to wonder why you don’t model blades of grass in every area. The game could feel disconnected if it doesn’t stick to it’s own standard.


This really depends on what kind of build you are making and what kind of game it will be in.
If it’s a spawn and lots of people are going to be there, then yes, it should obviously be well-made and detailed. However, if it’s a building/something else that people are going to be driving by (using a driving game for an example here) at hundreds of SPS, then making it less detailed is acceptable.

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Yes the small details matter the more detail you can have the better it will look. Most developers look for the small details and see how much work you really put into it. Also the better the gane looks the more visits will get.

Honestly, they probably don’t to the person who plays the game. Whenever I’m building although, I just can’t help but add onto everything I have to make it even better. I suppose it’s based on what type of game you want, too.

Absolutely. Before I released my first game, I was all for skipping on smaller details that would take more work than it seemed worth.

After release, it became clear to me that I was dead wrong. Players were suggesting the things that we had left out. The small details can really separate the great games from the good games, and don’t think for a second that people won’t notice them. It will take your game from one level to the next.

Now, small details are nothing without larger details. Make sure you focus on core mechanics and gameplay elements the most, but do not skimp out on things that you deem small. Players notice, and they will love your game for it, even if they dont notice that they notice.


The feeling of disconnect that VitalWinter is speaking to (and seen used before) is “anatopism” - when things are jarring or out of place in a piece of visual media, typically in a sense of style when talking about art (similar to anachronism being a piece of media being out of it’s correct time, like seeing a modern gun in a medieval historical book).

A good example of anatopism would be seeing a high-poly sphere with a 2k texture in vanilla Minecraft.

Bringing this back to the main discussion; using small details is certainly a tool that level designers use to their advantage to suggest or lead players to more essential areas, or allocating resources to areas that players repeatedly visit (say, a marketplace the player goes to sell items is more saturated with detail over the one field they walked through once for 30 seconds).

Detail is expensive in time and skill, and so it only makes sense to allocate resources to where that detail has the most impact. This isn’t to say that VitalWinter’s point also doesn’t ring true: consistent detail is still important for immersion.


Honestly, I think that the small details do matter, but you shouldn’t focus on them too much. With my personal experience as a modeler, I like to put lots of detail into my work to make the models look as nice as possible. Thing is, when you put too much detail into something either 1. It makes the game lag and lowers the performance or 2. It distracts you and makes getting work done slower since you are focusing too much on the details rather than the bigger picture. You want an in between of too little and too much detail if you want a good looking game that performs well. Honestly I find too many people not put enough detail into their work and it honestly annoys me. Anyways, that’s just my opinion. Many people have different standards so it’s up to you on how much detail you want.

From my experiences the small details have always mattered. One of the best examples I can go to is using the Lighting in a game - in my opinion it either makes the game or breaks it. However you would need to consider the factors such as size of the game and target audience. Something like a tycoon could go without heavy details whereas something like a showcase would of course need it.