I’ve been using these methods for quite some and I felt like sharing what I’ve learned.
What I employ to keep part count low can be summarised into one word: layers.
Like ogres, your builds should have layers. Not only is this more aesthetically pleasing, but if you’re smart about it you can significantly decrease the number of parts.
Before I tell you how, I’ll remind you why. Especially on mobile devices, part count can have a huge impact on performance. If you look at games like Jailbreak, you’ll notice how much effort they’ve gone through to keep their bricks at a low, with textures or simplistic details. If you’re working on a showcase, it probably isn’t worthwhile to try keep parts low - but it’s good practice regardless!
A quick little note, this method is most effective with smooth plastic but still has applications with any material.
For this tutorial, I’ve taken the wall from one of my recent buildings and taken the time to remake it without the methods I used to keep it low part count.
In total, this wall is 63 parts.
and now here’s my remake of this wall without being cautious of part count.
This one totals up to 227 parts. That means my improved wall is 72% (ish) more part efficient, PER WALL. Without sacrificing any detail.
Layers also add aesthetical benefit, as you’ll see below:
Depth to builds makes them feel more realistic and overall improves how they look.
If you view the proof for both walls, it might become obvious how I’ve achieved such a significant part reduction, but I’ll walk you through every step.
Step 1: Windows
Glass is typically the easiest thing to achieve. If you see in the below example, every pane of glass is it’s own piece.
This is incredibly inefficient. By resizing the glass to be thinner than the wall, I can make one part fill every window frame. This knocks off 23 parts and takes 10 seconds.
Step 2: Window Frames
Similarly to windows, window frames can be specifically designed to be identical on each floor and you should aim to do this in your builds. By making them identical, we can employ a similar tactic to the glass and extend the frames.
Instead of having 4 individual parts along this side,
I can make the window frames slightly thinner than the walls and use the same piece to fill in that line, like this:
This is especially effective between two windows, as you can use the part for two of them.
If we apply this method both vertically and horizontally for our windows,
This brings us down to only 124 parts.
Step 3: Walls
It’s the same method, but on different aspects of the build. As you’ll see, the wall is divided horizontally per floor by white parts. If we extend those out from the wall,
we can reduce parts there too.
(It’s not immediately obvious, but in the first pic it’s 3 parts and in the second it’s just one)
Step 4: Stop caring about part overlap (Smooth Plastic only)
Overlapping parts can be frustrating, and I used to go out of my way to prevent them. But because smooth plastic doesn’t use textures, this doesn’t matter! In the effort to reduce parts we can overlap as much as we want. I’ll give an example of where I used this below.
Before: (12 parts)
After: (1 part)
You’ll see here that these parts now overlap,
but provided you’re using smooth plastic, this will not be noticeable.
Step 5: Always try find new ways!
I can’t show you every scenario where you could create a build using layers, but you should be able to find those yourself. Take a build of yours and have a go, maybe you can reduce the parts in a floor by extending them through a wall? I don’t know! Go find out! I’ve made it a game with myself to try reduce part counts and I find it fun now, even if I just knock off one or two parts here and there - it’s still a good thing.