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I am a hobbyist game developer. If there is something that I really don't like is 3D modeling, in particular all the work that needs to be put in the "pipeline" for the creation of models, in particular UV mapping.

Remembering games like Minecraft or "Little big planet", I was wondering if voxel editors could be used for just modeling; let me explain: using a voxel editor to make each object I need for my games and then export them singularly as FBX with either marching cubes or even better dual contouring for meshing.

Does an approach like this make sense in terms of performance? From what I can tell, I would need a voxel software which allows all of the following criteria.

  • Dual contouring meshing
  • FBX or OBJ export of meshed area
  • Multiple materials

Now, it looks like such software doesn't exist, which makes me think that this approach for 3D modeling may be totally wrong. Any heads-up on this?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Using voxel-based editors doesn't really save you from the pipeline steps of modelling, UV mapping, rigging, etc. It's just a different way of describing the geometry. If ultimately you need a UV map for your object, then changing your model after you've made your texture does introduce some risk that the UV mapping or texture will need to change, just like with polygonal models. You might think otherwise because a lot of voxel systems use triplanar mapping, but there's nothing inherently "voxel" about that, and you can use it with regular polygonal meshes if you wanted to. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Jul 14 '18 at 11:27
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There are voxel art editors which can export to polygon-based formats which can then be imported in stock game engines. MagicaVoxel is one example. But if you need a software recommendation, please ask on https://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com because we generally don't recommend specific products.

One thing you need to be aware of is that your models will require far more rendering resources than one would think. Stonehearth, for example, is often criticized for having bad framerates although its graphics look so retro. Those people don't realize that building shapes from voxels requires far more polygons than building shapes from polygons.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ i'll be sure to ask there, thanks for that! however more than that I kind of wanted to know if it is a good idea to start with, and with that in mind start searching for a solution \$\endgroup\$ – takada yoshiro May 4 '18 at 12:54
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I'm not familiar of any software focused on 3D voxel editing. However that doesn't stop you from making voxel models on a regular 3D software, like Blender. After all, voxel graphics aren't some "special" models, they are just organized in a specific way.

Performance-wise, it really depends. A game like Minecraft does not have detailed models, so it uses way less vertices than a regular game, and it's textures are lower resolution too, this means that performance is definitely boosted. In theory I could say that voxel graphics are friendlier (performance-wise) but it is possible to make something with an unnecessary amount of vertices.

In my opinion, either using voxel art or not, it's a matter of taste. It doesn't make much difference work-wise. If its easier for you to make voxel art because you are a programmer, then that would be a reasonable choice. I've been there, and I've made terrible 3D models for games I've made in the past, so I understand your struggle.

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