In video games, developers are in a constant battle with frame time to make sure they are not using too much processing power and causing in game lag. One way to help reduce system strain is to implement Levels of Detail (LODs), which can be created automatically in UDK or by hand in Max. There is not much data on how UDK actually handles LODs, or how much they improve performance. I wanted to try and change that, so I built some asset LODs in Max and UDK to compare their advantages and disadvantages in a number of different areas. I wanted to see if their LOD transitions would cause much of a drop in frame rate, but if it had turned out one development path was much less taxing on the system, it would mean nothing if that LOD looked awful and was not usable in game. For this reason, I built a survey and tested to see which version looked better visually, and to see if people could actually notice a difference. In the end, I learned that UDK stores approximately 22% more data in their LODs, making them larger and slightly more of a system strain. This is unfortunate because they are faster to create and tend to look better than their Max counterparts. This is an important step in learning exactly how UDK process information, and handles complex tasks like LODs while keeping the frame rate low enough to use in game.
To download and read the full version of my thesis and see the data, click below.