Unlike Sims 2, we haven’t been provided with any official polygon count limit from EA yet. For now, we have adopted the figure of around 1200 polygons per game tile, and, because we haven’t really seen many in-game meshes that exceed this, it looks to be a good choice.
However, the lower your polygon count, the more people with lower end computers will also be able to enjoy your content. It is especially important to bring down the polygon count of your low detail meshes as these are used to optimize the performance of PCs that need to use lower performance settings.
Beware! If your 3D program does not automatically work with triangles as polygons, then you will not see your true polygon count until you have triangulated your mesh. Both Milkshape 3D and TSR Workshop 2.0.15 will show you an accurate polygon count.
What to count
The count applies to whatever mesh is being rendered in the game. Usually, the count applies to all groups listed under the high level of detail mesh, but there are instances where only one part of a mesh will be rendered by the game at a given time (for example: windows where only the outside OR the inside is rendered depending on camera direction).
What about vertex count?
Vertex count is less important, but DO keep in mind that the higher the vertex count, the more work must be carried out by the graphics processor. If your vertex count is extraordinarily high, you have probably not welded your vertices together (welding is where adjacent polygons will share a single vertex at each point rather than each having three distinct vertices of their own).
For more information on vertices and welding, see our Object Creation Part 1: The Beginner’s Guide To Meshing.