The texture template system is designed to promote texture re-use among models, and also allow world builders and artists to leverage existing texture maps to create many variations of models which make use of the template. In creating a new texture for a given template the added benefit becomes exponential based on the number of models which use it. This creates the possibility for multiple new types/species with each new texture.
As an example 3 fish models, which all use the tubular template of which there are 4 existing textures of that type would allow for 12 variations or species of fish to world builders. If a new texture is added for any creature of a type it is also made available for all other using that same template, so in creating a new horse texture an artist has potentially also created a new Dog, Cow, Deer, Squirrel, etc texture as well.
Templates should be detailed so that areas of use are clearly defined in relation to each other, connection, and general model topology with tiled regions created for possible variant needs and to limit texture stretching for particular cases.
Maximizing the use of space requires planning and research for a given template type based not only on its current need but future needs as well. A few regions should be reserved for special future use and modification to minimize need for major revision to the template format. Greater changes and reworking to a template will require reworking of ALL existing model uv mappings which make use of it.
Changing existing templates
When making changes to an existing template thought must be paid to the effect any changes might have on existing use. Whenever possible use a free region, minimize the changes needed to those absolutely necessary, and maintain the older version by moving it into a "deprecated" directory for review of the changes, and to possibly revert back if needed. Minor edits and additions can often be done without any impact on existing models. Major changes will require all models existing using the template to be remapped properly as part of the process, older model version should remain also in case of need to revert to previous version.
Once a reserved or free space is used it should be added and detailed in the template as a revision so as not to be used again by mistake in another artists future revision.
Creating new templates
In making the decision to create a new template it is important first an foremost to ask the question, "Is there another template which exists that I could possibly use instead?" It is always better to leverage existing templates whenever possible. If a new template is warranted then the following points should be considered in the process.
- Research your and plan out your template, consider not only the immediate needs but also think about what other models/types could make use of the template and what needs they will have.
- Maximize use of space, give more space to detailed regions, and less to locations of limited visibility.
- Provide Tiling regions for areas that might create stretching in various models/types.
- Leave some free reserved space for possible future needs and additions.