It makes a lot of sense to keep copied (arrayed or mirrored) objects around without collapsing the modifier stack for as long as possible. It allows you to make subtle changes to the root objects and have it influence all of the copies.
Preferably, I would rather never collapse the modifier stack. And it seems like I'm close to pulling this off, except for two big issues..
1. UV editing - Is it possible to layout UVs for a larger object when it consists of multiple element objects that are mirrored or array duplicated? I'm wanting each copy to have its own surface area.
The UV "offset" values within the Mirror/Array modifiers work great, but its difficult to group multiple objects using array modifiers into a single UV map area without collapsing their modifiers. How do you guys deal with this? Is there some way (similar to Max) to add additional modifiers to manipulate UVs on top of the array modifiers? Or is there a way to preview these modifier end results inside the UV editor?
2. Combining into Larger Objects and/or Exporting - Within my game resources, I would prefer many small objects be collapsed down into their single respective larger objects. In order to leave the array modifier active on smaller components, I cannot combine them into their larger objects. So to avoid collapsing the modifiers, I have to leave all of these smaller objects separated. This means I have to join all of them together before exporting, which can become quite a task. Is there an easy way to get this to happen?
Something that seems like it would be useful would be a plugin that automatically combines associated objects, based on a name suffix or through some type of static mesh parenting. Either right before export, or through some single command execution that can be undone in one go.
Anyone else facing these problems and found solutions?