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The main question is: how to prepare materials for games? Say I model an asset. Bake all material textures (diffuse, AO, specular etc.) into one diffuse, bake normals from a high poly version of the model into one normal map. Is that correct? Or should I do it differently, say prepare separate texture for specular. I read somewhere that in games there are actually no materials, only textures. Is that right? Also I came across the term albedo and that it is used in games/game engines? What is it exactly and how to do it in Blender?

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    $\begingroup$ Albedo is a Diffuse/Color map but without additional lights and shadows (AO) as @metaphor_set said. I've found a tutorial recently showing how to prepare a map like this using Photoshop: youtube.com/watch?v=VBoHh6CR-kM May be helpful for you. $\endgroup$
    – Paul Gonet
    Jul 23 '16 at 22:21
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IMHO there is no single right or wrong way in how to prepare materials for games. Sometimes the engine dictates what you should prepare and often you just follow personal preferences.

Your project might also require different types of spec maps, for dry and rainy weather, for example. Cavity maps can produce all sorts of fancy effects like dirt, dust, worn edges, snow on top of rocks...

I am a big fan of model recycling. Sometimes it's only a single part of a mesh, a fancy cycles material, but I also reuse complete models with textures. To get the necessary flexibility I bake huge textures and separate maps - sometimes even for cavity.

Albedo is basically the new diffuse ;-) Since many people started baking all kinds of effects into their diffuse maps it just seems to make sense to give the plain color without lights, ao, whatever a new name. Basically it's a "normalized" version of the "modern" diffuse map.

Edit: You might watch Joel Burgess's GDC presentation about modular level design in Fallout 4. It's a great source of what can be achieved by reusing meshes with different material setups

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  • $\begingroup$ Not normalized. Albedo is reflectance, and real world materials don't absorb or reflect light completely. Allegorithmic published a nice PBR guide which covers what Albedo is and included some "safe" values in case you don't have the information about the albedo value of the actual real world material. $\endgroup$
    – Gez
    Dec 5 '16 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Gez - not in general. It depends on the material type. Not every render engine uses PBR and reflectance is done differently on different game engines. Even Allegorithmic doesn't use the term "albedo" consistently in their documentation. $\endgroup$ Dec 6 '16 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ That's why I mentioned the real world materials. If you don't have that data you can generalize a reflectance value. Allegorithmic in their PBR guide suggested some minimum and maximum values for as guidelines (i.e.: don't go below or above them respectively), but of course albedo depends on the actual material. BTW, I was questioning your use of the word "normalized" in this context, as in "normalization". $\endgroup$
    – Gez
    Dec 7 '16 at 3:11
  • $\begingroup$ Link to the PBR Guide @Gez was referring to: academy.substance3d.com/courses/the-pbr-guide-part-1 $\endgroup$
    – Henrik
    Jun 21 at 10:25

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