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Is sharing vertices between faces worth it?

The disadvantages you named are indeed very real, especially for shapes with lots of sharp edges or different textures. A cube is the worst possible example for vertex sharing, each vertex has 3 different normals and possibly texture coordinates. It is essentially impossible to share the vertices.

However think of some organic shape. Like a ball, the body of some animal, cars, trees or even something as simple as a desert or something. These shapes probably need a high amount of vertices to look like anything decent, but a lot of those vertices are shared between faces. They need the exact same normals, texture coordinates and whatevers in order to look smooth.

Furthermore, the first disadvantage is not really that important. Calculating the vertices can be done in preprocessing, in most cases even by the modeller. This is basically never done realtime, instead you simply already have it in this format. However if it does need to be done realtime you can imagine this becoming an actual issue, and you need to start thinking about the trade offs and profile. But even then it can probably be dealt with using geometry shaders, if the visual fidelity is needed this can be a preferable solution.

In conclusion it heavily depends on what you're doing. In some cases vertex sharing isn't really viable because of the reasons you mentioned. Regardless, in many many cases it can potentially save a lot of memory.





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