Blender has a new-ish feature called geometry nodes. I won’t be doing any sort of tutorial or how-to about it here. I have done a few things with it, but I don’t have any level of expertise that I would feel comfortable sharing. At best, I might be able to explain it.
When you are modelling something… let’s use an example. Say you were modelling a drink vending machine. This is a vending machine that needs to be able to work, or at least look like it works. There is one of those little drink elevators and a bunch of slots that hold all of the beverages. This is the sort of thing that you could model traditionally. You could make all the parts. Find out what the average vending machine sizes are and scale a box to that size. Design each of the drink bottles or cans. Create a marquee and set up an array of lights behind it.
If you only need one of these drink machines, that’s it, you’re done. What if you need a handful of them? A few different sizes, different marquees, all with different drinks and different lights burnt out behind the marquee.
You could set up a few of them. But how many? Six? Twelve? How many different vending machines would it take to ensure that when you spread them out over an entire city, no one would be able to see the repeats? Each machine would seem unique.
Geometry nodes is a way of programming your models. You create a set of rules that spit out models, and then you can have it randomize the results. You can either feed the system a selection of prebuilt parts, or you can have it build the entire thing from a single vertex on up to a full object. The system incorporates the material nodes system as well, so you can have the surface color and texture change along with the model. You can have it swap out the type of drinks, what slots are full or empty, how many drinks are in each slot. There really is no end to it.
Every time the generator runs it will create a new vending machine based on those rules.
Geometry nodes can be more complicated to set up than regular, straight ahead modelling, but the end result can create a dizzying array of assets.
It’s not a tool that needs to be deployed in all cases. There are probably a lot of assets that are better built as one off models, but some things, things that are repeatable objects with slight, but important variations, could make excellent use of this tool.
Like I said, I’m not going to do any sort of breakdown of it, but I did use geometry nodes to create a system that can make any sort of rail line, or road, or path, or really anything that is roughly a repeated object along a curve. And it works.