Trying to Understand Blender > UDK Workflow -- Baking and Combining Multiple Objects

I’ve been searching Google, watching a lot of tutorials, but all the tutorials I look at are for very basic objects. I’m trying to understand the workflow of turning a more complex mesh made up of multiple objects into something importable into UDK – particularly when it comes to keeping the textures on individual components.

I have a mesh for a desk that I just downloaded online. It’s made up of multiple parts – cupoboards, drawers, handles. I know how to do the following:

  • Apply a texture to each piece of the whole mesh (each piece has its own UV already built in)
  • Child each piece to an armature so that it’s all considered one object in UDK (not sure if that’s how I’m supposed to do that, though)
  • Bake normal maps to a decimated version of a model

What I’m trying to understand:

  • How do I bake the normals for the entire mesh when it’s made up of smaller pieces? I tried combining all the smaller pieces and then decimating and UV mapping them, but that really didn’t work at all (the decimated mesh and resulting UV map was really messy – I couldn’t get this mesh to decimate properly in meshlab).
  • I can decimate each piece and make a much cleaner normal of each individual piece (because they have UVs already made for them), but then we’re back to the issue of me not understanding how to combine all these together into one object for UDK.
  • I also need to understand how to do the above to bake textures – for some reason when I try to bake textures on this object, it’s just all white…which may be some kind of error specific to the object, I can’t really find any material on how texture-baking works, but it’s not working here.

Sorry, I’m new to this whole thing – I’ve watched a lot of tutorials, but they’re all disconnected and not showing me the entire workflow I need.

Is it simply the fact that this mesh is too complex for UDK – as in, it shouldn’t be made up of multiple objects? / If I want something this complex with textures on each piece of the mesh (you know, so the desk doesn’t look like it just has wood sprayed on it), I’m supposed to re-piece each of these parts together in UDK?

Textures aside, it shows up as a single moveable object in UDK quite beautifully. I’m just trying to figure out how to bake the textures / normals onto a single file to be applied to the exterior of the mesh, I think…?