Scenes in large games

I am wondering how scenes are handled in large games. For a RPG style game, for example, there might be a city with a multitude of indoor areas. You wouldn’t really want to unload your city every time you entered a house. Would you just load all the assets for your connected areas ahead of time, and then plop the player into them when they visited the area?

Same sort of deal for outdoor terrain. Presumably you would want to keep the adjacent terrains loaded or cached too, so the player could move smoothly from one to the next.

Would you even want to use more than one scene for game play on a large game? Would it be more effective to just pool whatever assets might be used in the surrounding area and display them when they are needed?

One of my favorite games of all time is made in Unity (Empyrion Galactic Survival), so I know the editor is capable of some pretty amazing stuff.

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