I'm still new to Maya but getting the hang of the basics and really enjoying it. I'm having to teach some beginner sessions and I've managed to sort out a workflow for a chess piece where everything is extruded in quads, and any separate elements are connected by merging verts and fixing the topology to suit. I want to show best practice this way by avoiding ngons and triangles, so edge loops flow correctly.
My question is this: should all topography of an object be joined together in this way, so it is one unified object, or is having objects just touching each other acceptable? Let's say I wanted a cube with a cylinder protruding from the side. Would you seek to attach these by carefully routing the geometry, or would you just stick a cylinder there and get on with your life... Ha ha.
Could really do with some opinions from professionals as I want to teach it in the most helpful way, but don't want to put off beginners and stifle creativity.
I've attached a scene showing the two different ways of doing the same thing. It is basically a cube with some smaller shapes extruded, and the other is the same cube but with shapes 'stuck' to it.