Sunday, September 18, 2005

Off Topic: The Sad State of Hobby-Level 3D Production

I've been spending some time looking at the options available for producing 3D content for Vyde. Up until a few minutes ago, I was hopeful that either Autodesk Gmax or Alias Maya Personal Learning Edition would supply me (a hobbyist, mind you) with a good 3D modelling and animation program for producing Vyde content.

Not so! Both are merely advertisements for their respective parents, 3DS MAX and Maya. By themselves, Gmax and MPLE don't permit you to do anything except "experience" the software. They are both cleverly-disguised shareware -- free, untimed trials that are useful only to those who have or intend to purchase the big app. Out of the box, Gmax won't export to anything but Plasma 3D.

Seriously. Who uses Plasma anymore?

Gmax is actually a case study in a marketing effort gone horribly wrong. Have a look at the titles that support Gmax "game packs". I can count them on two hands. Autodesk decided to needlessly inject a layer of development between the consumer and the game house, with the burden of development placed on the game house! Why? When a game house decides to grant extensibility powers to their customers, they typically release their own tools to do it. Where does Gmax fit into that business model? Nowadays, why would a game house devote extra resources to supporting a 3rd-party editor (Gmax) that wasn't used during the production process?

I can't even download MPLE; the site shows me some fantastic blank pages when I try, but no hint as to where I can get it.

What is a hobbyist to do? Blender3D? Ugh. I really tried Blender; gave it a good, honest, college try. Maybe it's because I'm an experienced 3DS user, but it was a pain in the ass to use.

I'll be on the lookout for alternatives, but in the meantime I may just reinstall my old educational copy of 3DS MAX. Version 3.1. Yay.

Hobbies shouldn't be this expensive.


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