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What's the most used 3D modeling software in First-Person Shooter games?


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#1 Medo3337   Members   -  Reputation: 665

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:29 AM

In large and popular modern First-Person shooter games, what is the most used 3D modeling software?

Also, I would like to know what is the modeling software used in recent versions of games like Call of Duty and Battlefield?

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#2 BCullis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1813

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:48 AM

They're interchangable, really. 3DSMax and Maya get top billing because they're long-time industry standards. ZBrush is really popular now for detail sculpting, 3d painting, and a particularly intuitive and quick workflow.

But the same 3d model can be made in any modeling package. They're all tools that can spit out the same standardized file formats, or be scripted to produce your own file type. Blender can do the job for free, if you learn its interface.

Recent games only really pump up the polygon count and then take advantage of new shader programming capabilities (so it's not that dependent on the modeling package at all).
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#3 Medo3337   Members   -  Reputation: 665

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:59 AM

Thanks for the information, do you know what modeling software is used in recent versions of games like Call of Duty and Battlefield?

#4 Olof Hedman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2716

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:14 AM

Thanks for the information, do you know what modeling software is used in recent versions of games like Call of Duty and Battlefield?


Why do you need to know?
Modelling tool used is irrelevant for the final look, they only impact 3d designer convenience and taste.

A safe bet is Maya and ZBrush for Battlefield though (based on the fact they ask for experience in those tools in the job listings on DICE's homepage)
And photoshop for textures...

But really, you can get the exact same result with Blender and GIMP if you don't have the budget for that (very expensive) software.
Final look depends on artist proficiency and the 3D engine used, not the 3D modelling tool.

Edited by Olof Hedman, 30 November 2012 - 03:56 AM.


#5 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5972

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:29 AM

Thanks for the information, do you know what modeling software is used in recent versions of games like Call of Duty and Battlefield?


AAA studios pretty much always use 3dsmax/Maya and ZBrush these days (and have been for several years), it has nothing to do with the quality of the end result, only the amount of work required to get to the desired end result. (3dsmax cost around $4000 per copy, zbrush and maya are in the same pricerange, Those tools are only interesting if your artist salaries are high enough for the productivity gains to outweigh the license fees)
There are cheap (or maybe even free now, not sure) fully featured versions of those tools as well that you can use for education purposes (you're not allowed to use the cheap licenses professionally so if you're planning on going the indie route you should seriously consider getting used to using less expensive tools).
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#6 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3551

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:31 AM

Talented artists used the software of their choosing. Then internal tools converted their output into a game specific format.

#7 BCullis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1813

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:44 AM

Thanks for the information, do you know what modeling software is used in recent versions of games like Call of Duty and Battlefield?

Not going to repeat what everyone else has already stated, but don't get hung up on specific tools. Your question is akin to asking a comic book artist which pencil they use, or a carpenter what brand of hammer is best. The tools only vary in workflow and interface, output is dependent on the artist and how those assets are used.
Hazard Pay :: FPS/RTS in SharpDX
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#8 Medo3337   Members   -  Reputation: 665

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:47 PM

I understand that the modeling software is not the most important when it come to the final look, but I believe that in order to create high quality work they must have chosen a modeling software that will help them to make much details in the game meshes, plus, I was curious if they use a known modeling software or they have their own.

Thanks everyone,

#9 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3551

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:54 PM

No. It's the same techniques in each tool. You push polygons around. You start with a basic shape, then make edge loops and pull vertices around until you get the shape you are looking for. then you add texturing.

The same with sprites. The tool doesn't matter. It's all skill and experience.

#10 MJP   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10632

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:11 PM

They definitely aren't using their own tool, but most major studios will have an extensive collection of plugins and scripts that they use in conjunction with their modeling program of choice.

#11 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12966

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 04:22 PM

Talented artists used the software of their choosing. Then internal tools converted their output into a game specific format.

Game studios do not allow this, even if they are using a commercial engine such as Unity 3D which can convert from any tool to their own format.
The reason being that assets need to be shared between artists and it doesn’t make sense for half of them to be in 3D Studio Max and the other half in Maya. Every artist is required to stick to the same tool.

In the case of non-commercial in-house engines this is even more strict, since allowing artists to use whatever they want means the in-house R&D team must make plug-ins for all software the artists will be using.
Instead of taking the time and money to do this, it is more cost-effective and time-efficient to just tell the artists, “Our in-house tools/plug-ins work with Maya—if you don’t have Maya skills then we won’t hire you.”


In my experience, Maya is the most commonly used among games. I have always used it, my company (tri-Ace) uses it, Square Enix uses it, DICE uses it, etc.
The genre has no meaning—FPS, RPG, Action, whatever. It has nothing to do with the genre and likely everything to do with the ease in creating plug-ins and exporters, an area where Maya is known to trump 3D Studio Max.
I have heard numerous first-hand testimonials from people who started with 3D Studio Max and switched to Maya about how much easier it is to develop plug-ins and exporters.
It may also be related to licensing prices.



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#12 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3551

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:28 PM

Spiro, many artists on boards full of them talk about having all the major programs installed (since they are all owned by Autodesk now), and being able to use whatever they like.

No one hates 3DS Max as much as 3DS Max users. There has been a huge backlash against them for being stagnant since they started acquiring all their competitors. Many prefer to start their models in dedicated modeling programs like Rhino, Modo, and Silo3D, and then import the finished mesh into their program of choice via OBJ to finish it up.

Anything good in 3DS Max tends to be a third party plugin.

#13 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12966

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:49 PM

I never said artists don’t use whatever they want—in their spare time.

This topic is about what happens inside game companies (implicitly—read every other reply as well, most of which are assuming the context to be inside studios), in which case what I said is exactly correct—no game company is going to allow its artists to use just whatever they want.


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Edited by L. Spiro, 29 November 2012 - 09:51 PM.

It is amazing how often people try to be unique, and yet they are always trying to make others be like them. - L. Spiro 2011
I spent most of my life learning the courage it takes to go out and get what I want. Now that I have it, I am not sure exactly what it is that I want. - L. Spiro 2013
I went to my local Subway once to find some guy yelling at the staff. When someone finally came to take my order and asked, “May I help you?”, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll have one asshole to go.”
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#14 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 28614

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:06 PM

Game studios do not allow this, even if they are using a commercial engine such as Unity 3D which can convert from any tool to their own format.
The reason being that assets need to be shared between artists and it doesn’t make sense for half of them to be in 3D Studio Max and the other half in Maya. Every artist is required to stick to the same tool.

many artists on boards full of them talk about having all the major programs installed (since they are all owned by Autodesk now), and being able to use whatever they like

I went to a conference talk by one of Epic's character artists, and he spoke of having the choice of using Max/Maya/Mudbox/ZBrush in his work, and how different staff did use different tools on the same project.

Yes, it's common for a company to mandate either Max or Maya for efficiency's sake, but there are also companies that do give their artists the choice.

When I worked at a very large developer, we used Max, Maya and even XSI, but the choice was made per-project by the lead artist. Some projects were done in Max and others were done in Maya. Of course with a system this flexible, there were exceptions to this rule, such as when you re-used assets from other teams, or borrowed a staff member from another team to help out for a few days -- meaning that even on the "Max projects" there were still some Maya assets, etc...

N.B. there's still always small exceptions, e.g. at the above company, even on a "Max only project", there was still a small amount of work done in XSI because it was better suited. Or, at my last job, the whole company was "Maya only", but a few small bits of isolated work were done in Blender. Also, at that "maya only" company, most of the artists really resented the fact that they had been forced to switch from Max, which they liked better (a decision made by an incompetent manager), so there's no real objectively better tool.

On my current project, I'm only supporting XSI at the moment, because my artist prefers it over Max/Maya, and when I get time I might add support for Blender, for modders.

The inefficiency with allowing multiple DCC tools is mainly just that your engine department has to maintain more plugins/tools... but if you're making a huge engine that you want to be able to sell to a diverse range of customers, like Epic, you need to do that work anyway. In my case, our engine-staff were subsidised by tax-breaks, while game-staff weren't, so we had an absolutely massive engine team Posted Image
In a lot of games, sharing of assets between artists doesn't happen that often -- if someone is assigned to create a character, then they're the only one that needs to edit the source file.
[edit] to clarify, the large company I worked for always planned to license their massive engine, like Epic does (but never actually did), so they did have a reason to go through that trouble [/edit]

Edited by Hodgman, 30 November 2012 - 01:08 AM.


#15 MJP   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10632

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:01 AM

I've heard of some larger studios using multiple packages, but I wasn't under the impression that it was common. At my current job our tech very tightly integrated with Maya, to the point that the idea of supporting another package would sound like crazy talk. Every once in a while we get an artist that's used to Max, and they just learn to use Maya. Frankly I have a hard time understanding the rationale behind having an engine team that supports more than once package, unless you're licensing your tech.

#16 Asesh   Members   -  Reputation: 268

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 09:06 AM

Maya is much more flexible than 3ds max which only runs on Windows. Maya runs on Mac, Windows and Linux too. But I would rather use Blender which is free and open source and don't have spend thousands of $ on those packages. BTW, our company uses Maya for modeling game characters




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