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Maya and 3D StudioMAX

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Hello again people! First of all, thanks a bunch for the replies I received for my first post, it meant a lot!:D Second, I checked out the art and visual forums like you all recommended and found the fourm showing the art applications that are out right now. After seeing some of the price tags that go along with some these high powered "eye-candy" applications, I started to cringe. I'm thinking, "Well, of course I'm not ready to start off with Maya or StudioMax now...but what about later?" I mean from what I understand, these are like industry leaders in what they do right? I've been to Gamasutra and a lot of employers want you to know these two software packages. I've heard someone tell me that if you learned one, you can pick up the others no problem. I find that very hard to belive...sorry. I could be wrong, but some of the free software I've seen is nothing to snuff at, so Maya and MAX are not going to be a cake walk either. How many of you have a copy of these high powered applications? Do you get a chance to work with them when you're on a team or are the cheaper applications just as good? Either way, I see that the industry (which makes perfect since by the way...) asks for those who use these applications, so I wondering, when I'm ready to step up to the big leauges, what's the best way to do it? Oh, one last question, I plan to build a nice PC later on down the line (i.e. when I get the money to do it...:p) and I was hoping you all could give me some specs for the best cpu setup to cover a various amount of 3D and 2D art applications? My goal is to stay in the $500 to $600 rangeand just so you know I plan to get all my stuff from NewEgg if possible. For starters, I'm thinking of going with an AMD processor using the most recent Asus Deluxe motherboard. (Can't think of model right now.) Again people thanks for any and all replies.

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I've seen both Maya and 3DStudio, and at the time a saw them, they had a pretty different user interface.

From what I've talked with 3D modelers, and from what I've read in specific 3D forum sites, what really maters is not the size but how you use it. I mean, you can do pretty AWESOME stuff with freeware software if you have talent and/or pretty shitty stuff with high end commercial programs if you don't.

From the top of my mind, Wings 3D is a widely used 3D modeler, made by a guy who knew what a modeler would need in such an app, which happens to be very powerful, multiplatform and free.

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3D apps are just tools, if you can model, then well... you can model.
If you can write a letter in wordpad, you'll have it easy to learn Word. Word might have a lot more options, but you wont have to learn them obviously.
If you can make a website with Frontpage, it will take you a half hour to learn Dreamweaver.

Same with 3D apps, most of the time you'll need about 10 functions to get any modelling done, all you have to do is find out where the functions are in the next app, what they are called and maybe you'll have to live with a workaround here and there.
It's always polygons, subdivisions, nurbs etc. regardless of the app.

3Ds max, Maya and XSI all have free learning editions you can download. XSI dropped prices last month or so from around 1500US to around 500US

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It's a good point that programs are just tools. However they are important as they can make all your tasks either a thousand times easier or deathly difficult and time consuming.

I'm a Maya 5 Unlimited owner, soon hopefully to upgrade to 6. Big name companies tend to use either Maya or 3Ds max because of their ease. When it comes down to it, they're just the two easiest overall 3D software packages and can do really anything you need them to and know how to do (howvere there are others following them closely such as Softimage). Schools then just teach those two mostly because they realize the frequency of their use and want to train you in something you'll probably use.

Here's the deal, I'm fluent in most all aspects of Maya, from modeling to rigging to animating to rendering. Yes alot of programs can do these too but it's a matter of how you get around within the program. If it takes a hundred pointless steps to do something that should only take a second to do, it gets annoying. I've used 3ds max a few times and had close to no problems with it. On the surface, these two programs look VERY similar especially in their translation and rotation handles, and I'm happy when its easy to move something. :) The reason their so similar is because the lead developers for 3Ds are ex devs for maya.

The thing is neither of these programs are very complex at least not in their superficial uses. You can mostly just pick them up and figure them out, that's what their made for. They're made for artists not computer geeks, so they expect that you may not be very computer savvy and they make it more visual than technical.

As for another program like say Blender, I used blender for a short time mainly out of curiosity. I found that getting started and just doing what in my head was a very simple task would turn out to be a headache and I'd have to turn to a tutorial.... alot.... granted Blender is a powerful program and some people are very very good with it, but it just goes to show you that companies, even smaller one's, will choose convience and easy and time efficiency when it comes down to it, that's what makes 3ds and maya so good: power and ease.




As for your computer, I don't know what you're planning on getting for that little money. I mean sorry to burst your bubble but anything you get for that cheap won't last you very long. very soon your scenes/animations will get far too complex not to mention your hardware becoming out of date. I mean I don't know how much things cost on new egg but I can't imagine that a decent graphics card like an nvidia quaddro or Geforce5 would be anything below 200, and that's stretching it. An example: I'm in the process of making myself a new comp, it's not top of the line by any standards but it's very good none the less and will last me a long time. My two thought patterns involve a dual or single (difference is only about 2 hundred bucks) 2.8ghz xeon comp with a PCIe nvidia quadro FX 1300, plus only a gig of ram to start and maybe 100 gigs of storage. dvd-rw drive though it's only about a hundred bucks. And not much more. This is all without a monitor, keyboard and mouse. This one's gonna set me back about 3 grand. My other option is dual or single ('bout 200 buck difference) AMD operton 1.8ghz 64-bit processors, AGP of the same card above and mostly everything the same, that's the same price.

So if you want a comp like that might as well go with a dell desktop with like an intergrated card and a pentium four and call it a day and plan on buying a new one in a year or so.

hope this helps alittle

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One of the reasons that Max and Maya are preferred by the industry is usability. Feature sets don't matter anymore. It's all about how you get your work done. As TheGongMan already mentioned, ease of use for the artists is incredibly important. You want to be able to get your work done in a timely manner without having to jump through millions of hoops.

Having worked with both Max and Maya regularly for a number of years, I can say that it is pretty easy to switch between the two. After using Max for 6 years, it took me about a month and a half to transition to Maya (necessary for a specific project at the time). Most of that time was just learning the UI and terminology. I have now been using Max for 8 years and Maya for 2 years. Both can do similar things. The only differences are in how you get the work done.

Usability also has to do with the technical end of game dev. The programmers and technical directors need to be able to create the tools needed to get the artwork out of Max and Maya and into the game. Writing game exporters is not a trivial task, so you really need good support for custom plugins.

Pretty much all of the main 3D programs out there, regardless of cost, have some form of SDK for creating custom tools. However, it's all about how easy it is to write these tools and how much support there is. Is there documentation for writing plugins? Is there support from the software company? Are there examples of custom plugins that you can refer to?

Max and Maya are at the top of the list, because there is an incredible amount of support and resources (for both artists and programmers). Discreet and Alias have developer programs that you can join to get access to technical documentation, support, and additional software/utilities that you can use in developing your tools. Yes, other 3D software developers may have those, but not anywhere near the levels of Discreet and Alias.

My recommendation would be, if you are serious about getting into the game industry, it would serve to your advantage to learn either Max or Maya. As you've already seen, the majority of game development studios use one or the other.

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I highly suggest, if your interested in learning either or both of these programs, to go to their websites (www.alias.com, www.discreet.com) and get trials. For maya you can download for free a version of Maya complete called Maya PLE and it's great for learning. For 3ds you can order a 30 free trial which is great too.

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Quote:
When it comes down to it, they're just the two easiest overall 3D software packages and can do really anything you need them to and know how to do (howvere there are others following them closely such as Softimage).


That's all personal opinion, XSI is superior and easier on some ends, Maya or max on others, it all comes down to what works better for you.
Personally i'd say Lightwave has probably the newbie friendliest UI, followed by XSI. Maya and max use those damned cryptic little icons you wont ever use, since you bind everything you need to keys for a fluid workflow.

We use Lightwave and XSI at work, old Max users here like XSI over max anytime. Coders would prefer Maya or even Houdini (good thing its not up to them).

Really, it takes 2 weeks tops to learn a 3D app good enough that you can model anything you could do in your preferred app.
Any company would give you the needed time and support to make the switch, if you are worth it.
I learned Lightwave in about a week, i'm faster nowadays i could do after that week whatever i can do now too.

I'd go for whatever app suits you best to learn the basics from any of the named ones. THere's no point in fighting with a 3d app if you can't get into it now... try the next one. Once you know how to model and the realted terms and techniques, all the other apps will automatically make sense.

Quote:
However they are important as they can make all your tasks either a thousand times easier or deathly difficult and time consuming.

I'd blame the user in such a case, any of the 4-5 major packages, down to cheap software like Silo provide all the tools you need to work fast and confortable (besides some bugs here and there).
You can model a character in Silo more confortably and faster than you would in Max, but anyway, all a matter of taste again. Like said, it's the artist that matters, and finding a tool you like to work with.

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There's three "big names": 3dsmax, Maya, SoftImage and, to some extent, TrueSpace, with its cheaper sibling GameSpace.
Then there's the shareware-level apps, such as Blender and Milkshape (and, to some extent, Wings3D).
Some of these vendors also have "free" versions you can download for game mod purposes, such as GMax or XSI EXP.

I work with Max at work, and I've learned its UI. Its UI is different from Maya, which is different from XSI, which is different from... However, the work of creating, rigging, animating and texturing models is the same no matter what the tool. Thus, you should first learn a tool well to the point where you learn what it takes to build art, and then try out the demo versions of the other apps to pick up their different user interfaces (ideally, run through their tutorials -- it helps a lot!)

The trick with the free versions is often that they're locked to certain file formats, i e GMax comes with a game pack that can only export to a certain game. In addition, the vendor of that game paid a licensing fee to make this "free" version available. Still, it's a great way of getting started.

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