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Old 01-07-2008, 10:01 AM   #1
Sadr
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Red face Recommended 3D tool for pure basics

Hello. I'm an 18 year old indie game developer, working mainly on the design-side of games, and basically anything else that can be done by writing, such as project management and the likes.

[Skip down to next paragraph if you want to avoid rambling]

Although I'm not trying to become a jack-of-all-trades, as a project/pr/community manager, I like and basically need to be on top of most subjects within the gaming industry. When saying "on top of", I'm merely talking about having knowledge and understanding of, not necessarily high proficiency with any taken subject. By working on smaller mods for games such as Wc3, and talking a lot with programmers in shared game projects, I've learned quite a bit about the go-around in programming, and I can usually hang on by my fingernails in a discussion between programmers. This is very important for me, especially seeing as I'm also into recruiting new people into our existing crew, and as such I have to be able to see whether or not this programmer will be even able to pass the first stage of our recruiting progress, or if he's knowledge of programming is as lacking as my own.

Now, over to the long-lost point. In my main and biggest game project of which I am an active and important member, I find myself working mostly with artists these days, mainly in the 3D department. After many a long chat with these creative individuals, I find myself baffled by all the new terms and programs that I'd never heard of before. So, cutting to the chase, here's my question:

Is there any free 3D modeling program that is perticularly well suited for a first-time modeler?

The following would be some keywords fitting my kind of profile:
  • Lacking artistic skills (would probably be easier to model straight out of own memory/idea instead of a self-made sketch (/doodle).
  • Just looking to learn the main principles of modeling, as in making something simple yet still knowing what it takes to create a high-def model complete with animations and texture.
  • End-goal would be to create something very basic, but still create something, such as a sword or a bowlerhat.

So far, the most popular 3D tools I know of are:
Softimage's Mod Tool
Blender
Google's Sketchup

From what I've seen so far, Sketchup seems a bit too basic for my own good. Blender seemed to be a natural choice for me as it seems to be a very well established program, as well as many of my fellow crew members using it, this being able to give me a helping hand from time to time. However, having recently discovered Softimage's Mod Tool (which I have yet to try out) I feel like I'd like to know more about what's out there first, and if anyone has any relevant experience to share regarding this issue, which my aid my in my final decision.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-07-2008, 02:35 PM   #2
yaustar
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Blender has a high learning curve thanks to the interface.

Softimage's tool is more 'traditional' and has the added advantage that it is designed to work with some of the mainstream libraries and engines such as XNA. However, you can't render to files.

Sketchup is quite liked by designers to quickly get a feel what a level could look like and make changes before they start implementing it.

There aren't many other free tools out there for modelling besides Anim8or. Other cheap tools include Milkshape and Wings3D.

Personally, I would go for Softimage's Mod Tool.
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Old 01-08-2008, 11:41 AM   #3
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Blender is definitely my choice, although anim8tor is much simpler to use, if that's what you're looking for.
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Old 01-08-2008, 11:52 AM   #4
Sadr
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Blender sounds to be the hardest of the programs to learn, but maybe the strongest program at the time being. What if I started out with a program easier to use, such as Mod Tool or Anim8tor, would that in some way help in preparing me for using Blender at a later point? (I've fooled around with Blender's userface a bit already. As soon as I get the hang of the interface, the learning curve of Blender is just like any other program?)
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:26 PM   #5
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God knows, I never got further then using the interface, I always fell back on 3DS Max which our University had licenses for and was also better supported by various plugins and exporters.

I remember a class mate who had a fair bit of trouble with the exporter of certain types on Blender.

Choose one and stick with it until you hit a limitation that you need.

Again, I would stick with the Mod Tool it tends to be more directly supported by certain engines and libraries so it make your job in the team as a games artist easier. Basically, it was designed for games, why use something that isn't?

Last edited by yaustar : 01-08-2008 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 05-27-2008, 07:09 PM   #6
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I would strongly recommend you use Blender. It is incredibly powerful and can produce pretty much the same quality art as 3ds max or Maya. It was the first ever 3d program I set my hands on and it wasn't too hard to get a general understanding.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:06 AM   #7
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Silo
http://www.nevercenter.com/
Its cheap($150), and a great modeling only app. It surpasses most of the expensive packages in ease of use. But it only does one thing, albeit really well, model. Its sculpting tools give you a good taste of what Mudbox has to offer also.

I suggest learning 3dsmax or Maya since they are the work horses of the industry.

Gmax
www.turbosquid.com and look up Gmax its 3dsmax V4 minus the rendering engine. It has some really extensive help and tutorial files that still apply to the current version of 3dsmax. Its great for learning the basic interface and techniques. There are also TONS of free tutorials on 3dsmax which most will apply to Gmax.

MayaPLE
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet...112&id=7639525
Its a free stripped down version of Maya, comes with some decent documentation.
I think the viewport is still watermarked and I never could get used to that. I ended up working for a studio that had copies of 3dsmax and Maya so learning and crossing over was a breeze. Now with FBX its even easier to cross over.

Modo
http://www.luxology.com/
offers a few more advanced features over Silo like rendering but lacks depth in a few areas. I haven't used it much more then the trial and what I used I liked. But I already had the tools needed to do the job.

Sculpting apps:
Mudbox
Mudbox is very user friendly and easy to master, mostly because it does one thing really well, sculpt.
ZBrush
If you want to push it any farther like creating advanced material painting, posing, and more brush tools then you know what to do with. You'll want to check out ZBrush, its learning curve is a bit high but once you get your feet wet its not so bad. There is also a lot of online

I urge you to try out Silo first since it has sculpting tools, is free/cheap. If you like sculpting (almost everyone does) then take it a step further and check out the ZB and Mudbox.

But don't fall into the trap that the sculpting apps are the only tools you'll need to learn. These programs account for maybe 20% of the pipeline and in some places never used. Knowledge of the full process will be required. A portfolio full of untextured sculpts won't land anyone a job, unless they are really really good.

Last edited by Vig : 06-12-2008 at 12:34 PM. Reason: I'm a wordy b!tch...
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