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  • Maya Vs Blender For Indie Game Studios

    - Berke Erem
  • If you are an indie game studio, you most likely produce your own 3D content. The two obvious tools available are Maya and Blender. But even before that, you should answer a few questions in honesty because the tool should follow the strategy. What matters is your artistic vision and determination. If those are solid, any tool will do you justice. Tools are just preferences for complementing your strengths and weaknesses.

    Humble 3D Origins

    I actually started 3D with 3DS Max around 2005. As a computer science major and a heavy gamer, I had to learn about 3D. Unfortunately, the course only offered 20 seats and it was completely full. So on top of all my other classes, I decided that I'll learn the basics myself. Throughtout the semester I've watched and done many tutorials (in 2005, Youtube didn't have as many videos), building up a small modeling portfolio. At the end of the term I've shared this with the instructor and he allowed me to register directly to the advanced course, which normally requires completion of the basics course. This curious event started my beautiful relation with 3D art. My interest evolved further and for several years I became the teaching assistant of all 3D courses. Also I worked as a part-time 3D artist for quite some time.

    The merit of this story: You can do it! You neither need approval nor have to do it like everyone else.

    Before We Decide On The Tool

    For the majority of my work, I've used Maya. Before that 3DS Max (even before it was acquired by Autodesk) and currently Blender. I've come to realize that these are just tools and there are many others for creating quality 3D content.

    Since these are just tools, there must be more important questions before choosing the most suitable one.

    Do You Really Need Full 3D?

    Check out Don't Starve. Although the world is 3D, the art is mostly 2D and it's quite beautiful. Perhaps you don't have to invest heavily in 3D. If you decide that you don't need completely 3D assets, you might just save yourself tons of time and resources. Once you master the process 3D is sweet but I believe the entry barrier is not low. I say this because once you decide on 3D, typically your whole world as well as all your characters will become 3D. You'll probably need dedicated artists for content creation.

    Are You Sure About Your Artistic Vision?

    Have you settled on an art style? Do you have some concept art? Even a single but a well explanatory image is better than just your imagination or thoughts.

    What happens if you dive into these tools without a proper artistic goal? First of all, especially if you are relatively new to all this, the tool will guide you. Many beginners face this issue. If you don't have that bearing, you will gradually conform to what's easiest to realize with the tool of your choice. So instead of you using a tool to realize your vision, the tool will teach you a pretty overused way to build something. Since most authors learn 3D art like this, the end product is bound to look similar and unoriginal.

    Do You Want To Animate Your Characters Yourself?

    Another option is to purchase ready-made character animation assets. There are many assets prepared with high quality motion capture and it's quite hard to compete with this using conventional animation. I like modeling my characters and I also like modifying purchased model assets. What I don't like is spending so much time on animation, so I prefer animation assets. Unity's Mecanim system allows you to plug-in any animation to a character if the rigging is done properly. Most professional assets include such rigging.


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