Friday, April 29, 2011

Why 3D Software Stinks - Part 1

I've been in this industry a long time. Not as long as some, but I've been using 3D software since 1998. While the technology has improved by leaps and bounds, one thing has remained the same, and perhaps regressed - the usability of the software that employs that technology.

Now, I know I'm going to get all kinds of people yelling and screaming at me "WHAT?? ZBrush is SOOO intuitive! Maya is so fast!! 3D Studio Max is the fastest modeler out there!", and a myriad of other "you're so stupid - you just don't get it" statements. I have one question for those people: How many consecutive hours of use did it take for you become "confortable" in a 3D package? By "comfortable", I don't mean that you could create a primitive, move a few verts, and tumble the view. I mean that you could actually produce work in that package, and not feel like you were blindfolded with one arm tied behind your back and hung upside down. That's what I thought.

Since I started using 3d software, I have used: Maya, Blender, Wings, Lightwave, 3DS Max, Animation:Master, XSI|Softimage, Daz3D, Silo, Mudbox, ZBrush, Sculptris, Nendo, Mirai, Messiah, Modo, Cinema 4D, Bodypaint, Marmoset, Unity3D, Strata 3D, proprietary toolsets, and a bunch of others that I can remember looking at or using and shuddering, but not remember their names. Some were better than others, but the majority, no matter how they marketed themselves, were just mind-boggling hard to use when it came down to it.

What makes software difficult? (In no particular order):
First, uniformity.
Second, vocabulary.
Third, GUI.
Fourth, tool implementation.
Fifth, complexity.

With computers growing ever faster and more powerful, it's time we take a look at why computer graphics has become so wildly popular, and yet so unfriendly. In the next few weeks, I'll be going through each point in detail. Please feel free to comment and to share your thoughts about this. Stay tuned...


strattonbrazil said...

Hey Barry,

I've written 3D tools before and would certainly love your thoughts. I thought sculptris was a pretty intuitive program while zbrush was pretty confusing. Maybe you could contrast an okay tool and a really bad tool as examples.

Barry Zundel said...

Great suggestion. I plan on going through some pretty abstract examples, not so much application-specific, but I totally agree with the difference between ZBrush and Sculptris. There's no comparison.

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