2 THINGS

1. Modo 801 is out. And yes, it brings new features, unlike 3ds Max 2015 what is a ‘patch’ for an insane amount of money.
Check it out here: MODO 801 new features
Well, it is not a revolution of course, moreover catching up with other apps. But at least they definitely did something for their money, not just gave a 500 EUR bill for a 20 EUR modifier.

2. I realised that a new version of  Fibix Editor is out. I saw some new videos (looked fine), so I gave it a new chance. It crashes all the time again.

Real-time engine quick reviews 1. – Forewords

While I was working with Unity3D as a GPU renderer (and became quite frustrated), I checked some new/old engines with similar (possible) capabilities. For this kind of job there are dedicated apps like Lumion3D, LumenRT and TwinMotion, but archviz guys used to use UDK and CryEngine, too.

I checked  these apps:

Dedicated apps:

– TwinMotion
– Lumion3D
– Fibix Editor

‘Game engines’:

– UDK
– CryEngine3
– Torque3D
– S2 Engine
– NeoAxis
– LeadWerks
– C4 Engine
– Esenthel
– Shiva3D
– BGE (Blender Game Engine)

My tests were not “dig as deep as you can’ types, just quick overviews and mostly based my regular and expected workflows based an almost 20 years in the CG world. When I stucked, I tried to follow  tutorials (it also gave the opportunity to check how well is an app supported with tutorials).
I have to say that most of the apps pathetically failed in areas like quality, GUI design, stability and efficiency.
I also checked the available videos (showcase quality), templates (quality, etc.).

Most of the programmers should never work in the industry, but I know that it is true for the 2/3 of the human kind in their own profession: they just should sit at home watching tv, get food for free and denied to procreate.

Or they should admit that they need someone who has good suggestions on development.

Typical mistakes:

1. Marketing features with ‘We-also-offer-this-functionality’ implementations

Examples:

– SSAO quality in Unity3D and Torque3D.  DOF in Torque3D.
Shame.
Torque3D has gone ‘free’ and OSS, so I can forgive for it, but Unity…

–  Giving ‘AAA’ title for an engine what is not even close to that. AAA mostly used for visual quality in this field (UDK, CryEngine3 if I want to mention the most known and outstanding visual quality engines).
Unity3D never offered  ‘AAA’ quality out of the box and as far as I can see – with its new development method what puts the real job on asset store contributors without quality assurance – never will.

2. Pricing

I don’t like capitalism , so I believe that the price of a product should reflect the ‘knowledge’ of the ‘ideal’ product, not the comparison with the existing concurrent products.

Unity3D, Lumion3D, TwinMotion are far overpriced, compared to 3D creation tools like Modo or Lightwave, even compared to 3Ds Max (which is quite overpriced, too).
This factor is even more noticeable when you see some ‘one-man-behind’ projects in CGI software development like S2 Engine or the Corona renderer.

3. Sample contents/Tutorials

Most of the 3D engines on the list above offers terrible ‘showcase’ demos. Since ‘Far Cry’ was announced, everyone makes a f…ing tropical island what offers almost worse visual quality in 2013 then the original CryEngine offered in 2004 (almost 10 years ago)*.

Developers should take a look on CryEngine or UDK sample files and see the difference when it comes to immersive tropical nature.

(*Human sensation is based on ‘comparison’, not an measuring absolute values. For example technically the Torque3D engine today gives better result than Far Cry offered in 2004, but in 2004 this FPS had an outstanding visual quality among the games. In 2013 CryEngine is still  on the top and makes it meaningless to build similar sample worlds with less detail and quality in another engines. Marketing guys should keep this in mind.)

Torque3D:

CryEngine3:

The quality of the content sells the product; in case of the FPS games and archviz the visual quality must be on the top. Besides of the formerly mentioned UDK and CryEngine3, only Lumion3D, LumenRT and TwinMotion offers superb visual quality ‘out of the box’.

I see potential in S2 Engine (it is under ‘beta’ development and free).

4. GUI/Workflow

Dear Developers!
Please do not design GUI if you don’t know, how to do it well.
Ask someone to make it who has the skills!
Do not invent unique pipelines, if you don’t know, how to do it well!
Different doesn’t mean better.

Honestly, in the most of the cases it means ‘worse’.

It is a generic problem, it is true for almost all of the products on the list.
A good GUI follows the traditions of the widespread ones and/or offers far better workflow. Not just better, FAR better. ‘Cause then the user will feel it immediately.
Just an example: I expect the mouse scroll to zoom in/out in orbit mode, rotation and screen navigation on the same buttons in every app, selection on left click.
I don’t want to see the same function on different names.  ‘Grab’, ‘Translate’,  ‘Move’…  God bless you, please make it uniform! Same with the coordinate systems, generic (base) units.

Lumion3D offers a completely different GUI (I don’t like it, but I accept that it is for architects, not CGI guys).
And it is fast.
And the  workflow is extremely fast, too.
And it could handle extremely huge scenes, while in Unity I have to wait for 10 seconds until the pressed button makes the task (mean it recognises that I pressed).

Yep, most of the GUIs are slow. This is true for Blender (BGE), Unity3D, TwinMotion, Torque3D, etc.  Slow, irresponsive, laggy  GUIs.
Makes me frustrated. Makes everyone frustrated.

And stupid, unefficient workflows: I spent hours with NeoAxis to import a simple model. I gave it up at the end. I don’t want to set billions of values to make a model appear in the scene. In Unity, Lumion, Torque it works easily and fast.
From Blender aspect: check out the Grease Scatter tool! Typical case to show how to implement a good feature in an inefficient way. The user have to type in the name of the group for scattering, instead of picking/selecting it.

Give me 2 level of property adjustments. One for rapid prototyping and one for the final adjustments. Give me sliders, buttons for the first and let me to use numeric input for the last one.
Use the right button of the mouse for functions. Don’t force me to scroll for seconds to find the value I would like to set.

5. Stability, support

Don’t come out with unstable products, especially if it costs money. Unity3D, Fibix definitely belongs here. Fix the bugs in the released versions, not in the upgrades!

UPDATE:
I thought that it must be declared again: these ‘quick reviews’  are not similar to the tests I used to do with involving week, sometimes month to explore the possibilities of a package. I could be wrong in some features (because I was not able to find them or set them up correctly quickly). So – if you are one of the developers -, I suggest to make a better, more intuitive GUI, better and regularly updated tutorials for teaching the usage of all the new and cutting edge features.