PDA

View Full Version : Where does Lightwave stand on game development these days?



Morgan Nilsson
08-08-2016, 01:15 PM
I just saw this article : https://www.lightwave3d.com/news/article/join-the-runners-now/

And it made me wonder where Lightwave stands on game dev... Is it possible to adjust vertex normals now for example?

As I have next to zero experience in Lightwave it would be helpful if more experienced users could shed some light on this area, I am intrigued as the price is indeed very attractive being an indie dev.

At the moment I am on the fence between the affordable solutions after having been on Maya for quite some time. I also spent half a year in Houdini Indie messing around with basic stuff, but that is not ideal for outputting stuff fast in a hectic pipeline due to the very nature of it being 100% procedural. (Yes Maya LT exists, but subscription only be darned)

Best regards
//Morgan

Ztreem
08-08-2016, 02:38 PM
Support for vertex normals is limited and have some long standing bugs. Adjusting vertex normals is possible to some degree but it's not very intuitive or easy. If you know the limits and can stand working around them it could work, depends on how much you rely on vertex normals. Vertex normals is also only supported in lwo and obj format not in fbx or alembic.

hrgiger
08-08-2016, 05:06 PM
I'm getting into Unreal and while its no problem building content for games in LW, you're missing some key features which really help out game artists. Vertex normal are just one thing.

UV tools are lacking. I do mine in either Modo, 3DCoat or both (since 3DCoat won't allow more then one UV map per polygon which eliminates the possibility of making your lightmaps there)
It could use better baking tools, I'll usually bake maps for assets in Substance Painter.
You can't export your LOD or collision meshes with your LW object you would have to do it separately. To be fair, Modo isn't able to do it either.
Polygon reduction tools to build LOD are lacking as well and aren't interactive.
You're not able to set a fixed grid size for your UV space so setting up Lightmap space padding might prove difficult.
There's no real presets or standards of exporting assets to Unreal or Unity so you kind of have to figure out what will work.

I use LightWave for some things like modular assets or various other things but mostly I use Zbrush and some Modo as well.

Was just finishing a model for Unreal. Here's the Substance P render and then taken to Unreal.

133955
133956

Exclaim
08-08-2016, 09:16 PM
Depends on what you are using it for. Hard surface modeling and simple organic models aren't a problem, and LWCAD, third powers, etc plugins add some really nice features. Outside of that, I don't believe any 3d package covers game design needs completely, but Lightwave will give you most of the basic features.

Rayek
08-08-2016, 10:59 PM
For game development Blender is a very good solution. Works seamlessly with Unity, and is supported by the Unreal Engine team as well. Not only that, it offers a good testing bed through its game engine, and allows for direct webgl output with the free Blend4web addon.

Since 2.74 custom normal editing stopped being an issue. The normal edit modifier is easy to work with.
https://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Dev:Ref/Release_Notes/2.74/Modeling

And the PBR viewport is coming along nicely as well.

Since you are coming from a Maya background, just switch Blender to Maya input scheme, and start playing.

I am sorry, but I would personally not recommend Lightwave at this point for game development work - although it is usable, you'd have to make do with a less than optimal 3d application for game dev.

hypersuperduper
08-09-2016, 04:12 AM
I work in mobile games and Lightwave is my go to app for asset creation, It does everything I need and plays very well with other apps in my experience. In the past I have sent my models to other apps, Maya or Blender, because the game exporters required it in those projects. I am working on my first Unity Project now (prior games have been proprietary engines) so for the first time I can export directly from Lightwave to the game engine. So far everything seems to work like it should. I have gotten bone animated characters with blend shape (called endomorphs in lightwave) animated parts into Unity without too much hassle.

As for UV's you can do amazing uv unwrapping with a free trial version of 3dcoat if Lightwave's uv tools aren't good enough, although Lightwave's basic uv tools really are fine for most tasks and I actually prefer them to Maya's and Blender's even if they lack lots of features and demand some pretty unconventional methods to use efficiently.

The lack of proper vertex normal tools has for me at least been pretty much a non-issue. I thought it would be a huge problem but It is easy to define angle based hard edges per material and the fbx exporter seems to retain that information, which has been sufficient for my needs. Making vertex normals point any which way and freezing them at odd angles like you can do in Maya is not really feasible if you need that sort of stuff.

I use Lightwave mostly because I find it fast to work with. I don't know how much of that is simply because I am used to lightwave and how much is based on the strengths of the program itself. I suspect some combination of the two. I would imagine though, that if you have no prior Lightwave experience, and need to learn whatever tool you plan on using from scratch, Blender is probably a better bet. It is more logical, very well documented, mostly unburdened by legacy clutter, and is VERY well suited to game development.

That said, download a trial of Lightwave and see how you like it is pretty affordable, and has lots of useful tools that you may not find in other apps. I have used Blender and Lightwave for indie game development (and Maya as part of larger teams), and while blender is truly amazing, and Maya is, well, Maya, I keep coming back to Lightwave because I still find asset creation so much faster in Lightwave that I am willing to deal with its limitations.

Morgan Nilsson
08-09-2016, 08:45 AM
Thanks for the replies all of you, appreciate it tons!

I might have to mention that I have a copy of 3D Coat so Sculpting, Painting, UVs and Retopo I already have covered, it is mostly just modeling, animation and basic simulations I need Lightwave for.

I think I will give the trial a shot and see how I like it, after that I guess the only option left is either Maya LT or Blender, I am not aware of any other cost-effective solutions out there. (Me and Modo does not click well at all)

Edit:

3D Coat does not support multiple uv-sets either for the same faces... Well, yikes! My workflow often utilizes a lot of uv sets in-engine for decals and trimming techniques and it is problematic not being able to create that in either Lightwave or 3D Coat.

GraphXs
08-09-2016, 04:36 PM
Lightwave supports multiple uvs per face, fbx only support I believe 2. So you can create light maps in Lightwave if you want. One thing to note is keeping all your uvs the same name or use them only as uv1 and uv2. U can have as many materials as you need. LW/Unity pipeline is good and works well.

Morgan Nilsson
08-09-2016, 05:22 PM
Lightwave supports multiple uvs per face, fbx only support I believe 2. So you can create light maps in Lightwave if you want. One thing to note is keeping all your uvs the same name or use them only as uv1 and uv2. U can have as many materials as you need. LW/Unity pipeline is good and works well.

Huh I must have done something wrong because it did not work for me the little I tried today. Will keep experimenting tomorrow then!

MarcusM
08-10-2016, 12:50 AM
LightWave can do low poly modeling. I created somehow all my models ans UV's in LW.
Minus is in new LW relase there will be no news in modeling area. From this what i know..

hrgiger
08-10-2016, 02:43 AM
LightWave can do low poly modeling. I created somehow all my models ans UV's in LW.
Minus is in new LW relase there will be no news in modeling area. From this what i know..

There are a few new tools in the next Modeler release like a lattice tool, new live toroid primitive as well as an interactive clone tool and maybe a few others. It also has a camera view to be able to model from. That said, not really anything geared towards game development there.

Morgan Nilsson
08-10-2016, 11:55 AM
Just have to mention that it is quite confusing with like 7 different quick saw, julienne, band saws, QS double, QS Term and so forth... They all seem to get the same results so what is the idea here?

hrgiger
08-10-2016, 12:36 PM
there needs to be some consolidation for sure but out of the ones you mentioned i only use the bandsaw tool. you will find the same with bevel tools- bevel, smooth shift, multishift, etc....in that case i actually do prefer each of those in different cases. there is no right or wrong tool, just find what works for you.

hypersuperduper
08-10-2016, 02:46 PM
modeler is a huge mess when it comes to legacy tools clumped together with new more advanced tools that do basically the same thing. Edit edges is another tool that does what band saw does. That one is more interactive though.

If you haven't figured it out yet Remember to open the numeric panel with all the tools there is LOTS of cool stuff hidden in there on some of the basic tools like move and rotate. The falloff options are really cool. I much prefer them to Maya's soft select.

Morgan Nilsson
08-10-2016, 06:10 PM
Slowly getting the hang of it, I favor Cut and Multishift for the majority of the stuff. Edit Edge is nice as well!

Is there a version of Rounder that works with multiple edge selections all over the mesh or do I have to do it one by one? ^^ If I select like 2 loops on different places it decides to round every single edge.

And oh, is there any form of snapping at all? Can't seem to find anything, it is rather tedious to eyeball everything to the grid.

hrgiger
08-10-2016, 06:24 PM
Hit D to bring up your display properties and under units there is your snappings settings. But to be honest, I don't use it as I use the plugin LWCAD for all of my snapping.

133982

hypersuperduper
08-11-2016, 12:30 AM
There isn't really the same sort of strict snapping you can get in maya, unfortunately. The D snapping options work reasonably well for translating geometry. If you set it at 1,2 You can zoom in or out to get the snapping intervals larger or smaller. I like to use axis translate (I think that's the one) for snapping geometry to other points. Sort of like holding V in Maya but different.

GraphXs
08-11-2016, 03:40 PM
So more info on the 2 uvs for fbx. In order for fbx to see them you need to set the uv1 in the color channel and uv2 in the luminosity channel. Make sure you only have 2 uvs in the models.

Morgan Nilsson
08-12-2016, 05:19 AM
Thanks for the great info!

So just to confirm, each layer in modeller is a separate object, right?

And also, what plugins are considered a must? Anyones that gives me the snapping I am used to in Maya?

I hear tons about LWCad and LWbrush, are they complementary or a total replacement?

Thanks for the help guys, makes me feel more positive towards maybe becoming a lightwaver myself :)

hypersuperduper
08-12-2016, 06:52 AM
Yes, each layer is a separate object.
I invested in lwbrush and 3rd powers Boolean tool. They are very good and I use them a lot. Worth the money in my opinion. I also have their metamesh tool very cool, but I very rarely use it.

MarcusM
08-12-2016, 08:37 AM
Snapping in LWCad i nice. I using it a lot.
As a new LW user you should have opened all the time additional windows (statistics, layers, vertex maps and numeric)
Layers in modeler are separate mesh in the same object what you can save :)

hrgiger
08-12-2016, 09:45 AM
Thanks for the great info!

So just to confirm, each layer in modeller is a separate object, right?

And also, what plugins are considered a must? Anyones that gives me the snapping I am used to in Maya?

I hear tons about LWCad and LWbrush, are they complementary or a total replacement?

Thanks for the help guys, makes me feel more positive towards maybe becoming a lightwaver myself :)

Well technically, each layer you have geometry on is considered a different part, not an object. You can't save out each layer as a separate object (unless you cut and paste It into a separate model file or use the save layer as object function). You can have more then one object open at a time in modeler but they're still in separate files (there is no 'scene' file format for modeler in other words). Every LightWave object, no matter how many layers it has, is still one object or model.

As far as must have plugins for LW, depends what you need but I consider LWCAD a must have if you're doing any type of hard surface work and I use it quite a bit when making modular pieces for games as I commonly need to snap pieces to a grid or fixed size and LWCAD snapping is the standard. But it also contains many other tools you'll find useful. I've pretty much replaced a lot of my LW tools with the LWCAD equivalents like move, scale, rotate as you can use the snapping. Also the cloning and Booleans as they're interactive.

hypersuperduper
08-12-2016, 11:30 AM
As far as modeler is concerned each layer is part of one object file, but in layout a layer behaves exactly like a separate object and they don't really have any relationship to other layers beyond materials if you chose to have materials per object instead of scene.

They certainly aren't parts in the sense that they are in some sort of hierarchy. You can create a layer hierarchy in modeler that will instruct layout to parent layers to other layers when layout loads the object, but that information doesn't get updated if you then change the layer parenting in modeler. The best way to look at layers is separate objects saved in one file if that makes sense.

hrgiger
08-12-2016, 11:53 AM
I guess my point is, its still just one object file. And if you save a layer as an object, it goes into a completely separate file.

MarcusM
08-12-2016, 11:57 AM
And you can set pivot position for each layer. But unfortunately you can't rotate pivot in Modeler...

Try this: Click on Primitives->Box and then click "n". With opened numeric window. Numeric window remember settings when you schoose tool and click "n" one more time.

You should also check free plugins like PLG UV tools, PLG Simplify, UV Creeper, PointMoveOnEdge, MergeTrigonsX. https://www.lightwave3d.com/assets/plugins/
Built in Transform tool is great :)

tburbage
08-12-2016, 12:16 PM
I'm getting into Unreal and while its no problem building content for games in LW, you're missing some key features which really help out game artists. Vertex normal are just one thing.

UV tools are lacking. I do mine in either Modo, 3DCoat or both (since 3DCoat won't allow more then one UV map per polygon which eliminates the possibility of making your lightmaps there)
It could use better baking tools, I'll usually bake maps for assets in Substance Painter.
You can't export your LOD or collision meshes with your LW object you would have to do it separately. To be fair, Modo isn't able to do it either.
Polygon reduction tools to build LOD are lacking as well and aren't interactive.
You're not able to set a fixed grid size for your UV space so setting up Lightmap space padding might prove difficult.
There's no real presets or standards of exporting assets to Unreal or Unity so you kind of have to figure out what will work.

I use LightWave for some things like modular assets or various other things but mostly I use Zbrush and some Modo as well.

Was just finishing a model for Unreal. Here's the Substance P render and then taken to Unreal.

133955
133956
Steve,

Your workflow is so similar to mine (excepting Modo, substitute Maya for me).

I don't think LW/.lwo understands the concept of multiple vertex normals per vertex, which is what is needed to support "smoothing groups" style edge hardening. I so wish they could get around to an update to the .lwo spec to allow for this (static since about 2001 I think...), but suspect it will never happen. Shading group-style hardened edges do convey in .fbx export from Maya to Unreal just fine. And creased edges in Maya <=> creased edges in ZBrush. It would be great if edge creasing could achieve some standard meaning across apps, and I have some hopes that OpenSubdiv might eventually be the vehicle for getting that done.

If I were lucky enough to be engaged in a large scale game development project, I would probably reluctantly center that around Maya just due to reduced "friction" on a number of fronts, but would certainly use LW as well wherever there were no limitations making it difficult. Hoping the PBR support in NEXT will make transport of materials to Unreal more efficient. We'll see at some point...

Unreal / Unreal Editor has a bunch of features I wish could be taken as inspiration in 3D apps. It is pretty amazing. I think these real-time-oriented apps are showing the way the older "off-line" apps need to go if they want to stay modern and relevant.

Morgan Nilsson
08-15-2016, 03:55 AM
After having evaluated both Lightwave and Blender I at the time being unfortunately must settle with Blender for the time being, though I will keep looking into Lightwave with a healthy interest as I do with all applications.

Thank you all for the help and tips, appreciate it tons!