View Full Version : Game Dev Review

12-11-2004, 04:27 PM
The December 2004 issue of Game Developer Magazine has a review of Lightwave 8.0 in it. From the brief perusal I've been able to give it, the results are mixed, with a conclusion that Maya is still better. :(

12-12-2004, 02:07 PM
That article in Game Dev Mag. which I've just read is very true except for the part about the interface, I think. Overall he may be kind of biased about LW in general. I know a lot of people who are. He's probably used Max and Maya for a couple of decades before he even touched LW and has hangups about not being able to model with edges, probably hates the dual environment separation between Layout and Modeler and hates the fact that LW uses text instead of icons in the interface. This guy also did not specify what it was about Max and Maya that made them so superior for Game Dev. I've used all three apps. for Modeling, Texturing and rigging/animation for various levels of detailed characters. Though you couldn't consider my word to be completely professional as I've only been doing 3D for 5 years, I think I can say the following with some validity:

Maya, Max and Lightwave's MODELING tools will give you nearly the same results. Maya's modeling tools and smoothing effects are very similar to LW's. Max's are from an alien planet when compared to the other two. However the modeling learning curve for me has been exactly the same but for some reason I just have been able to low poly model faster (With Quads and Triangles) in LW. I did need to find the right free plugins for LW 7.5. LW 8 has many of these plugins already.

With practice UV Mapping is definately faster in Max and Maya; There are simply more tools and more things to learn when Mapping with these two. (Of course using a package like Zbrush2 or Deep UV/ Paint with photoshop will speed up the painting and fixing of textures considerably as well). LW7.5 is more simple in this respect but simplicity goes a long way in my opinion.

Rigging is where these three applications get significantly different.
In Max rigging using the physique and the Skin Modifier with Character Studio's Biped will definately speed things up in the way of rigging. Though the envelopes used to weight map are a tricky thing to learn. The paint weights option is relatively useless in Max to an inexperienced user. Even though I think max has the fastest rigging tools around I find it very difficult to get finite control over the model's deformations. In LW I don't have this problem.

The Vertex Paint program in LW is extremely useful. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't flip a weight map over to another bone on the X- Axis like I was led to believe. Vertex paint can do this!! It's much faster to paint a value onto the weight map than it is to do it numerically, especially for a character with more than 2,000 polygons. Just make sure to hide the other half of the model in VP.

In Maya, smoothbind weight mapping is a snap just like LW, though again, Maya just has more options and buttons to learn that may or may not speed things up for you. Setting up bones and IK in Maya is very complicated and you have to enter script in some cases which I know little about. Simply put, I can have use IK much faster setting up Tim Albee's cinematic IK rig and it works in game if you have the right exporter/ engine/ programmer etc. Nevertheless a kind soul (Rory) told me about LW 'motion baker' and the Key reducer plugin which will enable you to bakeIK computations into the keyframes. This is used when you can't export IK, dynamics, and endo morph computations. However, I still have to test this technique completely for myself.

I know Tim Albee and Dan Alban books aren't based on game dev but both authors agree you get more bang for your buck with LW and they show you the BANG and Speedy techniques native to only Lightwave that I would never have found on my own. (Also, I think I'd be lying if I didn't say Cinematics can be a very good contribution to a game as well). Other dollars can be spent on Cinematics plugins that you can 'Choose' to buy and not have to spend $5,000 + as is spent with other animation package plugins. With the addition of the new character and rigging tools I don't see how you can go wrong with LW8 for games now. That is if your programmer doesn't have a gripe against using LW in the first place which I hear is NOT really an issue if your programmer has an open mind.

Having used LW7.5 a lot more this past year for almost every' animation' process I can say that I am very comfortable with it and don't agree with anything bad Michael Dean said about LW in general. Though I would have to use 8 to make this statement more valid and specific. It wasn't a very specific comparison between Maya, Max and Lightwave and would hate you to think LW is a weak Game Dev tool for today's video game graphics standards. I hope this encourages and not discourages the LW game dev community and that many of you continue to contribute your tips and techniques for getting industry standard LW content into a video game.

12-12-2004, 05:44 PM
What are these Cinematics plugins?

12-12-2004, 09:46 PM
'Cinematics' tech in my humble experience is refering to any plugin that is not traditionally used in realtime games today but used for a high resolution final render in a film: Sasquatch-like hair effects, procedural/ animated texture plugins (Dark Tree comes to mind), plugins that help with memory intensive lighting and material effects that do not lend themselves practically in real time on the average machine (G2, X-Frog). Basicly anything that Worley makes is aimed more at realism in the way of film content than it is for real time. I am aware that the boarders between film and real time games is starting to disappear. I dream of the day that everything I create in LW will be possible in a realtime game. Correct me if I'm wrong on this, I'd be interested to know the correct definition of things. :rolleyes: By the way Dodgy, thanks for pointing me in the right direction before. :)

12-13-2004, 04:19 AM
No probs :) Vertex paint's a well useful tool :)

12-13-2004, 03:47 PM
can i find this article in version online i'm very interesting about it and i want read it.

Does anyone can help me :) :) :)


12-13-2004, 04:20 PM
If you work for a game company including your own you can get a free subscription of Game Developer. I'll try to find something to help you. Check out www.gdmag.com. That's the Magazine that has the article of interest in it. I can't remember how I got the free magazine offer. I think it was because I registered on www.gamasutra.com. Then they mailed me a form to see if I could qualify for the free subscription.

12-16-2004, 01:05 PM
Very articulate explanation, jasonwestmas. My experience with LW is not as long or as extensive as yours but it serves my needs, and Tim Albee's rigging book worked for me. Good job on your post.