Friday, September 24, 2010

What happened to 3ds Max?

I consider 3DS DOS and 3DS MAX to be 2 different software.  I have been used 3DS DOS since its version 2.0 somewhere around 1992.

Bellow is an old portfolio I have from those days, some architecture parts were done in version 2, 3 and maybe 4 of 3DS DOS.

All I remember that was different in version 3 and 4 from version 2, were some extra modules implementation. Modules that were once IPAS routines (plugins).  There were probably bug fixes, etc. but nothing that I noticed at the time, not even stability issues or speed optimization.  Maybe some one else can step in, and comment about it if I'm mistaken.

There is a very interesting article about The History of 3D Studio on Max Underground, in case anyone is interested in more details with words from the developers Tom Hudson, Gary Yost, and the artist De Espona.

Anyways, the feeling that I have looking back now, is that new software versions meant mostly, new features.  Actually, thinking about it again... to me software were a lot more stable running under DOS with it's own graphics API, peripherals interaction... than today. Of course, software were much simpler back then, but I'm not a programmer and no very little about OS's internals, so I could just be talking bollocks here.

Now, talking about 3DS MAX, the Windows versions, I have used almost every single version since v1. When I saw 3DS MAX 1, it was like magic for me, the procedural work flow of modifiers and hardware shading in view ports, all inside windows NT.  Before that time, I have only seen viewport  shading on Silicon Graphics computers.

Updates on version 2, 3 and maybe 4 and 5 were excellent,  I could definitely feel the optimizations and the way new features were implemented.  I'd even dare to use the term "close to the core".  But then, Autodesk had acquired Discreet, and 3DS MAX was back home.

Unfortunately Autodesk in my opinion feels, moves, acts and deals like it is too busy to do anything.  To busy to listen to users, to busy to write anything new.  I really wonder where did they get the energy to make MAX v1.

There are 2 situations that I remember right now, that seems to describe how I see Autodesk from an outsider's POV:

  1. I was complaining one day at a local supermarket about how many of their products have different prices written on the shelves and the one that is actually on the bar code when you're at the cacher paying. According to Brazilian law, the consumer is entitled to pay for the lowest price, being that the one on display, or the one on the bar code.  But it is still annoying have to remember what was the price you saw on the shelf and the one that the market is actually charging you.  So I asked to talk to the manager about it, and his only response was: -"We have to many products to keep track of all the price tags on the shelves."  Their service is to display and sell, they could have the excuses to do all the other things wrong, what ever theses other things are... but not their main service.  If there are too many products to deal with, don't try to sell it, because you're failing.
  2. Watching the TV, there was a news reporter asking people on the street what would they do if they win the lottery.  The last guy in the interview answered: -"I wouldn't do anything.... I would buy it all done."
3DS MAX turned into a mutant frankenstein monster.  The last version we got here at work was v9 (also known as v2008).  After that, 3DS MAX is just a bunch of 3rd party plugins acquired by Autodesk where they didn't even try to adjust the UI or workflow to accommodate MAX's standards.  If I'm not mistaken, one motto used for 3DS MAX was "no pop windows". The only 2 diferent windows were the material editor and the rendering dialog.

Since I'm a CG addict, my whole life I spent testing various software.  3DS will always have a special place in my heart, but I have been seriously looking for an alternative these last few years.  I should talk about this search in another post, since this one is becoming way to long, and having what appears to be a little rant sometimes.

I really wonder what will happen to 3DS MAX, Softimage and Maya, all under the same Autodesk hood.