Tom Hudson proposes Autodesk!

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  08 August 2013
Originally Posted by Artbot: Apparently you never had to actually use those first-gen tools.

Yes you're quite right!
Michael Wentworth-Bell | 3D Artist & VR Designer | Melbourne, Australia

Espire 1: My VR Stealth game - CGTalk thread
  08 August 2013
Originally Posted by SheepFactory: I am still sad Avid sold Softimage. I can only imagine how amazing XSI would have been by now if the original Softimage team kept developing it. Autodesk literally left that software to die.

Sadly, even with no development, it's probably the most polished software in their stable.
  08 August 2013
Originally Posted by SheepFactory: I am still sad Avid sold Softimage. I can only imagine how amazing XSI would have been by now if the original Softimage team kept developing it. Autodesk literally left that software to die.

Why oh why didn't Avid approached Foundry to buy it... or if they did why didn't Foundry got it :(
- Sil3 -
My Flickr
  08 August 2013
i agree guys , XSI was born to be the golden child ... especially for commercial works , where you need to go fast and don't have to go by A->X->Y->Z->B like in maya you just go straight A->B. There were other candidates than AD like Dassault at the time , but AVID is also responsable for such a waste i think , when they sell in 2008 we all knew that things will evolve the way they are now ... I don't know if we can blame AD for XSI slow death cause at the end when you own all the supermarket in town and that people must eat why would you care with quality ...

funny read by the way ... with some nice marketing BS
  08 August 2013
They should start to care now, people have got the message. Snowball this, add to it a company that will not directly deal with this issue, and you have a fat uptake of Modo, Houdini and C4d. Wonder how long it will be before we see side upgrades to those packages.
*(GOZER)-During the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex Supplicants, it chose the form of a giant SLOAR...

  08 August 2013
Originally Posted by Inisheer: Sadly, even with no development, it's probably the most polished software in their stable.

It probably is the most polished, as they didnt put much focus into a SDK, but that's a short term plan. Now, is the the time for polish, lets see how AD handles that.. I personally hear good things, when I put my ear to the ground.
MEC 2014
  08 August 2013
Sit down, this is going to be a lengthy one… if you can't take the heat, skip to the next thread in the forum, thank you! :-)

I feel like I'm a little late to the "party" but someone mentioned there was a storm brewing and after reading some of what's being said here I feel I have to put in a few cents worth. It might be more than just 2 cents worth, though, considering how inflation works and how it's been a while. It might be my last public contribution to CGTalk, even. It's been a while and I really no longer have a dog in the fight, so to speak, so I'm just going to speak my mind. Love it or hate it, I couldn't care less, but there are times one should speak and times one should not, this is not one of the times it feels like the latter. And this may actually be the very last time I'll post to CGTalk because I have other things to focus my attention on. I'm not inviting a debate with me or arguments. Consider it a statement and debate amongst yourselves as much, or as little as you wish. :-)

Disclaimer: I don't recognize any names here except mr. "SheepFactory", Leigh (and I still want to know just how much Dutch syntax you can understand, if spoken… call me weird but I like the SA accent), and Steve (Green), who in my book are all respected voices in the community and have been for a very long time. So I might be speaking to a completely different generation than my own (I'm pretty sure of that, actually). However, that shouldn't be an issue and this is not a "your grandfather said so" situation either. Take from it what you will but know that what I write is in absolute earnest and without any hidden agenda or ulterior motives. Whatever happens of what is going on will not change what I do today and I doubt it will change anything anyone reading this will do today.

I must personally underscore that what David "davius" Almeida has posted, in which he said "This is a first in this industry and should NOT be taken lightly" is actually quite well said, or written, in this case. What has happened over at Max Underground in the "Siggraph event thread" has not been seen before in *this* industry. Why do I wish to underscore this? Maybe because I've been part of this industry before it was even considered "an industry" (I got into 3D about 1984-1985 to be exact, which is most likely many years before most folks here reading this were even born). I've been around the block a couple of times and you just have to take my word for it that what's happening has really not been seen before *in this industry*.

My history with 3DS and MAX goes back to the original R1 days (DOS) and I have been in a very appreciative and lucky position that I consider many of the people who made "the revolution" happen my friends and I appreciate them to the end of times. The revolution I speak of here is the enormous breakthrough that 3D software at an affordable price meant and how it broke the "$100.000 price range" for 3D hardware and software and put it out there in the hands of everyone else. The revolution that was an integral part of what didn't just found but *grew* this industry into what it had become (though don't ask me what I think of it at this point because I know the industry is suffering, and many people and families along with it). I am eternally grateful to the Yost Group and Tom Hudson (anyone who don't know that Tom is the real spiritual father of 3DS and MAX should just use google and educate themselves, this is not a History 101 class, sorry) because in the end, it is partly their effort and long hours and dedication and passion that allowed me to build two great businesses and allowed me to retire at a "reasonably" young age.

Most of the people involved in the development spent 12 to 15 hours a day of their lives doing what they loved, following their passion, listening to their friends, peers, and *customers* to make things as best they could. And they certainly pulled off nothing short of a miracle. If you're in software development and in this case very serious and complex development you may know what I mean by that. If you don't understand you can just shut up and stand on the sideline and educate yourself without demeaning their effort, thank you.

Why is there such a fuss going on and why is "davius" correct in saying this hasn't been seen before… well, let's see… there have been several stages of "exodus" in the MAX community. I was part of the first exodus and I remember it well, quite well. It was the right decision at the time and I don't regret it one bit. And I wasn't just "a user" who had some money invested in the software. My business had a few million bucks vested in the success and future of MAX and you know what, I has been part of the MAX development and had seen where things were headed after the original team was no longer part of it. I already had a long history in software development and it didn't take a crystal ball to predict where things were going. I cut my losses. Strangely enough, one of my side projects got me right back into the whole thing for the next 10 years after my departure but that's a long story I won't get into because I don't want to bore you to death. :-)

The first exodus caused quite a rift between friends and colleagues, whether we knew them personally or only through online means. It was bad. It was bad for everyone. It was bad for the product, its future, its development, and it wasn't fun for anyone on either side of the rift. And in regular situations, whether you debate the use of OSX vs. Windows, those things didn't happen but they happened in the case of the MAX community of developers, users, and valued community members because every single damn one of us was extremely passionate about what we did, wanted, hoped for, and were part of driving or part of trying to divert based on our individual views on where things *should* be headed. There has been at least (based on my perception) two more such events in the lifetime of MAX as a product. And the results have not been any different, from what I can tell.

So the fact that people who haven't spoken to each other since the year 2000 all of a sudden come crawling out of the woodwork and all have something to say, all while most of us have not been vocal or a part of any online community for at least as long as that, is a VERY BIG THING. Anyone else who says it's not a big thing only makes themselves look extremely ridiculous. Let's not even debate whether this is of any significance of not because that's very subjective but let me say that over the past week I've had a hard time keeping up with my e-mail because all of a sudden I'm talking to old friends from "back in the day", one of which I actually had been mislead (through someone's misinformation) was deceased. It's a big thing for me and it's a big thing for many other "old timers" out there, I'm sure. Some of us parted ways on not-too-great terms because of our passions and "creative differences" (ha!) so actually being on speaking terms with people is quite amazing because as I've been hearing the past week is along the lines of "I thought you started hating me for what I said", "no, I thought you hated me because I was still working for them, no way", etc. And this is quite a large group that this strange thing is happening to. And once again, all because of MAX.

The thing that brought us together AND the thing that split us apart, now 10+ years later, due to its miserable state is bringing a crazy number of us together again. That's BIG. That's REALLY BIG. What it means, nobody can probably understand or predict it but the fact that it's unheard of is certainly not an understatement. It means that the SHATTERED community that once helped take things to where it went came together again as if some magical glue combined with other circumstances made it so. I don't subscribe to any but I'm sure several of us "old timers" may describe this as a "spiritual experience" :-)

It may not have been totally obvious to many of us at the time but MAX, its inception, the development, and what created the success it became, was not only due to the bits and bytes. It was people. MAX was made of people (just like "soilent green", right?). It was the people involved who all helped create it… and some of us may still wonder if we created a monster or not. Having the very same people who were there as pioneers in those days all voice their concerns, opinions, comments and banter is amazing. If you had asked me in the past 10 years whether this would ever happen I would've taken a very big bet that it wouldn't. And clearly, it would have been a bet I would have lost. And I don't often lose a bet.

It's the people that made MAX what it was in its first several years of releases. It's their passion, the heated debates, and plain professional arguments and discussions that helped shape and mold things. Over the years the thing called "alpha" and "beta" and the selected few participating diminished to a point where the passion was no longer there and you have to wonder whether that was a conscious choice by people at Autodesk; "preferring not to have noise makers there which put pressure on them", so to speak. Things diminished further and further until there wasn't anything left. Going from Compuserve to the Akiva "web board" to this "Area" thing which basically destroyed the last vestige that was their real user base and valued input (although at that point clearly not valued at all because that was a very clear signal to everyone who knew better). All of that vanished in a very short period of time. And now, in an even shorter period than any of that, all those voices are there again, and everyone has something to say. There were opportunities aplenty in the past decade and there have been forums and sites, like this, and yet nothing like that ever happened. So yes, once again, for anyone who needs to be hit with a clue-by-four… this is BIG.

Anyone who is capable of paying any attention outside of the little bubble they live in will immediate recognize that the original news item at MAX Underground spawned something that nobody expected. Heck, the fact that Gary himself responded to it is quite amazing because that too, at least in public, is a very rare thing. Of course, an incredibly misinformed and misguided individual commented in the thread saying that "Autodesk has been trying to kill Max for years now, because they’re still paying licensing fees to Gary Yost for the base code". Anyone who knows better knows that that's insulting in the extreme. It certainly wasn't up to anyone else to say something about it and I, for one, appreciate Gary putting in a word there to put an end of that terribly misinformed belief.

OK, am I boring you to tears already? Well, skip to the next thread then. If I haven't bored you senseless yet, I'll just continue (especially since this may very well be the last time I'll write about any of this because it is getting a little tedious to me and no longer anything I feel I should be part of).

Double check… ok, checking again… ok, all my NDA's have long since expired and any more "recent" ones have as well, so… I think I can continue writing… :-)

Tom basically "offered" to take MAX development over from Autodesk, on a royalty basis (basically how part of the original development agreement was forged back in the day). I can see how this may invigorate a lot of the old crew. I also don't believe it will go anywhere because contrary to Tom, who has been out of the Autodesk thing for at least 13+ years, my own involvement with that incapable and incompetent company ended only a few years ago when I absolutely refused (for the second time, ha!) to have anything to do with them any further. I did what I could to help them integrate and adopt Dynamite VSP into 3ds max Design and Civil 3D but it was a very frustrating 2 years after the acquisition and I was frankly happy to no longer have to deal with any of Autodesk. And trust me, I promise, there will NOT be a third time! :-)

I know Autodesk will NOT EVER agree to such an arrangement. I'm not going to name any products that were acquired by Autodesk in the recent few years but let's just assume I was privy and part of several of the "back office" discussions and it was very clear that Autodesk is not interested in royalty and sales based exclusivity arrangements. They need to own it outright or not. I can understand that, though, because if it was my business, I would prefer to have that level of security too. The original Yost Grouo agreement was based on paying out a portion of money based on sales. This is not what Autodesk was interested in at all the past several years and you can quote me on that because… well, not naming any names of things, but I know a thing or two about a thing or two.

I have now seen both sides of the fence. One side cheering that this thing might have a chance and that would be good and the other side of the fence who can't see it happen and think that things with MAX have already gotten too far out of hand that it is beyond rescue. I will debate the issue of what "rescue" may or may not mean because there is a level of expectation you may raise for customers and users and managing that expectation is another matter onto itself.

MAX not being in the hands of Autodesk, or rather, its *development* not being in Autodesk's hands would be a good thing because at this stage replacing every decision maker with a ROCK would be a better option simply because they can't do as much damage than the *people* involved. Of course, I once said the very same thing about Frank Delise, who came back to MAX after a long period of doing other things . These days, I sense that most people agree with me even though they didn't at the time, since they seem to not have a lot of faith left in him either. It's unfortunate because I really liked Frank as a person but there's personal things and then there's business. These things don't always align on the same vector. :-)

The thing I feel most awkward about is that there's once again a divide between people who think this may have a chance and those who think it doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell. I'm somewhere in the middle but closer to the snowball, based on what "rescue" and "improve" actually means. Except this time, I don't think it will shatter and destroy the hard core user base because many of us have moved on, are doing other things, or have gotten more jaded over time.

If Tom can convince Autodesk to hand MAX development to an external team, lead by him, I think good will come from it. But I also think the good needs to be proportioned and should not raise expectations beyond a reasonable level. Raising expectations and then not delivering on it is what Autodesk is all about and have been since I "dumped them" the first time. Nothing has changed. Ask me and I'll tell you it has gotten worse in the past 10 years after I "dumped them" (doesn't that sound awfully weird, like dumping a girlfriend or filing for a divorce… well, I was so married to this whole thing it was more like an ugly divorce ha!). I used to say that quite a bit before the "divorce" and over the past years I've only seen more and more MAX users who are paying a lot for something that goes nowhere tend to now agree with. But I'm not going to say "told you so". Oh, wait, I just did, and I didn't even mean to say it. OK, I'll refrain from that in the remainder, I promise. :-)

The reason I applaud Tom's move is because it forces Autodesk in a rather uncomfortable position. The users who have a big vested interest in it would welcome it, whatever it may bring. The users who don't know what's going on… well, it's their prerogative to remain clueless and ignorant about what was offered, by whom, and for what reasons. But either way, it forces Autodesk into having to respond and the Autodesk I have known for way too long will likely not respond (and if they do it's a delay tactic to diminish the impact and just drag things along as long as they can… sort of like what they have done with MAX development as a whole for the past many years). No response sends a very strong signal to the user base… one I don't think I will have to explain to anyone because Tom's offer is in the financial interest of Autodesk, certainly. A negative response sends the same signal to the user base. A positive signal towards contemplating the offer… well, you know what, I'd be extremely surprised and would start believing that miracles *can* happen and unicorns exist and there's always a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, right? :-)

The reason I don't expect Autodesk to take this anywhere is simple; throughout their history they have shown what their bottom line is and it isn't about being passionate about anything other than making money and increasing their bottom line. How many of you recall that there were offers to buy Discreet Edit from them and yet they preferred discontinuation and destruction (while many customers had only just plunked many thousands of dollars into that!). Too long ago, don't know what I'm referring to? OK, do I need to mention Combustion then? Toxik, perhaps? Or should I just explain how project Nitrous was canned and killed… you know, the re-write of MAX that was taking place around the time of MAX 4.0 to 5.0. If something is not in the financial interest it gets killed and the history repeating itself over several projects and products shows that and nothing has changed in that respect.

Still got your attention? Wow. You should be commended. :-) Except I'm really not trying to get your attention because if I wanted that I'd have just posted something really short and powerful. Except things are more complex and granular and a simple short comment just wouldn't make a difference to anything or anyone. :-)

The other thing I've been seeing a lot of lately is people saying "I will switch to Modo" and "maybe I should invest in Houdini" or "I will go with Blender instead". I really had to laugh at the comment someone made saying that Blender was some form of "misguided fan fiction" but I'm not going to diss a former fellow country man of mine who started Blender, really. I for one am really interested in where Houdini is taking their latest development because it is along the lines of what I proposed at Autodesk a decade or so ago. Except at that time there weren't enough people left to understand how integrating into all the other products and competition would be a *good* thing. Of course, when you end up owning what was the competition at that point there's no reason to go that route. I like Modo and what it's been capable of doing in the market space which is not an easy one to stand your ground at. But in the end the real question is not one of abandoning ship but rather how much of your time, life, skill, money, and effort you've put into something and that's where Tom has a really big point to make. Why discard that!

Hmm.. for some reason I couldn't edit the message. Next part after the break, I guess…
Home Office, Ignyter, Ignytion

  08 August 2013
We resume our regularly scheduled program, sorry for the interruption… :-)

I've also seen quite a lot of people say "MAX is beyond rescue and rotten to the core" (I must agree with the "rotten to the core" part, having been more recently privy to how development is conducted and the poor state of things on the whole) and that the only real solution would be a new 3D application and why not do that instead. Well… anyone a developer here? Anyone here actually developed any serious 3D tools in their lifetime? You have? Great, then skip to the next section because I'll be preaching to the choir. You haven't? Well, let me tell you, it takes *years* and a *big* team. And that takes *a lot of money*. Especially if you at least plan to pay people fair market rate for their skills. No matter how passionate people are, it doesn't matter one bit if there's not at least decent compensation. I might be convinced to spend 3-4 years of my life on a "big bet" because I have very little else to concern myself with but I might not be the standard to measure against and I don't think anyone could expect such a thing from anyone.

After my (first) departure from Autodesk and MAX I started a new company (Manticore Labs… these days all I own from that is the domain name haha) and poured a *ton* of money *and* effort into trying to build a new and modern 3D application, except the goal was not to build a full feature set but rather the largest 3D API ever built for others to build on. I had quite a few well known plugin developers who were part of that but eventually we had to call it quits because of the financial and time restrictions. It was a worthwhile effort because nobody (other than me) lost any money on it. And I consider it was not a loss because I learned a lot (more) about software development, managing a 20-headed team, etc. But jt did give me the kind of *first hand* experience to say the following…

Anyone who says "just create a new 3D app like MAX or unlike MAX or something like MAX" should, especially at this point in time where you have to cater to so many more features and modules of functionality, that you can't reasonably expect to have that done in less than 3+ years and with at least 20+ really skilled people. If you were to pay these very skilled people a decent market rate, plus overhead and everything else to make the venture run you're looking at *at the very least* some $6M and that only covers the absolute basics. Add to that the overhead, hardware requirements, time for people to deal with 3rd party vendors (think graphics cards, hardware, etc.) and travel and management (even if minimal) you're looking at something closer to $10M. Then if you have something that can't even quite compete yet with the other things out there you have to do marketing and sales and support. Support is a big one because from the first product you sell you have to support it and that's not cheap. Add more people, add more cost.

So even after the first 3 years you haven't made a single dime yet and you're looking at another $1M in cost (conservatively speaking, that is). Everyone underestimates the support part. I have been involved in several Silicon Valley startups in recent years and some of them, against better advice and consulting, all made the same mistake; not accounting for the support demands which eventually kills good products (and bad ones, especially). In a way 3DS and MAX were more lucky because it was already part of an existing framework that was there, back when Autodesk was actually still doing something worth paying attention to. The support network was already there and just needed extending and more people. Try setting that up and see what kind of logistical nightmare you're going to get bogged down in. Please, I dare you. Go ahead and do it and you'll see what I mean.

Anyone want to start a Kickstarter project for that amount of money? Go ahead… but I'll take the bet that you won't get the funds to do it. You can get $10M for a Pebble project but don't for a single moment fool yourself you're going to get that much in funding for a "MAX replacement". Sorry if I'm bursting any bubbles here but I'm just being sensible and reasonable based on what I know goes into all this, especially something like *this*. You still think it's possible, go ahead, do it and I'll make myself available to you for free to consult on issues you wish to discuss and if you success I'll fly you out to CA on my dime and you can yell in both my ears "told you it could be done, told you it could be done" and I'll take it like a man for as many hours until your voice gives out. Really. :-)

Still reading? Geez, you must be a glutton for punishment, aren't you? :-)

By now you must be wondering what I think the future holds. Well, you know, I don't know. But I do know that most MAX users are not going to get any happier or less frustrated and that's just based on two simple things; 1) the way things have been going the past decade and 2) my own personal insights of having been involved with Autodesk for a long time. Too long a time. A time that I had to end 2+ years ago because there was absolutely no way I wanted anything to do with them… hmmm… for the second time… ah well, third time is a charm but I'll be damned if there's going to be a 3rd time :-)

On the MAX Underground thread I was attributed several statements and insights that I can't recall making but after getting a better understanding of the time frame that was referenced I can't help but recall that I did make very blunt and public statements (and amusingly enough those were *not* the ones that Autodesk tried to stick lawyers on my over hahaha) and that I did predict where things were headed based on too much behind-the-scenes insights at various levels. I can't even find where I made those statements and it seems others haven't been able to find them either. And no, I'm not going to make them again because whatever I said was based on my understanding and insight at the time. These days I think my insights are even better than they were back then. So instead of trying to paraphrase what I might have said (and I have a good idea on what that was, roughly) I'm going to just update it to a more modern insight. Call it a rant if you will but I'm really not here to rant because I could've done so at nauseam for the past years and haven't because I see no reason. Except times change and what happened the past week and what I'm reading here appears to require a bit of a reality check.

Here is where I have to preemptively apologize for any individual I might inadvertently insult or offend. But you know, sometimes someone has to say the unpopular things that nobody wants to hear or know about. After spending almost 10 years on an "unnamed side project" that ended up requiring "integrating with two Autodesk products".

I have come to quite a few conclusions. One is that contrary to some people who say that "the developers still care it's the higher ups that don't have a clue and need to hear us" it is not at all my experience in the more recent years. Sure enough, those individuals in the revolving door process that are referred to as "higher ups" don't really listen and don't care in the way that many of us would expect. But that's not because they are bad people or evil hostile SOB's. It's their job and it's a job within a very unfortunate corporate environment that does not reflect most of its customers and their passions. In my personal and direct first hand experience it is ALSO the developers (or most of them that I had the displeasure of dealing with) that are not close to the kind of skills and passion it takes to develop software of this kind of complexity.

I must say that I'm not talking about *everyone* but certainly a very big number of people who are considered "the developers" on some of those products. The people who know I'm not referring to them already know so and as such I don't feel obligated to be "Discreet" (pun intended) about what I have to say. And I only say this because I think nobody has heard about any of these things because Autodesk has gotten real good at making sure "what happens in Autodesk stays in Autodesk" over the years.

So let me just explain a simple situation I ran into. For those who don't understand the "nerdy" part here, just bear with me. I discovered that a certain process in the core (exposed through the API/SDK or what passes for it) was regenerating entire arrays of data for every indexer call. So if you had an array of say points containing 500.000 points and you loop through each of them, it would regenerate the array for every access for every point. So 1, regen array, 2, regen array, 3 regen array, and that 500.000 times. On my end of the code what I was seeing was that things were taking *forever*.

Of course, I know what I'm doing so I ran a profiler and pinpointed this problem. I sent the results over and said, wow, this is really bad and really needs fixing ASAP because this should be an easy fix and there's no reason this should happen. It then took me SIX WEEKS to convince a developer (who was actually in charge of it!!!) that what I was saying was actually TRUE. Well, of course it is true, run the same tests. Instead of doing that I was met with arguments and resistance. I sent at least a dozen schematic outlines of the code, the profile data, the percentages and all relevant details.

I know this may not mean much to a lot of people who are reading this (wow, you made it this far, my compliments!) but in the world where I come from and the competency of people I work with a thing like that is identified, logged, and dealt with in between any other tasks because it is really *that* simple. We're talking a difference of 10+ minutes for a process or 10+ seconds. That's not just a trivial difference for a fix that takes a few minutes to do because someone really screwed up in generating the array on every call.

Eventually I had to resort to spending 2 days creating my own caching system around the problem and it still took 3-4 minutes. Still better than 10 minutes but there should not be a reason to do so and it is bad form and extremely bad "teamwork" (I don't think Autodesk knows what that means and you can damn well quote me on that anywhere you like!). Because if the problem would be fixed in the future the workaround would still be sucking up 100's of MB's of RAM.

In my world we have a word for that and we call it incompetence and complacency. Incompetence because you can't recognize, if provided on a silver platter, a very basic programming error, and complacency because fixing the problem was not part of the assigned tasks and thus not doing it would not make a difference to the paycheck of said developer.

And you wonder why I couldn't wait to get out of the contractual obligations and did so pretty much immediately when I was able to do so? :-)

Now, don't go say this is an isolated "incident". I know someone will so I'll pre-empt that by another example. The one that really made me decide "to hell with Autodesk". Different product. Big product. Not the M&E side. Will not mention which one, though. To protect "the innocent" so to speak. :-)

Ran into a massive problem and show-stopper that prevented us from doing what needed doing and actually running into a possible problem of not having deliverables ready at the desired deadline. I'll spare you the details because they really are very tricky and deep and detailed but it involved not being able to debug our code because something was throwing a massive curve on Visual Studio and .NET and basically it had to do with an extremely poor implementation of threading on the UI. Again, it took weeks to get the problem recognized and for the first few weeks most of what we got was "nope, not happening, everything is fine here". I knew that couldn't be the case (call me jaded or suspicious of Autodesk but maybe just because I had a ton more experience than the people who were telling me I was seeing ghosts) and had no choice but to pursue it because there was no working around that one.

After weeks of being given the run around I got really fed up. And please, remember, we were not working on a third party product but working on something that Autodesk had already acquired and technically already owned. I was technically working on THEIR product and THEIR bottom line in terms of technical ownership. You'd expect a little more than being given the run around right? Well, I did… and I was mistaken to expect that.

Eventually I built and entire VM (VMware, Virtual Machine, google it if you have to) with Windows 7 installed, Visual Studio, the Autodesk products and source code to the parts we had, etc. and uploaded the whole 12GB to my personal web server so they could download it, run the VM, start VS, hit F5 to Debug and load a file and then hit a breakpoint exposing the problem I've been trying to communicate for WEEKS. The 12GB was downloaded so I figured, great, no way this developer is going to deny this problem any longer. Well, guess what… I was asked what this ".RAR" file stuff was. Well, it's WinRAR, just download it, install it, unpack the VM and you're good to go. I will forgive someone not knowing what a multi-archive RAR file set is. What I cannot and will not, ever, forgive is what happened next...

The developer didn't want to install WinRAR to unpack the VM because he didn't know what WinRAR was and what strange things it might do on his machine.

I'm not joking. It certainly wasn't a joke when I got that e-mail, let me tell you. I told my colleague that I was about ready to stuff the VM on an external HD and book a flight and make sure it gets there without a need to unpack an archive. I think I might have said something along the lines of "and stuff it down their damn throats while I'm there".

If it wasn't for the developer's manager jumping in and saying you could also unpack with 7Zip and how that's part of most machines at the office… it gave the developer no choice and had to recognize the problem. Strangely enough a problem that must have existed on every test he did from the start. Except, well, as I said… teamwork… what's that?

You think these two examples are bad? Well, they are the two that really made all the difference to me but they are by far not the only ones. But I'm not here to bash developers and those who are incompetent and trust into a position they should never have been in, in the first place. The only reason I am saying this is because I know many developers who have left in the more recent years who all have similar experiences of dealing with an environment and a situation that is such that NO MATTER how good your intentions are, you just can't get ANYTHING done in ANY reasonable amount of time. And *that* is exactly what people are seeing in this development arena… except most people don't see it from the other side of the fence, don't know how bad it is or how it's not just bad because of a "group of higher ups" who don't understand things and won't listen to their customers.

Sorry guys, this thing goes way deeper and I've warned Autodesk about this over 10 years ago when the first signs were on the wall. If anyone can find what I wrote about that some 10 years ago, great, I'm sure all the details will line up exactly with what's been going on and what many more people are now starting to realize (or have already realized for a while but weren't quite sure about).

What does the future of MAX look like?

Sarcasm dictates a "what future?" response and I can tell there's many customers out there who would probably have said so and have said so in the past. Is MAX dead, as many claim? I don't know… what is there after death? The walking dead?

OK, enough about all that. This is going on too long already (and if you are still reading, wow, sorry for taking up so much of your time but I hope you get something out of it even if it's my awful jokes) and I think I should close on a more positive note…

I don't believe the future of MAX is going to see any huge improvements. I applaud what Tom is trying to do and wish him luck and will back the effort all the way, for good old time sake. But between managing expectations and what can and can't be done with 10+ years of rot and deterioration it won't be easy to deal with that and I can think of 3 billion other things that are more fun to do. The positive thing I can see come out of all this is that Autodesk is being forced to send a signal to their paying customers. And that signal is going to be very interesting and may in fact impact the future of MAX even more than whatever Autodesk might have decided for it. Think about it… the signal (or total lack thereof) is perhaps the most clear communication the users have gotten out of Autodesk in recent history. And *that* would be a major accomplishment that will help MAX users decide *their* future vs. trying to link theirs to the future of a software product.

We live in interesting times. :-)
Home Office, Ignyter, Ignytion

  08 August 2013
Both cores of Max and Maya are I guess turds. And as the saying goes, you can't polish a turd.

You can encapsulate the whole thing to hide the smell, but encapsulating it with more sh*t is not really helping (caddies, buggy containers, incompetent mental ray & iray, clumsy scene explorer, discontinued layer manager, ...).

Though in defence, I like 3ds Max 2014, they started to clean things up which I prefer instead of new features, they better leave that to third party developers.
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  08 August 2013
i dont get why you max users are whining what happened to max.
you are using the tool since years and you are paying for it since years. that means you are supporting the development direction since years. but what happens now? you blame autodesk that the dev in the last 10 years are gone in the wrong direction? are you serious?
the whole thing reminds me on lou and andy from little britain.
  08 August 2013
How is it confusing?

If most users were reasonably happy with Max for a good few years - 2009 seems to be the pinnacle - then their workflow is going to be based around it, they will have investment in plugins as well as their experience.

It takes a lot to jump ship, especially if they're constantly being fed the line of things will get better. E.g. XBR, multi-release agreements for particle development. It's more that 3rd party developers have made Max worth sticking with for that long.

And what's the alternative? I toyed with buying into XSI before Autodesk bought it, and dodged a bullet there.

It's as much that users are unhappy with Autodesk as much as Max.

I can't speak for other apps, but unless you're on subscription Autodesk doesn't allow you to use legacy versions, or a second licence on a laptop. Last year even subscription wasn't enough to get you all the benefits, you had to be on Creation Suite.

Add to that, if you wanted to skip a release to send a financial message - it now costs 70% of a new seat.

Hope that clears it up.
  08 August 2013
the xbr thing was a bad joke from beginning (in terms of groundbreaking changes) because ad wrote they let all the important things like they are. you had to wear really pink glasses to think about they will change anything big at that time, especially with the max rewrite desaster and other things in ad's history. two versions later it was clear what ad meant with "rewrite" and what happened? another 3 years later!! you see a discussion that nothing happened? sorry, but cant understand all the whining now, it was clear from the beginning. and it was also clear since some years that maya will be vfx centric and max for archviz and design. you had to criticize 3 years ago lately the max direction, also when i think it would be to late at that point.

when you writing the users using max and plugins, thats about max since i can think about it. that was also a big plus for every max user i met in all the year and ad developed max with this in mind. the users was happy with this and that always was and is a strong point of max.

a good example is the max mr thing. every user which needed a better renderer integration switched to vray. they never talked to ad, no one. in best case they wrote some words in an internet forum like this, but thats all. ad recognized this and did nothing on the integration side for years because they were not forced to do. why should they invest money to improve a situation no user cared about? users pressure for better dev is completely missing here.
giving ad all the fault now is not that fair.

Last edited by Kzin : 08 August 2013 at 12:57 PM.
  08 August 2013
So you're basically saying that the users need to take some blame for giving Autodesk the benefit of the doubt?

You really don't get it - I'll bow out of this discussion - you're not going to change my mind, and I'm obviously not going to change yours.
  08 August 2013
Originally Posted by leigh: Am I the only person here who has no idea who Tom Hudson is?

That's ok ... I don't know who you are either.
  08 August 2013
Originally Posted by Steve Green: So you're basically saying that the users need to take some blame for giving Autodesk the benefit of the doubt?

You really don't get it - I'll bow out of this discussion - you're not going to change my mind, and I'm obviously not going to change yours.

thats one of the problems, the users thinking that all from ad is godgiven and cant be changed so they dont try it until its to late. then they start a whining thread and searching for the guilty.
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