Why does 3ds max dominate games (vis a vis LW)?

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  07 July 2006
Why does 3ds max dominate games (vis a vis LW)?

It is used so much in the game industry in comparison to LW.
(Not trying to start a flame thread here, just wondering why Max would be SO superior to LW for gaming pipelines.)
Most people who use both seem to prefer LW's modeler.
Does it come down to the uv mapping?
Or edge selection?
(Which I know LW9 now has but... edges w/ no chamfer tool??)


  07 July 2006
UV editing, poly modeling, lots of plugins available, normal maps generation, CAT and Character Studio, Reactor for the dynamics and it's already present in many pipelines.
www.albertoblasi.com | architect & graphic designer
  07 July 2006
Max was there offering solutions to game developers years ago, and yes, tools like character studio and cat are a major reason why it dominates games today. The very first implementation of the skeletal animation system for the unreal engine was built around character studio's biped. That stuff has been there for years now as the fastest and only solution of its kind, so naturally developers have built their pipelines up around them. This iis probably a huge reason why Avid bought CAT recently.

LW is only just now getting proper edge tools - something max has had since version 1 and LW still lags behind in many important areas like UV tools and rigging/weighting and animation workflows. It's pretty clear why the the games market is dominated by apps like that. It has always been about the basic core tools in games work and not about rendering - that's what our game engines are for. Sure, you can still use LW for that stuff, but it's not about whether you can or you can't. Game developers only care about how fast it lets you get things done.

Not here to flame either. Just to state the obvious. Having worked the first half of my career using max, I had many issues with using LW for games work in comparison when I moved over to it.

  07 July 2006
Another reason was that everyone and their dog had a pirated copy of Max. That gave you a huge talent pool to pull from with no need for training. Along with the other game related feature of the program. I still can't believe how entrenched it was since it was a bastard step-son of Autocad at the beginning and a crappy 3d program. It has grown up pretty good.
  07 July 2006
Many many years ago (late Lightwave 5.6 era) we had a meeting at the LA Lightwave users group. A developer (Mark?) from Interplay showcased an upcoming Star Trek title that was produced using Lightwave. Everything from the cinematics to the models in game. Aside from extollling all the positive sides it appeared to be the last time I ever heard that a game was produced almost entirely with Lightwave.

Looking back that was a time when Lightwave still had a notable grip on a number TV productions and there were many a small studios producing for a variety of shows. Maybe it's too easy to chalk up to NT's indifference, but most of the more notable studios have long since closed as have the TV shows they were once producing.

On a side note there is http://www.beyondvirtual.com/
The game engine uses Native LWO and LWS. Bones, Weights, motions and more.
Richard Cabrera
Twitter - Flickr
  07 July 2006
Don't forget, it wasn't to version-6 that UV mapping was introduced into LW, and it was very basic at the time (even more basic than now). Add to that, no edge tools till LW-9, and the (grudgingly admitted) excellent Character Studio for MAX, and there has till now been a major gulf in basic tools until reciently.
As mentioned elsewhere, once a company has an established pipeline built around a main 3D program, it is not good enough for the competition to be "as good" to provoke a change, or even just slightly better, it will need to be much better to justify the considerable outlay in software and the R&D needed.

Originally Posted by Buzzoff: Another reason was that everyone and their dog had a pirated copy of Max. That gave you a huge talent pool to pull from with no need for training.
Whilst undoubtably true, it is nowhere close to being as important as the lack of game related tools in Lightwave pre-LW6.
As games and modding is a major attraction to the majority of those who would likely look for cracked software, would Lightwave not have been more pirated if it had been the de rigur game creating software for the industry, because I know there have been cracked versions of Lightwave for as long (if not longer) than MAX has been in existance.
Kernow bys vykken!!!
  07 July 2006
Originally Posted by slipster70: It is used so much in the game industry in comparison to LW.

Simple answer... It's better.
  07 July 2006
Thanks to all who have keep the discussion on track so far. The following rant is for those who are not playing square.


Ok credentials first:
I love Softimage, Started leaning Maya at the University of Maryland when it was in version 1.0 and I am learning Zbrush right now and I have gone to every AGWA meeting since 1998. Anyone in ANY OTHER FORUM in cgtalk will tell you I am application agnostic, not only in my plugs, but in my moderation.

Ok having said that...

Right now in the LW CG talk forum we have 2 kinds of people:
  • Those who actually do come here to share, look for feedback and try to improve the program (Hell even complain about it)
    An example of a great thread on this vein is :Your LW 9 Reviews / Feelings
    And those who have provided a smart discourse in this thread so far.
  • And those that I call the "Hit and Runners" that throw Molotov cocktails into a forum to see what burns. usually they have a BIG axe to grind with the program.

    See previous post for a perfect example of category II. (Hell, while there take a Polaroid)
I mentioned a while back in another thread the concept of TONE for the forum.
Tone is the kind of thing that kills forums very quickly. Don't believe me? Ask anyone about how this forum was a year and a 1/2 ago.

Honestly to the molotov throwers, what the heck do you want?

Guys, if you like another program, just GO, and leave the forum alone.
Shade01 who is one hell of a good mod, said it best on this thread:

Do I Really Need To Say This?
:Daily Sketch Forum:HCR Modeling
This message does not reflect the opinions of the US Government

Last edited by RobertoOrtiz : 07 July 2006 at 05:23 AM.
  07 July 2006
It seems like new features in Max, pre-5/6 (veered more towards TV and film related requests) were answering the call of mainly game-related feature requests, where Lightwave catered towards the TV crowd, so it's more due to the nature of the features of the two programs aswell as history more than anything else.

Was it 3dsmax4 that came out the same time as LW6? Let's see, with LW6 we got (I'm rusty on remembering features of a single release here so feel free to add):

-completely new interface
-radiosity + renderer improvements (48bit vs. the 32bit LW5 I think)
-UV mapping

-new or first version of character studio
-integration of DirectX shaders and other viewport tweaks aimed at the game dev crowd
-new UV tools (the automatic flatten/atlas mapping type thing)

Again, I may have this wrong according to these specific versions, but my point remains the same - new features of both programs were aimed at different markets, which only served to strengthen their presence in that particular market.

Last edited by duke : 07 July 2006 at 07:23 AM.
  07 July 2006
Lightwave had been used in the PS2 game "Shadow of the Colossus". Check out this link: http://www.dyingduck.com/sotc/making_of_sotc.html
  07 July 2006
I'm pretty sure LW was used to create Doom3 as well. Not sure how much it was used, but it was used for atleast modeling and animating the monsters... i think... i'll look into it.
  07 July 2006
Originally Posted by Eclyps19: I'm pretty sure LW was used to create Doom3 as well.

yes, i heard that too
www.albertoblasi.com | architect & graphic designer
  07 July 2006
Max 4 saw a major rewrite of its bone and IK system. Character studio had been around since at least version 2 if I remember correctly. Before that I was using Bones Pro so it gets a little hazy for me beyond that. But as of version 4 and up there was definitely a significant focus towards game tools.

  07 July 2006
A big part of it is game engine support for your 3D application, ie. pipeline. I've evaluated several 3D engines and very few have direct support for Lightwave models. In many cases you'll have a plug-in or script that a member of the community has written to export the models to the engine's native format, and most of the time the most complete, stable, and feature rich version is the one written for 3ds Max. Or quite often the engine developer has written a 3DS Max exporter from the start because they figured the most people who are creating game models are using Max anyways so that's what they focused on. If you really want to use Lightwave you'll either have to write the exporter yourself or wait for someone in the community to do it.
This is not always the case but it represents the majority of what I've seen. The way that it could change is if either Newtek itself or a group of programming capable Lightwave enthusiasts make a concentrated effort to develop good support for new game engines as they appear. Now that Autodesk owns both 3DS Max and Maya I would imagine there would be even more of a reason to support Max since it looks like they're going to be pushing Max more in the games direction and Maya more in the visual imagery direction, so less programmers would be working on Maya exporters, but I could be way off on this. Maya actually has some pretty nice tools for creating game models in its current state.

A great example of a company/program moving in the right direction for games is Avid/Softimage. They appear to be going very much out of their way to support game developers.

Last edited by Chaduke : 07 July 2006 at 02:41 PM.
  07 July 2006
Originally Posted by Eclyps19: I'm pretty sure LW was used to create Doom3 as well. Not sure how much it was used, but it was used for atleast modeling and animating the monsters... i think... i'll look into it.

Yep, as far as I know it used LWO for every static object, not sure if weapons/characters were modeled in LW.
Animating was Maya though.
I know I messed around with it myself quite a bit - Getting objects ingame was really easy because you could just drag and drop basically, but in other areas you still needed to put in quite a bit of work (don't forget doom3 also used high res versions of each ingame object for normalmapping)

I know Deus Ex(which is one fantastic game if I may add) used quite a bit of Lightwave as well.

But as already previously said. It hasn't really managed to get into it in a large scale after 3d max provided so much for the overall community and pipeline.
I'm sure a lot of it is just down to traditions and the fact that changes are always difficult.
Just as so many people use the Ipod? (okay this is probably an awful comparison)

I do believe lightwave can have a great workflow in many areas. But it's the ones it lacks in that make developers still choose 3d max. You know how it works and you know what it can do. Changing the program for the production pipeline can be a step into the darkness.

I'm sure there will be more titles in the future applying a bit more of lightwave now - especially if Newtek actually started working a bit more thowards it themselves as well (plugins, more support and other improvements already brought up previously)

My .2 cents anyways
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