What 3D package does your studio use?



My Lead TA got back from a graphics council at EALA a couple weeks ago, to report that we were one of two EA studios there still using Max. I’ve seen bigger studios moving away from Max recently, but the news was still a bit surprising. So, I’d like to know what software your studio uses- do you use two packages for the same project? For different projects? Can artists (usually modellers) use the software of their choice, and how do you support it? Do you use intermediary apps, like Motion Builder? If you have recently switched, what made you switch and how has the switch worked out?

At BioWare, we use 3ds Max (projects on 8, 9, and 2008), with PuppetShop as our rigging plugin. I don’t think there are any real plans or impetus to switch, though I only really have the heads-up on the Austin MMO, and we obviously aren’t going to switch mid-project.

What about you all?


Max here.

We’re only tiny so we don’t have the scope to be making all our own tools, we need them to work out of the box. And that’s Max. We did do a conversion job with Maya a few years ago but there were a lot of weird problems that we didn’t have the expertise to solve internally and I was constantly asking the people who did the original work how to do stuff. I’d looked into Maya before but hadn’t found any advantages and that project didn’t exactly encourage us to look at it again. Programability is probably good for large teams that want to write their own tools, but I can’t see why we’d want to do that.

We use plenty of external contractors and they use what they want. It’s quicer that way. We’ve had animation done in Maya, modeling in Lightwave and other programs used for that stuff. So long as it comes into Max at the end of that stage it’s all good.

Most of the hard work in our pipeline comes between exported data (we export everything into an intermediate file) and the converted data. We’d be able to export to the intermediate file from any 3d app and the hard stuff wouldn’t need to change. We haven’t needed to do that so far though.

Personally I’m keen on Silo for organic modelling. I haven’t used it for work yet due to the recent projects not needing much organic modeling, but find it a good choice for making base meshes for sub-d models.


Maya here, the main pipes are all set up with Maya, we switched before I got here but there are several reasons. Sharing between studios, extensibility and the fact that Maya is starting to get more and more used were some of the reasons.

Animation used to be on motionbuilder but that switched once we decided we were mainly doing keyframe animation.

We still let the character and environment artists use whatever they want as long as they can export out an OBJ and bring it into maya for export.


Still max here, but we’ve bought a seat of XSI and Maya to research other options. All of our artists are max-based so it didn’t make much sense to change it, plus some of the plugins we use are essential to our development, and they’re only available in Max.


Max for a lot of the highpoly work, Maya for everything else. All exports to our game engine go through Maya. We used to be a studio who allowed any software of choice for artists, but it was just getting too complicated to try and keep everything in line, so we streamlined it down to just two packages. Everyone has a copy of Maya, and there are a few seats of Max for the artists who are consistently creating and editing very highpoly models, or Zbrush exports.

Maya’s efficiency (or lack thereof) when dealing with stuff from ZBrush, or generally anything quite large and detailed in highpoly is quite appalling. In some tests I did, Max’s viewport was 10 times faster (about 100fps) when dealing with a 3 million triangle scene. Maya was getting just over 10fps on average.
Additionally, trying to import any single OBJ file from ZBrush into Maya generally results in a fatal error crash if they’re over 2 million triangles. Most unimpressive.

As a result we tend to use external or proprietary tools for stuff like baking normal maps. Maya just doesn’t cut it in that area.


Locally it seems really mixed. Max is still used a lot but it is loosing ground pretty fast. I don’t work at any of these studios but from what I’ve heard these are the stats:

Midway Chicago is a maya house. DayOne is max. Robomodo I believe went with an XSI pipeline. High Voltage is max. Volition I’m sure we will hear from soon, I believe use mostly max. Hopefully folks from these studios will drop by and provide more details.

I’m curious if anyone has any stats on XSI’s cut of the gaming industry. It seems to be a lot more popular in the european studios. This may have to do with the age/size of the studios.


Max, Maya, XSI, Motionbuilder, Mudbox, Zbrush. . .yeah we’re app whores here:D: Once we figure out our mocap setup we’ll probably be throwing one more package (blade,cortex,etc) into the mix as well. Fun fun!!


We primarily use 3ds Max, occasional use of Maya just for marketing materials, etc.

Historically we’ve integrated our pipelines pretty deeply in Max, but we’re trending the opposite direction now, towards being more application-independent. We would like our tools to be more open to different 3D applications.


We use Max for almost all content creation, although we have a couple of seats of Maya and ZBrush in the character team. All material creation and exporting happens in Max.

We also use Max as a level editor. Animation’s recently moved to MotionBuilder (eek, the Python docs :eek:).

We would need a pretty compelling reason to shift to another package now that we’ve got so much investment, both financial and technical, in Max.

I am rather fond of Maxscript too :wink:


Does anyone use Blender for anything? It always looks promising, but does it hold any weight in real production work?
I’ve never had the time to investigate if it would be useful for anything in our pipeline, although the python-based shader writing sounds interesting.


I’ve used blender to do some basic 3d logo/ flying text when I was doing graphic design and the company didnt want to pay for software.

I’ve heard of people using it as a format converter, bring something into blender write it out as something else.

That being said, I’m waiting until they let you customize your UI before I do any serious consideration



That being said, I’m waiting until they let you customize your UI before I do any serious consideration[/QUOTE]

Yeah true… the UI turns me off a little.


It would appear that the active posting demographic on TAO is pretty max-centric. We need to recruit more TAs from Maya studios to balance things out. :):


Well when I was at EAC (EA’s Vancouver/Burnaby office) it was entirely Maya based with Motion Builder for animation/mocap. At the Blackbox (downtown Vancouver) the NFS team is still a big Max holdout - although half of them would rather be using Maya. I think one main reason is a deep rooted pipeline and a bunch of creaky old Max plugins. The rest of the studio is using Maya though. Of course Mudbox/zBrush for the high poly stuff too.


Max pretty well all the way here at BLS. Zbrush is used for the high poly stuff.


VV is a Max house…piles of tools and a level editor written in Max with
game communication built-in.


As a technical artist, I would be happy to get rid of Max, if only Maya had some comparable workflow for complex, iterative highpoly asset creation. I can model a detail-heavy, complicated mesh twice as fast in Max than I can in Maya, and that’s even WITH plugins like NEX to improve the modelling workflow.

From a scripting point of view though, I have to say I prefer Maya. There’s generally much more functionality, it’s more consistent, the debugging is slightly nicer IMHO.

As it is, speaking as a modeller, I just can’t get behind Maya yet. Its polygon editing tools are stuck in the late '90s (no soft selection until Maya 2008 SP2?). UV tools aren’t much better (no soft selection AT ALL?).


Agree, altho they have been making some strides in that area. In 2008 the had UV latice and UV Smudge, 2009 includes UV soft select. Funny, i remember back when they released version 3.0 it was their big “games” rollout, then i believe they said the same thing when 6.5 came out. . .har har. . .At the last Maya event i went to they did make it a point to indicate that 2k8x2 was a big modelling focus. Of course the Python API opens up all sorts of new fun development possibilities as far as custom tools go, and it’s actually not that hard to learn if you’re already learning Python anyway.:cool:


I can’t disagree. I have been having major Max pains recently, and one of the senior concept guys said ‘Rob, if you just stopped scripting in Max, you’d love it.’ Haha!

I’d like to get more Maya users around, and I think we are, slowly- however, it is really hard for me to be a mover behind it since I am not part of the Maya community, my focuses are MXS and Shaders. That said, I don’t think any Maya TA would avoid the site… it is more a matter of getting the word out and getting more Maya content up, on par with what we have for shaders and MXS (thanks everyone that has contributed so far, especially on the Maya side).

I’m still really interested to hear how switching softwares went for anyone that has done it, and equally interesting, anyone that has went from a TA in one package to a TA in another.


We’re Max based in Edinburgh, with a mix of Max and Motionbuilder for the animation. For highpoly we use Zbrush over Mudbox, and I use Silo for a lot of my modelling and UV work.

I’m sure we have a few licenses of Maya floating about, mainly for the animation folks.