I just happened to catch this question so I thought I would drop in my two cents. There are no good answers to this question but they are decisions which need to be made by CG Supervisors, Art Directors and Animation Directors. Since you are a student. You need to be aware of what you as an individual want and need. If you are just learning the most popular package, Maya is hands down the default tool of choice. That doesn’t mean it’s the best tool. (Personally, I would learn Blender since I think Blender will be the most popular package in 5 years.) All three are supported by Python which makes them all equivalent as far as power ability is concerned. The major difference is with pipelines and workflows. Maya is the industry standard and most animators are most comfortable with it. It’s not going away, at least in the short term. I have, however, have created characters in Houdini that empowered animators, who have never used Houdini before, to be animating and cranking out high quality shots in less than a day. Unity and UE4 are joint driven and so are Maya and Blender. Houdini is bone driven which means it had one extra node to contend with when exporting to game engine; a point of definite confusion. I don’t know Blender but I find debugging hand generated rigs in Maya almost a time wasting activity. Houdini rigs, in my opinion, can be just as screwed up but are easier to debug. All said and done, since I am the Tech Art Director for FIEA, while I prefer rigging in Houdini, I teach rigging in Maya simply because knowing Houdini rigging will not give the students a competitive advantage for the companies they want to work for. It is my belief that as long as the rigs are created procedurally, (using scripts), any of the packages will work just fine. Good luck with your decision! I apologize for not directly answering your questions. Choose the best tool for you and your company.