Saturday, 17 July 2010

3DMax - Growing Pains


I have started training in 3DMax as part of my diploma course for Game Art Animation and I'm not loving it.

I hate learning new applications and God knows, it's taken me years to get to a stage with Photoshop were I feel comfortable.
That only happened in the last 2 years really.

Of course, its always relative and in another 2 years I will look at what I make now and probably think its rubbish.

3DMax seems alien to me. There is absolutely no sense of familiarity with any other program I have dabbled in.

I played with Poser when there was a promotion with Secondlife.com were by you got a free copy of Poser 5 from Contentparadise.com the makers of Poser.

Despite the fact I had never played in 3D software before, Posers UI was fairly intuitive and I managed to morph some facial expressions with one of the default characters as well as render some poses with a skeleton and export the screen shorts as alpha textures which back in the day, were fairly popular.

There's a girl on the course who's from the UK and Second Life who used to make custom skins such as animals skins but for the human form and did quite well at one time.

She, like me had only worked with Photoshop previously and she's a little ahead of me on the course.

She uploaded her car model (which is part of the course work) to the forums and I was thinking: "OMG I will NEVER manage that!"

The sweet girl assured me it was just like Photoshop as in nothing makes sense at first but the more you play around with it the more things "click"

Well, I have yet to hear the beautiful sound of "clicking"
I am not enjoying feeling impotent one bit. Patience is a virtue I lack and more so when it comes to anything to do with learning.
With Photoshop, I looked and admired other peoples work and took inspiration from that. I had a goal a place where I wanted to be but with 3D art I just don't seem to see the point, my goals aren't clear.

I havent identified anything other than plants that I want to create. I have no interest in character creation at all. But I suppose it would be neat to be able to make furniture textures or a UV Map for a car mesh that I could create for SL.. yea, that would be neat.

It could be worse. There are some students on the course that haven't used Photoshop OR 3DMax and honestly, I can't imagine how overwhelming that must feel.

I am a slow learner generally I think as I sometimes meet people in SL who have mastered Photoshop and several other 3D programs too.
Brice the owner of subdimensionstudios.com has extensive knowledge with Photoshop.
He's made some beautiful animated water "river bed" textures and to this day I can't find a tutorial to teach me how he did that.

I had a bit of a panic attack and wrote to my tutor explaining how frustrated I felt.
I had been trying to follow a tutorial I found online and got stuck. He said that online tuts may be using older versions of 3DMax which will only confuse me even more and advised me to stick to the course lessons as I was trying to run before I could walk. He was right, I was.

There are some very experienced 3D artists on the course which makes me wonder why they enrolled to be honest. If they had the experience to make what they have displayed in the forum, then I can't imagine what else they could learn from the lessons.

However, what may look jaw drop amazing to me may be quite basic to others depending on where you are on the evolution of 3D experience.

I have to get over myself and stop trying to create stuff that I feel is "worthy"

I am constantly trying to compare my ability in 3DMax with Photoshop and it's impossible. I have 4 years of PS experience were as I have 10 hours of 3D Max.

What I have decided is the kind of game artist I would like to be.
I don't want to be a character artist, not my cup of tea.
I like architecture and environment so it makes sense that I should train to be what's referred to as an "Environment Texture Artist"

That means I would be making terrain, plants, buildings and structures and the like but I still need to be fairly confident with 3D software.
Job listings I have seen generally tend to need a good "all rounder" who can work in both 2D and 3D software and I am not there yet.

My UK friend on the other hand wants to be a concept artist which means lots of hand sketched drawings of scenes and characters.

Technically, she doesn't "really" need to work in 2D or 3D software but she would be expected to show she is competent in both as you never know when you would be required to change direction in the process of game development.
So yes, being a good all rounder is common place in job descriptions for most game developer studios.

Second Lifes SEO is driving me NUTS! No matter what words I put into the land description or what category I list the store in, we don't move.

I know initially vendors that were scripted (as ours are) would not be taken into consideration with the All Search and as all of ours are that may explain why we are on page number 547458321!

Still doesn't explain why our little Bay City store which uses the exact same vendor system but has less than 3% of our stock and only 50 - 100 traffic is higher up in All Search though does it?

I need to find someone who knows how to manipulate the search system and I would gladly pay for that advise.

Linden Labs have totally removed Profile Links from the SEO system in SL making them totally irrelevant now.
I understand the reasons, people have profile picks not related to business like pictures of their friends etc and these are messing the search up.

Personally, I still don't mind rewarding people for placing us in their profile picks as its still exposure but I'm a little tired of the same stores showing up as Number 1.
They know something I don't and I am going to make it my number one mission to find out what that is! lol

The TRU website is still not ready. Chosen Few has completed the CSS and template work, now we need Thorian to make it all come together.

Elizabeth and I have been through the site and marked the sets that need to be deleted because of their age and as such associated low quality.
I explained, if we were a fashion store we would have remove or reduced clothing created 2 years ago considerably, so we should have done this a long time ago ideally.

We're aiming to have a Sale Store with all discounted sets priced 99 Linden Dollars and these won't be displayed on the site at all.
I want to remove a good 1/3 of stock really because its long overdue.
Also what may have been "all the rage" in 2006 for SL use, isn't now.

I downloaded an ebook showing the top 100 virtual worlds on the web, I didn't know there were that many! So when the site's good to go I will have to do some pro active marketing.

Blue Mars is our first port of call as they have been in contact with me since they were in beta but until their members can purchase and download textures to their PCs from the website, it's pointless advertising with them.

I am not sure about IMVU, the content its very cartoony and textures used are low resolution (much like There.com was)  so I am not certain our textures would be relevant to what content creators use for IMVU content creation.

IMVU is still holding 80K logged in each time I check.
They're doing something right, what ever that is.
I hope Linden Labs continue to lean more towards a browser based client like IMVU.

LL can't advertise SL as things stand because the client/severs can't handle more than 70K logged in at any one time so SL is stuck between a rock and a hard place right now.

I don't understand why people are not happy about SL being a browser based client, as long as the fundamentals of SL don't change, whats the problem? Maybe I am overlooking something which is quite possible as I don't follow Linden Labs blog announcements much, if at all.

But if it means we can get more people logged in then surely thats a good thing for everyone.

There's very few websites I visit that IMVU isn't advertising on.
If and when Linden Labs advertise on that level it will breath life back into a stagnant growth rate.

My sales on Contentparadise.com are OK still, if sales continue at the rate they have since the beginning of July I am looking at a few hundred dollars for July (after the 50% commission split)

Its funny really, because I look at the TOTAL amount of revenue my products have generated on the whole (before the commission split) and think: "hmmm, that $X.00 could be all mine if I wasn't paying them 50%!"

It's funny because the business model they use is exactly the same as ours but I guess it's human nature to sometimes see the glass half empty.
I know for a fact that the 50% commission I pay to Contentparadise.com pays the existing customer database they have developed over the years of trading on the net.

My 50% commission pays for exposure that I wouldn't otherwise get.

The image included in this post is a new texture project I am working on. I have 50 stained glass patterns that I "colour in"

Not sure if the fantasy style I used in the example above will follow throughout the full collection. I will see where it takes me :)

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