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Author Topic: Blender 3D and the monster that kills  (Read 5940 times)

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Offline kat

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Blender 3D and the monster that kills
« on: October 21, 2011, 07:40:37 AM »
If you know where to look you can find the odd dusty comment posted in the archive of some quiet little corner of the Internet. A whispering, if you will, in the shadows of someone or others blog or website about Blender 3D. These are not the usual "yay another release" exclamatory exaltations (!!!!!) of the 99.9%. They are instead the genuine concerns of the remaining 0.1%; the real people doing real things in the real world with Blender.

It's worded in different ways of course, depending as it is on where it's asked. Blowing away Father Time then reveals a simple request, a magic one even, one that could summon the power of the gods of Bits and Bytes... "... if only the Blender Foundation would change their mindset on how they number and promote each version of Blender, "stable" should mean just that, that it works".

And yet the spell casters at aforementioned institution keep getting it wrong. The release of 2.60 is a prime example. New features are added. Great. Previously working features break. Not so great. That's to be expected. What isn't however, is how some of these breakages get past QA. That's a really big problem for the Foundation because it means the core team are constantly doubling up their workload on each release fixing problems that shouldn't be problems, wasting time on 'stuff' that could be better spent elsewhere. It means 'buggy' software released as being "stable" when it's really not; at most it's a test release based on a previous iteration, a 2.5.10 instead of a 2.60. Reading between the lines it doesn't really seem that important an issue to the Foundation though, problems eventually get fixed, this is open-source software after all.

For the professional user however, those that ironically don't really seem to have much of a voice whilst at the same time being actively pursued to use, switch or otherwise promote Blender, means it's still unreliable, even after all these years - "it's always been this way, the constant changes and updates mean it breaks every-other version if you're lucky. So what's new?".

However, and this is the broader picture the Foundation seem to be ignoring, what professional studio, business or individual can afford to invest in that risk? For game development studios, small start-ups in particular, the problem is especially acute because core import and export features that are the backbone of production, are typically the first on the receiving end of QA being MIA. That shouldn't be happening, open-source or not. The funding is there, the resources are there, the people and the enthusiasm. So what's going wrong? Why does it keep happening?. Do (relatively unimportant) features get lost in "the bigger picture" of adding new bells and whistles that no-one actually does anything with? Be very wary of "Feature Creep" Foundation, it's a monster that can kill.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: Blender 3D and the monster that kills
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2011, 03:25:50 PM »
unfortunately, and as much a i love working with blender, i agree 100% with you there kat, which is the main reason i'm still using version 2.49b with it's working importers/exporters. yes the 2.5 series onwards looks a lot nicer interface wise, but it's style over substance imo. eventually i will move over to 2.6 or 2.7 which ever they get stable enough, and in the mean time i am enjoying learning about the redesign but i don't trust it enough to work with.

Offline kat

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Re: Blender 3D and the monster that kills
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2011, 07:12:00 PM »
Heh, the irony. Popped over to Polycount for the daily visit after posting and came across this feature request list for Blenders modelling tools from users with game industry experience. Interesting, and appropriate, read. Quite a long one as well!

@ Ratty: The funny thing is, people want to use Blender but when I'm consulted I have to weigh up the above in context with an individual, business or studios capabilities; if they're able to code their own scripts and tools then yes, 2.5/2.6 series are good-to-go. Even then though the caveat is that it largely means they're version locked without more energies and efforts being expended to fix problems that shouldn't be there. That's fine for open source were there tends to be an infinite amount of resources available because of the nature of the beast. But it's not really viable for commercial operations because it induces increased risk. This is why the likes of 3D Studio Max, Maya, XSI et-al remain primary tools, there is the inherent assurance that core features don't break between versions.

Anywho, bit of a digression that. Heh.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: Blender 3D and the monster that kills
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2011, 12:58:45 AM »
kat, understood and i just had a quick read of the polycount thread. interesting and the op, metalliandy, is a guy i worked with a lot when beta testing crazybump a few years ago.

i know cb is commercial now, but it still feels like an indie developed app imo, and as much as i really enjoy using it along side blender 2.49b, cb is also quite buggy, including some critical crash bugs that i recently reported back to ryan. i look forward to a day when both blender and cb are really stable as they have some excellent tools and for the most part are enjoyable to work with, but i wouldn't blame anyone for being put off by them with their current builds.

Offline kat

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Re: Blender 3D and the monster that kills
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2011, 09:08:19 PM »
[update] "Texture Face" are now called "Game Settings"

For crying out loud, this is driving me crazy. Here's an example of the short-sighted philosophy being discussed, nay 'ranted' over, in this topic...

Prior to 2.60 (2.59 or below) if you wanted to make the UV's of a face double-sided (so you had the same texture mapped to the reverse side of the face, and assuming you're not wanting different materials on each side) all you had to do was select the face go into "Object Data" properties (note that's not the same as "Object" properties) and activate "Two-Side" from the "Texture Face" subsection (see below).



If you now try the same thing in 2.60a the "Texture Face" subsection and options don't even exist and for the life of me I cannot find where they've been moved (see below). So any project that makes use of that feature is ground to a halt in pursuit of wasting time locating the tools.



It's exactly this kind of BS that's holding Blender back from a more professional and 'Real Life' uptake. I cannot express how immensely frustrating this is that core features keep changing like this from version to version - it's no wonder Blenders documentation efforts are such a mess, it's a direct reflection of the way the Foundation expresses it's development philosophy in the application itself.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: Blender 3D and the monster that kills
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2011, 10:33:15 PM »
i emphasise with you kat, and although i haven't tried the latest builds, i agree about the documentation. even as far back as 2.49b, there are descriptions of tools that had their names changed or buttons moved, so even for me, who has been using blender for years, i still have to read between the lines with some of the documentation.

Offline kat

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"Texture Face" is now "Game Settings"
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2011, 12:15:19 PM »
Found it after (wasting?) doing a bit of research into this. I'm just updating one of the tutorials with this info but it basically requires a change to ones workflow as the settings have been changed and moved to a new sub-system. So far as I can tell right now, making something two-sided is 'global' and per material rather than per-face; in essence they've got rid of "Texture Face" settings so we can no longer assign properties 'outside' of a material applied to a mesh - the advantage was that a mesh could be assigned a single material whilst several different properties were applied to a face itself.

The way it is now means there needs to be a separate material for each property that's to be assign to an individual (or group) of faces; not a problem in of itself except where game content requires the use of a limited number of materials (and there are some situations where this is applicable).

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