3ds max vs maya ( again! :( )

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Joost Polycount Sponsor
First of all I'm sorry for creating this thread again. I've read through all the previous threads on Polycount. The general consensus seems to be that the tool doesn't matter and the basic modeling techniques tend to be app-independent.
Though having said that there are some tools which are objectively better for certain tasks. The consensus on that seems to be that Max is better for game art and Maya is better for film and animation.
Not many people seem to give any concrete unbiased pros & cons for both Maya and Max. I haven't used Maya much but 3ds max is the clear winner to me when it comes to hard surface (in my opinion). But having said that I realize there's a chance I'd change my mind if I use Maya extensively.
And if I used Modo more there's a good chance I'd pick that over everything else. Or Blender, Zbrush, Rhino, milkshape...

But I'd like to focus on Max and Maya here. I'd trying to construct a list that objectively compares the pros and cons of Max and Maya.
I'm making this list to convince a ""friend"" not to switch over to Maya.
Rather than being a fanboy and shouting that 3ds Max is obviously better I'd like to actually present some good reasons as to why it is (or isn't?!)
Any input would be much appreciated.

comparison of Max to Maya specifically for Hard surface modelling:

3ds max

+ Parametric modelling
+ symmetry
+ FFD
+ Edit poly modifier
+ Instancing and referencing ( not sure how Maya compares)
+ Max script is relatively easy for artists to pick up and create simple scripts with (not sure how it compares to MEL?)
+ Plethora of user created scripts and plugins( and I foresee a rise in the creation of these with the recent addition of MCG)
+ Quad chamfer modifier(the plugin, not the integrated version) to name one example, which has single handedly transformed my workflow.
+ Superior spline system
-Fair share of bugs and fun quirks. And tends to crash a lot. Though I've heard Maya is no better, or potentially worse.


Maya

I honestly haven't used Maya enough to form an educated opinion on any of its tools or workflows. Would appreciate any comments.

Replies

  • Dataday
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    Dataday polycounter lvl 5
    Lets simplify it even more... are you trying to get work at a specific studio(s)? If so what do they use? Done!

    Honestly Maya is fine for game art, I think the max is for games, maya is for film, idea is a bit dated. A lot of it just has to do with the studio itself and the location you are in.

    I personally prefer Modo, especially for game art...and from what I have seen so far with 901 its going to be getting much better. Maya and Modo are similar in that you pick the right tool for the right job. Modifiers have perks but once you get used to not relying on them its really a non issue. I also don't have faith that Autodesk intends to treat Max equally as it does with Maya, and that their end game is just to have one easy to maintain app.

    I'm sure you will get a wide range of opinions though as that is the nature of the beast (or rather question you ask on any art forum).
  • Joost
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    Joost Polycount Sponsor
    In in an ideal world there's a good chance I'd probably prefer Modo over anything else. But in this specific scenario I'd like to limit the discussion to Max and Maya. I'm looking for objective reasons as to why Maya is or isn't a valid alternative to Max. (for hard surface modelling)

    Also the latest update of max seems somewhat promising. MCG specifically. Though there's still a lot wrong with max and I could write an essay about all the reasons I passionately hate max.
  • pmiller001
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    pmiller001 polycounter lvl 3
    Honestly its all up to what you prefer, and what the studio needs. I started with Maya 6 years ago, went on to max, and now i'm in modo. But I still find myself in each of those programs. Whatever gets the job done.
    Also nit having a modifier stack becomes a non issue once you've done it enough.
  • GlowingPotato
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    GlowingPotato polycounter lvl 3
    I started with max, now using maya.

    Booth can achieve the same things trough different paths.
  • beefaroni
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    beefaroni interpolator
    Used Maya for 2.5 years, switched over to 3DS Max for this job.

    I definitely prefer Max over Maya for hard surface modeling. Although I really don't think it matters in the end.

    If your friend wants to waste time and switch over tell him to go for it.. I really wouldn't bother learning a new 3d package unless either is much much better than the competitors (Modo is getting there apparently), or you have to learn it for a job.
  • Oniram
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    Oniram polycounter lvl 10
    used max for about 6 or 7 years. been using maya for about 3 now. here's what ive got to say about the things you've brought up.

    Max things in Maya:

    Parametric modeling: no clue what you mean by this. lol. not sure what it is.
    Symmetry. Doable for basic things. no slice/weld but essentially instanced/mirrored objects act as symmetry. it can be an issue sometimes when attaching/detaching objects, as they dont propagate through to instances.
    FFD: Maya has this. The lattice deformer
    Edit poly modifier: Im assuming you mean the ability to stack this ontop of other modifiers. Not having this hasnt stopped me from working in maya before, but its definitely convenient in max to have.

    Scripting: yes, maxscript is easier (relatively) but mel and python are more useful, and not as complicated as c++ if you want to make plugins/scripts.
    maya also has A TON of user created scripts and plugins
    Quadchamfer This is the one reason i still use max today. however maya's crease sets with openSubdiv isnt too far off from giving you similar results.
    Splines yeah max can take this one.
    Crashing: although i experience regular crashes in maya (2014) from simple things like removing edges.. its incredibly reliable at recovering your files. every crash (fatal error) leaves a recovered file in your temp directory. ive had max completely butcher scenes (and all previous iterations of that scene somehow) in the past.


    Reasons I still use maya

    The pivot/snapping system: I'm not too fond of the working pivot in max, mostly because it stays in one place. I like that in maya you can get the local pivot of any edge vertex or face, and that "working pivot" follows you to any object or subobject.
    Smoothing the ability to preview smooth your meshes instead of adding (or god forbid removing) a turbosmooth modifier to each and every object in your scene makes things really quick to work with.
    Default Materials a small nitpick but nonetheless.. i hate having to add a material to an object in max every time i create it. I have used a script in the past that enabled every object on creation to use a default material.. but maya having that as a feature just gives it a +
    UVs like with turbosmooth.. the fact that i can see my uvs without having to add a modifier is amazing. i can UV and edit my mesh at the same time.

    Reasons I still use max:

    Quadchamfer: enough said
    Splines: enough said
    Instances: like i mentioned above, working with instances in maya is possible, but it makes things a little more permanent when you want to do any editing on top.

    ultimately what i use varies from asset to asset, and ill tend to jump back and forth nowadays when i need or want to do something particular. hope this gives some insight.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    Oniram wrote: »
    Smoothing the ability to preview smooth your meshes instead of adding (or god forbid removing) a turbosmooth modifier to each and every object in your scene makes things really quick to work with.

    Just set up a hotkey for toggling NURMS preview. :poly121:
  • Fwap
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    Fwap Polycount Sponsor
    Don't most studios pick up the Autodesk Creation suite anyway? I don't know, never been but if they do both programs will be available to you. (maybe someone can answer this for me?)

    My vote goes towards Max,
    Reasons why are super simplistic, 3ds Max works well with my desired workflow, i know it like the back of my hand.
    Maya doesn't, i'd rather feel as comfortable when working as i can so i choose to work with Max
  • huffer
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    huffer polycounter lvl 7
    Maya also has as advantages:
    - good user interface, the marking menus are excellent, now with 2016 the interface is more consistent
    - UV editing: you can see what islands are flipped, or overlapping, you have a cool stretch shader
    - the new multi-cut tool combines more tools in one, same for extrude (does what extrude, bevel and inset do in max)
    - there are some very good scripts out there (like sending face selection from UV's to Photoshop, froxnormal or substance designer batch bakers)

    and disadvantages:
    - the history and underlining method of working - you get hundreds of trash nodes for minute things, like combining, detaching, transforming. And if you disable history some tools will just stop working.

    - working with instances - I wouldn't work with instances in Maya even if I got paid :poly122: grouping them makes them useless, sometimes operations and selections move from one to the other randomly, it's hard to collapse them, and if you attach or combine them or add geometry all but the original dissappear

    - working with materials is more convoluted. New objects get lambert1 by default, but some objects can have no material on them, in which case good look finding out the faces/objects; can't easily see what materials are applied to what; can't quickly assign materials to multiple sub-selections like with material ID's; hypershade is more confusing than it needs to be. Oh, and you want to merge two scenes that have materials with the same name? Maya will rename materials (and objects) instead of asking you which one to use...if you have a complex scene, the management is a headache

    - working with symmetry is harder than it has to be, or something as simple as adding thickness to a one-sided object

    - viewport 2.0 still has a number of constant bugs (textures don't update, flipped normals viewing issues, losing selection highlighting, etc)

    - outliner + layer editor still don't achieve the same ease of use from the layer manager or scene explorer in max

    I feel that Maya has some great ideas going, but some are badly executed or implemented, and working with them in production is a headache. Nevertheless, if you have something simple to medium in complexity it's pretty fun and fast to use. With 3dsmax the tools don't have the same high goal, but they achieve what they aim.

    Oniram wrote: »
    Parametric modeling: no clue what you mean by this. lol. not sure what it is.

    Reasons I still use maya

    The pivot/snapping system: I'm not too fond of the working pivot in max, mostly because it stays in one place. I like that in maya you can get the local pivot of any edge vertex or face, and that "working pivot" follows you to any object or subobject.
    Smoothing the ability to preview smooth your meshes instead of adding (or god forbid removing) a turbosmooth modifier to each and every object in your scene makes things really quick to work with.
    Default Materials a small nitpick but nonetheless.. i hate having to add a material to an object in max every time i create it. I have used a script in the past that enabled every object on creation to use a default material.. but maya having that as a feature just gives it a +

    But since the working pivot from max stays in place you can quickly align other objects to the original face/edge by scaling down

    And with the turbosmooth modifiers, I can apply it to my high poly, and choose 1 iteration in viewport and 3 or 4 at render times, so when baking to texture I get full details, and in viewports I get the performance boosts. Plus you can add one modifier to all objects and it's basically global and copy/paste-able, I much prefer this.

    I think with paramteric modeling he refers to the modifier stack and how easy it is to go back and change something and have it propagate up
  • Nox
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    Nox polygon
    3ds max

    + Clone modifier
    + Shell modifier
    + Path Deform
    + Curve thickness with one click
    + Open edges highlight with color


    Maya

    + Camera based selection
    + UV editor does not lag with 50+k meshes
  • Umbrafoxus
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    Umbrafoxus polycounter lvl 2
    I feel like Modo/Maya have better support for Wacom/Pen Tablets due to the alt left mouse rotate being default. Tend to have issues with max and a tablet but could just be me. Been a Max user for years and can only fault its bloated releases since 2012.
  • Bal
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    Bal polycounter lvl 11
    Why are you trying to convince your "friend" not to switch to Maya? It's in an artists' best interests to be familiar with many packages, so switching once in a while seems like a healthy and smart thing to do.

    I won't get into the details of which is better again, too me the small differences in different packages are mostly irrelevant compared with the skills of the artist using it.
    People posts lists of pros and cons, but usually many of their cons are fixable with minimal scripting or workflow adaptations.
  • passerby
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    passerby polycounter lvl 6
    its about the skills of the artist, the same can be done in both packages, and the decisions is rarely the artists. Like i work on a studio with its whole pipeline built around Maya so it is what i use.

    I don't have massive experience with max, but the main pro i found in Maya over max. Is that i find Maya to be a bit more friendly to Tech Artists. PyMel is a really nice way of working with Maya via scripts, and even for more complex stuff the maya C++ api is very well documented
  • Shinigami
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    Shinigami polycounter lvl 3
    i my opinion maya just didnt feel like something youd model in in contrary to max
  • GlowingPotato
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    GlowingPotato polycounter lvl 3
    In my opinion, Maya have better animation/rigging tools then other packages. (not considering only animation softwares).

    Simulation is a win for Maya too. in my opinion.
  • Rokai
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    Rokai null
    Quad chamfer, spacing tool, geopoly, instances, makes maya eat max dust.... in hard surface modelling.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp interpolator
    max bias here.

    with the inclusion of NEX a while back maya now probably has most of the functionality i am used to (or perhaps better in some cases), although they decided to tack it on in a strange way. why did they not expose it via sub-menu and marking menu - or did i overlook that? kinda felt odd to use a mini max command panel inside maya.

    aside from the big one - the modifier stack - what i mainly miss is the ability to thin out the application's bizarrely complex menu labyrinth (in max that is done with drag & drop and ability to define your own menu hierarchies, completely replacing the default). in maya it seems from the GUI i can only add to the clutter by introducing my own custom menu set.

    also as a former nendo/mirai/wings-user i am firmly fused to using context menus all the time. the marking menu and hotbox in maya are just too cumbersome to customize and make context sensitive and else you end up with a whole lot of them on different hotkeys. in max if i poly-model, work with splines, uv's or animation i just right-click and have all the relevant functionality available.

    it looks like an app i could theoretically bend my way - but with way too much time spent in the text editor. i keep a basic setup for in-studio use but certainly do not use maya out of preference. it doesn't feel fast nor elegant to me either and never has.


    a real game content relevant issue to me with maya is how it handles mesh triangulation all by itself and changes it on the fly as you modify the asset. in max this stays locked and means that your lowpoly normals on export don't suddenly get turned seemingly randomly. the combo max/zbrush is very solid in my experience in this regard when you trade OBJ files between them.
  • musashidan
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    musashidan sublime tool
    @thomasp , what are the spline modeling tools like in Maya these days? (Not talking nurbs curves here but polymodeling)Spline modeling is Max is one of my favourite features and is incredibly flexible and useful.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp interpolator
    @thomasp , what are the spline modeling tools like in Maya these days? (Not talking nurbs curves here but polymodeling)Spline modeling is Max is one of my favourite features and is incredibly flexible and useful.
    uff i couldn't say, sorry. i don't deal with splines much outside of making hairstrands. any basic toolset will suffice for this. :)

  • beefaroni
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    beefaroni interpolator
    thomasp said:
    a real game content relevant issue to me with maya is how it handles mesh triangulation all by itself and changes it on the fly as you modify the asset. in max this stays locked and means that your lowpoly normals on export don't suddenly get turned seemingly randomly. the combo max/zbrush is very solid in my experience in this regard when you trade OBJ files between them.
    Man, yea. Maya's triangulation bewilders me sometimes. Max seems to try to give each vertex the same amount of edges. In Maya, its triangulation will give 1 vertex 8 edges and the one next to it 4 edges. It can really mess with baking from time to time. 
  • musashidan
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    musashidan sublime tool
    thomasp said:
    uff i couldn't say, sorry. i don't deal with splines much outside of making hairstrands. any basic toolset will suffice for this. :)

    Fair enough, and good points on the marking menu Vs quad menu. I'm sure there are marking menu whizzkids out there, but I'll take the quad menus any day. :)


  • oglu
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    oglu polycounter lvl 8
    jumped several times between max and maya... use what the client needs... if i could choose i would go with maya... cause my fingers know how the marking menues are working... i dont know where extrude is but my fingers...
  • Joopson
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    Joopson Polycount Sponsor
    As a Maya user, what exactly is so great about quad chamfer? What makes it better than Maya's bevel tool?
  • beefaroni
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    beefaroni interpolator
    Joopson said:
    As a Maya user, what exactly is so great about quad chamfer? What makes it better than Maya's bevel tool?
    I duno. I don't think I even used it in 3ds Max. Probably cause I'm a nub
  • Mark Dygert
    If I remember correctly it makes a quad on a corner instead of a triangle?
  • Joopson
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    Joopson Polycount Sponsor
    But Maya does that too....?
  • CompanionCube
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    CompanionCube polycounter lvl 9
    quad chamfer plugin and chamfer modifier in 2016+ are really powerful and none destructive. so many options for how to select edges and how to chamfer them.  for me it's always been about modifier stack that kept me coming back to Max but i do really like the way certain tools work in Maya and the marking menus are better than the quad menus in Max. 

    i think in another thread someone mentioned the UV performance in  Max 2017 has improved.

    honestly you should really just know both these days. i'm not saying every aspect of each but just modeling, UVs, import/export, basic lighting and shaders.
  • Fansub
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    Fansub interpolator
    Tbh since Maya 2014 you can't really see a huge difference between Maya and Max

    Also,imho the worst habit one can have when trying another modeling app is to look for every feature you had in your older software.Trying new tools isn't about staying in the comfort zone but exploring new ways of doing things no matter what the end conclusion is.

    If artists from Naughty Dog,Epic Games or Machine Games can work with Maya,Max or Modo,then you should focus on customizing the software that inspires you the most.

  • Mr Whippy
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    Mr Whippy polycounter lvl 5
    It's pretty sad when must-have Max features had to be written as plugins before Autodesk added them (quad chamfer). That shows Max development can see you lagging behind a bit in the world of '3D' unless you're having the budget to buy all the plugins or write scripts to do nice things.
    Infact I'd say good plug/maxscript support is what makes Max worth knowing and using. I use plugs and maxscript heavily.


    But I'd say AD aren't really doing Max any favours for game work for the last 5 versions, and possibly not even for general users either in many areas.

    Ie, ImageModeller was amazing subscription software at 9 - 2010 versions, no longer there, the features dumped and the old crappy camera match left in Max 2012+
    The only half decent update to cam match since R1.2 is the 3 point perspective matcher. Great for the occasional archvis work where you have 3 pependicular lines in xyz in your image, useless for everything else.


    For all these reasons, I'd say if your friend is liking Max already, then learning Maya is only a good thing to do. It removes risks of only knowing one software whose future is uncertain and lagging more and more, and increases professional capability.

    Learn both!

    Then learn Modo and Blender.
  • Mark Dygert
    I'm going to get all sweary, don't take it personally, I don't have time to clean it up and think of proper verbiage, plus it's how polycount used to be.

    My personal usage history:
    I've used Max more than any other program, but that means I'm more intimately acquainted with it's warts =P I currently use Maya for animation and have forced myself to use it to model and unwrap a lot of props. It would have been easier in other programs but that wasn't the point, I wanted to get to know Maya better. I did and I can use it no problem but it's still easier to do most modeling tasks in just about any other program.

    When it comes to modeling, They both are beat by modo, then I lean toward Max, then probably Blender, then maybe Maya.
    Maya's latest additions to its modeling tools are great-ish attempts to step into 2002. But they don't feel integrated that well, it feels bolted on and duct taped. In their specific cases, they work great, but there are a lot of instances were I want to use those tools or similar functionality in other areas and it's just not there or works in some other weird way that some other outside author created. Those modes or workflows haven't been updated or developed with the same design and functionality in mind so they don't work together or are intuitive in different ways. This makes me sad. It reminds me of all the broken and half assed features that both programs suffer from. What makes for a great plug-in often sucks when just "added as a feature". But I digress...

    Maya's spline tools and modeling are abhorrent.
    I'm not talking about the curve editor, I love it, espcially compared to 3dsmax. I'm talking about the spline modeling tools. There is no other way to look at them, they are broken and they suck. If you don't think so, you don't know anything about working with splines. They are in desperate need of an overhaul to bring them up to the level that max has had for over a decade. Feel free to look down your nose at Max all you want, but don't wave your limp noodley spline in it's face, that's just embarrassing for everyone. Err what was I rambling about? Oh yea, I'm mostly talking about non-destructive loft, sweep and lathe. It's so useful and powerful, why do you fall flat on your face Maya, why? Get it together.

    Max's UV editor, its trash, complete garbage, which is a symptom of the overall disjointed and fragmented UI scheme that both suffer from but it's pretty apparent in max's UV editor.
    Convert edge selection to polys, not like you would in edit poly. You get to solve a word puzzle tucked into a menu, hoo-fuckin-ray. Switching between UV channels? Decypher the cryptic message and win a prize. Select the border edges of a shell, nope, that would be helpful, we don't want that. To top it off it's modifier dependent and easily screwed up if you go down the stack. Non-destructive stack? Skinned mesh? Morphers? Animating UV's? Go down the stack and make any change and still expect your UV's to be there? Nope.
    You have two options:
    1) Collapse it and hope you can set that all back up again.
    2) Go down the stack and hope to find a place you can insert a UV modifier and collapse to. Praying that it doesn't affect the higher stack.
    So much for leveraging "the power of the stack". Thanks UV modifier... fuckin make it a mode already, jeezus.
     
    For rigging and animation they are kind of tied, sort of, for most things.
    Max's skin modifier is easier to use and has several built in joint angle deformers, but suffers from being a modifier, dependent on the stack.

    Maya has HumanIK (Motion Builder stuffed inside of Maya) I love this tool for re-targeting any kind of motion from any rig, to any other rig. Sure you can use Motion Builder which is what max users are forced to do, but when it's in your tool of choice and can be smoothly integrated into your workflow and you can script around it, well that's just gravy.

    Max has biped and CAT. CAT is flexible and fast at making custom non-bipedal  but it has an IK spine. I love biped, it's brilliant, bullet proof, never has an issue with gimbal blends motion clips onto any other biped beautifully and has IK/FK at the same time without visual clutter and a bunch of convoluted switches. But you better play by their rules or go pound sand because if you think you want to add to either system, you're kidding yourself. Port motion to or from any other rig that isn't already within that system, that's going to take some heavy lifting. The main problem with Biped and CAT is because they do their jobs so well, it kept Max from developing the necessary rigging tools that Maya has had for a really long time. The kinds of tools that let you build rigs that have a lot of great customized features specific for your game and particular animation workflow. You can rig in Max and there are some awesome riggers that use max but they end up creating a lot of what should be inside of max, but isn't. 

    MaxScript has a quick visual layout tool to create rollouts, menu's, buttons, sliders and all kinds of UI bits quickly and easily. Drag drop, re-size, reorder, rearrange, its very quick. It's showing its age and doesn't work with a lot of max's newer UI initiatives, but it's incredibly fast and saves a lot of time. It's a great way to get your scripts a quick UI to start from as you build something better that is more flexible. I can push the finished scripts to artists and animators quickly, without having to spend another day or two fucking with UI code. It also lets you iterate quickly and because it's easy to change there is less friction to move things around and you get better end results. Maya needs this, badly. Writing a UI interface shouldn't be the bulk of the time it takes to write a script. I only hope that there is some kind of visual tool out there that I don't know about... I haven't found one yet.

    bla... I've gotta go to work I could keep going for days.
  • 1813
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    1813 vertex
    I'll be honest. I love max with a passion.

    However i had to switch to Maya sometime ago and the program is a little rough on the edges but that's for good reason, some of the workflow is just really fast and other arena's it isn't.

    Also, I did talk with a person from Autodesk who does the bulk of the programming for Maya and he mention that anything of use was being moved into Maya but max will always be around because of architectural reasons as max can do things that Maya just can't do.

    Still. I'd learn both. The program is pretty simple to use and they both have advantages. The other reason if your working in the industry you'll be expected to learn theses programs to work to the studios workflow. Hell, I know a friend who had to stop using Max and start using blender because that's what the studio used.

    Enjoy!
  • Najo
    Speaking of modelling, although I've learned a Maya in my school, I would say 3Ds max is more comfortable than Maya when I modeled something. Fortunately, I did an internship at some game company last semester, I learned a 3Ds max because the company, which I worked uses 3Ds max. In my humble opinion, the modelling function of 3Ds max is more accessible to beginner user who has just stared 3D. 

    Thanks
  • Mr Whippy
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    Mr Whippy polycounter lvl 5
    Max's UV editor, its trash, complete garbage, which is a symptom of the overall disjointed and fragmented UI scheme that both suffer from but it's pretty apparent in max's UV editor.
    Convert edge selection to polys, not like you would in edit poly. You get to solve a word puzzle tucked into a menu, hoo-fuckin-ray. Switching between UV channels? Decypher the cryptic message and win a prize. Select the border edges of a shell, nope, that would be helpful, we don't want that. To top it off it's modifier dependent and easily screwed up if you go down the stack. Non-destructive stack? Skinned mesh? Morphers? Animating UV's? Go down the stack and make any change and still expect your UV's to be there? Nope.
    You have two options:
    1) Collapse it and hope you can set that all back up again.
    2) Go down the stack and hope to find a place you can insert a UV modifier and collapse to. Praying that it doesn't affect the higher stack.
    So much for leveraging "the power of the stack". Thanks UV modifier... fuckin make it a mode already, jeezus.

    It's a shame because I hopped onto Max (a revelation from 3DS DOS) just as it started moving and I loved it. I still do. Like you I find it's an indisposable tool box that lets you get jobs done.

    But these kinds of problems just shouldn't exist. AD have the money to make this right, yet in isolation nearly all the Max tools have superior and reasonably priced software competitors elsewhere.

    I'd definitely be learning Modo and Blender and all those types of softwares right now as they're where Max was 20 years ago. A small independent wanting to take over the entire market, not a huge corporate monster wanting to take all your money.
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