Home Interview

Xoliul Shader 2: "The Second Coming"

The ever-popular Xoliul Shader has now been given an overhaul and we talked to the geniuses responsible for it's awesomeness. Laurens and Robbert-Jan have been hard at work and what they're come up with will surely be a huge asset to everyone here at Polycount. As always, Xoliul Shader 2 is going to be completely free but given how amazing the tool I urge to donate to them via PayPal!


Hamish: What inspired you to update your Xoliul Shader? Obviously it's a huge personal investment!

Laurens: I've had the idea for a long time, ever since I saw this video about scripted shader interfaces from Far Cry 2 and read an article about them on Gamasutra. It always seemed like the next step forward for my Shader.

As for the personal investment, for me it's always been about having fun with technical challenges. I just do this because I enjoy thinking and writing tools that make my work look better or easier. Sharing it with the community and getting all this great feedback is an added.bonus that also really drives me. Let me add that this would never have happened without Robbert-Jan, as he's done most of the Maxscript work on this new version!

Robbert-Jan: For me it all started with my final exam project for maxscript at school. I was looking for a great maxscript tool idea and at some moment I was talking with Laurens about it. He asked if I wasn't interested making a Xoliul Shader 2 with him. He wanted something with a lot more usability for the artist and some extra features to make it more enjoyable to work with. That sounded like a great challenge because I really believe that good designs can make a big difference on helping an artist.


H: What can users be excited to see in your new shader?

R-J: Probably the ease of use. The UI is a totally new look, designed for more usability and efficiency.

L: Yeah like Robbert-Jan says, ease of use. That was our number on priority, how do we make it easier, quicker, more obvious. Even expert users sometimes surprised me by saying they had no idea a certan function existed or was possible, we're trying to iron those things out.


H: When can we expect to be able to download the new version?

L: Hard to tell, should be within 1-2 weeks. The shader itself is pretty much done, but we're doing a website, videos and even a big help file. I want to get all of that in order, so we can have the smoothest launch possible.

R-J: Yes, possibly next week. As long as those riots do not come to my home :D


H: How much will users need to pay?

L: It will be completely free. We're still thinking about optional donations to cover the cost of the hosting however.

R-J: This project has been more about helping out other artists, creating a nice portfolio piece, gaining experience with maxscript and having fun. The script will also be unencrypted, so people can check out our code and hopefully learn some things.


H: What benefits does your shader have over others like 8Monkey Labs or 3PT Shader?

L: Good question. Marmoset has really evolved a lot and has become a powerful complete application, but I personally prefer to minimize the use of external applications that require exporting. With my shader, you can just keep everything in Max without any hassle of exporting. Compared to 3Point, I would say it's the fact that we're offering it for free. Most core shader features are equal, but we also have some fun extras like Shaded Hue, Half Lambert, procedural reflections and soft shadows.

R-J: Because we're not encrypting it, people can look in the code and see how everything works. So you can see it as a learning tool.


H: Do you have any plans to bring your shader to other software packages?

L: Hmm, doubtfully. I'm not as well versed with, for example, MEL as with Maxscript, and considering it took more than half a year for two guys to make the 3DS Max version, it's unlikely.

R-J: Not really. The focus now is polishing it more and listening to requests of people. I prefer making this a solid tool then concentrating myself on other software packages.


H: Can we expect that you've got other plans for the shader? What kind of features would you like to work eventually include?

L: We're really trying to put our all in it now, to deliver a version that is very complete. But a lot of future features depend on what the users would like to see! I am however, toying with the idea to perhaps give my post-shaders a bit of an update, as I always feel they've been overlooked.

R-J: I would like to implement a gradient Light Color feature. This would give the artist more control by just loading a bitmap with some gradient colors and then creating your own look based on that bitmap.


Huge thanks to Robbert-Jan and Laurens for the interview - I'm sure you'll agree it's guys like this that keep the Polycount community moving forward! And again, if you have some spare change when this tool gets released, send these guys a beer via PayPal for all their hard work. They've definitely earned it.

We'll keep you up to date on the release of Xoliul Shader 2 - watch this space!


Sign In or Register to comment.