SideFX is pleased to announce that Houdini Engine Indie is now available for free (previously $99). Independent game devs and CG artists can now freely load Houdini Digital Assets built using Houdini’s procedural node-based workflow into apps such as Unity, UE4, Maya and Cinema4D.
So basically there's Houdini to create complex procedural assets (not free), and then a plugin to inject these into a game engine, itself called "Engine" (this plugin was formerly not free, and now free for "indies"). Is that right ?
Dirt cheap if you are indie.
I agree there is communication problems. I didn't really understand it until I started using it.
I just don't quite see the point of sugar coating pricing models, it's not as if someone is going to get tricked into buying the product just because of an announcement anyways. I just wish Autodesk ("We listenend to your feedback ! Our OBJ export limits are now slightly less dumb !") and SideFX would stop using these kinds of antiquated marketing tactics - they're not selling laundry detergent and they are not fooling anyone. And as you said it only creates confusion for people potentially interested in the program but not yet familiar with it.
(Also and on a side note, someone/a studio going "indie" is by definition careful with money and spending, therefore I wouldn't quite call that "dirt cheap" either. After all, that's a bout 30 meals ...)
The only benefit I see is that my company could now look more into Houdini, as we have the roadblock out of the way that if we develop some cool Houdini Maya or Unity tool, then at least we don't suddenly have to buy tons of Houdini Engine licenses when we chose to deploy it to our many teams.... EXCEPT, we're no indie. We're an outsourcer, and we don't have a big money vault like some of our clients do.
Really, the decision to make that engine commercial to begin with baffles me to no end.
Anyway very glad to see this it's a big step in the right direction and will hopefully open up the possibility of shipping Houdini assets in final products.
The marketing communication from SideFX is always pretty vague, but that is to be expected from a company that spends all their resources on development and support.
To simply put it,Houdini lets you create tools that are exportable in many softwares with the help of the Houdini Engine.
These assets are like plugins.Someone created a Mesh Fusion like asset for Max,Maya and C4D and shared it for free as an asset :
As you can see,these are not just assets like you know them but super smart tools that work across many softwares.
This Mesh Fusion asset can also be made compatible with the Unreal Engine,which is crazy.
Couldn't agree more.The flexibility of this software is just waaay ahead the competition,and with the Houdini Engine tech artists can create a single tool that work on many software,which is great especially when artists from different softwares (Max,Maya) come and ask the same thing.
With that said,i think SideFX has been working really hard recently at communicating with game artists,and should keep doing so to let them see how awesome of a tool Houdini is !
Where is the video presentation telling me in one minute or less why I should be interested in the product, showing me practical examples and content I could use right away ?
They need to explain what their tool is for and what it can do. By now most people know that "Houdini can do some cool procedural stuff" but they need to show it in a way that relates to the game artists who have almost zero time on their hands to tinker with something outside of their area of expertise.
A hint : if they showed a demo of some sort of groundbreaking, game-compatible hair strips generation tool, everybody here would be downloading it in a heartbeat to play around with it.
Another hint : what about a tool specialized in level design / greyboxing ?
Or another : some kind of animation sequencer / realistic body behavior solution like what is seen in GTA/Skate ?
Or a flow map generator helping us with the authoring of anisotropic effects ?
And so on !
Yes, they need it. But I lost my faith that they ever learn that, years ago.
But the problem also can be visible in their approach to UI creation. Take a look at a Principled Shader UI. I really can't understand what's the point of making section in the UI and then repeating those section names on a parameter names.
Or something like this
It's more of a toolbox for making your own solutions.
If you made any of those things you mention using Houdini, you could share it with anyone else. But more than likely if you work for an employer, they will want to keep that competitive advantage for themselves
@RYANB : yup, I am aware of that. I am not saying that it cannot do any of it, I am just saying that they are doing an awful job at explaining it. As said, a simple video would do ; but they could also put together interactive UE/Unity demos showing how great their tool can be.
The irony is that since I absolutely love non-destructive and procedural workflows I am 100% part of their target audience - yet so far they totally failed at convincing me of even downloading their trial (do they have one ?). And the fact that they are using confusing PR tactics to market their products only adds to that.
@Nodeway : that's kinda funny indeed I suppose that the video on convex splitting is related to collision optimisation ?
This video for example shows a really great tool that paints Ivy in vertex painted areas.
You can find many other stuff like this just by typing "Houdini Engine UE4" in Youtube.
I think that if SideFX hired 3d artists and technical artists from the game industry (like Allegorithmic or Quixel do) they would have a lot more people interested in the Houdini Engine and Houdini,which can be as revolutionary as the normal map when used by creative people.
@FANSUB I'm a VFX/animation guy and I often have to search around for far too long just to find the right vocabulary to describe in 'Games Terms' something that I know really well in 'VFX Terms', and at SideFX we often simply don't know what issues are most important to the games industry - so we really are relying on the community to help us get on the right track in games.
The games industry is becoming an important part of what we do so please keep an eye out for what we come up with in future releases.
@Pior SideFX has a license of Houdini called apprentice, that is basically an unlimited demo.
There are many issues that Houdini can address in the game industry,but listing them would be useless because they are very subjective.I think that SideFX right now only needs more game artists to showcase what they have been doing with the Houdini Engine and Houdini.
If there is more interesting content shared by artists then more artists will follow and SideFX will work more on the way it communicates with the game industry.Substance Designer became popular with the same approach and Allegorithmic kept publishing more interesting content based on the feedbacks of the userbase.
This is just a random suggestion,but SideFX can look at the most annoying stuff game artists have to deal with (texture baking,meshes being non editable in the game engine,UV creation,new workflow integrations) and look at how they can improve it,because Houdini is powerful enough to address most if not all the issues game artists have to go through.
It would be great if SideFX also did a contest or something like this in the game art subject.That would attract a lot of people and would also help you solve the most noticeable issues people had to go through.
There is room for a lot of improvements and SideFX has the advantage of not having any major competitor (Fabric Engine is getting close tho) so you guys just need to keep hard working like you always did and improve your communication toward game artists.
I agree...I've been thinking about the same things as I get more familiar with the games industry.
Next on my TODO list, after I finish collsion generator, there is a terrain cutting tool that will help prepare terrain for occlusion culling. I was working on terrain tools and at the begin of my R&D I found this nasty problem:
Right now it's easy to cut terrain on chunks, however if you have terrain that contains caves, and you cut a chunk, you can end up with part of the cave still loaded, even if it's not visible, just because it's part of this chunk. So you have to find a way to specify, before you cut terrain, which parts are visible from which point and then take this into account when cutting terrain and remove it from this chunk before you will export it. I made some investigation already and I think that I found solution for this problem.
And of course there are lightprobes in Unity that drives me crazy. That is also on my TODO list but I'm not sure yet how to solve this.
@Goldfarb, @Aabel : They don't need to be Autodesk, they just need to seriously rethink their website and probably split it into two - a presentation page, and a knowledge base. At the moment it is extremely busy, and even outdated as I am seing this :
Houdini Indie is designed for indie developers making up to $100K USD per year and can be used to create assets in the Houdini interface and load assets in the Unreal Engine Editor. Houdini Indie is available for $199 USD per year while Houdini Engine Indie is available for $99 USD and can only be used to load assets into UE4.
The text is outdated as the "engine" is now free, and it also inaccurate as it suggests that Indie allows to create assets, even though it has been mentioned in this thread that it is not something that it does. Similarly, calling their demo "apprentice" is pointless as it just makes it even more obscure.
I personally don't think that the Houdini guys necessarily need to come up with new game-related tools by themselves ; they just need to present the ones that have been created already, and clearly explain what it takes to get them up and running.
Taking the ivy generator as an example again : What does it take to get it running in UE4 ? What do I need to install it ? Can the asset remain procedural all the way until runtime, or is the game asset just polygons ? How can I use such a tool for my regular (non game) 3d work ? And so on.
And regarding new tools and attracting more game artists : all they need is to create a clear, straight to the point thread here on Polycount. If they maintain it well and do a good job at presenting their tools and solutions it will simply snowball from here and people will gladly contribute.
For instance they talk about how Houdini has been used on BigHero6. Well, if they can show a way for 3D artists to generate such effects for their 3d portfolio pieces, or, show a way for animators to use it inside a game engine (or directly in Max/Maya/Blender), 3d artists will flock to it in no time. To put things in perspective : one of my personal goals for the coming year is to get into Sverchok for Blender (an equivalent to Grasshoper), because I can tell just from looking at a screenshot that it will benefit me artistically. I'd love to know if Houdini (engine ? full ? demo ?) can do the same. All they really need is a bunch of jpgs spliced together
It can do a lot more than this.If you have a week-end someday and think you can spend it learning Houdini really quickly go for it.You can literally do some simple yet amazing stuff in a super short timeframe,and unlike Sverchok or Grasshopper if you make a nice text editor for your game in Houdini it can work on Maya,Max or UE4 or Unity.
All you have to do is have the Houdini Engine installed and literally just drag and drop a Houdini Digital Asset in your application.
as for Sverchok, if you're interested in these kinds of things please do take a look at Houdini (the demo is free and feature complete), I haven't really looked too hard at Sverchok to see the extent of it's abilities but I very much doubt it can do anything that Houdini can't do - and frankly, having seen a few of the tutorials it looks insane
a Houdini user named Rohan Dalvi has been reproducing C4Ds Mograph tools using Houdini - have a look at some of his tutorials https://vimeo.com/rohandalvi/videos you can see how Houdini could be used for some very abstract stuff.
If you have any specific questions about Houdini you can ask me, either here in the forums or PM etc. I'm genuinely interested in not only how Houdini is perceived by those who haven't used it but also the kinds of tasks the games industry would like to make faster/more efficient/easier etc
At the end of the day, the point I am trying to make here though is that SideFX shouldn't wait for potential users to come to them - they need to be proactive about showcasing and supporting their products. And there is no need to be as big as Autodesk to do that (as a matter of fact quite the contrary - AD is generally awful at PR, and the fact that their products are getting worse every year doesn't help their case ).
Some examples of good communication and support can be seen here :
and here :
The representatives of Sidefx also need to be clearly identifiable thanks to an introduction post or simply an avatar showing that they represent the company. For instance we've been discussing the release of the Engine here but there is no way to know if anyone in the thread is actually involved in it.
I hope this makes sense !
On a side note, another thing that really puzzles me is : why is the following buried at the very bottom of the product page ?
Houdini Apprentice is a free version of Houdini FX which can be used by students, artists and hobbyists to create personal non-commercial projects. It has a limited render size, a watermark on renderings and other minor limitations.
This is probably what you guys should be advertising first and foremost here. If you get people to use it for their personal projects/portfolio pieces, then naturally the product will progressively become popular and studios will want to get licences. This makes much more sense than advertising for the Engine which only allows to load existing assets. After all this time I personally had no idea that there was a demo, and that it only had light limitations. These limitations however need to be described VERY clearly. It could actually be argued that there is no point in it having any limitations whatsoever in the first place.
@PIOR thanks, I think it's a case of simply not knowing how to talk to the games world
But I think I can say that in the animation/VFX industry SideFX has a very good reputation when it comes to costomer support - I say that as someone who used Houdini in production for 15 years befor I joined the company.
As for SideFX representatives, I'm not in the marketing department and I'm not here as a representative of SideFX (yet)- just a guy trying to learn what he can - but I do know that reaching out to the games community is becoming a much higher priority for us, so I hope we can be forgiven some early stumbling
BTW. H15.5 is coming:
off topic - how do I add a signature to my posts? and how do I mark things as read?
Just couple links with tons of really good reference and inspiration. Pages of pages with art energy that is just SCREAMING from them.
That's for inspiration for you and the rest of odForce admins
This forum version that is right now is still work in progress, I think.
1. For signature, look up for head silluette icon. LMB on it and there will be EditProfile option. Once you will pick it, on right side you will see menu and last option is Signature Settings.
2. There is no mark as read. Right now you have message icon that new posts are in a topic visible on left in forum view + the bell icon (right of SHOP menu option) shows you new messages from topics to which you are subscripbed.
OffTopic - Whatever you do with new odForce forum style, don't follow Polycount style. It's a ergonomic nightmare since guys upgraded. And tell the same to guys responsible for new SESI forum.
It's going to take a little while for us to position ourselves in the games community
At the risk of repeating myself, it's really not that complicated - the game art world is extremely dynamic and open to new workflows. As soon as a tool with potential shows up it gets adopted very quickly if it offers innovative ways to do things faster than before. A very good place to start would be to simply create a thread here in Technical Discussion to clearly present your tools in their current state.
A few examples :
Xnormal came out of nowhere and became an instant industry standard for texture baking, even establishing a new technical specification in a field where there was none. Marmoset Toolbag also answered a precise need (game artists needed an environment to display high end art pieces) and became fully adopted in a matter of months. And so on.
However it also a very competitive environment : for a while Quixel DDO/NDO was the go-to solution for realistic game asset texturing, but it didn't take long for Substance to gain ground on them because their solution is more fluid and responsive, and above all more stable. Similarly, even if a program like Mari can operate on huge datasets, it is not going to gain ground for game art content creation because it is not responsive enough and therefore cannot keep up with the breakneck pace of game art.
I'd go as far as saying that the current bottleneck for game art is the way "traditional" 3D apps are way behind the times. The high visual quality of games today is 100% due to the innovation coming from apps like 3DCoat, Zbrush, Substance - all of which cost under 1k for a license. Max/Maya and the likes are pretty much dinosaurs unable to keep up.
One thing to also keep in mind is that game art content is not "low end CG" anymore. Game artists are now required to build models that rival and even surpass film content in terms of quality of execution. Meaning that speed of execution is paramount.
I hope this helps !
(If time allows I'll get in touch next month-ish for more specific questions)
Marketing isn't just a tool to shove annoying ads in your face and make a grab for the user's wallets. Used right it can spread awareness, aid adoption and build communities - which is something Houdini needs, in regards for game dev (SFX probably covered this for VFX already).
It's like Allegorithmic in 2012. They had an interesting product, but nobody was using it, and they had not very great assets to demo it and they struggled to demo reliable workflows, except showing some not so great Substances which weren't anywhere near photo real stuff you could do in PS. They main argument at this point was "It's powerful"! But when we looked at it we really struggled to see how we could fit it into our projects.
Their biggest win was getting a few of ND's artists on board who had more freedom (and maybe more of an imagination ). So many who spoke to Allegorithmic held back and were watching the progress of that partnership (or experiment?). And as soon as they had some kickass - game specific - stuff to show - assets that had a wow factor that wowed not just technical folks - Substance really took off. They really managed to work with the momentum from the "OMG ND is pioneering it!" by offering great deals to try it out (Steam), by engaging the community and by following up with another great product: Painter. Things took off once Substance had something concrete, applicable, demo-able that was generic enough to convince studios - with little to no imagination involved - that this could be immediately useful to them, without having to spend a lot of time on internal development and training with uncertain outcome.
Substance's biggest selling point today is pretty easily summed up: "Naughty is using it for all their stuff".
I know Houdini is powerful and established in VFX. But I agree with Pior that I just haven anything like this for AAA game dev yet, and that they better make a move and reach out to users. Thinking it will sell itself just from its popularity in VFX may be a mistake.
P.S. Houdini Apprentice is the same as Maya PLE in regards of limitations. Watermark, different file formats, etc. Users didn't touch PLE with a long stick. it's odd that SideFX didn't adjust their own indie/trial strategy when seeing the uselessness of its competitor's efforts. Except AD can afford it to have a shitty trial - what else are you going to use? Cinema 4D?
As many posts in this thread show, the games industry often demands ready-made tools. People say "Gimme a tool that solves a particular problem in my asset assembly line". Oh Naughty Dog is using a tool and it looks good? Cool, give me that.
From my limited experience, Houdini isn't a tool like Substance or XNormal or whatever. It is like a tool factory where you can make whatever kind of tool you want assuming you have the time and skills.
That difference is going to be hard for someone who doesn't dig into Houdini to understand.
Just wish I had an extra four hours a day to get up to speed with it.
Ouch, that's a bummer. I'll probably still try it anyways out of curiosity anyways ...
First off, thanks a lot for all the feedback, it's definitely appreciated. This kind of feedback is crucial to improving Houdini and making sure our community knows the details about licensing, difference in Houdini tools, benefits of using Houdini for game dev, educational resources, etc. Your feedback here has been heard and I will pass it on to the appropriate teams at SideFX.
Regarding the original purpose of this topic, Houdini Engine is the bridge that allows procedural asset controls set up in Houdini to work in tools like Unity and Unreal, and Houdini Engine Indie is now free for people/studios who fit into the under-$100K-revenue category. The main reason for this is to allow indies to work with Houdini assets without having to buy a Houdini Engine license. One example would be a level designer who uses Unity and works with a Houdini artist, but doesn't actually need to build stuff in Houdini itself. That level designer can now use Houdini Engine Indie to put Houdini assets into Unity without having to pay for it. If you want to build assets in Houdini you'll still need to buy a license though.
As part of the SideFX marketing team I can honestly say that we're doing our best to convey the necessary messages and we're not trying to trick or entice people with the word FREE. The feedback here regarding our marketing has been useful and we'll do our best to improve going forward. It hasn't been widely announced yet but SideFX is currently doing a major website redesign and the new website will do a much better job at making news announcements, pointing people to educational resources, explaining license differences, sharing the community's work, etc.
Finally, my job is to help you out however I can, so don't hesitate to PM me here or email me at ben[at]sidefx.com. If you're new to Houdini and would like to try out Houdini Indie for 3 months for free (without the limitations of Houdini Apprentice), just let me know. Also, if you're currently using Houdini for a game project, or you start using Houdini for a game project, I would love to talk to you about it. Overall, my goal is to help you be successful.
I'm looking at different aspects and am hesitant wether to use the in-editor (ue) Houdini Engine or not. It's quite a commitment/trust depending on project size so far so I'm experimenting out of project. Any feedback after integrating it in production would be appreciated.
As an indie or home user there's no question about it - if you can make basically any use of it, it's worth the money
When you're talking about larger studios licensing costs get pretty hard to swallow - the base license price is in the thousands and you need one for every concurrent active engine instance.
It's often more cost effective to write the tools you need from scratch in that situation