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I've am a developer whose has spent most of my programming life developing web and business applications. I want to try my hand at something more challenging (but stay in the comfort of Visual Studio) ...perhaps XNA.

Want 3D modeling software would be best for someone developing XNA?
I have played with 3d MAX and Maya but never really did anything too involved.
What are the pros and cons between them (in terms of game development)?
Does one win out over the other for game development?

Or is it pretty much just preference?

I am new to game development and just trying to figure out the best tools to use before I really started. Any advice or other suggections would be greatly appreciated.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by bummzack, Byte56 Jul 9 '13 at 13:19

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

If you're new, do you really want to be spending thousands on modelling tools? Would something like Blender be an option as well here, or are we talking professional/money no object? – The Communist Duck Dec 1 '10 at 15:51
Right now it is just a hobby but I do work at a place where I could probably get whatever software I want. This question is phrased in this way because the only experience I have had in the past has been in Maya and 3D max. Maybe I should change the question to just 'what is the best 3D model software for someone new to game development?' – Kenneth J Dec 1 '10 at 16:15
Voting to close as a "Which technology should I use?" question, which has since become off topic. – doppelgreener Oct 27 '12 at 23:57
I'm a undergraduated student in "Game development" and I say: Does not even matter the software in question, but your creativity and talent. Do not limit yourself by the tool, keep it in your mind and walk step by step, conquering territory by territory and when you notice, you will a 3D master. – user32899 Jul 9 '13 at 4:25
None of these, use Blender. – Gustavo Maciel Jul 9 '13 at 5:48

This question has been beaten to the ground and then some. You will find many threads online discussing the same things. In the end, they will both give you a format that you will read, whether it be fbx, or obj or something else. The general concensus is that 3Ds Max is used for games, but I have seen/heard both being used in the industry as long as the pipeline supports it. I personally prefer Maya, but that does not mean it is better.

There are loaders out there for obj, fbx etc. for XNA, which Maya/3DsMax/XSI/Modo/Lightwave/Blender etc. can export to (or you can write your own). What are you comfortable with? Go with that!

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wow Canada has google now... – Kenneth J Dec 1 '10 at 4:35
@Kenneth J- Sherlock, you have solved another mystery. – DMan Dec 3 '10 at 0:28

My 2c (worked as professional 3d modeler/animator)

  • For getting into the industry, I'd advice Max or Maya. May be best is to master one of those, though have some familiarity with the other, so you can get put up to speed in a company that uses the other with no big issues. 3D is 3D, so you'll be able once gained expertise with one.

  • Blender is getting better and better. In features anda capabilities is yet behind, but if going for small/middle game studio, or video production, local TV studio, freelancing, etc, etc, is a really good thing, but its GUI standards are a bit different from the rest. I am a blender user that worked hard with 3ds Max before.

  • Maya is used by animation companies, but also big console (PS3, etc) studios are using Maya. Not only for its better animation capabilities, but for Mel script and interaction allowed inside the team's pipelines. Those were worked hard through years, rarely they would move to another thing.

  • Max is inmensely used in games production. I prefer it, but I'd say is 50% usage between Maya and Max, probably even more Maya.(Max ruled during some time, in games)

  • Max learning can be a bit easier than Maya or Blender. Probably the hardest to learn is XSI, requires an special mindset, but its workflow seems well thought. And its renderer is great, photon based, and allowing partial viewport, dynamic rendering.(and one of the greatest hair simulations in the market)

  • For rendering, XSI is best, Max and Maya have worse default renderers, but usually one uses plugged in external renderers (commercial or not) . For prerrendered games is ok tho scanline rendering, often.

  • Advantages of going with one of these (both are great to go) are, apart of being able to do anything is that you could get into the indyustry one day, if unemployed. But will be 3500, 6000 dollars to purchase one.

  • Blender (Wings3D is great as a modeler only, also) is free, on the other side ;) But for now, rarely any studio will pick you if not mastering Max or Maya.

(there are always more niche like tools, Cinema 4D (largely used in architecture), Lightwave (great modeler, also ok for animating), used in series like Babylon 5)

(XSI also, but been purchased by Autodesk, too, so, dunno...)

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What 3D modeling software would be best for someone developing XNA?

If you are just starting out and want to build some models I might suggest something like Blender. Since it will allow you to freely build some content as you are learning to work with 3D.

At the end of the day you'll likely be importing the models into your game either through the .fbx or .obj format so you can switch to one of the paid modeling packages once you feel more comfortable.

I have played with 3d MAX and Maya but never really did anything to involved. What are the pros and cons between them (in terms of game development)? Does one win out over the other for game development?

Both are used in game development. In general animators tend to prefer Maya, character modelers go either way since these days they are often spending time in zbrush or mudbox, and scenary/architecture modelers tend to prefer Max.

Both software packages have their quirks but since Autodesk owns them all now (including XSI) so they are mostly at feature parity. Play with the demos of both and figure out which you like the best.

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Between the two, I feel that 3ds Max is easier to learn, as the workspaces, panels, and shelves in Maya may be very confusing if you are just starting out with 3D modeling. The important thing is that you need to learn 3D modeling, not how to us program X. The disciplines that go with modeling are transferable between any modeling package, so if you feel it it is necessary or are curious of different workflows, it will be easy to get up and running a lot quicker. In addition to the 30 day trials Autodesk offers for their programs, the offer free 3-year licenses to students at Autodesk Education .

If you decide to go the Maya route, I recommend checking out Digital Tutors as they have lessons that deal specifically with using Maya and XNA together (they also have tons of other great tutorials on getting you up and running, with game modeling specific lessons, in whatever 3D package you decide on).

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I always preferred the interface of Lightwave, personally. I would also not discount Blender. The interface is really off-putting in my opinion, but once you learn the shortcut keys and figure out what's what, Blender is pretty fantastic, free, and well supported with tons of scripts to extend its feature-set.

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Pick one and stick with it (by trying both out for a simple task) - both are fully capable and will do anything you'd want to do just starting out. Furthermore, as you learn more about general techniques you'll be able to go between modeling software packages with less of a learning curve.

The most important thing to remember is not to get hung up for too long on what technologies you're using in your quest to start out with game development.

For the record, I've only used Maya extensively, but I really like it.

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As said before, both packages will let you do what needs to be done. Neither is better off the shelf for someone starting out, but you may find one more intuitive than the other. I personally prefer 3DSMax but you may not. They both have a 30 day free trial, so you might as well try both for 30 days and see which one feels better after that.

I know many game devs have used 3DSMax in the past, but I do believe other packages, including Maya, have started to gain a foot hold in the industry. I must point out that learning how to model and texture is package independent. Its the same concepts, just different buttons.

One thing to perhaps consider is that both packages have custom scripting languages you can use, but Maya also allows you to use Python for scripting. This may or may not be relevant but if you already know python and you have no other deciding factors, this may be a deciding point.

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