For most of my modelling needs during the development of Dare the Monkey I’ve been using Autodesk’s Maya. It’s an incredible piece of software but it’s also extortionate! Of course, there are plenty of cheaper 3D modelling packages out. For example, there’s Newtek’s Lightwave, which is half the price of Maya.
I do actually come from a Lightwave background and had toyed with going back to my roots and modelling everything using it. However, I’m so proficient in Maya these days that it really didn’t seem worth the effort. In fact, for me, using Maya was a no-brainer. Just take a look at the above engine wreckage model from one of my game’s levels and you’ll see that I’m more than comfortable modelling in it.
But let’s face it. Maya, and even more cost effective alternatives such as Lightwave are probably well beyond the budget of most small indie development teams. If you don’t have access to an existing 3D modelling package or you don’t have the budget for one of the bigger packages such as Maya or 3ds Max then what should you go for?
Luckily there is a fantastic free and open source 3D software package called Blender. It has been around for a while and is incredibly well supported. Just take a look at what it can do and did I mention that it’s completely FREE!?
There’s loads of learning material available on-line and the software has built up a great community around it. It doesn’t end with modelling either. Blender can fulfil almost all of your 3D needs including rigging, animation and sculpting.
So if you’re on a tight budget and you’re about to embark on your own indie game adventure then you should definitely check out Blender. It’s a great alternative to something like Maya and more importantly a great piece of software in its own right.