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Taros

Please stop developing 3D-Coat (for a while...)

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An open letter to Andrew.

Andrew, some years ago you have worked with 3D-Coat yourself and created a nice personal project. It was a 3D sculpture of an ant animal.

While this small personal project you have realised how well your own product work and where it stuck or make it really hard to work with. You have learned a lot and improved some important workflows and fixed bugs within this time. At the time it was your personal project experience with your own tool that pushed 3D-Coat a lot. More than every user post in the forums.

I'm a professional user and I don't bet for brand new features here or a faster tool. It't much easier:

My personal request: Andrew, please stop developing 3D-Coat, not forever but just for a while.

Stop programming 3D-Coat for one or two weeks and take some time to create a new own project in 3D-Coat. Just for you. Close all doors and don't talk to someone of the communiy. I'm shure this will give you the needed distance to the development and I am shure it will open you some really big issues in your great tool. I know you have a lot of work and the team grew, but it would change a lot if you would do this. You don't need pages of community threads to see what is wrong with 3D-Coat. Just use your tool. Try to find a project where the most features of your app will be needed.

I am writing this, because it's still possible. Pilgway is a small and friendly team, where people get feedback fast and directly from the leads. This is not something natural in the industry.

The 3D-Coat users have still really big problems in different areas while working with 3D-Coat. Crashes are not rare, tools are broken and basic functions like an undo are still missing in a lot of areas. This is a fact since years.

After a longer brake (About one year) I've implemented 3D-Coat into my current client project. After some hours of work in 3D-Coats paint and UV room it was like a deja vu for me. A bunch of old problems still exists and 3D-Coat feels like an alpha tool. Sadly for me this recognition is nothing new - and nothing nice, too. Because I know 3D-Coat like this since I am working with it. And I am one of the first users. I bought 3D-Coat when it was called "3D-Brush". This is more than 10 years ago.

Some time ago I've bought Allgorithmics tools, too. They became industry standard so it was a must for me as a professional to use their package. My clients asked for it too. So I know what happens in the industry. 3D-Coat still has some really great and important features, where other tools are still dreaming of. Some of the features are simple paint functions like afterward mirror copy or multiple object painting - somethnig completely normal for 3D-coat users but day dreams for others. 3D-Coat shows always what could be possible.

So please try to get your time, Andrew. Please USE your own tool. Forget coding for some weeks and you will feel the same pain we feel very often.

My letter sounds maybe a bit harsh, but it's the truth. I respect all the developers work and love some new implementations like instant meshes. But it's really time for a stable tool with a correct working undo function and a lot more that feels like started but not finished.

I will still do my work with 3D-Coat, like the most time. But I will do it as long as I will not get the same features in other tools that became better slowly.

Best wishes
Chris

PS: For everybody who don't know me. I am working since over 10 years with 3D-Coat and know what I'm talking about. Some of the todays features of 3D-Coat are based on my ideas and a collaboration with Andrew. I'm an official trainer for 3D-Coat too and have translated the german version of the tool. The mantis bug tracking was an idea of mine too, but for any reason everybody seem to like chaos more and use the forums for bug posts since years... But I've accepted it. :)

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Just now, Taros said:

 The mantis bug tracking was an idea of mine too, but for any reason everybody seem to like chaos more and use forums since years... But I've accepted it. :)

There is good points in your letter. I have been also a little bit dissapointed that Andrew is not so active in mantis anymore. I reported couple very easy to fixs bugs into mantis and they are still there.

But I do think that mantis is a good system. I checked that almost all "crash reports" are resolved. I see that a lot  "major reports"  are also resolved. 

I don't ask that Andrew have to fix all bugs right now but for example taking one day from his week to resolve reports in mantis system wouldn't be just a bad idea.    

Edited by haikalle
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I have been saying this from day 1 of using 3dcoat. thus is why I have moved on to learn other software . This type of business model is not good and when I see it I know to not waste my time on it. This Boat has so many leaks below deck but just keeps adding new cannons and eye candy up top which in turn adds more holes. I can easily see why people move on then come back years later and think surely it must be fixed by now Nope ... you get New Cannons .That is fine it is his software I only pay to use it. 

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Right now, Andrew is neck deep in Sculpt Layers...something many of us have been clamoring for, for YEARS, now. So, NO....DO NOT STOP developing right in the middle of a major feature. I agree that he should take quarterly breaks like Chris mentioned, and USE his own software for an in-depth project. One for sculpting. Another for Texture Painting and UV editing, etc. But not right in the middle of a major feature.

As for the complaints about the usability, that seems pretty overblown, IMO. I run into a bug here and there from time to time, but it's pretty darn stable overall, and most bugs I report via email, get addressed. I may have to remind Andrew, once in a while, but he is fairly responsive to BUGS. Feature requests is another matter entirely...I have to get in line and wait like everybody else.

So, if there are some longstanding bugs, send Andrew an email letting him know that they are bad enough to force you use another app, if that is indeed the case. One with a screen-recording explaining the problem and why it's urgent, will get a resolution quicker than just a complaint..."This sucks. I can't use 3DCoat. I'm outta here."

 

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Thank you for your answers.

All is right currently. I don't want to interrupt a running development right now. It's just a suggestion to get a better understanding of the users.

I know the mechanics of sending E-Mails or a direct chat. I know Andrew already a long time and we are in contact. If I see an urgent problem from a pro point of view, then I am the 1st who send a message to fix it and creates detailed docs about the issue. So this is not the problem. And as I said. I still need 3D Coat, because there are some unique workflows inside.

Beside my mention I would like to see a more intenisive use of mantis like Haikalle writes. But the community is forcing us to use the forums. The best way would be to have a small but professional testing party, that is independent of the big community and has priority and works organised. But this is not my decision of course.

Best wishes
Chris

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I checked some mantis reports and they still seams valid. I myself really like system like mantis because it keeps everything in order. Also there was a group of people who was rechecking bug reports and giving more details. I fitnessed many times how it helped Andrew to fix a bug just because there was 2 or more users giving information how to make a bug visible.

Only thing I question does feature requests belong to mantis. I myself don't like if feature requests and bug reports are too close to each other. I come from blender where these two are almost kept as far from each other as possible. Of course you can filter feature request out in mantis, but still I would like to wipe that part away from mantis.

But I hope mantis comes active again when 5.0 is released

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I understand you. But the problem is that I have several important pending tasks that should be finished. Sculpt layers, curves, GPU painting. 

But I understood your point. 

Actually sometimes I use Coat for own hobby tasks. But that are mostly sculpt projects. You mean probably really wide workflow.

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On 8/7/2018 at 7:50 PM, Andrew Shpagin said:

I understand you. But the problem is that I have several important pending tasks that should be finished. Sculpt layers, curves, GPU painting. 

But I understood your point. 

Actually sometimes I use Coat for own hobby tasks. But that are mostly sculpt projects. You mean probably really wide workflow.

Thank you for taking your time to drop some lines, Andrew. I really appreciate this.

Don't stop your current tasks. You are the one who knows the best what is important and what not. But if you see a way to take a creative break from the daily work then do it. It's already important you use 3DC in your sparetime. I know, you have a regular life and there are kids, the family and a wife who needs time too. :)

And about your question: Yes, I mean different workflows. I am using 3D Coat for a wide range of different challenges. Following some example workflows I use and where I have problems (Actually I have issues in 3D Coat the most time and in many areas, but whatever...)

Here are a few ideas for workflow tests to be focused on, I am shure there are more. Actually the list represents nearly all features... Andrew, you don't need to do it yourself but it could be a way for your inhouse testers (I hope you have someone?!).

1. The sculpting-retopo workflow

In this workflow I get bugs while sculpting, like voxel artefacs, or V<->S mode conversion bugs. Several undo functions for tools are not completely implemented e.g. Organising UVs in Retopo room produce stretched polys sometimes. Unwrapping creates strange results with bended islands.

What to do:

  1. Sculpt in voxels AND surface mode with subobjects.
  2. Create layer copies. Use boolean functions, do it with invisible layers... Group objects not just for organising - WORK with groups!
  3. Retopo the sculpted results manually. See how the retopo room works.
  4. Create auto UVs in the retopo room.

2. The painting workflow

Painting in 3D-Coat is something I do a lot because there are not many good tools and 3D-Coat is the most underrated 3D-painting app in the market in my opinion. The most people are talking about unwrapping or voxels regarding 3D-Coat. Even if the painting part of 3DC got no real improvements within the last years, it is one of the strongest you can get. "Trendy" tools like Mari or Substance Painter have not the usability and functionality like 3D-Coat in many areas. But I am neutral. The mentioned apps are getting better and have already some very nice features I miss in 3D-Coat too. So I like the others and because of working professional I combine my work if possible. But to be honest: I would like to stay in one app...

What to do:

  1. Import a "regular" third party app model (OBJ e.g.). Use an object from blender or your preferred 3D app, like 3dMax or Maya. Try to use a complex model that came with several material IDs, own UVs, multiple UVsets or subobjects. Don't work with realtime models only, try to use render models that are far bigger than 100k polys and more.
  2. Bake textures.
  3. Organise and work with PBRs. Its a mess in 3D-Coat. The PBR instancing system in 3D-Coat is something really hard to understand for an artist. Did you never asked an artist to help you develop it? (Seriuosly, before developing something new, use inofficial ways and contact professional artists to make collaborations before open your ideas to the community.)
  4. Paint, paint paint! Use the painting tools. (The most still have some really hard workflow issues in combination with projections e.g.)
  5. Try to create presets. Presets are something of the most underrated features, especially by beginners and inexperienced users.
  6. Work with big brushes etc.

Conclusion

I better stop here. You see I could write an endless list of things or workflow combinations just I use myself very often. So it's important to look for a different solution:

I think it would be a big help if Pilgway would think about the idea to create a small group of active 3D-Coat professionals, who support 3D Coat independent of the official forum users. You could ask other popular professional artists too. Offer them 3D-Coat for free to support you and make the tool better. Call it a "special task force" that works "quite" in the background if you like. This could result in payed services, because not everyone do services completely for free, but why not to think about payed professionals who really help?

The organisation of this people should be managed by one Admin at Pilgway and a system like mantis or what you prefer. And the most important: The group size should not be bigger than 3 - 5 users. That is completely enough. A few professionals are better than an army of fanboys who suck your energy... (Before I will be sentenced: I am a "professional" 3D-Coat fanboy since years!)

It's not important to offer an intensive support, it's more important to be effective. Better post one important issue once a month than commenting other user posts three times a day.

Maybe this is an idea before v5 release? Ok I have to work now too... :)

Best wishes
Chris

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He should stop some weeks in the year, and keep some months fixing bugs only to make 3D coat lot more stable.

Many times i got 3D coat crash because some things are not stable enough or memory usage is not well managed when 3D coat starts to use more than the computer can handle.

There is many bugs in symmetry, retopo symmetry, and many other small things that broke the projects i was doing forcing me to switch to other software for some projects.

I prefer 3D coat with less features and more tested and stable instead.

 

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I spend 70% on bugfix and 30% on development approximately. Right now - the phase of development. But in the middle I make a lot of bugfixing.

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I''m still in the moving stage but do stop in when I can to check up on how things are going.

Yes, keep development going, Very important features coming for version 5. Long time user here and in agreement with AbnRanger, I find 3DC stable enough. Are there some bugs, true and since the program with the new features and bug fixes get rolled into the new betas, I expect some bugs till the development team has time to fix them. 

I do like the quarterly suggestion for the future say after version 5 is released. Once every three months do some deep bug fixing. 

Using 3DC since late 2007 and still one of the most used applications on my computer. Starting to get 3DC withdraws and it will be months before I can return to using a computer full time.

 

 

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Let me suggest once again that adding Python as a programming language for 3rd party plugin development would greatly accelerate the development of new functions as well as the search and repair of bugs.

I think the development team would have to prioritize embedding of the Python interpreter as a priority.  

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Honestly, I'd even suggest NOT using 3D Coat for awhile... try some of other software out there. Substance Painter, Zbrush, Blender...ect  Sometimes its good to walk away from what you know to see what else is out there and how they approach certain tasks, or design features a certain way.

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20 minutes ago, RabenWulf said:

Honestly, I'd even suggest NOT using 3D Coat for awhile... try some of other software out there. Substance Painter, Zbrush, Blender...ect  Sometimes its good to walk away from what you know to see what else is out there and how they approach certain tasks, or design features a certain way.

Honestly, I'd suggest NOT posting here, telling people to walk away from 3DCoat. If you want to use something else, that is certainly your prerogative, but telling other people to do likewise on a company's own forum, is very rude and wrong. Andrew is finally implementing Sculpt Layers and is totally revamping the Curves system, so it's actually a pretty exciting time to be using 3DCoat. Sculpt layers, even in a beta state, is a game-changer, because it lets me do things I simply could not before, and to be able to add LiveClay tessellation after sculpting a layer is something you cannot do in ZBrush or Mudbox. 

I and many others have been waiting on this feature for years, plus, he constantly bugfixes, even when working on major features. When you have an Open Beta instead of leaving users in the dark for a full year or more, then random bugs will be a tradeoff. That goes for any Beta software. Modo has a beta release of ProRender and it's very buggy. Sometimes, it's good to walk away from a forum you know, to keep from purposefully poisoning people's opinion of the software.

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@AbnRanger I think he meant Andrew should take a look at competing software to gain inspiration for how to revise and streamline 3D-Coat.

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1 hour ago, PolyHertz said:

@AbnRanger I think he meant Andrew should take a look at competing software to gain inspiration for how to revise and streamline 3D-Coat.

It certainly sounds like he was talking to the users, here, since he mentioned walking away. It's not possible for Andrew to "walk away and use other software" as he's the Captain of the ship, fixing all the bugs, daily and adding all the many features people ask him for, everyday. Having someone in his office with experience using the major competitors' software, would be a better option.

I have shown him (or linked to videos showing) how certain features work in ZBrush and/or Mudbox, so he is aware of them.

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The problem this software has is ignorance. I fully agree with Chris. If the developer fail to see, it won’t take long and they will loose ( if not already) to the competition. 

Ignorance, seriously. I am using 3dcoat and zbrush since it’s first release. I am not only artist but also supervisors and art director. I lead cinematic projects for over 20 years worked with more artists than you can imagine. Non of the professionals I worked with used 3dcoat. I tried convincing them several times but failed. Just like Chris says, we are coming back only to find that old bugs are still not fixed. 

that bloody space menu opens up and you can keep hunting the the tools. It was mentioned before. Not fixed. That curve edit arrow thing that always opens accidentally? Mentioned before still annoying. 

Reading the comments again... ignorance 

Back to the drawing board..

 

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I wanna add, looking at the past and doing a little thinking, it is easy to assume that another company might already work on a voxel  based Programm because they saw the potential 3dcoat has. 

I know I would certainly do it if I had the resources.

Also speaking about ignorance, how fast did substance become industry standard? Instantly!

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I'm just going to put in my 2c here; I think feature wise 3D-Coat is great overall (other then the lack of traditional paint masks...), but the UI needs to be redone from scratch. Right now each 'room' works almost like a separate program, but I firmly believe the UI should just be a series of preset button layouts for a single room, and be fully user customizable. But even if we can't have that, the items in each menu should at least be in ABC order.

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12 minutes ago, PolyHertz said:

I'm just going to put in my 2c here; I think feature wise 3D-Coat is great overall (other then the lack of traditional paint masks...), but the UI needs to be redone from scratch. Right now each 'room' works almost like a separate program, but I firmly believe the UI should just be a series of preset button layouts for a single room, and be fully user customizable. But even if we can't have that, the items in each menu should at least be in ABC order.

I can understand why he might keep Voxel and triangulated meshes, separated from the original low poly mesh, as it becomes a completely different mesh type or object type. However, I have appealed to Andrew to consolidate the Paint and Retopo meshes, so that there is no longer a need to copy meshes from one workspace to the other, like it's a separate app. This way, when you bake, you bake to the same mesh...not a copy. It also simplifies the whole app, especially for new users.

It would eliminate the confusion of which room one has to use to do UV's in. It also would make mesh editing simple for models one may be texture painting. Basically the Retopo room would be like the Tweak Room...just different tools working on the same mesh. It would also allow the Tweak Room to be removed. This would be the closest thing to what you are asking for, that I could see Andrew doing.

As for the ABC order, I don't personally see the benefit in that as I don't recall seeing menus in listed in Alphabetic order in other apps I use. Don't recall 3ds Max having them listed that way, as an example. However, I have asked Andrew repeatedly about making TOOL GROUPS in the Sculpt room especially, to consolidate like brushes into their own group, just like Photoshop and some other apps, where you see a little triangle in the lower right part of the button, telling you there are other, related tools available in a fly-out menu. 

So, for instance, the Rapid and Rapid 2, Mud and Mud2, Scratches and Scratches2 brushes could be consolidated. Likewise for the FILL and LUTE brushes. Clay and Build are virtually identical, with "Buildup" unchecked on the Clay brush. So, those two could be groups and the Extrude, Absolute and perhaps Gum brush could all be grouped.

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@AbnRanger

Yea for a single universal room to work there would also need to be a universal outliner. Depending on which type of object is being edited different tools would be set to an enabled/disabled state (disabled = greyed out).

For ABC order, you're right that Max doesn't do that, but it does do a rather good job of grouping everything logically. I only really brought that up because of the mess that is the Windows > Popups menus: https://i.imgur.com/Tw35udX.jpg

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Regarding ignorance. I have (say) 10-15 requests per week. But I (and team) can't physically make more than 3 requests. So 7-12 rest is ignorance...

Please understand me, I am trying day and night.

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8 minutes ago, Andrew Shpagin said:

Regarding ignorance. I have (say) 10-15 requests per week. But I (and team) can't physically make more than 3 requests. So 7-12 rest is ignorance...

Please understand me, I am trying day and night.

Andrew I know. You always answer my emails which is unprecedented support, and look I am still here.  Because I like your belief system and where you are coming from. The thing is you are getting  yourself this requests by implementing more and more unpolished features instead of making exisitng features rock solid. I said it for years. UI needs to be cleaned up. It’s a mess. You need to work very closely with professionals. 

This software can be polished and I have no doubt. So the stop developing thing for me would be more like a, stop and go back to the drawing board. Invite professionals and get their ideas. All you need is 3 good people. No community. 

 

Vito

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Just to balance things out a little, I am highly pleased with the development of this program and am amazed by the fact that it is done by such a small number of people. I recently revisited ZBrush for a few days and it gave me a renewed appreciation for how much better it is to be a 3D Coat user.

Having said that, I do agree that some simplification of the rooms workflow and modernization of the UI would probably improve the overall perception of the app, and help new users to be successful with it.

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3 hours ago, Wizardkiss said:

Just to balance things out a little, I am highly pleased with the development of this program and am amazed by the fact that it is done by such a small number of people. I recently revisited ZBrush for a few days and it gave me a renewed appreciation for how much better it is to be a 3D Coat user.

Having said that, I do agree that some simplification of the rooms workflow and modernization of the UI would probably improve the overall perception of the app, and help new users to be successful with it.

Yeah, the previous comment about the UI being a mess is highly exaggerated. Yes, there are some things that need to be improved. I think Andrew will probably address some of that prior to the V5 release. What is a mess is ZBrush's UI, IMHO. I never could stand it's foreign UI. If you look at Blender 2.8's New UI enhancements, it makes it look a lot like 3D Coat and Modo. Workspace tabs on the top. Tool Panel on the left and Attributes on the right side. 

Consolidating the Paint and Retopo Meshes will help simplify the UI and overall workflow, so I hope Andrew gives it a try at least by the early V5 (post release, if not before)

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