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Cinema 4D for Realtime Workflows / Game art Resources + (C4D vs Blender vs Max)


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As there is a severe lack of resources for cutting edge real-time asset creation workflows for C4d and as we use C4D for games I felt the need to give something back to the community, especially as it took me many years to learn how these things all work. (Link below)

Hopefully this helps other people and I hope MAXON will push more towards realtime modeling and baking workflows as real-time seems to be the future even for movies and VFX with the lines continually blurring, Plus it turns out that C4D surprisingly has very strong advantages in many areas over the typical real-time Modeling softwares (Blender, Max, Maya) nobody seems to know about in these circles.

 

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https://polycount.com/discussion/212367/cinema-4d-for-game-art-game-development-resources-c4d-vs-blender-or-max/p1?new=1

 

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Additional Notes:

 

C4D Has surprisingly many advantages over other software even for realtime / games and its smarter workflows can be leveraged for big advantages that were not so apparent at first, in our comparisons inhouse with Blender it did win strongly overall but is then sadly roadblocked by a couple of key issues:

 

- Lack of multi object UV editing (by far the biggest issue)

- Lack of Split Phong by UV splits (Essential for Baking, saves a lot of work)

- Lack of Face Weighted normals modifier (Popular and powerful current gen workflow - please add a angle based setting to Bevel modifier)

- Lack of Usable Internal Normal / Curvature Baker (not a must have tho but baking curvature could also aid the others / MoGraph guys a lot)

 

We have a successful game modelled entirely in C4D with 95% rating and hundred thousand players, if anyone from MAXON is reading this, please message me if you want a report on pitfalls/C4D marketability for cutting edge realtime workflows, I would be very pleased to help.

 

 

Edit: Added new Video

 

 

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Hi Shrike,

 

Thank you for this link! My asset creation workflow has changed a lot over the last few years and I find myself spending less time in C4D. Hopefully I will learn a few techniques to bring it back in. 

 

I agree that there are not many resources available and dealing with UV/normal/phong tag issues can be a challenge.

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Your first point "Cinema 4D works very well for a game workflow if you know your Software" rings true for any 3d software, of course. The pipe example that you demonstrated in the linked Polycount articile I recreated non-destructively in Blender within minutes, with the same techniques that you used in C4d. So I do not understand why your team had those issues. Did they not use proper instancing?

 

The thing is that a couple of add-ons will fix what is, in your opinion, missing in Blender. For example, with the addition of the free Wondermesh add-on a nice set of non-destructive parametric objects becomes available to Blender users as well.

 

And by investing in add-ons such as Hardops, decalmachine, boxcutter modeling productivity goes through the roof, while maintaining a non-destructive workflow if needed. The modifier stack in Blender is also more performant than C4D in a lot of cases.

 

I love working non-destructively in Blender, as I do in C4D. I do agree C4D's GUI is among its main attractions, and the outliner is really nice to work with. As for scene organization and management, I find both have their advantages and disadvantages. Eevee is of course an excellent reason to choose Blender, because it will neatly preview your model, while C4D's viewport is in need of an update, in my opinion.

 

Anyway, they complement each other quite nicely.

 

I feel at this point in time one of the major issues for Cinema4D that hampers its adoption in the game industry remains its high financial cost/upkeep. Smaller game studios and indies are cost-minded, and with both Max and Maya being less expensive, and Blender free/low cost with some brilliant add-ons to optimize hard surface modeling, it is hard to justify C4D's price tag for many. And let's face it, many game asset creators start off in their teens looking for an inexpensive (or rather free) 3d app and C4D is out of reach for most beginner/hobby modelers unless they hack the software.

 

 

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The focus here is really not to fight between Blender and C4D, If I learned anything then both are very different at every corner and there can be no winner, but you should know the differences. Max and Maya compare much better to Blender, while C4D is a little more of a in between Houdini and a classical modeling app from what I feel.

 

@hvanderwegen You can not do this setup in blender as you can not even change a cylinders diameter without making it editable, let alone having an circular array that allows changing afterwards or in real time. It breaks at the first step which is having a parametric cylinder. There are plugins to fix these in some way but still. Our Maya users also were shocked when I told that I could edit a Cylinder later.

You will find for many of C4Ds strengths (aside of fields and volume builder) that you can do these as well in Blender, blender can do about everything in some way. Blender even has a voxel tool as well, but then you find that these are more rudimentary or more out of your way so they are actually used less or not like you would in C4D (or Max or Maya or wherever). The workflows are just different. Some of Blenders modifiers are better, especially boolean stacks on one level and bevel as well, they both have good upsides and strong weaknesses.

 

We have 2 experienced Blender artist and how they work is very different from what I constantly watch. Blender is really more a software like 3DS max or Maya, they work in a more classical 1 depth way, working on one Layer and then tucking other models away in a folder you don't work on - making a model and editing the planes and vertices because that is what the software is built around. In cinema its all full of small pieces. You can surely go parametric but its not pushed to the point that our Blender users even rarely go as far as to use an instance. The guy on the set demonstrated the instances do also work but then preferred doing it by hand with copy and paste as this was preferable. Maybe this is on them but this certainly is true for 3DS as well. 
 

However MAXON has started with a much stronger core architecture with a modern component approach from what it seems like from the outside, adding something such as Fields throughout the Project would surely be a huge undertaking in a classical style Architecture or the Patchworking the competition is mostly doing, and I doubt a rewrite as they are planning with the node ECS approach would even be possible in these other apps, so I am looking forward towards the future. And yes its always best to know and use 2 to their own advantages as there will never be "the one" software.

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I agree, this is not a competition which app is the best. I merely want to point out that a similar non-destructive workflow is possible in Blender as well. With the Wondermesh addon a bunch of very useful parametric objects become accessible.

 

Circular arrays are possible in Blender, but a pain to set up. Which is why I use Hardops for this. It's fast and easy to control circular arrays with it.

 

Check this out:

 

BL-grid-fill.gif

 

Animated gif not working here: open link to watch.

gif animation

 

And if you install the free Sverchock node, it allows for fully non-destructive model networks as well.

 

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1 hour ago, Shrike said:

 

We have 2 experienced Blender artist and how they work is very different from what I constantly watch. Blender is really more a software like 3DS max or Maya, they work in a more classical 1 depth way, working on one Layer and then tucking other models away in a folder you don't work on - making a model and editing the planes and vertices because that is what the software is built around. In cinema its all full of small pieces. You can surely go parametric but its not pushed to the point that our Blender users even rarely go as far as to use an instance. The guy on the set demonstrated the instances do also work but then preferred doing it by hand with copy and paste as this was preferable. Maybe this is on them but this certainly is true for 3DS as well. 

 

That is on them. Personally I use non-destructive modeling techniques everywhere I can in my projects, and I organize things the same way as I do when I work in C4d, or other apps. My projects consist of many pieces, and this is actually also a benefit to keep things responsive in any app.

 

And more importantly, as you state, it just wastes SO much time if assets need to be adjusted later, or different variations must be generated. I guess many Max, Maya, and Blender artists assume working destructively "in one level" saves them a little time in the beginning, but it will surely lose progressively more time in the later stages.

 

I agree that I also have observed Blender users generally use a more direct modeling approach. Everyone has their own modeling approach. Cinema4D does enforce a more "Cad-like" method. And the outliner is hard to beat. In Blender I use collections to organize parts, and instance them.

 

PS the only app I could not work in a non-destructive manner is LightWave. LightWave Modeler's workflow is predominantly destructive.

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Yes this is possible but just given how Blender and Max / Maya do not even offer editable primitives by default is just a indicator where they put their focus. 
Their Editors are built around different wants and needs. Some of these other apps just got a working hierarchy patched in kind of recently.

 

MAXON is clearly strongly pushing towards their crazy non code parametric setups and scene management, just like Houdini is pushing their node generation setups. Every C4D talk or video is about some kind of special setup, that is really the C4D thing. Thats also why they undergo a huge effort in making their core modular ECS nodes now.

 

There is a strong difference in what these different companies value in their 3D apps. The C4D team just values and pushes parametric approaches a lot more, just like Blender values having a piece of everything possible, Maya is pushing animation a lot and Max seemingly values having 3 alternate versions of everything but I'm surprised max is still running. I pity the engineers working on that monstrosity.

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7 hours ago, Shrike said:

Yes this is possible but just given how Blender and Max / Maya do not even offer editable primitives by default is just a indicator where they put their focus. 
Their Editors are built around different wants and needs. Some of these other apps just got a working hierarchy patched in kind of recently.

 

In my mind it is more important whether any particular 3d application supports the workflow that you as an artist prefer. I myself prefer a non-destructive hard-surface modeling workflow. Blender supports that (makes it a doddle with an inexpensive add-on). C4D supports that. Houdini and Max (see below) too. Blender also supports good instancing, and I have difficulty understanding a modeling mindset which would avoid instancing and rather prefer duplicating the same geometry instead when you know that variations may have to be created later.

 

Max, by the way, also supports parametric primitives, and always has done so: once created, the parameters are editable via the modifier panel. Next, add a modifier or two for arrays, etc.. So Max ALSO supports a similar non-destructive workflow. With some add-ons/plugins this functionality can be extended in either Max or Blender. You ought to try out the Sverchok add-on which adds full nodal parametric non-destructive modeling to Blender - similar to Houdini (well, somewhat 😉 ).

 

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that other apps (which you mentioned) offer a similar non-destructive workflow, even if the apps' specific approach / methodologies varies from one to the next. Agreeing that "this is possible" and implying that only C4D is capable to handle such a wondrous workflow efficiently and easily is untrue, in my opinion and experience (and I have worked with most 3d apps at some point for jobs).

 

I feel as long as the app in question supports the workflow the artist wants to adopt or can be made to adopt that workflow efficiently, it is fine.

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Maybe I'm seeing this differently but as someone who does a lot of UX and game design I think its less about what is technically possible in its entirely but what is realistically done and how does the actual user experience and workflow look like for majority of the users. The senior power user will find his way and will probably find methods to have a kinda similar workflow in all, that is for sure, but which kinds of workflows and results come out on average are defined by what is going with the flow of the software UI and UX. Cinema 4D users could easily adopt UV mapping workflows with external tools, yet you extremely rarely see any traditionally textured meshes from C4D Users and people rely heavily on tiling cubic mapping materials due to the software and MAXON (and as result; Content Creators) not pushing UV mapping and texturing at all (until S22).

 

Path of least resistance definitely matters a lot in software as in game design. If I need a plugin to do something then 95% of users won't do it. If a cloth modifier is clunky and hard to get right then you see a ton less cloth work, that is the reality of UXD and conversion rates.

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23 hours ago, Shrike said:

- Lack of multi object UV editing (by far the biggest issue)

For years I had been working an a plugin for UV editing. It had a basic-multi object mode, where one could visualize and adjust the UV's of multiple objects. Most of the features are now also available in S22.

Since I didn't get much feedback from users regarding the multi-object mode, and due to noticable decline of Cinema4D plugin interest in general (obvious since R21), I haven't yet taken the time to extend the multi-object functionality in the next version of the plugin.

While I am still much interested in providing this functionality, I currently don't find the motivation to spend all this time and effort on what seems to be a very niche feature.

Wondering what kind of tools in that regard would help improve your current workflow?

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Cool, ill send you a pm!

 

One other thing would be the C4D normal handling. If one could make the normal tag read out the normal information and basically convert this to phong splits that would amount to equivalent normal directions, that could solve the major issue of C4D and other software interchangeability, as the normals do always break when swapping software. 

 

And a face weighted normals modifier that works by angle split and with a selection of sorts would be very powerful, for anyone not just games, really strong trick and workflow;

 

image.png.2e6ad19ea3ace114f52fd28bf13cd402.png

 

Great tip for anyone really. Everyone knows the issue where you need to subdivide the bevels or a cube so many times until
the flat surface becomes really flat. With face weighted normals you can save a ton of performance and time and your mesh looks better.

I have found a script that works but applies to the entire model and not angle based so usage is limited sadly.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Shrike said:

Path of least resistance definitely matters a lot in software as in game design. If I need a plugin to do something then 95% of users won't do it.

 

5 hours ago, Shrike said:

I think its less about what is technically possible in its entirely but what is realistically done and how does the actual user experience and workflow look like for majority of the users. The senior power user will find his way and will probably find methods to have a kinda similar workflow in all, that is for sure, but which kinds of workflows and results come out on average are defined by what is going with the flow of the software UI and UX.

 

You keep moving the goal posts. In your initial post you asserted Max and Blender do not afford a similar non-destructive modeling workflow as C4D. I then showed that it is possible, and with the help of an inexpensive add-on the non-destructive workflow works just as nicely (actually far more efficient and faster in my experience) as C4D.

 

I also pointed out that instancing is just as simple in other 3d apps, and anyone going about hard-surface modeling in a half-intelligent way would use instancing (and in my experience with colleagues they do, as well as based on what I see on respective forums). Your response is moving the posts once more stating that other apps lack good/simple management/hierarchy tools like the ones in C4D - but they do.

 

My response was that it is on the users themselves if they choose to ignore the built-in tool set. To which you responded that it is due to how those other 3d apps somehow are not specialized enough to accommodate such a non-destructive workflow. To which I countered that plugins and add-ons exist to make the process as painless.

 

Then you write that 95% of users would never use a plugin, because they prefer the path of least resistance. This is very debatable, since in my experience with (3d) users they will stick with their preferred app and look for solutions through add-ons or plugins to fix what is missing. It also explains the popularity of add-ons for Blender or Max. This is also true for many C4D users who rely on alternative render engines to improve their rendering (for the sake of either speed, quality, or both). One could argue that for most users the path of least resistance is sticking with their familiar 3d DCC app, and rather install a plugin instead of leave familiar grounds for a completely new app.

 

Now C4DS mentions they might invest more time improving a plugin that may alleviate your UV issues. You are interested to solve these problems in C4D, and seemingly would jump on the opportunity to install that plugin. And you spent time on trying to find a solution to fix things in C4D (the script).

 

Both of which sort-of are the opposite behaviour of what your were saying how the average user would behave. Which means you are not the average user, but a "senior power user"? Who exactly is this "senior power user"?

 

Your arguments are kinda confusing me at this point. I feel that a lack of knowledge about other apps and your love of C4D (and hate for Max) have informed some of your assertions. Which is completely understandable, because everyone has their own favourite 3d apps and tools. The key point in your original post here and PolyCount post is that Max and Blender do not afford an efficient and quick non-destructive workflow. But they do. It may require a plugin to have a more optimized user experience, but that is beside the original point. Each 3d DCC has its own quirks and approaches in modeling. Yes, I totally agree with that. But I disagree that other 3d apps cannot afford the user an easy and efficient non-destructive hard-surface modeling workflow.

 

Anyway, I am out of the discussion for now.  It was interesting, and I do see your points, but let's just agree to disagree.

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