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Re: Simple modeller

On Thu, 24 Oct 2002, Jan Ekholm wrote:

> On Thu, 24 Oct 2002, Stephen J Baker wrote:
> >AC3D also renders everything in OpenGL.  I believe it uses TCL/TK for
> >it's GUI - but that only makes it slower with 3D hardware.
> Yes, it does, and on my low end machine performance is good. It doesn't
> have any complex dialogs, it's mostly just menu choices and some check
> boxes/buttons, so tcl/tk doesn't get to slow it down. :)

Yep.  It just flies on a GeForce-4 with a 2GHz CPU - I've been working
with 10,000 triangle models with four views enabled with texture, lighting
,etc at 1600x1200 resolution and I'm still seeing 60Hz-ish performance
when moving models, scaling textures, etc.

> I must say that I was very sceptic to AC3D, but I've become a convert
> after using it for a few models. Recommended.

Yes - it's OK...not *great*...but definitely usable.

So far, AC3D is the only modeller I've found that is:

   -- Supported under Linux (unlike ...many others...).
   -- Affordable (unlike Maya at $2,000)
   -- Optimised for games modelling (unlike Moonlight|3D)
   -- Approachable by 'occasional' users (unlike Blender).
   -- Finished (unlike PrettyPoly).

However I have some complaints about it...

* It costs $40 and there is no source code.  This is quite frustrating
  because there are a bunch of things you'd just love to dive in
  and *fix*.

* It's texture application feature is a little clunky - you can't
  really position textures exactly how you'd like without a lot of
  messing around.

* You can't set the colour per vertex.

* When you drag an object or some vertices around, it only shows
  the bounding cubeoid until you release the mouse.  That's annoying
  when you have hardware that can cope with the full update at
  interactive rates.

* It doesn't sort translucent polygons in it's own internal renderer.

* The GUI is optimised for 800x600 resolution displays - which means
  there is a lot of wasted space when you run at 1600x1200!
  That's a shame because there are a bunch of features that the
  author agrees would be great to have - but which he doesn't have
  the screen space to manage.  He also has a 'thing' about not using
  Icons in the GUI - everything is text widgets - this wastes a lot
  of valuable GUI screen space too.

* The latest revision has done some very bad things to the file load/save
  dialog to make it work better in a Windoze environment (it doesn't
  save files into your current working directory - always into the last
  place you saved a file).  That's bad for us command-line users.
  I'm working on a way around that.

* The UNDO function is 'patchy' - some things don't undo.

* No patches or splines or whatever.  This is strictly a polygon-based

* Save early/Save often!  AC3D has been known to crash...although
  I havn't seen the latest version die *yet*.

* AC3D has plugins - there are several example plugins - but
  the interface is not well documented.

AC3D TIP #1: I found I could work around a few problems by
write-protecting the .ac3dprefs file to prevent AC3D saving
it all the time and corrupting my long-term preferences with
short-term changes.

AC3D TIP #2: You should also hand-edit your .ac3dprefs - there are
a BUNCH of things that really need changing (like all the default
colours) which you can't get at from the preferences panel in
the GUI.

Steve Baker                      (817)619-2657 (Vox/Vox-Mail)
L3Com/Link Simulation & Training (817)619-2466 (Fax)
Work: sjbaker@link.com           http://www.link.com
Home: sjbaker1@airmail.net       http://www.sjbaker.org