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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

I've been messing with this in my occasional free time for a few weeks now. If you havent heard of it, it's a fairly high end 3D graphics authoring environment specifically for Game Devs.

There's also a lite version, which this review focuses on. The full version is about $300 and the "lite" version is free. From what I can tell, the lite version offers a decent subset of the full package.  Less polygons and less export formats to choose from, no plugins, a watermark and no real support to speak of, of course.

Hmm... and no manual. Ok, I understand limiting functionality, and maybe even giving a time limit. But the whole thing about no manual is irksome. How can I (as a 3d newb) properly evaluate the package if I dont know what I'm doing and there's no manual to read?  I tried clicking on Help and got the choice of an About box or "Contents."  Clicking "Contents" resulted in absolutely nothing.

(Before you warm up your flamethrowers... yes, technically, there IS a manual, but you have to buy it for $15. So I'm still not happy.)

So, being that I'm a total 3D newb, I figured I would just start randomly clicking on stuff here and there to see what happens. There are lots of pretty icons and some even have popup labels. Most of the labels used terms I was completely unfamiliar with, and with no manual... (see above) I was pretty lost.

After a couple hours of futsing with it... I got a few basic shapes on screen and set about sculpting and shaping them into mostly unrecognizeable stuff. Technically I got about 4 spheres on screen, and eventually figured out how to get other "primitives" as well. That's the right word for it too... I felt like a caveman compared to some people using this tool. Eventually after much clicking, I got a cone on there as well.

The interface used for manipulating the objects onscreen is actually fairly intuitive, although I certainly had my share of missteps. Basically you click on the section you want to manipulate and then you can click and drag to push pull twist etc the piece in question.

Eventually I made a snowman. Ok, I made three spheres on top of each other. Sorta.  Turns out once I discovered the tool that let me rotate my world (camera?) I also discovered that my three spheres werent on top of each other at all... they just looked that way from my perspective. So back to the drawing board.

This software does A LOT. Unfortunately I havent even scratched the surface after a few hours of playing. I'm pretty sure the manual would help, and I'm tempted to buy it, but I'm not really a 3D kinda guy (and not even sure I want to be at this point.)

It's funny, we see in 3D, live in 3D and to an extent we think in 3D. so why is it so damn hard to design in 3D?  I'm not knocking the product here, or 3D people, so much as just expressing my own inability to grasp what must be fairly basic concepts to people who do this for fun & profit.

Unfortunately, I'm not really able or qualified to put this product through it's paces enough to give it an unqualified thumbs up or down. It seemed hellishly complex, but I did eventually figure a few things out on my own... without the manual, so I guess that says something about it, or me, I'm not sure which.

and I finally finished my snowman. Maybe I'll ask Santa for the manual for Christmas.

The bottom line is this, if you're the sort of person who works with 3D graphics for games, this seems like a pretty good choice and you'll probably already know how to do more with it out of the box than I ever will even after reading the manual. On the other hand, if you're a TOTAL newb like me, I'm betting there is something simpler and certainly cheaper. (I hear Milkshape isnt bad)

update: Feel free to
buy me the manual if you're so inclined...

Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 12:55 PM Game Development , Reviews | Back to top

Comments on this post: Caligari GameSpace review

# re: Caligari GameSpace review
Requesting Gravatar...
Another good free option, especially if you are working with XNA Game Studio, is the SoftImage XSI tool.
Left by Jason Olson on Dec 18, 2007 2:53 PM

# re: Caligari GameSpace review
Requesting Gravatar...
I have used Blender as well. Free, and has some decent tutorial videos to get you started.
Left by Rick Mogstad on Dec 19, 2007 5:22 PM

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