Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Design Review 2011 - Walkthroughs??

What a disappointment this product is.  I'm sure some find it useful but after some excitment at the thought of the latest release, the blogs mentioning how lighting and the camera view has been improved, I was certainly let down when I tried it out.

I am comparing the product to ArchiCAD's Virtual Building Explorer which I think has hit bullseye as to what a program designed to give a client the power to virtually walk thru a design should be.  VBE is not free, costing around $600aus for the creation program but the low cost is more than justified by it's output.  This could really sell a design!  Conversely DR looks amateur.  It still can't properly light a model, materials wash out (still), it's view is still terrible, the interface is awkward and hard to manipulate requiring constant changing from one control to another. 

VBE does not require any software to be installed for the end user.  They receive an executable that simply opens an interface to run thru the model.  Navigating is familar to anyone who has ever played a 3D game.  WASD keys forward-back, left & right whilst 'looking' with your mouse.  It's very easy to walk around and look.  DR is just pathetic in comparison.  It can't move sideways whilst looking forward so you can't walk past a building while looking at it. (just dumb). VBE has used OpenGL rendering to produce a game like environment with materials and lighting that look... well like quite a good game.  DR's environment is gawky and ugly.  How come Graphisoft can get an easy camera view inside a building but DR's is like a fish eye camera with bad distortion all round?

I'm sorry but there is just no comparison between the 2 programs.  VBE is professional and very impressive.  DR is like something developed by a back yard operation.  I don't get how Autodesk could miss the mark by so much.  VBE has been out for years.  Graphisoft purchased the technology when they bought a company and they have really used it well.  I'm told that Adesk also had "Walkthrough" back in the 90's but they dropped the ball and have not picked it up.  Perhaps they thought that DR was meeting it but anyone who thinks so has not checked out how high Graphisoft have raised the benchmark.  I am very frustrated and embarrassed that DR is the best I can offer to the sales team. 

Visit the VBE site and download the samples at the bottom of the page and then make some noise on the newsgroups or directly to Adesk.  I don't think they see any need to compete.

Adesk have committed themselves to a crossplatform approach and the navigation tools are used in many Adesk programs such as Autocad, Max, Maya, Design Review, Navisworks, such that you can open an unfamiliar program and understand how to navigate a model.  Sounds good but the tools they chose to incorporate are just plain awkward.  Difficult to use I would not like to give them to a company director and watch him embarrass himself trying to move around and look about.   The navigators are the wrong choice.  Have none of the programmers have ever played a 3D game?  How easy it could be. Was it an executive decision by the power brockers?  Instead they designed a convoluted system that requires training to operate.  After a few hours I have can navigate somewhat successfully but it's still not freedom.

Sigh.  If you pop in to Adesk development it appears there's nothing good on the horizon either.

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