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Announcing: Unreal Datasmith: Beta registration is live

At SIGGRAPH, we announced beta registration for our new Unreal Datasmith: A collection of workflow tools to deliver a frictionless experience for importing existing assets from Architecture and Design pipelines for experiencing design.

You’ll find two components initially in the beta:

  1. Unreal Datasmith for 3ds Max: Import entire scenes with maximum fidelity and minimum effort. Materials, lights and cameras converted with support for V-Ray, Corona and Mental Ray.
  2. Unreal Datasmith CAD: Import over 20 CAD formats, including Catia, NX, Creo and Rhino directly into the engine. Supports tessellation of Brep formats and import of part assemblies plus more.

If you want to read more on this initiative and register, then look for the details that sit below the on-line registration form.

I have really high expectations for this and are looking forward to se how it can cut down on the workflow. Our clients still choose rendered solutions doe to the expensive workflow to Unreal. The quality of Unreal realtime render is already good enough. I would hope there is a future plan for revit, sketchup and Archicad.

Can I access this functionality from C++ at runtime so that I can load assets from, say, Revit during gameplay ?

This is one of the problems we want to solve. We don’t have it solved yet.

This sounds amazing. I wish that every design product developer had this same ethos. I was so excited to read the beta page for Datasmith.

I filled out the form in haste while still in bed this morning. I didn’t realize the ‘Products you work with:’ section scrolled to reveal more options. Is there a way I can edit my Beta application submission? Alternatively, if I submit again, will the system ignore my second entry? Or worse, will it penalize me for entering more than once?

I feel like this is the Halliday’s Egg of interoperability gifts to the Oasis… that is… I feel like this is quite the lottery jackpot and I don’t want to miss out!

Jonahhawk, we intend to let at least a thousand into the beta, so your odds are probably pretty good getting in.

I’m just like Jonahhawk, typing as fast as I can to fill the form and submit :D. Can’t wait for it.

By the way, would there be something to announce if I can’t be a part of the beta?

We want to bring in people who can help as we release specific capabilities (which is why we ask the questions we do). You remain “pending” in our system as we might select you later rather than sooner.

I think we’ll have to increase the scale of the beta as the interest is already a bit more than expected…

Glad to hear that :D. Hope I will receive your invitation for the beta one day :D.

Please do not charge for the 3ds Max portion of Datasmith. Split out the CAD side of things if you have to for licensing reasons. I don’t know why everyone shuns 3ds Max as a workflow tool for games; it’s not just used for archviz and FBX is horrible to work with.

What makes you think they’re going to charge for it?

Because that’s what the beta signup page says:

Oh wow. Well hopefully it’s reasonably priced.

Depends on your definition of “reasonable”. The offering is not just software, it will also include professional support (and possibly other things). We do not plan on offering the software without support. The support will include engine support. Other details on the support and the total offering will be released when we are ready.

can noobs with no reputation in archviz industry like me recieve an invitation for testing ? :stuck_out_tongue:
anyway I’m whiling to pay for it no matter what, but I don’t need support guys as I fully trust your products maybe you can cut the price a bit and take away the support ? :stuck_out_tongue:

Freelancers are an important part of our business plan, so if you marked yourself as one, there is better chance of getting in.

Generally, not supporting a product is a bad idea. It creates problems where people go on forums to complain about a product because they could not resolve their question without support. The product could work as designed, but people complain from lack of understanding. Especially with a new product, it should be supported. Perhaps in the future, other methods will be available.

The forum ate my first reply, so forgive me if this comes off more terse than intended.

If you need to qualify “reasonable” like this, then you are already planning for it to not be reasonable, either by high upfront cost, or a subscription model (implied by the “professional support” line). I know that I don’t want either of these options, as 3ds Max support should be a basic engine feature.

Quite frankly, FBX sucks as a transfer format. All of my assets are created/modified in 3ds Max and they always take multiple attempts and tweaks to get them into the engine properly (and most of the time, there are still discrepancies between the two). UV maps will be wrong, scale will be way off, materials will be missing or broken, vertices will be collapsed or separated (causing visible gaps), etc. I have wasted so much time because of this and if you have a native 3ds Max importer that works, then it needs to be rolled into the engine period.

I don’t know why this is getting rolled in and treated the same as the CAD capabilities. Yes, 3ds Max gets used in arch viz and product visualization, but it also gets used (quite a bit) in game development. I’m sure that plenty of game devs would love the capability of creating their levels completely in 3ds Max and use them in UE4, without having to worry about FBX corruption issues. If it is a matter of licensing cost (there was mention of a licensed component used for the CAD conversions, but nothing on the 3ds Max side), then please call that out, as that would at least be understandable.

Tell that to those of us fending for ourselves in some of the private subforums. I’m not complaining (much, see my PS4 postmortem thread), but plenty of us get by just fine with little to no support, even when dealing with un/underdocumented or just flat out broken features.

At least give us a source code only solution, with basic documentation (this is effectively an import plugin for crying out loud, how much documentation does it really need?). Let us compile it into the engine ourselves and crowdsource support. You already have this mechanism via UDN, where developers can pay for support if they need/want it.

Of course, this assumes that the plugin works… :stuck_out_tongue:

There are licensing complications, so there won’t be source code for Datasmith, except on a case-by-case basis and only for custom licensees.

We are not focused on game workflows, though in some cases, Datasmith might address existing needs. In those cases, game companies can buy it, or custom licensees can obtain it.

Some of our research has addressed engine issues with FBX that will benefit everyone. There might be more of that in the future, we’re not ruling it out.

I think this is a win-win for everyone. The free engine will still exist and be improved. Datasmith has its own team of developers now and they are focused on non-games. Since non-game business is fundamentally different than the games business, there has to be revenue to cover the costs, or Datasmith wouldn’t exist. I assume you want Datasmith to exist.

We’re not doing this randomly. We have talked to a lot of customers about the business model for Datasmith and they gave us guidance we are using. I think we’re being very careful to talk to customers before executing - as shown by our plans for a large beta. We want to get this right. Give us a chance to get Datasmith in people’s hands, then we can debate whether the cost is worth it.

It seems strange to me that Datasmith would be a separate product that requires an extra cost. I don’t see it as unique compared to any other engine features, so if the engine is currently profitable then adding additional features like this shouldn’t be unprofitable, like any other feature in the engine it all helps to draw more people to use the engine. While it’s focused on Archviz it’s still a feature that would benefit everyone.

I get it, I really do. But the point that I am trying to get across is that by focusing on just the arch viz/prod viz, you are ignoring the rest of the UE development community. I never heard about this AT ALL until the SIGGRAPH general email that went out talking about beta registration. I did immediately sign up for it, but still looked like it was open for a couple of weeks before I saw it. Granted, I haven’t been to a SIGGRAPH for a decade and I don’t follow many announcements from it, but all the information on it was buried in this subforum.

I do hope that it is a win-win and I don’t think that you are developing/marketing this randomly. I do think that you are completely ignoring the “bread and butter” game developers though and I’m afraid that products like this will only serve to fragment the engine. Sure, you might be improving the FBX importer (which is good), but it’s still an intermediate format. That’s not to say that certain market segments couldn’t have features introduced for them (e.g. the CAD side of Datasmith), but, to paraphrase a certain game company: “if it’s in the engine, it’s in the engine”.

And my wild-A guess on pricing, based on experience and gut feeling alone, $495/year. Something like that might be reasonable for visualization shops, but it excludes it from a lot of small developer’s budgets (probably including mine). I’d still have to reconsider it if it were $200 flat out, but pretty much any kind of subscription and then you could assume that I don’t want it to exist (don’t be Adobe/Autodesk; they screwed everyone over with their licensing models). A “one price fits all” situation won’t work here and only targeting or getting feedback from the visualization shops would be a poor idea. Those shops have a completely different revenue model and business structure, so you should be looking at having separate licensing agreements for them, not forcing the “normal” licensees to have to deal with this. Even with normal licensees, you are looking at ones of all shapes and sizes. Give me a <$50 plugin that just does 3ds Max and I’ll (begrudgingly) be there.