What Killed Lightwave?

All of that, I somewhat agree with, but to tell the truth, I don’t miss it and I can’t see myself going back to it even if it somehow gets off life support. It’s just too far behind other solutions and I don’t see it catching up any time soon.

Oh no, I can’t afford to go back to it anymore, but that said, even if I could, I wouldn’t, my workflow in Blender suits my needs and then some. I only stayed with it for so long because of LWCAD, I’d of been lost without that.

Nah man. My workflow is not based on any one software. I don’t know how I would manage that.

The reason we don’t use LightWave has more to do with an outdated licensing model than anything else.

LightWave had a lot of good things coming that any studio could have made use of. A clear and transparent development commitment as well as an up to date licensing model would have been enough for me to stick around and support it.

I supported it to the point that it was clear LW was EOL.

After that upgrading was out of the question.

But why was that EVER thought to be a viable approach???

Stinks of programmer arrogance to me. --Was Blender Guru’s presentation the Great Turning Point or was it just coincidental?

To respond to Richard’s excellent precis: I think one the first signs of NewTek’s cluelessness was when they couldn’t wrap their heads around IKBooster, and didn’t bother figuring it out.

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The comment I remember from Jay Roth, as I recall, around the time of Core, was he pointed to this as an example of a mistake never to be made again. To hire a programmer, let him run amok with code no one could understand and then leave.

My personal opinion about IK Booster after spending a considerable amount of time learning it,using it, rigging with it, all the available tutorials and documentation, was that it never really delivered. And that the programmer kind of cheated the math to make it sort of appear to work, but it just fell short and was far too clunky to be a viable rigging tool. I still love it for what it can do and it has features that LightWave rigging could have used.

And so I developed the opinion that the real reason it was never fixed or integrated or developed further was that it was based on crap code to begin with and it would have had to be completely re-written.

A few years later when I got a hold of MotionBuilder for the first time, I remember thinking, “This is what was trying to do with IK Booster!” And it worked. And more. IK Booster never did - really. Or I should say not viably for professional-level animation.

Spline God, bless his soul, (and with all of the respect I have for what he gave the community and I learned from him) was completely wrong about that, I am afraid to say. He put up a good argument, but the stuff he was showing as examples for clients would not hold up as examples of animation that would have been broadly accepted ever, outside of maybe cheap documentary illustrations.

So there was IK Booster. And then there was the first attempt at joints, which I also learned. And used and rigged with. And found a similar theme going. Proton made a video about a reverse foot rig using Joints. I did it, did it again. Did it maybe a half dozen times. You gotta respect Proton! So finally when I was absolutely sure it was a bug. It was not me, and it was not working, I posted the scene file and did not have any problem getting my finding verified on the forums. So I reported the bug and never heard anything.

That was about the time I added it all up.

It was not the fact that the IK booster guy was let go astray, it was not the small happenstance that joints were completely poorly implemented (even without the bug I found).

It was not that still all the modeling tools needed to be rewritten. That Modeler was already outdated. It was not that bringing modeling tools into layout “did not work as we planned” and all the other many things that never got any address.

It was all of these things combined that were happening ,or not happening when they should be, under - and because of - poor management.

It was at that point 2008, that I predicted NewTek just did not have the ability to develop 3D. They were completely clueless. I predicted they never would. And it turned out I was right. Because there was a ray of hope with Rob Powers. And then they completely killed that off and went silent.

Could it be that the original developers went on to make Modo because they could see it was a more viable option than trying to fix LightWave, and then left LightWave in the hands of a management team that did not even understand 3D - at all? And then were tasked with the impossible? But they did not even have the insight to see it was impossible until they had wasted millions of dollars and a decade of time (2008-2018) stringing along the community?

It could be that simple.

This is the real reason LightWave is dead.

So… sell the trademark and move on.

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I realised that’s not what I meant, I kinda meant the inverse, the way my brain works and how I think, Blender fits my noggin’ better, it just seems more logical to me than how LW did it.

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Cool. Got it. :slight_smile:

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Nice one. So modify my statement as “by default.”. Great write up and very helpful!

Its funny, not knowing what other ways existed to even do things at all, I just plodded along with LightWave. Then as I started finding the limitations myself, I began asking for these things in LightWave. Finding them in Blender, I then later realized pretty much every other app had some version of these things. With the exception of the Blender key strokes which are sorely missing in other apps to their detriment not the other way around!

Yep, that’s pretty much how it panned out. I got so fed up of “why can’t I?”, that I just fell into acceptance mode. Once I started modelling in Blender, the snapping and edge sliding, extruding etc made life much easier. Don’t even get me started on Bevel vs LW-Rounder. :wink:
It’s funny how people got so comfortable with all the “work-arounds”, maybe because we kinda new Newtek was not likely to address thoe short-comings any time in the forseeable future. :roll_eyes:

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I wish that was the case for me, but if anything my mind works diametrically opposite from how Blender works. It’s akin to “reverse Polish notation” – obviously functional but completely alien.

For instance, I just struggled w/Proportional Editing to try (and fail) to get a Taper effect, and it seems completely backwards to how I would expect it to work, AND there doesn’t seem to be a simple way to exclude specific vertices from being affected: you can limit the range, but the ALL are affected whether they are Selected or not. IMO this is a fundamental inconsistency.

BTW, has anybody yet looked at the ‘spreadsheet’ features of 2.93? I haven’t yet, and have hopes, as I’ve found the layout of B. to be quite, uhh, the opposite of ‘compact’.

I was just thinking the other day … I need a spreadsheet!

It is early development…

So we will see.

Are we still ruminating the inevitable death of an elderly DCC that is in the process of dying very slowly and painfully since like a decade?
Not sure If I am supposed to be impressed by its iron grip on hope (where there is none) and unwillingness to let go and accept death, or If I should pray to the gods for a Hero/Baddie that finally delivers the coup de grace.

I hope you are talking about an attribute spreadsheet editor, because that’s what I could need.
I actually don’t need it in 98% of the time, but when I need it, I REALLY need it.
Its not a trivial thing to implement, but it is still more on the easier side.
I hate to be that pessimistic, but I have a feeling that it will stay a spreadsheet, and not become an editor.

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One last point I’d like to make, then I’ll recede into the background… I occasionally still visit the NewTek forums and my observation of the majority of LW users there regarding Blender and LW itself is this:

  • They think that Blender is for hobbyists and is not capable of handling professional work.
  • They still think the Blender interface is a convoluted mess and hard to use.
  • A fair amount of LW users are holding on hoping VizRT is going to release a new and improved version at some point.
  • LW still works just fine for whatever work they are currently doing and they can use LW for many years to come without any updates.

I’m not criticizing anyone; I understand how difficult it can be to move on when you’ve relied on a tool to do your job for many years. We all have our opinions on LW and I think it’s dead in the water, but I empathize with those folks and I wish them well.


This perception seems to be based on a correlation/causation problem.
The overwhelming majority of Blender users are hobbyists and amateurs that don’t do professional work.
While Blender has its limitations and might not be ideal for several pro use cases - I find that argument ironic, coming from Lightwave users. Blender is not the only player in town.
They can switch to Maya/Max/Houdini/C4d, but they don’t…which makes their argument reek like an convenient excuse.

They still think the Blender interface is a convoluted mess and hard to use.

Again pot and kettle but with a hint of truth. I agree that it is messy, but in comparison to that, what is Lightwave? Seems to me like a form of ambiguity aversion, but they have options and the majority of 3D artists proves them wrong (by using other tools than Lightwave successfully).

A fair amount of LW users are holding on hoping VizRT is going to release a new and improved version at some point.

LW still works just fine for whatever work they are currently doing and they can use LW for many years to come without any updates.

Still trapped on the first 3 stages of grief.

I honestly don’t understand that.
Its not THAT hard intellectually. It’s more of an psychological/emotional problem, which is also not really hard.
Compare that to kicking an addiction or learning Russian/Japanese/Chinese (as a Westerner).
Not only is it not hard - actually doing it makes their life easier and more fulfilling (not only in terms of working in 3D but generally).
Its passivity and resignation - which breeds mediocrity and stagnation.

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I like talking about LightWave. I miss it, in the sense that I miss the potential it once had. And I miss being able to use it and thinking that it had “everything I would need”.

But mostly I miss the community that is long gone. Driven away by the company that depended on them for survival of the product.

Good people, creative and helpful people. Mostly professionals or talented hobbyists. Those people and the dynamic they took with them has dissipated into various places. Maya, XSI, Modo, 3DMax, Blender.

But the truth of the matter is that, as with all discussions about LightWave on the forums there, it comes back to Blender. Everything points to Blender. There is nowhere else for the last few LightWave people to go. The last hangers on will fall off eventually and land likely here, probably in larger numbers than any other software even Houdini or Modo.

Regarding change it has more to do with necessity than anything else. In fact it has nothing to do with anything else at all.

The last LightWavers will wait until a few years after VzTek pounds the last nail in the coffin.

And then they will be here wanting to know how to convert decades of LightWave files into Blender so that one day, they won’t be in the position they feared would happen if LightWave went subscription, and they won’t be able to open the files anymore. But in reality it will be because, potentially, the years old perpetual license of LightWave, with no more support, won’t even open on the next version of Windows or Mac.


The same is true of Photoshop and Fruity Loops but they are well known and respected in their industries.

I’d like to know what other programes a typical LW user also uses. People who refuse to consider switching often also refuse to use other tools in-conjunction-with their preferred tool. I was just looking at a friend’s resume and he lists:

Substance Designer
Unreal Engine
Marmoset Toolbag
Motion Builder

I am certain if his financial situation changed drastically he’d have no problem adding Blender to his workflow and using it heavily.

Isn’t softimage xsi also dead?

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2002 (when Blender did not even have undo) - Blender is a toy
2021 (with Eevee, fluids, geometry nodes, sculpting, Ngons, highly polished bevel and boolean tools, Cycles, overrides, active tool system, industry standard control option, ect… and with core optimization work underway) - Blender is a toy.

Guess we will need to rebrand Blender (while getting away from the GPL) and give it a 4 digit price tag (as FOSS has proven beyond a doubt it is a failed concept). I am not serious of course, but it seems the word still has such a stigma that even if something like Zootopia was made in Blender 9.3 a decade from now, people still won’t use it.

Though the Lightwave website still talks about how the near defunct app. is battle tested and proven in production, it used to be back in the day, but someone new to the world of 3D wouldn’t know that when find the store still active.

Forums and users are alive and well.


But the historical point I was making is that this was one of the first places people fled to from LightWave. It was a logical choice. Many of the best LightWave artists went there. By my recollection this started in 2008. Pooby comes to mind.

I was not making nearly any money in 2008 so my only option was Blender. That is where I went.

By the time I showed up on the XSI scene it was 2011. I remember getting a warm welcome from people who knew me from LW forums… “Ah… great to see another former LightWave user…”

And the feeling was this was inevitable.

Post XSI it became Modo/Hourini/Maya.

And now it will be primarily Blender.