MetaCreations: Everything Must Go! April 11th, 2000
Randy: Hey man, did you hear the news?
Gary: You finally came out of the closet and admitted you're a girl?
Randy: No, jerky.
Gary: George Bush, Jr. admitted he's still a coke snorting junky who's been free loading off his father's coat tails for his entire political career?
Randy: Well, no. But that's pretty darn interesting. I thought you were voting for Jr.
Gary: Hell, yeah, we need another party boy in the White House.
Randy: Okay? But that's still not what I was referring to.
Gary: Uh, okay, one more guess.
Randy: Go for it.
Gary: Skeet Ulrich has been announced as the biggest box office bomb since Dolph Lungren.
Randy: Ouch! While there may be some truth to that, I was talking about the Adobe and Corel press announcements concerning Metacreations entire line of products.
Gary: Now that is interesting news. It looks like almost all of the great 3D and 2D applications from Metacreations finally have a future again.
Randy: Which is more that I can say for Señor Ulrich. But perhaps we should backup a bit and give the readers some history on the Metacreations saga.
Gary: Okay, I'll go down the hall.
Randy: I was speaking figuratively.
Gary: Wow, it's sound almost like English.
Randy: Have you been up all night partying with George Jr. or something? You seem especially dense today.
Gary: No, just the result a lifetime of bad living.
Randy: Try and focus for a few minutes, at least until we get this column done.
Gary: I'm here for ya man.
Gary: Are we done yet?
As I was saying, for about the last year, the future of several of the major 3D and 2D products for the Mac has been very uncertain.
Gary: To say the least. Since Metacreations, formerly known as Metatools, formerly known as HSC Software, announced they would be dropping almost all it's current product line to focus on e-commerce visualization tools, the future of products like Infini-D, Poser, Painter, Ray Dream, Canoma, and Bryce has been up for grabs.
Randy: This has a special interest to folks like us who use most of the Metacreations applications for our living.
Gary: Especially Infini-D. Or as we like to call it Infini-Fun. We started out long ago using Ray Dream for our earliest 3D needs and quickly graduated to Infini-D.
Randy: Ah I remember it well. Infini-D was one of the most intuitive programs I have ever worked with. It made 3D seem easy and fun too. We used it for everything, including this column's logo. In fact we built our game Manhattan Apartment Hunter using Infini-D exclusively.
Gary: How is the game doing, by the way?
Randy: That's a topic for another column. (We really will give all you loyal gamers who have written us about Apartment Hunter an update soon. Thanks for all the letters.)
Gary: But enough of us talking about ourselves.
What do you readers think of us?
Randy: We were, uh talking about the press announcements.
Gary: Well, Corel, of WordPerfect and CorelDraw fame, is getting PowerTools, Vector Effects, Bryce, and Painter. I actually am concerned a little here. Corel is a Windows player and has not had a great track record with Mac products. They are not updating CorelDraw, which was buggy and quirky when it first hit the Mac shores. The Windows version is a full integer ahead of the Mac version, stuck at 8.0
Corel's new toys. Take em' and run kids!
Randy: I don't know. I think CorelDraw 8 is a pretty cool program. It is a very competent illustration, photo editing and page layout program all in one. For beginning designers I think it's the perfect next step in software. It comes with Corel Photo-Paint on the CD and you can buy in at the competitive upgrade price of only $150 if you have anything competing product, even ClarisWorks!
I hope they take these new products from Metacreations stable and integrate them into their existing products. Imagine if they have CorelDraw 9 for Mac and it gives you a combination PhotoShop, Freehand, Painter, Convolver, Quark Xpress application. All in one app.
Gary: Okay, that would be a pretty kick ass application. I could free up about two gigs of other applications from my toolbox. But what the hell are they gonna do with Bryce?
Randy: Not a clue. But I love that program and I pray Corel will use it wisely.
Gary: I am much more positive when it comes to Adobe acquiring, first Canoma and now Carrara. Canoma was the cool app that lets you map 2D images onto 3D shapes, so you can quickly and intuitively create basic 3D models.
Adobe's new 3D packages.
Randy: Carrara is the result of a marriage between Ray Dream Designer and MetaCreations Infini-D. They took elements of both programs and merged them into a new beast, Carrara.
Gary: Beast is right. I wouldn't call it a marriage, more like inbreeding. I mean that program is so ugly, that if I had Linda Tripp as my desktop picture, I would still feel better after I quit Carrara. That's ugly, man.
Randy: Want I should go get my snare drum for few rim shots, Henny?
Gary: The interface of Carrara is hideous. It's laughable. It's completely ridiculous. How they could expect anyone to deal with that crap is beyond me. It sickens and disgusts me. I mean, invisible menus?!? What kind of moron thought of invisible freakin' menus for the love of God? Did someone wake up and say, "Hey, you know what would make this app really stand out? I'll put some invisible freakin' menus in there!" It makes no sense!!!!
Randy: So, how do you feel about the interface? Now get up of that floor. But another good rant, my hypertensive friend.
I am not so feverish when it comes to the interface issue with MetaCreations programs. I got into the style of the interface with Bryce, so when Poser and Canoma adopted the unique "Kai" look I was used to it. But then again, they never changed the interface of my power app, Infini-D, so maybe that's why I'm not bitching.
Gary: And that is the biggest positive to me about this sell-off of MetaCreations' soul.
Randy: What's that?
Gary: Finally, the interface issues will be dealt with. There is no way that Adobe will keep that insane interface. Let's hope they immediately get it to the look and feel of their other apps, which sport some of the best designed interfaces out there. Now, I don't know about Corel, but if they rescue Bryce from its cutesy-wootsy - but completely sucks interface, I will consider them heroes.
Randy: Adobe is one of the giants of the Mac software industry and if anyone can improve a product, I think they can. Carrara is, under the interface, a very powerful 3D program. It sports three different modelers. A spline modeler, like in the original Infini-D, a vertex modeler, and also a new metaball modeler, the text modeler and a new terrain modeler that's right out of Bryce.
Carrara's metaball modeler.
And Carrara's spiffy
new vertex modeler.
Carrara ups Infini-D with inverse kinematics at long last. But the IK is a bit limited for doing real detailed character work with face models. Carrara also has a great texture generator that looks like another borrow from Bryce. And it has something called shading domains that let you confine textures just to certain parts of a model. And Carrara also supports high end features like motion blur, depth of field, all kinds of volumetric effects, advanced particle systems for things like smoke and fire as well as a really high-end physics engine to assign real world physical behaviors to a model.
Gary: Wow, I guess I should have worked with the program some. I just ran away from my computer when I first launched the program. I made my wife go uninstall it.
Randy: While I will always miss my Infini-D, I think I want Carrara. But I agree with you Gary on the interface thing. I hope Adobe will peel off the candy coating and make the awesome tools in Carrara more accessible, because under the hood, this 3D program rocks.
Gary: Pretty much the only program out of MetaCreation's lunchbox that hasn't been sold yet is Poser. I sure would have liked to have seen Adobe grab Poser, Bryce and Carrara as a set. That could be the ultimate 3D suite Adobe needs to fill the 3D void in their produce lineup.
Randy: I believe by next week the Poser buy should be announced. It sure is weird to think of the company that was the powerhouse of 3D applications just dropping everything they owned to go become an e-commerce company. I'm sure Kai Krause is turning over in his grave.
Gary: Dude, he is not dead, you moron. I don't think he's even middle aged yet.
Randy: Okay, he's rolling over in his jacuzzi.
Gary: I thought I was supposed to be the dumb one in this column.
Randy: I think it's contagious. I was so focused at the beginning of the column and now all I want to do is watch Space Ghost Coast to Coast and eat frosting from a can.
Gary: Race you to the TV!!
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .