ALIAS MAYA VS AUTODESK MAYA
The Alias Studio struck to make something unique. A UI friendly application to make it easier to work in 3D. Its main defining difference to 3Ds Max is that it allows for customizable shelves and logical terminology. Since the acquisition into Audodesk, Maya hasn't changed much in 8 years which is the product lifecycle of 3D tools acquired my Autodesk. Autodesk doesn't like to innovate and revolutionize its tools because these tools have a particular market. Maya, Studio Max, and Softimage all share the same market which is the games, entertainment and visual effects market and they are industry standard tools. Studios will always pay for the next generation of a product and vastly changing its tool set could disrupt its user base.
MAYA VS 3DS MAX
3Ds Max has not been seriously redesigned since the 90s. Companies that have adopted 3Ds Max are starting drop it over other packages. It has a very clunky modifier list UI system.
Whis that a bad thing? Because it stiffens creativity. Its still exists as a tabs and window based UI system. While vastly easier to use then 3Ds Max, its evolution stopped the moment Auto desk took over.
THINGS THAT AUTODESK DID RIGHT
Edgeloops on double clicks
Spin Face from the mjpolytools for Maya 7.0 became obsolete but its interesting to see its incarnation still exists as Spin edge with a ctrl+alt forward and backward shortcut allowing for the same result. This keeps Maya superior to 3Ds Max in UI and retaining skills.
THINGS AUTODESK DID WRONG
CUSTOM TAB & WINDOW BASED UI
This UI was once a revolution compared to 3Ds Max but its horrible 20 years later. Customizable aspects to the UI allowing the user to alter the color of the UI, the background of the view port and behaviors of dropping primitives are ridiculous. Look at a design like Zbrush and you see the user is not even given the choice of the look and feel. As a 3D modeler I was always sitting at workstations that were more or less shared licences among other users and now i was forced to spend time to turn on my HUD settings, change the way objects are dragged. Finding the tab properties that adjusted my shape. Once I got it to place I liked, another user would mess it up for me.
The viewport has not changed in 16 years. Sure it handle normal maps now but its in the worst way possible. New shader should be introduced to create an environment that is closer to what you would expect from your final render. I can be faked but its ultimately more useful to the artist working on the software. For games, having a viewport render that utilizes Direct X would be nice.
Why has the Viewport render not changed since its original conception.
Why do new software packages use real time shader system that helps the end user visualize the model? Zbrush has that and fast global illumination render with shadows.
NORMAL MAP BAKING FROM HIGH RES
X-Normal still does a better job then internal Maya baking tooks
UV MAPPING VS HEADUS UV LAYOUT
Headus UV Layout
MENTAL RAY IS OBSOLETE
Overhaul this rendering platform or replace it. The modules need to be organized in a way thats better then the tab system. There is a lot of wasted space and its unclear what each of these controls actually do. Its more of a process of trial and error. The scale conversion in the algorith control section of the sub surface shader in Mental Ray is hidden at the bottom of a tab and yet controls the most important aspect of the shaders rendering behavior.
Maya has not be overhauled from its original Windows and tab based UI architecture since its original conception. It understandable that a legacy product like Maya would have an industry base with a lot of studios. My proposal is to continue to push Maya in a linage of its current path but in parallel, overhaul the UI using the same backend .ma file architecture. The two products can be sold individually but run on the same file system and be opened up by both products. It is my belief that the industry will adopt the newer UI and the older one can be phased out but the core technology will not be wasted. It could even be a toggle between UI modes.