High ongoing cost, relatively low "improvements".

Started by jwiede, July 24, 2018, 06:22:28 pm

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jaf

Quote from: Oshyan on July 26, 2018, 07:45:22 pm
Likewise I am reading all of this too, with interest. I think it's fair to say we're aware of much - if not all - of this, but it doesn't make it less valid.

I also just want to mention that if you don't find the Maintenance fee to be a good enough value, then you can just wait to renew it until an update/new feature that makes it worth your money. The cost will be the same and you'll continue to be able to use your current version of Terragen in the meantime. Licenses are still perpetual.

- Oshyan

On the other hand, if I could pay half of the $225 each year, Planetside would get my$225 in two years and I would be up-to-date and happy.  If I skip a year and then pay up, Planetside would still get $225 (and Planetside would have an extra $112.50 for that first year and I would be likely to continue to pay $112.50 per year.)

Please keep in mind I wrote this after a few cold one's.  :P
(02oct19) Ryzen 1800x, 970 EVO 1TB NVME-M.2 SSD, Corsair Vengeance 64GB DDR4 3200 Mem,  EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Graphics 436.48 (02oct19), Win 10 Pro x64, Terragen Frontier 4.4.18 BMark 0:10:18

WAS

July 27, 2018, 01:55:44 am #31 Last Edit: July 27, 2018, 01:58:54 am by WASasquatch
It seems like you really just want a whole new program. A lot of what you're describing about clouds would be so heavy on the previewer it's just impractical. You wouldn't see anything in real time quickly to be dragging around rotation. So it might as well be rotating the noise by value, and changing the depth and falloffs, using SSS's to redefine a vertical "disc" etc.  And why would a cloud shape, trying to obtain realistic look based on a orientation in the atmosphere, rotate? That's a artistic choice, and not even a common situation in Terragen. I mess around with a lot of clouds, like making hero clouds, and never once though about rotating. Defeats the whole purpose of making my realistic clouds.

And with your viewports, it would be helpful, sure, but again, require rewriting a lot of stuff, on top of other things that are limited with a slow preview, might as well start a new project working with these ideas from the ground up. Also, what if a user has multiple heightfields? Generated heightfields, patched zones (SSS), etc, etc? With things blended and such you may be disabling a lot just too see benefit from the viewports.

Like you mentioned though, different "views" based on a cameras position, would be really nice, the other things though just really encompass a lot. How Matt as explained how TG is developed, I can see why I lot of stuff hasn't changed. The entire idea and workflow involved with how you built a shader a decade ago is lost to time, makes it hard to work with. That being said, That's why in modern coding conventions re-writes are common place just to refresh yourself with the code-base, optimize based on what you know now, syntax adjustments, or pseudo code and commenting relating to other updates and what not, etc, etc. Being a one man show here, I can easily see how going back can be a "Wait and see" sort of thing, or put off. I've done it countless times.

I recently wanted to go back and work with a PHPMyChat build I customized (back in the PHP3 days) and it was so archaic, and how I did things so different from now that I just immediately closed nano and moved on. Lol

In any case I'm done reiterating myself over and over, I've made my input. As Matt has been doing, yes I think development could be faster, even in relation to other single-development software. The UI I don't really have an issue with, and a user can change the colour tone if they want. They icons could use updating. Maybe nice new vector based ones or something.
Check out the Terragen Community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Terragen.Galleries/

Dune

Interesting discussion, though I find it very negative. Terragen's progress is a one man operation in effect, and time spent needs money earned. I think it's tremendous what Matt has achieved almost by himself. You can't compare that to the teams working on other software.
Anyway, as a long time and intensive user, I am perfectly happy with both UI and functionality. Of course things can be improved, but I'd rather see that posted as positive feedback/suggestions/mockups than as the negative rants seen here. Too bad we haven't seen any work of you guys posted too, btw.

Matt

While I appreciate the support, I don't think the "one man" or "small team" argument is very compelling here. To the buyer, it's about value for money. A possible response that argument is "that's fine that you are a small team with fewer new features, but you should charge less". The current pricing is a weighted consideration of many factors. The truth is that many of our users do see value for money and anticipate return on investment at the current prices. But many people won't. That is actually one of the main reasons we decided to switch to a Maintenance model. Previously, if you wanted upgrade from Terragen 3 to Terragen 4, you had no choice in how much you paid. Users who are using it everyday professionally would pay the same upgrade price as a casual user, and that didn't seem fair in our view. Now with Maintenance you get to choose how often you update your Maintenance. Those customers who are really benefiting from regular updates are paying the $249 per year. While those who are less enthusiastic can choose to pay however frequently they want. I think this is fairer. But it's a complex topic and there are various viewpoints on this. We're listening, and we'll consider making adjustments.

One thing I haven't seen discussed here is the price of Terragen Creative. Maintenance for Terragen Creative is less than half that of Professional. But of course it's missing some of the features of Professional. Which of the Pro-only features do you think should be included in Creative to make it worth considering instead of Professional?

Matt
Just because milk is white doesn't mean that clouds are made of milk.

Matt

I don't mean to brush over the requests and ideas for improvements. There is a lot to think about here.

Matt
Just because milk is white doesn't mean that clouds are made of milk.

KlausK

"Long-time lurker customer, just going to say my piece and leave it at that..." - that never works out well, does it? ;)

Going back to the first two posts in this thread I can only nod in approval to most everything written there.
But I would be very surprised if any of this is going to happen in a meaningful timeframe.
This is simply my interpretation of looking at the pace of development.

From my point of view laying the focus on the documention would have top priority.
And seeing how little attention the documentation gets I dare to say planetside underappreciates the value of this
to new inexperienced potential customers. Not to mention some people using the software already.

With that said: not that I think the forum represents a critical mass of TG users but, looking at the posts of new forum users over time
I for one am under the impression that the manual/wiki/documention is a top concern regarding TG coming up regularly.
It looks and feels outdated. It shows how poorly maintained it is. There is a lot of information missing.
Having a "?" on every property page in the program leading to nothing (at worst) or offering a description of a function without
giving a hint of its place in the workflow does not help (me) a lot.
And no, the search function of the forum is a poor substitute for a thorough help file or wiki.
So is asking questions in the forum and getting answers and solutions even from the developers themselves (cool!).
Be it naive, simpleminded or whatever, having a lot of paragraphs in the wiki still labeled TG2 or TG3 is just not attractive.
Wether it be valid information or not.
And I think the impact this has on potentional new users aka customers is to be taken seriously.

Is it harder to do something about the documention than coding the software?
I do not know but, I cannot imagine this to be the case. I do believe, of course, that writing a good documention is not a weekend endeavour.
I have heard it often enough when any poor manuals are criticised... But you have to start somewhere sooner or later, don`t you?

I do actually think bringing the documentation up to par would help a lot.
More than any much wanted, wished for and needed functionality.
It would buy you time - "and time spent needs money earned" (Dune).
Depending heavily on what kind of clientele should be developed in the first place, I guess.
As a non-commercial dabbler this is what I am looking for. Professional users might not need this.



Last but not least: the new pricing model has been presented when TG4 arrived.
Planetside laid out some of there thoughts leading to the decisions made.
I think it is offering a acceptable balance between being up to date and buying into or updating the application
whenever you feel it is worth it. Hopefully they do not ever take away perpetual licenses or go any other route
like some of the big players do. As non-professional customer I surely would have to give Terragen up at this point.
And money is always too tight to mention, isn`t it.

CHeers, Klaus
/ ASUS WS Mainboard / Dual XEON E5-2640v3 / 64GB RAM / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 TI / Win7 Ultimate

KlausK

hi Matt,
I just read through the comparison of TG4 Pro and Creative.
There is not the one feature I`d like to see in Creative.
To buy Professional was based on the fact that it has the export and import functionality.
Basically everything that is not in Creative now.
I think putting more into Creative would diminish Professional.
Kill Creative and think about a lower price tag for Professional  ::)
(I wonder how many copies of Creative are out there at all)
CHeers, Klaus
/ ASUS WS Mainboard / Dual XEON E5-2640v3 / 64GB RAM / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 TI / Win7 Ultimate

Dune

I know that a customer looks at value for money, I just didn't appreciate the negative wording used, and was merely explaining why TG is not developed into something perfect overnight. I appreciate it taking so much time for a small team.
Regarding the wiki or any documentation explaining nodes, their places in the network, etc. It has been discussed continually over the years, but it is just not easy to do, and I phrase it carefully. I could better say, explaining it indepth is virtually impossible. I still find new ways of doing things, new ways of setting up networks 'out of the box', and I've been here about a decade or more. As soon as you explain one thing, you miss a hundred. And if you explain all, a user will be flabbergasted by its sheer mass. Though I never look at the wiki or documentation anymore, and don't know what's in there, I have to say.
I'd say, the basics are explained well enough, IMHO, and learn by following threads and asking (specific) questions. It's just not a click and render software.

KlausK

July 27, 2018, 06:36:38 am #38 Last Edit: July 27, 2018, 06:51:35 am by KlausK
Dune, that is all true but my point is that the forum should not be a replacement for that.
It should be a substitution. And I think the topic comes up again and again because it is still a pita.

I am not looking for detailed explanations of the nodes - this is neither possible nor necessary.
It is about presets, showcases, readymade tgd`s to start from, examples of setting up and bringing together the whole thing.
The wiki is not up to date and surely not complete by all means.
I am happy the forum is in place, and as you know I use it whenever I need to.
But a lot of people nowadays are using other information channels - perhaps even exclusively.

People deal with "shortcomings" of the software all the time. That is inherent to software which does more than 1 thing, I guess.

Let me sketch how I encounter a new software:

I install it, run it, play and experiment with it.
If I can get some pleasing results fast without diving through tons of help pages, all the better.
But there comes a point where I want to learn more and especially more specific things.
When I then find that most of the information is based on 1 or 2 prior versions of the application I am not amused.
When I then find that after investing my time and money in this product for more than 1 1/2 year the information
has not changed a bit - I am - very much - not amused. That`s all.
And I say it again: I am convinced this drives people away from a application more than the odd missing functionality.
Of course, this might be more about "looks" than real face value.

Anyways, this and the (looking from the outside) rather slow development cycles lead me to not renew maintenance. Which is fine.
As I said above I am glad planetside makes this possible. And as I said above spending time updating the documentation seems to me
like a goal in closer reach than getting functionality coded.
I am absolutely impressed where Terragen is now, but  I also do think about value for money.

CHeers, Klaus

ps: "It's just not a click and render software." Really?
 
/ ASUS WS Mainboard / Dual XEON E5-2640v3 / 64GB RAM / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 TI / Win7 Ultimate

Dune


Prometheus

Quote from: WASasquatch on July 26, 2018, 04:29:48 pm
Quote from: Prometheus on July 26, 2018, 04:02:12 pm

You still mentioned rotational functions? but you are now backing away from that with the notion that terragien is going for earth realistic type clouds, that makes no sense..a user may have need to actually change rotation of the cloud to fit a certain look of the clouds..as it also may be perceived in real life..it´s just a shortcoming which you are excusing by saying it´s going for earth realistic clouds.
Where is those rotational controls? aside from entering nodes?
The rotational functions are just that. Functions.

Again, Terragen is based on these nodes. Everything. Even objects if you want to correctly import and display anything. Clouds do not rotate like you're describing, and would not, in a earth simulation. So if that's something you're after, it's just likely not going to be part of TG. The cloud layers, are layers. They're layers in the atmosphere essentially. They don't rotate on X or Z axis. You can rotate the noise and obtain different looks, especially with heavily customized clouds. Which again, is based on nodes if you want something like a Hero Cloud. You won't get this with cloud layer sliders and a single fractal input and it's sliders, and I don't think it was initially intended that way.

Quote from: Prometheus on July 26, 2018, 04:02:12 pm
And for going against windows UI, I do not follow you on that one..what can I say.


Change the color of your Windows UI, Terragen changes as well. Because it uses assets from Windows, that millions of applications use to build speedy fast comprehensive UI. There are better frameworks that are better for cross-compatibility with like Linux and Mac.

Visual opinions such as color tone, and the color of icons, is a personal thing. I for instance, like color coded icons that offer a peripheral target. Always have, and why when color displays came out, and for the last what, 40 years, they have been used. There could be a mellow-toned icon alternative, or colour-blind alternative icon sets created, and even better icons, as they have aged, but the UI doesn't need to change, doesn't need hard-coded colours, etc.

Quote from: Prometheus on July 26, 2018, 04:02:12 pm
For your final notes...well I understand that you may think other software is focused on artistic approach and not simulation..but the thing is it shouldn´t be neither..you don´t put out a software for either artistic nor simulated result...you try to do your best to meet the needs of as full control as possible..or maybe some developers do..but then you will loose customers complaining over lack of control..as it currently stands, full control to override Simulated physics? isn´t unnatural..especially since this is just procedurals...not simulated fluid based stuff with real world gaseous cloud behavior.


This is actually how industry works, though... we have simulation software, and we have production, and art based software. Just because people develop plugins, or a software you're familiar with includes some cool fluid stuff or whatever doesn't mean it's the only.

Quote from: Prometheus on July 26, 2018, 04:02:12 pm
What do you think of my complaints of lack of the value controls? any thoughts on that, lack of axis indicators etc, commas, sliders for the values?   no need to respond on that..but just curious on what you have to say on that.


You'd need to be entirely more specific. What lack of value controls?

Axis indicators with what exactly? The camera? Yes, we could use a 3D axis indicator, I believe I've mentioned that before. Clouds? As I explained, it isn't really needed.

Sliders are only for things that have a relative defined range, where outside of scope things may get weird (from what I've seen), or for ease of use such as altitude in surface layers with the preview colour. But other things are based on dynamic input. How would a slide work from 1e-006 - 1e+006? It's be incredibly hard to pick any exact range and you'd be entering values manually anyway. Even on sliders with a max of 1e+006, it's hard to select anything exact, so you enter values manually.

Quote from: Prometheus on July 26, 2018, 04:02:12 pm
Vue interface isn´t bad or flashy just for marketing sake, I think you can scale down icons as well, though I just noticed that the UI has more colored icons than before if I am not mistaken..will have to test the latest vue soon, you could also choose scheme if you want, copy and paste of cloud layers is great where you just may want a similar cloud but a bit high and some minor tweaks..maybe that is possible with nodes in terragen ..but the workflow doesn´t seem as smooth.


I don't think it is bad, it definitely is flashing it's unique Vue-ness, just like Maya, Blender, and any branded software. This is inherent to marketing, and it will most certainly be done in a way you're not aware of. In general, a layout is entirely not needed and could just rely on the UI of the OS like Terragen, and be whatever colour the user wants. Icons like I said are usually visual aids. And with Vue, they don't really help.. you still have stop and read them. They aren't very distinct for peripheral targeting when doing things at a flow. When you mention smooth and stuff it just seems like esthetic opinion, not based on actual productivity. A mock design may help iterate what you mean. But so far it just seems you'r explaining opinion on what looks good to you.

Edit: It's always why these sort of things are summed up into "templates" or "Layouts" for frameworks or UIs... Because they don't mean anything really to the functionality and practicality of use, they're just for show. And these things change to as far as what's "In". In the early to end of the 2000s it was light colour tones and colours, since the than we have seen a trend toward dark, and yes, these software have reflected that.


I can not reply properly..the forum is messing up my posts when I quote.

Marander

The forum / customer interaction of the developers is really commendable.  :D

I also like the idea of beta participation for users on maintenance. The possibility that one can wait with renewing the maintenance (and having TG as perpetual license) is great.

I gladly support companies like Planetside where the dev cycles are longer but they are passionate about their product and listen to customers instead of shareholders.

A UI refresh and some workflow improvements (navigation, camera, views, object selection and manipulation as well as improved import/export) would be nice. But given the fact that TG is developed by 1-2 people up to this current state with this outstanding output quality is remarkable.

Kadri

Quote from: Matt on July 27, 2018, 04:26:35 am
... Previously, if you wanted upgrade from Terragen 3 to Terragen 4, you had no choice in how much you paid. Users who are using it everyday professionally would pay the same upgrade price as a casual user, and that didn't seem fair in our view. Now with Maintenance you get to choose how often you update your Maintenance. Those customers who are really benefiting from regular updates are paying the $249 per year. While those who are less enthusiastic can choose to pay however frequently they want. I think this is fairer. But it's a complex topic and there are various viewpoints on this. ...


While i still don't like Maintenance, this explanation clicked somehow. But still it feels high to me Matt. Others might think different of course.

Quote from: Marander on July 27, 2018, 11:45:34 am
The forum / customer interaction of the developers is really commendable.  :D
...


This was-is always great here. The opposite of the Lightwave forum.

otakar

Quote from: Matt on July 27, 2018, 04:26:35 am
Which of the Pro-only features do you think should be included in Creative to make it worth considering instead of Professional?

Matt


For me, mesh displacer and spherical camera.

And I will join those that cannot justify a large maintenance expense for a 4.2 upgrade. I am just a hobbyist, after all.

Prometheus

July 27, 2018, 12:50:21 pm #44 Last Edit: July 27, 2018, 12:58:12 pm by Prometheus
I am trying to replying here with quotes, but I need to copy text and paste the answer, I had written to long answers and do not wish to re-write it, I have it copied in text format ..but it seems this forum doesn´t validate that and brings me to a new post and then nothing happens

Quote from: WASasquatch on July 26, 2018, 04:29:48 pm
Quote from: Prometheus on July 26, 2018, 04:02:12 pm

You still mentioned rotational functions? but you are now backing away from that with the notion that terragien is going for earth realistic type clouds, that makes no sense..a user may have need to actually change rotation of the cloud to fit a certain look of the clouds..as it also may be perceived in real life..it´s just a shortcoming which you are excusing by saying it´s going for earth realistic clouds.
Where is those rotational controls? aside from entering nodes?


QuoteThe rotational functions are just that. Functions.
Again, Terragen is based on these nodes. Everything. Even objects if you want to correctly import and display anything. Clouds do not rotate like you're describing, and would not, in a earth simulation. So if that's something you're after, it's just likely not going to be part of TG. The cloud layers, are layers. They're layers in the atmosphere essentially. They don't rotate on X or Z axis. You can rotate the noise and obtain different looks, especially with heavily customized clouds. Which again, is based on nodes if you want something like a Hero Cloud. You won't get this with cloud layer sliders and a single fractal input and it's sliders, and I don't think it was initially intended that way.


And that means what?  I know rotational functions is functions..it doesn´t make it any clearer on why Terragen doesn´t have it directly accessable as any other software has.
Both vue and Lightwave (ogo taiki) has planetery cloud layers...fully rotational...Again Terragen doesn´t due to the mysterious reason you mention, I find it hard to believe that due to how the Terragen is built up..it would be impossible ..or it doesn´t work that way..when vue seem to work with planetary cloud layers as well, and lightwave ogo taiki.


Quote from: Prometheus on July 26, 2018, 04:02:12 pm
And for going against windows UI, I do not follow you on that one..what can I say.


QuoteChange the color of your Windows UI, Terragen changes as well. Because it uses assets from Windows, that millions of applications use to build speedy fast comprehensive UI. There are better frameworks that are better for cross-compatibility with like Linux and Mac.

Visual opinions such as color tone, and the color of icons, is a personal thing. I for instance, like color coded icons that offer a peripheral target. Always have, and why when color displays came out, and for the last what, 40 years, they have been used. There could be a mellow-toned icon alternative, or colour-blind alternative icon sets created, and even better icons, as they have aged, but the UI doesn't need to change, doesn't need hard-coded colours, etc.


I do not want to change my windows UI to get a nicer terragen look, besides...Terragen needs special color attention..which I do not think windows can handle.

Quote from: Prometheus on July 26, 2018, 04:02:12 pm
For your final notes...well I understand that you may think other software is focused on artistic approach and not simulation..
but the thing is it shouldn´t be neither..you don´t put out a software for either artistic nor simulated result...you try to do your best to meet the needs of as full control as possible..or maybe some developers do..but then you will loose customers complaining over lack of control..as it currently stands, full control to override Simulated physics? isn´t unnatural..especially since this is just procedurals...not simulated fluid based stuff with real world gaseous cloud behavior.


QuoteThis is actually how industry works, though... we have simulation software, and we have production, and art based software. Just because people develop plugins, or a software you're familiar with includes some cool fluid stuff or whatever doesn't mean it's the only. [/quote

I do not follow you here...I have never argued around something along the line that you conclude here, I said there is a difference when you mentioned simulations..and I pointed out that terragen doesn´t perform a simulation in the more advanced true physics form such as fluids, it just uses special fractals that (simulates) clouds..but it isn´t anywhere near true physics simulations of how a cloud should build up, it´s pure fractals..not a true simulation in that sense.
so I do not follow you in your conclusion here.


Quote from: Prometheus on July 26, 2018, 04:02:12 pm
What do you think of my complaints of lack of the value controls? any thoughts on that, lack of axis indicators etc, commas, sliders for the values?   no need to respond on that..but just curious on what you have to say on that.


QuoteYou'd need to be entirely more specific. What lack of value controls?

Axis indicators with what exactly? The camera? Yes, we could use a 3D axis indicator, I believe I've mentioned that before. Clouds? As I explained, it isn't really needed.

Sliders are only for things that have a relative defined range, where outside of scope things may get weird (from what I've seen), or for ease of use such as altitude in surface layers with the preview colour. But other things are based on dynamic input. How would a slide work from 1e-006 - 1e+006? It's be incredibly hard to pick any exact range and you'd be entering values manually anyway. Even on sliders with a max of 1e+006, it's hard to select anything exact, so you enter values manually.


I have already written exactly what controls I was talking about in previous posts, and no not camera...I said specificly the z,x,y axis for position of clouds..there are no such indicators in the value fields, below cloud depth in cloud layers, there is localize and there is center..then you got these field to center the cloud density..but you have no indicators on which axis it pertains..if you know it, after testing..that´s one thing..but every software I know has indicators for such things, terragen does not...and these value fields are only having the option of entering values numericly, while many other software also  additionally can use a slider to set the position.