Well, if we are going to necromance threads… lol
As a newcomer and a community outsider, there are a few problems I’ve been able to note so far in my stay:
“Cartoons? Really? It must be a crap engine” or “it looks pathetic” are the kind of responses I’ve gotten from my team while I’ve been fighting for us using Panda. I thought the same thing, which is why I posted this thread. People judge quickly, and need to be hooked immediately. The site’s ought to be more appealing and should downplay Python, and up-play that Panda is easy to use. Mention C++ first, and then Python later when they are salivating to use Panda. Honestly, without that awesome manual Panda has, I doubt I’d have ever joined the forum.
I’ve done enough playing around now that I’m personally satisfied with the engine’s abilities. You have an engine that works on par with Ogre, but with an entire framework, and easy to work with through python. But there isn’t much here that really show’s what the engine can really do. Panda needs more artists working on projects and demos that give Panda’s image more “flash” so it gets taken more seriously. Which brings me to…
True, the IRC has 30 people but there is rarely much chatter in there. The people there are quite helpful when you ask a question. It’s all business. There is very little sense of community. The more people feel connected, they more they talk, and the more people will stick around, rather than just join the channel and leave without speaking. And as far as the forum, this thread is 2 years old, but for an opinion thread, it’s only 1 page so far! And the bigger the community using Panda, the more Youtube videos, blogs, articles, and info will be out there to attract even more people. Panda needs more people!
Someone earlier in the thread said panda has very nice tools. That may be true for a python or C++ coder, but the CMU Scene Editor is problematic, and the newer Level Editor doesn’t work right out of the box, and there is apparently no update in sight. To someone like me that’s pretty much a deal breaker. That editor sounds nice, but what good is it if I can’t use it? And while technically something like PView is passable, tell that to a straight-up artist who want’s nothing to do with that kind of interface. Artists need good tools that are clean, functional, don’t break or create broken files when they use them. I’m a rare exception where I can put up with such hassles, and find ways to fix them. Most artist’s aren’t like that in my experience. Any one of those problems stops the pipeline flow, which is an enormous problem for any serious production.
The biggest reason Unity3D has as much traction as it does is, well, obviously money, but also great tools that are really nice to work with on the asset side of things. I realize that it would be a huge project to create something on that level. But seriously, Neo Axis has tools (that an artist could actually use) that kick the crap out of Panda’s. And notice how they also have more “flash” (which wasn’t the case 2 years ago). And that engine was developed by a couple of guys.
So to boil this all down, and put it very simply: Panda is clearly in a vicious cycle.
Artists -> “Flash, or WOW” -> More Community -> More Programmers -> Easier Tools -> More Artists.
The posts in this forum pretty much show there is a high turn-over rate. Newcomers show up, get frustrated and don’t come back.
All of those points need to be countered in order to really give Panda a bright future, and get more users. But the most immediate one is Panda’s image. You have a great engine which everyone thinks sucks.
My advice: (to both disney and the community)
Change the site, and start a community initiative project to make better, more attractive demos.
Although keep the manual, that thing is awesome. That’s what made me give Panda a chance.
Unfortunately it seems like the big contributor of tools and maintainers of the site are CMU (a school, so rather sporadic) and I get the impression that Disney’s dev team seems rather hands off. I don’t know whether they’d allow this site to be more community managed. And I know there is a shortage of C++ people willing to really muck with Panda’s core. Are there any other sites related to Panda? There are no links, and I can’t find anything in google.
It’s been 2 years since this thread was posted, and somehow I have the impression that aside from a site redesign, Panda hasn’t gotten far in breaking out. People like RDB manage to keep things moving along in the mean time. If Disney ever was, or still is serious about getting panda out there, it needs to at least consider what I’ve said.
This post is made with in the spirit of constructive criticism. I hope it does not come off as rude, or condescending. I just think it’s a waste seeing this engine not get more attention.
And yes, before asking anything like “well why don’t you help”, I would be happy to help with making models/textures for improved demo’s. But I’m not very good for Python work.