I was a bit disturbed by the thread that Bob posted. I got the feeling that A|W is perhaps gaining a bit of a big, self-defensive head.
Yeah Bob is a little defensive but can you really blame him.. who could stand by and listen to all sorts of BS about you company being spread around like so much manure. They do read the posts here but sitll their are allways these complaints that they don't. The solution is for them to make themslves more visible and take an interest in talking to individual users about their issues with Maya.
So what A|W is basically saying is that the thoughts of 90% of the userbase, who all agree that the renderer in Maya was implemented as a sort of sick joke (and I am NOT only referring its output quality), are absurd.
I'm not really sure what you are trying to say here? I for one have been happy enough with the standrard renderer and I don't feel that 90% of the userbase says the same. I'm not saying that there was not room for improvement or that adding Mental Ray as the default renderer is bad but now that they have there is no reason to dwell on the issue of the standard renderer. The next step is for them to keep developing Maya's interface to MR.
I also have a complaint about the illusion A|W seems to have about it's user base: "I think my biggest take away here is that existing customers want more attention paid to "small things" that can improve daily productivity. Ideally, these improvements would not be so small that they could have easily been programmed by any Mayan in MEL."
You are taking this statement out of context.. They can't decide what is too small. It would be impossible to incorporate every single possible user created enhancement into Maya. However it would be nice if they could just setup some of the defaults to be a little more realistic. For example why is the defualt filter setting for 2d textures nodes 1.. that is too much and I don't know how many times I have seen people blame the renderer for creating blurry images when it is in fact this settings fault. I think what would be useful is some sort of MEL script manager built in that cotnained a core group of user defined and tested scripts with documentation. Ther are also alot of options that could be easily added to most menu commands. Many commands could easily be made to do there thing over every object in a selection rather than expecting the user to use a for loop. Personally the for loop is great and easy but why can't we just extrude over multiple paths by defaut etc.. Not every little thing that can be adjusted with MEL is a bug either.
One camp.. who says that you should just fix it yourself are probably more advanced and may work in a a facilty that have TD's but now that they have reached the individual user and artists then this issue of those who are not technically inclined are left in the dark becomes a problem. I think it is neccessary to use MEL to really beable to do everything you might want to do.. you can't do rigging without knowing MEL unless you only work with premade or default skeletons... Maya should ship with some nice professinal rigged characters...rather than the exampels from the Learnign Maya book. The area of modelling seems to be the biggest area where there are good features from other programs that have been incorporated with scripts but the scripts are slow and some are unstable.
Most animators are artist that want to focus on their craft in a proper working environment. They have no interest in getting "under-the-hood" to fix minor bugs in Maya. These individuals would sooner make the switch to a more stable package (I do know of one that is being talked about a lot on these boards lateley).
I do not see any exodus because if the people you were talking about knew Maya all that well then maybe they would know a little bit of MEL to get by. Plus other programs that are out there that are more or less expensive also have scripting languages.. why? because you need to use scripting to do things that are not defined by the interface but you keep referring to those things as bugs. I'm not saying that Maya does not have a few bugs as there do seem to still be some when it comes to editing poly models and those are not fixable with scripts. Does it make me want to throw away 5 years of experience with this package? No. However I think that a big asset would be to form a consortium created out of the diverse userbase to prime all of the major areas with settings that are useful rather than arbitrary defaults or 1 or 0. To include usable materials so that if somebody only wants to focus on character animation they can open up a scenefile that allready has a rigged character all ready to go. I had this idea back when I was using PowerAnimator and freakin Poser came out.. I thought why can't I just have a prerigged character???
As it stands I cannot imagine any new radical technology being added to the mix.. we have plenty to work with and improve now that FD and MR have been added. The users defined enhancements will not propagate unless AW embraces them and incorporates them with the software installer. It is unneccessary to include every single MEL script listed on this website but just the ones that are enhancements and additions that do not need to be compiled or that unlock allready existing features that are unknown or are poorly documented. If possible modelling and texturing toolsets should be consolidated. Sub-d's need to be renderable with MR without converting to polys first... I see this as being a number one priority.
Lastly I would appreciate it if you and anyone else reading would go through the wish list and pick your priorities and list any that were left out.