Monday, March 2nd, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk announces Maya LT 2016

Autodesk has announced Maya LT 2016, the latest version of its cut-down edition of Maya aimed at indie games artists. The update adds new brush-based sculpting tools and support for physically based shading.

The announcement was made to coincide with this week’s GDC 2015 conference.

Mudbox-like brush-based sculpting, plus brush-based UV workflows
Key features in Maya LT 2016 include a new brush-based sculpting toolset based on Mudbox, Autodesk’s dedicated sculpting app. It includes falloff controls and stamp effects, though there’s no support for layers yet.

UV workflow is also brush-based: building on the Unfold3D UV unwrapping tools integrated into Maya LT 2015, the new release adds interactive cut/sew edge, automatic projection, pinning, weld, split and unfold brushes.

Support for PBR shader-authoring
Maya LT’s ShaderFX shader-authoring toolset has also been extended with support for authoring physically based materials, now supported in game engines like Unreal Engine 4 and the upcoming Unity 5.

Improved animation tools and export options
On the animation front, LT users get the Spline IK and cluster deformation tools from the ‘full’ version of Maya; and the game exporter now “makes it easier … to export multiple animations to a game engine simultaneously”.

The maximum poly count for exported OBJ and FBX files – a common bone of contention with the initial release of the software, subsequently raised in an Extension release – has also been raised again, to 100,000 polys.

Improved viewport performance
There have also been some under-the-hood changes: the UI has been overhauled to perform better on HiDPI displays, and thanks to “new technology that works between CPU and GPU”, the viewport should update faster.

Textures also now load in the background, minimising the delay before large scenes become editable.

Other new features
Other new features include a customisable default lighting environment to standardise the appearance of imported assets, and a viewport fog effect to focus on the object closest to the camera.

Users will also be able to purchase 3D content “curated specifically for game makers” from a dedicated page on Creative Market, the online – and originally, more graphic design-focused – site Autodesk bought last year.

Updated: Autodesk tells us that the content is selected for the landing page by the Creative Market team itself. If you’re interested in getting your own assets there, you’ll need to open up a storefront.

Pricing and availability
Maya LT 2016 will ship on 26 March 2015. So far, Autodesk hasn’t announced pricing, but the current edition of the software costs $795 for a perpetual licence or from $30/month via a pay-as-you-go subscription.

Read more about Maya LT on Autodesk’s product website