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There was this question about learning Blender. The point that came up in some of the comments was is this on topic? I mean, modelling tools in general are a fundamental tool in making important assets for a game, but would something like 'How can I learn Maya/Flash?' be on topic for here?

And expanding on that, would 'How can I make my model look more realistic' also be on topic?

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Like I've said before, it isn't as much about topic as the audience. We want questions that are interesting to game developers of different kinds.

If a tool or technique is relatively common in the production of game assets, then I vote that they're on topic.


That being said,

How can I learn Maya/Flash?

Personally I don't like "how can I learn X" where X is anything since it's not the kind of long tail question that attracts experts to the site. Good questions are specific.

But this:

How can I make my model look more realistic

Is a great question, assuming there's an actual image or specific case the user wants us to look at and provide feedback on. If it didn't come with an image, it wouldn't be a good question.

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  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good point; I think the whole focus of the gamedev site is that game development is a holistic activity that requires skills in not just programming but a bunch of related fields as well. So if it is strongly related to game development, and has general utility to the community as a whole, I think it should be allowed. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Atwood Jan 9 '11 at 21:46
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I think this is a good question that needs clarification. I'd vote for off-topic because:

There are a lot of fundamental tools to create game-assets. Eg. Photoshop/GIMP or Illustrator/Inkscape for textures or 2D game-assets. Audio- and video-editing software for soundtrack/effects and cut-scenes.

Most if not all of these tools have something in common: You don't use them exclusively for game production. So a question about learning the basics of such a program is definitely off-topic. If the question was specifically targeted at game-development, that would be something else.

Just because a program is being used in the game production pipeline doesn't mean we should answer questions about that here. If some people choose MS Word to write their design documents, we wouldn't want questions along the lines of: "How do I create a heading in Word"

I'd consider something along the lines of "How do I learn Photoshop/Maya/3D Studio Max/Lightwave" as off-topic whereas something like "Best Maya setup for low-poly modelling" or "How to bake normal-maps in blender" as on-topic (although one could argue about that too).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with pretty much all your points, but I can't give you the upvote since I don't agree that they're off topic in the general case. I think we should encourage tools discussion, as long as they're not so "noobish" as to turn away experts. How to moderate that, though, is a hard problem to solve. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jan 9 '11 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah sure. I don't opt for general off-topic either. I'd also like to see some more design or art-creation related topics here. \$\endgroup\$ – bummzack Jan 9 '11 at 23:39
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I wish I could just say, "refer them to the 3D Graphics Techniques site" - but it's stuck in eternal proposal phase :(

If the site existed, I'd say these questions are all off-topic, and people should be referred to the 3D site. So this could be a temporary problem - I like to think one day the site will exist :)

And of course, it's only 3D - doesn't help on questions about 2D or music-tools...

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What would be phenomenal would be to have a link to that site in the off-topic close reason. \$\endgroup\$ – Kara Marfia Jan 27 '11 at 4:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kara, I don't disagree with that - but it's not a site yet, alas, only a proposal. I wouldn't send people there expecting answers, although possibly if you made it clear the site doesn't exist yet, it would be okay. \$\endgroup\$ – Cyclops Jan 27 '11 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly. I figure the best pool of people to draw on (and the ones who'd be most happy to find out about the proposal) would be the ones asking questions that are off topic everywhere else... \$\endgroup\$ – Kara Marfia Jan 28 '11 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kara unfortunately, the people asking questions, usually want an answer now, or at least sometime before six months have gone by... Telling them to "go commit to this site, and maybe some day this year, the site will go live and you'll get an answer" - not sure that's much of a solution to off-topic questions here :( \$\endgroup\$ – Cyclops Jan 28 '11 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not suggesting that it's posted as an answer, but perhaps as a site feature. Seems like a complimentary site to this one, much as SO, SF, and SU exist somewhat symbiotically. \$\endgroup\$ – Kara Marfia Jan 30 '11 at 19:11
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This has come up again, with a very specific question about modelling in Maya, with a picture.

I would rather not see these questions here. But I would also rather not see half0 the programming questions we have here either, because I think SO can do them better. And there's no SO equivalent for modelling yet. So if we're going to have a double-standard, let's at least do it in the direction that provides a resource not otherwise available.

0 That's half after you filter out the quarter of the site that's "getting started" crap, which doesn't belong anywhere on SE.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you're being a little bit harsh with your examples of "programming questions better suited for SO" examples in the comment on that question. The curved movement question absolutely belongs here. It's not a question of programming but of logic of things that are commonly found in a video game. I do agree with a few of your other examples, and will probably migrate a few later. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad May 8 '11 at 1:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ That being said, if you don't like questions feel free to flag them. The moderators do read all the flags. We just may decide not to do anything about it. I've thought we've been doing a pretty good job of shutting down the dupe "getting started" questions, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad May 8 '11 at 1:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would love to know why you think a question about how to model basic curves is off-topic but a question about how to program basic curves is on-topic. Certainly games contain curved movement; they also contain plenty of curved surfaces. In the grand scheme of things, someone asking about curves in Maya is far more likely to be working in game development than someone asking about programming basic curve motion, who could be doing anything from algebra homework to transportation networks. \$\endgroup\$ – user744 May 8 '11 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't vote to close the other question. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad May 8 '11 at 16:15

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