Last week I spent my time learning MentalMill, which is a node based realtime shader authoring tool. Most of my shader related experience comes from Unreal’s material editor, which is very specific to the engine, so I wanted to learn a more generic approach.
3DS Max 2010 supports hardware shaders and Mental Mill’s MetaSL shader language which is amazing: I can create complex shaders and see them realtime in the perspective viewport with soft shadows and SSAO. What’s even better, Mental Ray will render the same shaders. This is a huge step ahead workflow wise.
In spite of the shortcomings of the current implementation (no transparency, software render baking and shader caching issues) I’m very enthusiastic. I’ve already made a deposit shader which I intend to do in ShaderFX and in Unreal as well, so they will be the subjects of my next tutorial.