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07-10-2015, 08:00 AM   #1
mbibby
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Particle Flocker - Real-Time Particle Flocking System for Autodesk Maya
Hi Guys

Not so long ago I released a plug-in for Autodesk Maya called "Particle Flocker". Its basically a real-time particle based flocking system and it allows you to create realistic flocking animations really quickly and efficiently using Maya's dynamics system. Its editable in real-time and it very easy to use.

Here's the website:

http://particleflocker.techtoast.co.uk/

Its also available on the Autodesk Exchange store.

Basically I wanted to get some general feedback and ask if anyone has any suggestions where I might be able to market this type of plug-in. I am sure it could be really handy to animators and FX artists alike, but I just want to try and get the word out there and let the right people know about it.

Also if anyone has any feedback regarding the plug-in itself or suggestions for how it could be improved please get in touch.

Thanks guys

Mike
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11-10-2015, 08:13 PM   #2
Nilla
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Hi Mike,

Have you thought of having a free 30-day trial version available for download on your site or making the plug-in free for non-commercial use? It would help you build a user base, plus have people try it out (who otherwise wouldn't have) and give you feedback. People are more inclined to blog about and share stuff on social media that's free, so it would help you get the word out with other people doing the marketing for you.

If you got students using your plug-in they go on to become professionals, and most people don't mind paying a bit for something useful. Also this would open up for using it in tutorials and by schools. We only use free plugins or plugins with a trial version, because while it's fine for us to pay $30 for a plugin you can't sell someone a tutorial for that price and then tell them they have to buy a plug-in on top of that to be able to follow along.

I also think that if you want feedback it's a good idea to make it really easy for people to tell you what they think with something like a dedicated Facebook page. A lot of people won't go through the bother of e-mailing you.

Cheers,
Nilla
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13-10-2015, 12:44 PM   #3
mbibby
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Hi Nilla

Thanks for your excellent feedback!

I have actually been meaning to create a trial version of ParticleFlocker for some time but have never really had the time to do it. However, your message spurred me on and last night I managed to put together a system to allow me to do this. So hopefully in the next few days this should all be ready to go and I will re-post here to give people the download link.

As for your suggestion about a facebook page, I think this is an excellent idea, and to be honest I'm not really sure why I hadn't thought of it myself! I will get that set up alongside the trial.

You are correct that it would not be fair to provide a review/tutorial for a paid plug-in that doesn't have a trial and I completely take that onboard. So I am wandernig, once I have created a functional trial, would you be interested in reviewing the plug-in? I am always open to feedback and normally when I receive good suggestions (such as your own) I will act on them quite quickly. So any further advice or suggestions about the product itself would be great.

Thanks again

Mike
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13-10-2015, 12:49 PM   #4
David
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Mike i'd be happy to review it here on the site once there is a trial version.

I think the trial is a very good idea, I like what i've seen so far
All the best
David
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14-10-2015, 01:02 PM   #5
mbibby
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Trial version now available
Hi again.

The trial of Particle Flocker is now ready to go! It's available from the website:

http://particleflocker.techtoast.co.uk/

I've also take Nilla's advice onboard and set up a facebook page with a link from my website.

http://www.facebook.com/particleflocker

So as previously mentioned, if anyone would be interested in downloading and reviewing the trial and then giving me feedback and suggestions I'd really appreciate it.

Just so you know, the next item on my ToDo list is to create a series of very brief "Getting Started" videos about the core features of Particle Flocker, because I realise that my documentation is a bit thin on the ground. So hopefully over the next few weeks I should have those done and I will post updates here to let everyone know.

Looking forward to your comments

Mike
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15-10-2015, 02:26 PM   #6
David
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Well i recorded my first use of the plugin. It's really simple to get started with. If i needed to create a flock for a project this would be my goto tool i think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OEzUsgobL4

Not really much as a video, just my experience of first usage. I did not watch the full intro video you did and just skimmed the instructions and it was still simple to get to grips with. It did what you said it would with no real issues. Nice system!

All the best
David
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15-10-2015, 08:21 PM   #7
mbibby
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Thanks!
Hi David, thanks for taking the time to make the video!

It was really interesting to watch someone else using the system, as I haven't physically seen any of my customers using the software, just some of the results.

A couple of take-away things that I will try to work on are:

1) I will add a button to remove a target object without the need to delete the object or detach it using the node editor

2) I will try to make the UI refresh a bit more automatically. There is a button at the top of the UI which will always refresh the full window, but its not immediately obvious.

I've started creating the tutorial videos, so I will post an update once they are ready to go live.

Thanks again for taking the time.

Mike
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15-10-2015, 09:15 PM   #8
David
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I thought it might be of some use to you to see someone fire it up for the first time. I'd have liked to offer more feedback, but for the simple things i tried it just worked.

It did take me a minute to figure out I'd not refreshed the UI but it's not a huge problem, it's only something that's going to happen to you once i think. We're all pretty used to having to use the load attributes on particle nodes and such to manually refresh from time to time so...

When i get some free time i'll give it a real thrashing, if the wheels fall off i'll let you know From what i've seen so far though it seems really solid.

All the best and good luck with it.
David
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21-10-2015, 07:32 PM   #9
mbibby
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Some tutorial Videos now available on YouTube
Hi again

Just wanted to keep you all up to date on the latest news. I've now added the first few brief tutorial videos for getting started with Particle Flocker to YouTube. The first one is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFirQgcPL6c

You can also like Particle Flocker on Facebook to keep up to date as and when new videos and content is added here:

https://www.facebook.com/particleflocker

Cheers, and please feel free to give me feedback about the system as I am always up for improving it wherever I can!

Mike
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23-10-2015, 01:31 AM   #10
Nilla
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That's nice with the trial version and the shorter tutorials. I'll write a plug for it with the videos and share it on our social media as well. It's difficult to get people's attention these days though.

Now that there's a trial version maybe trying some direct marketing by e-mailing schools with computer animation programs and small studios is an idea. We get e-mails like this from time to time from people who have created custom Maya tools or rigs, and as it's a friendly industry it doesn't hurt to get the word out there.
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26-10-2015, 07:59 PM   #11
mbibby
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Hi Nilla

If you could share Particle Flocker on your social media that would be absolutely fantastic! As you say it's often difficult to get noticed, and so any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

As for emailing schools and studios directly that sounds like a pretty reasonable idea. The only issue with that tends to be how to find the contacts for those schools and studios. If you have suggestions about how to go about this I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Once again, thanks for all your help and advice up till now!

Cheers

Mike
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07-11-2015, 11:26 PM   #12
mbibby
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Particle Flocker Tutorial Series Complete!
Hi again guys

Just to let you know that the Particle Flocker tutorial series is now complete with 6 short videos in total.

You can see them on the website here:

http://particleflocker.techtoast.co....home/tutorials

The response to PF has been very good and I've had a lot of very happy customers so far. I think the addition of the trial version has been really successful. For anyone who still hasn't tried it, please download a free trial from the website:

http://particleflocker.techtoast.co.uk/index.php/home

Finally, I'd still love to get more feedback and suggestions about ways the tools can be improved....perhaps additional feature requests or problems that people have found when using the plug-in. Just get in touch either by email or via facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/particleflocker

Thanks guys and I look forward to hearing your feedback!

Mike
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