Maya LT is almost
a great piece of software, but is currently held back by the exclusion of one vital piece.
First, THE GOOD:
* Having an affordable, subscription-based version of Maya is fantastic, and is way past due considering that Maya's usual price (currently $3,675 USD) may as well be a million dollars as far as most indie studios' budgets are concerned.
* Having Maya run through your Steam account, with auto-updating, is actually really convenient!
* Autodesk have been listening to feedback and gradually unlocking some of features which were (seemingly arbitrarily) removed from LT, compared with Maya proper. However, this is still only a half-measure, and they've not yet gone far enough. Which brings me to...THE BAD:
* No Python support. This is the single biggest problem with Maya LT in its current incarnation, and is the primary reason I cannot give a positive review at this time. Ostensibly, Maya LT's sole purpose
is to cater to indie developers who simply cannot afford Maya's premium price, but the lack of Python scripting betrays Autodesk's worst assumption: that indie devs somehow have less complex art pipeline needs than "real" developers. That may have once been the case, but with so many great engines (Unreal, Unity, CryEngine, Source 2) now catering to indies, the playing field has essentially been leveled. Or, it would be, if Autodesk wasn't making indie devs work with one proverbial hand tied behind their backs.
Particularly in light of the fact that Maya LT now has support for working with Unreal, it is unfortunate that some of that engine's key pipeline features (such as the Animation and Rigging Toolset) simply cannot be used in Maya LT due to the lack of Python support. The same goes for the auto-rigging script from Mixamo, which many indie developers might be using in tandem with FUSE.
* There are several other random things missing, which can be worked around. For example, they've removed the ability to create quick-select sets which would, for example, allow an animator to quickly and efficiently select different sets of controls for keying. Sure, you can still create sets which more or less do the same thing in 4 clicks that you could otherwise do in one, but... why? What is the process for deciding which features to disable?
I understand the desire for Autodesk to maintain a wall between the "lite" version of Maya and the full-cost version. Honestly, I really do. I can respect why they would want to withold certain features. By all means, keep MentalRay and all the rendering features locked away in the full-price version, so we can't use LT to make feature films. But if you want indie game developers to use your software, you must, at minimum, give them access to the Python-based tools which are vital to their development.