Aged whiskey is great – aged 3D models aren’t!

OK, for whiskey you got me – it depends if it aged in a barrel or in a bottle and which whiskey and…

Aight but this wasn’t about whiskey – it’s about 3D models and why collecting them “might” be a rather disappointing hobby.

I have a quite large collection of 3D models – ranging from the oldest 1990s Viewpoint Datalabs models to some pretty recent ones from Turbosquid or CGTrader.

De Espona - 500 3D models
De Espona – 500 3D models

So here’s why this sucks.

  1. One point is the licensing. While most model CDs (Google “CD” if you don’t know what this is was.) originally seemed to be straight-forward like “Buy the CD, use the model, just don’t redistribute the models themselves, kekeh?” it is a bit questionable these days with using models in 3D games and such. Most modern websites offer special “interactive” licenses to use the models in games and such, but for most old model collections this is at best “questionable” because back then such uses were not even thought of. Bonus: most of these companies went out of business or were sold so many times that it is difficult to make out the current owner of this IP
  2. The details. While loads of these 1990s models looked very detailed and awesome back in the days they do look “dated” today. I don’t wanna say all of them are useless as of today – for something small like a ladybug you won’t get too many complaints today unless you go like “super close up”, but for many bigger models like cars or houses they don’t seem to have the level of detail that we call “jaw dropping” today.
  3. The layers. Back in the days you had a model and if it was a good one even a texture (yay!). And that’s it. If it came with a bump map (which is outdated these days anyways – hello “Normal map”!) it was already space age – todays PBR requirements aren’t really satisfied without a specularity, roughness, AO and normal map.
  4. The formats. As I said before – if you have a textured model and it came with a halfway readable format (Like OBJ with MTL) you’re still lucky, some models were much worse and you’ll have a hard time just getting the texture (“diffuse” or “Color map” today) on it.
  5. Missing segmentation, bad pivot points and so on. Yeah back in the days if you “Somehow” got a textured 3D model into your 3D app it was already like instant-win. Today when you work with stuff like UE4 you’ll get the horrors if the model has a bad pivot point or crap included like a sky or ground plane. Also models that don’t segment materials so you can edit them properly are a nightmare. Just imagine you import a model of a person and it’s all just one material with a nice texture. It doesn’t help that the texture somehow matches, you want the eyes to be more reflective than the sweatshirt and so on.

After all is said and done – it doesn’t really pay off to buy old 3D model CDs or stuff from ebay or anywhere else. I pitty companies like Digimation who bought the famous “De Espona” collection – today we’d call them a “bad bank”.