Posted: June 21, 2014
UPDATED FOR 1.3 version
First thing first: I have purchased this software on sale; but my review is based on the full price, to be honest and fair.
What this software does? It allow you to create from scratch, a character that can be either animated by you, by someone else, or from Mixamo itself. Their pipeline is well established, and they offer quite a good service, if you look at the point of view of the indie studio. Now indie doesn't mean "the lonely guy in the basement, with 100 bucks in his pocket"; Indie nowadays means a group of people with some cash to start with; that has a plan or a kickstarter, so the prices of course are adjusted for that audience (their cost per credit is quite high; animations cost between 10 and 50 dollars, and their all acess is a good deal if you have at least a thousands to invest).
But back to the product; I mentioned Mixamo services, since the software is very tied to their service, altho it is a standalone, you may want to consider the fact that they planned this software to be complemented by their service.
How does it work as stand alone character creation? Well, not so good.
The first limitation is due the nature of the application itself: if you offer cookie cut templates, there is only so much that you can achieve. The new version offer somehow a customization array of parameters, but mostly they don't really work as you would imagine. Take any character creation in your favorite MMORPG game, and try to see how many different characters you may get (including the random feature or just tweaking the parameters by hand), and forget about it in Fuse.
You can achieve few different characters (face wise), even modifying the ton of various blendshape added to the mesh; I am not sure how you can achieve characters like the ones that they show in their promo pictures, because most of the time, they all look the same (unless you go for deformed/stylized characters, where the shape of the head and face may be more important).
You have the capability to import your characters and clothes (which require to be fitiing specific requirements described on their site, to be fully compatible), but then you end up with a sort of lego where you mix your content, with alternate fortune.
But not all of it is bad; the software is solid in creating the generic guy/girl, and has a decent amount of variations for clothes and hair (hopefully there will be more soon). The substance implementation is quite the deal, to swap quickly clothes and give variety; altho this works if you need generic characters to populate a background. I believe that what Fuse does best is to be a crowd generator, more than a character generator (altho MakeHuman doesn't get any better, but at least is free).
The app is stable so far; had no crash or issues with exporting and importing, except few times where the textures were disabled, and I had to go back and forth between the various texture areas to get them working again. The output files are clean and import fine in Unity, with or without the auto rig offered by Mixamo.
Overall, I would recommend this software, but barely. If you find it on sale, get it, because is a good deal, but at full price, I would rather use MakeHuman. To me this is a 3 out of 5.
It is a really valid software, that cover one aspect of game character development, but it fall short to deliver the full experience, and it is sad, because it has a lot of potential and is really nicely done. I hope the future version will get closer to give the user a one stop solution to make either crowd characters or main characters.
If I need to make a cast of characters for a Final Fantasy game; I would like to say "let me grab Fuse, it does all that I need"; import my custom clothes, generate unique characters and export them.
1) the random button should create characters variation, not just scramble the sliders with random values; I can put my 4 years old doing that; while would be more useful to actually have a function that create heuristically, characters that are usable (you can add flags to specify if the character has to be human, alien, cartoonish and so on, to make things easier on your side).
2) More variety with the morphs, instead of quantity; they often are exagerations of normal human features; while in a face, you can see that the differences are much subtle. On this, MakeHuman create more realistic characters, even without the plethora of textures that Fuse has.
3) Make possible to save as template, the characters that you make. For example; I may want to make a character and save just the head as template, and make different bodies, instead than start all over from the default and change all the values. You can also re-import the figure and filter just the head, but it is cumbersome and not really user friendly....the character is there, ready, why close and import it again, instead of just save it as template?
4) Clothes import: would be interesting to have something like DAZ does, with their conforming clothes that adapt to any figure; or like Poser Pro that is able to adapt a piece of clothes for any figure. A system like this would add a lot to Fuse; allowing users to import clothes geometry from anywhere, and just adapt it to the model, without having to modify them.
While in 1.3, there are improvements; it is still a ton of work to import obj and adapt them to the Fuse character. IF I need to spend more time to adapt something; then the advantage of Fuse fade away.