Softimage is getting to be a relic of the past now. It was bought by Autodesk, with promises that it would continue to be developed, but before long it was discontinued. Softimage had some truly spectacular features added to it in its last few years though. The biggest in my mind was ICE.
What ICE does, is allow you to pull existing attributes from a material, object, or particle, and run those attributes through your own custom dragged-and-dropped node-based program, and use the result to drive some other attribute(s). For example using the movement of an object to drive it's rotation. That's exactly what the node graph in the image above does. It made it super easy and visual to develop and debug complex effects quickly. Outside of directly reducing development time though, the educational benefit was huge.
ICE was a fabulous playground for learning vector and matrix algebra, as well as general visual effects programming. It was through ICE that I first encountered and learned how to use cross-product and dot-product. It was through ICE that I learned the mysterious ways of the transformation matrix. And rotations? Well, I still get confused sometimes on rotations and their multiple forms, but ICE brought me a long way.
I truly regret not having documented and saved my experiments in this software because they were full of creativity and wonder.
I have attached a zip file containing many of the compounds I saved from that period and a couple scene files, but this is from years ago now and may not even be relevant anymore. I just wanted to say I miss using ICE and may take it up again as a testing ground for rapid prototyping and making sure my matrix operations are in good order.
Download the 7zip file of compounds here
Download the 7zip file of scenes here
The node graph depicted above, applied to a chair: (included in the scenes zip as transform.scn)