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GMax & FS development: What Lies in the Future?

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Once upon a time, Discreet sought to find new ways to wring additional revenue from its older version of 3dSMax. A bit of creative thinking led them to the decision to offer a slightly altered (read: "dummed down) version to the gaming industry as a development tool, cleverly giving the "born again program" the name GMax (Game Max, get it?). Individual game makers could - for a hefty price - obtain the SDK that would allow them to develop their conversion plugins, and for a further hefty annual license fee, they would be allowed to distribute GMax and their in-house developed conversion plugins to their loyal customer base. Unfortunately, there was no great rush by game developers to take advantage of this "generous offer." In fact, to my knowledge only seven game developers* did so. Needless to say, Discreet was terribly disappointed... * Here are the seven game developers who were on the GMax bandwagon: Flight Sim (also for MS Train Sim) Train Sim (Trainz, not the MS version!) Microids Battlefield 1942 Tempest Dungeon Siege Command and Conquer For the FS Team, GMax was a no-brainer, since they already had been using Max to develop FS content, and this would allow them to expand their support of third-party developers! They eagerly jumped on-board the Discreet GMax train. Some eighteen months ago, Autodesk bought out Discreet. During the reorganization, distribution and support for GMax was foisted off on TurboSquid. That TS has proven less than stellar in their efforts to promote or support GMax is common knowledge to not only the user base, but to the game developers - who continued to pay their hefty annual license fee! - as well. Even so, the decision by Autodesk to completely orphan GMax and not allow further distribution of the program, much less to honor the existing licensee's contracts caught everyone - including - Steve Lacey & friends at ACES completely by surprise. As reported in their blogs, the folks in Redmond have mobilized and are actively seeking a resolution to this development. I am not ready to completely rule out the possibility that they will reach some sort of arrangement. In fact, I'd not be surprised if MS didn't simply BUY the source code for GMax, as it would still be far less expensive than any other option, including in-house development of an equivalent 3d development tool...

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If most of Microsoft in-house tools are built around 3DS Max, why not having the possibility to also have a 3DS Max convert to replace the MakeMDL and associated steps? A direct 3DS MAX -> FS model convertion. Is there such a solution available today to work in 3DS Max instead of GMAX to make models for FS, with the same level of design capabilities than GMAX, like FS animations, special materials, XML code etc?)That of course will impair the development of freeware add-ons because of the 3DS Max license. Is there any "academic" license for 3DS Max however?Now, with Maya and 3DS Max united under the same company, the future may be interesting in having the best of both for our FS designs?(sames question about Maya indeed: is there a solution available to work in Maya instead of GMAX?)

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In fact you can work in Maya...I do. The main problem is there is no Maya to FS community so when you encounter problems you have to solve them by yourself. I think Max is still a better option. ...and I wonder about XSI, because it's got some cool features.Any 3D program that has a "Direct X" exporter available can in theory be used to author art for MakeMDL. Microsoft includes exporters for Max and Maya in the Direct X SDK. Other 3rd party exporters are also available...many are freeware. I think it is quite likely there are freeware 3D programs out there that can export direct X, but I haven't looked. Free student versions are available for many of the mainstream 3D programs, but I don't know what kind of limits there are on their use.As for Maya, the Maya 5.0 .X exporter works with MakeMDL, while Maya 6.0 appears not to. Materials work well but animations have to be hand edited in ASCII before they will work. The scale is off by a factor of 100 and the x,y,z axis are all mixed up and the uv's are mirrored. I love Maya and it's second nature for me, but right now it's a bit fussy to use. I'm hopeful the next MakeMDL will work better with the newer Direct X exporters.I really hope MS recognizes the importance of making tools and good pipelines available to the FS community....I'm sure the do. If GMax has an uncertain future they really need to take some action here. DannyCYVRhttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/129323.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/129324.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/129325.jpg

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>If most of Microsoft in-house tools are built around 3DS Max,>why not having the possibility to also have a 3DS Max convert>to replace the MakeMDL and associated steps? A direct 3DS MAX>-> FS model convertion. >>Is there such a solution available today to work in 3DS Max>instead of GMAX to make models for FS, with the same level of>design capabilities than GMAX, like FS animations, special>materials, XML code etc?)Well, there are some of us who use PandaX to export from Max to .x files, then run MakeMDL manually to compile models... It works well, but is a bit on the clunky side to use.The biggest killer for most freeware developers would be the rediculous price charged for Max...

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I think, the point is if Microsoft is allowed by Autodesk to create a new GamePack for the upcoming FS10 or not. Gmax is powerfull enough for the design work of the next years and supports allready some fancy things like bump mapping. One can get Gmax from games magazine CD and other sources. If MS can distribuite a gmax gamepack for FS10, the big troubles are postponed for a couple of years. I hope...

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As I've posted elsewhere, the economic solution is for Microsoft to continue work with the makemdl.exe with a direct x file input, and let the developer community know, in a timely manner, what it wants to see in that direct x file.If Autodesk is not going to honor the licenses, that would imply, unless other terms govern, that once the license expires, no developer can "change" that all-important plugin/converter.

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From the TurboSquid Forums:Gmax End of Life announcement Oct 13, 2005 9:54:27 AM Dear Gmax users,I am here today to inform you that Autodesk has officially decided to end its support for the Gmax product and that their company has stopped support for it effective October 6th.Since Turbo Squid is a valuable partner for Autodesk and we've been managing the product and community on their behalf for the past year, they've allowed us to continue to offer the Gmax download until November 1st so that we can effectively manage the transition for this now defunct product. At that point, the ability to download Gmax from our site will be removed as will the ability for users to get authorization codes for the product.These forums will continue to operate for the community for a small period of time beyond that date, and we'll be happy to try and assist the community during that time.Respectfully,-=BeauBeau PerschallVP of PublishingTurbo Squid, Inc.

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I have a couple questions and hope you can help me. This may indeed help everyone seeking for replacing GMAX altogether:1) is there a GMAX installer in the FS2004 CDs? is this the same version as the one from Turbo Squid?2) I'm not used to it, but do I read correctly that the program requires activation to run? Once activated, is it reinstallable to another computer later if needed? (hardware / software changes - reformat)3) Can GMAX be completely replaced with 3DSMax for designing, exporting, compiling whatever ing, aircraft for FS? if not, what can be done with GMAX in regard to 3D modeling for FS that can't be done with 3DSMax?4) if GMAX can be replaced by 3DSMax, what additional plugin/addons are needed if any for FS development?5) what other solution, with what addons/plugin, can replace GMAX? (Maya? Amapi?)

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So what this means for the average user of gmax (0ne like myself who creates scenery and design object) with no future support of gmax I cannont install it again because it requires a license from TurbosquidWhat this means is we no longer have anyway to create FS2004sdk scenery and objects unless we spend several hundred dollars for 3DSMaxRegardsDennis Waggoner

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>I have a couple questions and hope you can help me. This may>indeed help everyone seeking for replacing GMAX altogether:>>1) is there a GMAX installer in the FS2004 CDs? is this the>same version as the one from Turbo Squid?Yes. the FS2004 and turbosquid are version 1.2>>2) I'm not used to it, but do I read correctly that the>program requires activation to run? Once activated, is it>reinstallable to another computer later if needed? (hardware />software changes - reformat)Yes. Although there is a workaraound (you may want to check this out at TurboSquid), you may want to make a backup of your gmax installation, including the software registration in the system (I think)>>3) Can GMAX be completely replaced with 3DSMax for designing,>exporting, compiling whatever ing, aircraft for FS? if not,>what can be done with GMAX in regard to 3D modeling for FS>that can't be done with 3DSMax?gmax is "basically" 3DSMax4 with feature deleted, but there are people that use 3DSMax for FS modelling - of course, the "average" hobbyist doesn't have access to a US3,500 program.>>4) if GMAX can be replaced by 3DSMax, what additional>plugin/addons are needed if any for FS development?Yo need to get you file into direct x format. Fr. Bill wil reimnd us how to get the Pandasoft converter.>>5) what other solution, with what addons/plugin, can replace>GMAX? (Maya? Amapi?)Any modelling program that can export (or can be exported) to a direct x file *that makemdl will recognize* ....>Felix/FFDSPegasus Aviation Design

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>What this means is we no longer have anyway to create>FS2004sdk scenery and objects unless we spend several hundred>dollars for 3DSMax>>Regards>Dennis Waggoner>>You can use Any modelling program from which you can export a direct x file that makemdl.exe will recognize.I expect that for those who have it, gmax will be a viable program for the next year or so, until Microsoft develops more eye candy that the current exporter dll doesn't handle.Felix/FFDSPegasus Aviation Design

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Thanks for the additional info Felix! so basically, we can use 3DSMAX and I understand that the only requirement is that the modelling tool we use save a .x format file. You mention "that makemdl will recognize". I understand that provided it understands, everything doable in GMAX (Animations, custom and default XML part codes, texture, light/night maps etc...) is doable in 3DSMax too?Who has experience with other modeling tools than GMAX in this forum and can post the typical workflow / tool used with other tools than GMAX?Thanks in advance!

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>Who has experience with other modeling tools than GMAX in this>forum and can post the typical workflow / tool used with other>tools than GMAX?Jean-Luc, I've been using Max5 + Pandasoft DX exporter for many months, and it's just a tiny bit less convenient that a single export and burn .mdl process... But, not much more... ;)Everything that may be done (and a lot more) may be done with Max5 (or newer versions), but there's a couple of "tricks" that must be used in the Material Editor to add Specular Color and Lightmap assignments.Here is some background information:http://www.oregon-coast.net/FS2002/3DSM-PandaX-FS.htmThe Pandasoft DX export module may now be found here:http://www.andytather.co.uk/Panda/directxmax_downloads.aspxTake note that there are FIVE versions, so you need to d/l the one that fits the version of Max you might have. ;)

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