View Full Version : Why is 3D studio max preferred for gaming?

01 January 2002, 03:09 AM
what is so special about 3d max as a product that makes it so appealing for game development?

01 January 2002, 03:28 AM
There is nothing speacial really about 3D max for games, Its not prefered at all really. U just need good low poly modelling and excellent texture skills. Those skills are the same in any program.

I dont know too many studios that use 3D max. Where Im working now we use Lightwave and Maya

Although My favourite program is still Softimage

David Lightbown
01 January 2002, 06:03 AM
The official answer for that is:

no one knows.

The one thing I can offer is Character Studio. If you have a million characters its sometimes nice to have a common model to share animations... but other packages do this too, however...

Godinst1 is right, the package doesnt really matter... if your coders can write exporters for whatever platform you want to use, they you're in the green... however, middleware and SDKs usually offer Max and Maya support.

01 January 2002, 06:17 AM
another option is to model in one program export it in a common format, such as obj then load it in to the program that u use for porting to the game

01 January 2002, 06:23 AM
Im not to savvy on game development so please bare with me..
I use Lightwave I play counter strike how would I get the lightwave model I made and port it to CS?

whenever I ask this question people seem to tell me to use 3d max WHY?

does it have direct game exports?

01 January 2002, 06:50 AM
They say to use Studio Max because Valve themselves used it to create the characters, as well as supplying the export tools for Max.

Valve also used character studio, which enabled them to do animation blending.

01 January 2002, 10:58 AM
Max is probably a big player in games because of it's extensible nature. Max 1 back in 1996 was the first affordable 3d app to introduce a fully object oriented architecture along with a free SDK. This allowed developers to write exporters that worked directly within the program. Prior to that, many game houses needed to go through considerable pain to get their 3d data into an engine.

Another reason is that 3d studio DOS was around for quite some time and many people learned on it.

At this point, it is still used mostly due to legacy considerations... artists know it, coders know the sdk, and tools can be ported from one version of Max to the next with minimal complications (although there are always some).

Also, one thing to keep in mind, and I think Chris Subagio was saying this in another thread... is that game art and data is really pretty simple stuff... you've got some vertices, some faces, UV's, vertex colors, skin weights, bones... and thats about that. I'd almost go so far as to say that 80% of what has been added to Max over the years is useless as far as game art is concerned.

That's not to say that they haven't added the 20% that we couldn't live without. :) If you had to use Max 1 nowadays it would be easier to model in Notepad. You couldn't even manually adjust UV's for chrissakes!

But it's what I know and use every day. Would I learn Maya, XSI, Lightwave if necessary? Sure. I'd actually welcome the challenge.


01 January 2002, 09:46 PM
Like suck said. At first, it was the best fit for gaming. At the time, there were a few Soft houses (most notably coming to mind being EA), a whole lot of MultiGen/Creator, and Max. Max was the cheapest, it had the free SDK, and it was reasonably good at what it did. There were also a lot of people that came out of it's predecessor, 3D Studio R4 (the DOS version) that were already au fait with it in the industry.

As in film, the program with the biggest mind share tends to keep it for quite a while on the back of it's momentum. Gaming is even worse when it comes to pipelines, our's are usually long and convoluted and very VERY rooted in the original app.

Though I'm now in Max, I really am quite app agnostic. I enjoy Max a lot, but I wouldn't beg for it were I to work in a company that wasn't using it.

Having said that, right now for me, the features I enjoy are:

- UV tools are actually decent, but that's not saying much as I consider ALL the packages UV tools to be rather crap. It's the one bit of the 3D space that hasn't evolved much at all.
- Poly modelling is a dream for me. I haven't thought about a tool in months, it's just flow.
- Maxscript is pretty darn powerful when you get to know it. I'm an artist first and foremost, but I've written quite a few scripts here that are part of the geometry conditioning pipeline. It was actually simpler for me to write them, then have a programmer come on board and have to code a whole utility. Saved time all round, and allowed for seriously quick debugging and stagging of options.
- Max's extensibility. It could be better, but it's such an open app, we're doing quite a lot of our level editing right in Max. The plan for the future is to use Gmax when we have enough run up time to it, and just build the whole damned thing in there.
- The UI. I like it. This is such a personal thing, but I like it. I like the command bar, I like the scripted tools, I like the toolbars. I like having my anim and modeller together too. IMHO, it saves me scads of time.


02 February 2002, 01:27 AM
There are several reasons:

It isn't so much about what is good in MAX, but what isn't good in the other programs.

LW: Seperated packages, and one undo in Layout...
Maya: overpriced, and yearly seat fee
Softimage: high price

The good things are:
Meshtools is great for MAX 4, but before that, modeling stunk imo.
Character Studio
Decent UV Unwrap, but not as good as LW 6.5
Good support for gaming engines
UI and Integrated workflow, well organized


David Lightbown
02 February 2002, 01:34 AM
Originally posted by Ibanezhead
There are several reasons:

It isn't so much about what is good in MAX, but what isn't good in the other programs.


I agree with your points, Ibanezhead.

Our studio uses Max and Character Studio (and some Lightwave for modeling and UV mapping) and we like the price, but we don't like the bad stability in Max... and if it weren't for Maya's steep learning curve and price, we'd go for it...

I'm thinking we should wait for Max 5... has anybody heard anything about it ? We need to know if we should wait or switch to Maya early...

The Magic Pen
02 February 2002, 05:40 AM
It's cheap and game studios are cheap thus it works for there budget :)

02 February 2002, 01:01 AM
My biggest gripe with Max is it's stability! Character Studio is good for games, but the lack of articulation in the skeleton makes it really hard to hit dynamic poses in FMV with high poly characters.
Lightwave could be great...but there's always a lack of focus with excuses and workarounds (I own a seat and use it regularly)

02 February 2002, 04:38 AM
From what I heard about Max5, which will be out in August, will be more Maya-like by incorporating similar features and similar interface/shortcuts.

02 February 2002, 01:06 PM
Where did you hear it will be out in August?


02 February 2002, 04:03 PM
Oh really? And who exactly have you been hearing that from? It sounds like a general purpose catch all "it's going to be better" statement without much meaning when you get down to it. All the 3D software companies are implementing versions of practically the same features, and as for interface/shortcuts, which specifically? Marking menus? You can already map any command to any keypress in Max, and Max's toolbars are Maya shelves. Is it the hypergraph?

Notice how silly statements that begin with "I heard..." usually end up being rather misleading.

If there's onee thing I've learned after years of speculation and even being involved in betas and such, it's this: Don't bother trying to find out what the future holds with 3D apps. Period. Never plan to use something that's 'coming soon', it just gimps your work for no good reason. If you're so hell bent on wanting the Maya features, then for God's sake, get Maya! Conjecture like that sentence just misleads management at these companies to forsake their own evolution in favor of mimicking whatever fad is rippling through the industry.


Originally posted by 3dsmax
From what I heard about Max5, which will be out in August, will be more Maya-like by incorporating similar features and similar interface/shortcuts.

02 February 2002, 11:47 PM
Hey Ibanezhead,
Maya is expensive, not over priced. There’s a big difference.

The Magic Pen
02 February 2002, 02:50 PM
7500.00 is way to much money for a program that does not do much more then max can do at the end of the day. It might have a few extra features and be a little more stable but in my opnion they over-charge for it. Though atleast they are not Soft Image there is just no excuse for what they charge .

02 February 2002, 11:25 PM
Ha! That’s a good one! Truth be told, Maya is flat out a better package than Max. Not just in a “few” extra features but in the quality of the final product. Sure max is a good modeler and it has a great material editor but it’s animation features suck. They’ve always sucked and they still suck. The ONLY reason it’s used in games is because of its low price. And with the budgets of games going up there are a lot of companies that are now switching over to Maya. Let’s not kid ourselves, there’s a reason Maya is more expensive than Max. And the only people that will tell you that there’s no difference or Maya is “overpriced” are the people that don’t have it.

02 February 2002, 12:39 AM
MiniBeast, You have got to be kidding me.

Dont take all this personally man.

Have you used max lately? Just curious cause it's getting good. Dont take me wrong, I like maya too but there honestly are a couple "features" that are better. :)


02 February 2002, 01:23 AM
My point exactly, Max is “getting better”. I guess I’m coming off wrong because I’m not trying to put down Max or Discreet and it sounds like I am. Let me try and illustrate my point with a different comparison, say automobiles. A Mitsubishi Eclipse is a great car. It’s sporty, fast, it has air conditioning, cruise, a CD player and air bags…but it’s no Porsche 911. Sure, they both essentially do the same things but there IS a difference. Does that make sense?

02 February 2002, 02:31 AM
if price and performance is such a big issue the Lightwave sould be the obvious choise. I have used LW, MAX and some maya and LW modeler is the fastest and easiest to use. For the time i wased forced to use max I found all the steps I had to do to texture and push points around was a waste of time. And the little I know about maya I saw a lot of simalarities between LW and maya for modeling at least.

my 2 cents

02 February 2002, 10:53 PM
I've been doing 3d dev with max since release 1, and I have to say that Max4.x is by far the most stable and productive in terms of workflow...I agree that Max's scripting features are very useful.

I've tried lightwave and poked around in MAYA, read its spec sheet seen its content. I dont care for lightwave at all.

The main conclusion I can draw is that artists should use whatever they feel comfortable with.

I mean ultimately it doesnt matter whether your using a million dollar modeller or a low budget modeller. THe final product lies in the abilities of the artist. How many more ways do you need to push and pull vertices and faces.

Now if your talking animation and rendering, I think Mayas animation tools are creative, intuitve and fun to use...And there are many renderers out there that are better than Max's default scanline.

02 February 2002, 12:10 AM
Originally posted by 3dsmax
From what I heard about Max5, which will be out in August, will be more Maya-like by incorporating similar features and similar interface/shortcuts.

Uh, there're some things that will never become Maya-like cos of the patents Maya aggresively seeks and gets (Not too sure if I'll see that manipulator tool in another package anytime soon).

FWIW: just gimme a way to isolate vertices, edges, faces, and lemme move them in the world or along their normal (and lemme switch between the two the nanosecond I'm thinking of it) and I'm set -- whatever package can do that. :D

02 February 2002, 06:32 AM
Words well spoken

Disputing which program is best is usless (cause Softimage is the best) . Cause like spakman said with those few tools your set and can model anything. And all programs have them. The only thing that makes one program better for another person is how their workflow can fit into it.

I personally like Softimage the best because my workflow is best in it, no stupid button in the way :P.

Well thats my additional 2 cents to this thread, but what ever, people will argue software till the end of time, so be it, while they argue I ll model and texture, but thats just me.

Well I digress

02 February 2002, 08:30 AM
Points well taken. I agree…

Lizard Head
02 February 2002, 12:15 AM
I think the reason MAX has the grip it has on game Dev. goes back even further than max, back to the DOS version of 3D Studio,, back then everybody use it for games there was nothing else to use,,back then Softimage and A/W cost more then a new car... you newbies may laugh at that but trust me some of these software packages back then were ultra-elitist and 20 ,30, 50,00+,,,,3d Studio was the first to come along and cater to the gamers,at a cheap price,,, and I think alot of the big developers still have that legacy.


CGTalk Moderation
01 January 2006, 01:39 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.