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Once GMAX is gone, then what?

Discussion in 'Modeling' started by ahuimanu, 24/12/07.

  1. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu

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    I hear that FSX is the end of the line for GMAX and FS. Do you think Microsoft/ACES will offer us a tool or at least accept an .x (or .fbx) file from any package which will export one?

    I fear the ability for an amateur to "tinker" will evaporate as the costs increase such that only top-level payware guys can do it.

    P.S. I know I made a similar post in June, but I've since heard more rumors about the demise of GMAX.
    Last edited: 24/12/07
  2. robby88

    robby88

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  3. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    Hi,

    With the information provided in the SDK it should be possible to make a correct X file exporter for any modelling tool that allows you to create new ones. Then that X file can be used with XtoMDL (or whatever the compiler may be in the future).

    In know MS are aware of the huge amount of people that use GMax and I hope they can provide a free alternative in the future. But if that is possible also depends on if there is a replacement candidate for GMax and if the company making that product wants to provide it for free of course.
  4. decapod

    decapod

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    Not as cheap as gmax, but I already have an FSX export plugin for 3D canvas pro ($70 from www.amabilis.com)

    The export of an X file in the appropriate format (with a call to xtomdl) is the easy bit, the harder part is the material editor and attachment point tool.

    Commercial companies tend not to like the "free" sales model, it it all cost and no return (hence the gmax plugin licence)


    IMO The development of exporters for free software will have to be left to the community.
    Collada may be one way to go...
  5. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu

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    Thanks for the replies guys...

    I think the best hope is for MS/ACES to provide a model importer which will accept any .x file. I realize the texturing is the biggest hurdle. I mention the .fbx file as XNA takes these and perhaps ACES will align with the XNA effort with respect to getting models into FS. I realize XNA is not a modeling program, but the use of .fbx for XNA makes me think that this open standard for model interchange between various 3D modeling programs might be the key for accepting content from the variety of inexpensive and free tools available.

    Other than pirating it (which is not my intention), 3DS is just too far outside of my price range. I almost think Autodesk looks the other way with the pirating as once students get the swing of it, they will likely work in a place where the license is respected.

    I hear you on the "free" model - a big player like autodesk (who bought up 3DS and Maya), has no incentive to provide tools for the little guy. I just hope ACES doesn't turn a blind eye to the freeware/hobbyist as I still think the add-on market has its roots in this area. I can see spending the money for something like FSDS, but it seems that a more expansive package is needed going forward. I'd put more time into mastering blender right now if I thought that I could target future SDKs with it.

    Again, thanks for the discussion. I'd welcome any additional thoughts on the matter...

    Jeff
  6. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    Hi,

    I am not an expert on the X file format, but I would prefer a well documented "special" format that can easily fit all the FS specific features, then trying to put it in another format that does not really fit. So that they used some extensions on the X file format to fit the FSX material settings, etc, seems logical to me.

    That is my idea at the moment as well. I am planning to learn a little more about Blender and once I have done that my first attempt would be to make a FSX X file exporter for it.
  7. learfan

    learfan

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    Beyond FSX I believe that if you don't use 3DSMax then forget future developement. It appears to me that a big clearout of developers is on the way and only those who can afford 3DSMax will continue. I sincerly hope I am wrong.
  8. decapod

    decapod

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    I hope you're wrong too. There are a lot of Train Sim 2 developers coming soon. A lot of them will be using 3D canvas (hence my FSX export plugin)

    As an alternative to the X format - has anyone tried the /keep option in xtomdl?

    The X file is converted to an intermediate xml file before being converted on to a MDL file - This would seem the obvious choice for another format.
    xtomdl is a .NET program and there are plenty of good disassemblers out there that can convert it back to c# or vb.net if you want to see how it all fits together.
  9. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    Hi,

    I don't believe they will force everybody to 3DS Max. As ACES uses that tool themselves, they do provide the tools for it. So for those that are able to afford it, that might be the best choice.

    But even with the details in the current SDK it is possible for people to make their own exporters to create a X file that XtoMDL can read. As there is GMax for free now, there is not much drive in the community to make new exporters, but when there is no free alternative I am sure that will happen.

    About the XML intermediate output. To get that you already need the X file for XtoMDL, so I am not sure where it might help us. Also there is no compiler that can turn that XML into MDL again. So it is mainly a nice reference file, but not much more in my opinion.
  10. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu

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    3D canvas looks nice and comes in at the right price. In a thread over at AVSIM someone is suggesting we call get behind FSDS. That would be fine if ACES got behind it as well.

    The XNA folks seem to be encouraged to use Milkshape.

    It would be nice if we could get a heads up about this coming year from ACES. If gmax has no future and 3ds becomes the only tool, I'll be out of the game (as a hobbyist/tinkerer only of course) as will many other casual users of the SDK.

    I certainly hope the bond with the developer community that ACES has sought with this last version (and beyond) includes the non-commercial/freeware/hobbyist developer as well as the big cats. Sorry, $3500 is too much for 3ds. I appreciate that it is a common professional tool, but I am not a professional.

    The digital audio workstation crowd has this problem with a standard interchange format and eventually moved towards the Open Media Framework for importing and exporting across packages (I use Cubase and it supports this).

    It seems that this fbx file format that Autodesk is pushing might provide the same interop.

    Jeff
  11. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu

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    Hey, according to this post, it is possible to place 3D canvas models into FS2004/FSX now.
  12. VulcanB2

    VulcanB2

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    Hi,

    Do you still have your registration details from before, and critically, know the date it was generated??

    Trivia: Did you know that playing with the system clock yields interesting results? ;)

    Best regards,
    Robin.
  13. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    Hi Robin,

    I guess you are hinting at GMax here, well at the moment you can still register it at TurboSquid. So at the moment there are not so many problems. But for a next version of FS that is no solution, as ACES will not give us a new gamepack. So then GMax becomes sort of useless.
  14. n4gix

    n4gix Resource contributor

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    Well, for that matter, there's been a "registration hack" available directly from a link in the GMax Moderator's sticky post in TurboSquid's forums for well over a year now...

    ...said "registration hack" eliminates the need to worry about the matter entirely... :stirthepo

    OTOH, you are entirely correct, Arno. Without an export module, GMax will become a dead end...

    ...except for those die-hards who continue to support previous versions (FSX, FS9, FS2002, et cetera). :D
  15. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    Of course, but for those people it will not really be a problem that GMax goes away. If you want to keep working with the old gamepacks, then not so much changes. The only problem then might be registering GMax, but as you mention there are hacks for that even now already.
  16. VulcanB2

    VulcanB2

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    :confused:

    So the next version will ditch gMax as a modeling tool????? What do they propose we do - shell out big-time for a pro modeling package?

    Best regards,
    Robin.
  17. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    Hi Robin,

    Yes, GMax was already stopped as an active program a few years ago. For FSX MS could still arrange that they could use it, but for a next version that will not be the case anymore.

    What alternatives will appear then is not clear at the moment. As the ACES team uses 3DS Max themself I think we will certainly see exporter tool for that. For for most developers that tool is much to expensive, so they will have to settle for some cheaper or free modelling tools. With the information and tools provided in the SDK it should certainly be possible to make exporters for other tools as well. Now we have GMax for free so there is not much drive in the community to do so, but if there is no free solution provided by MS then that will happen again. Just like before Fs2002 when we did not have GMax at all.

    Or maybe MS will surprise us and find another free tool they will support in their SDK directly...
  18. n4gix

    n4gix Resource contributor

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    Well, if MS/ACES don't find one, it won't be from lack of trying! ;)
  19. arno

    arno Administrator Staff Member FSDevConf team Resource contributor

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    True, as mentioned earlier in this thread they have a difficult job to do, as most companies making modelling tools will not look forward to give it away for nothing :). But it is for sure that ACES is aware of the problem and do their best to solve it.
  20. FelixFFDS

    FelixFFDS

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    As long as there is a customer base for it, FSDS will continue to be a viable tool.

    Also, Abacus is not the only company looking at FS-X and the gaming mod world.

    As has been pointed out, the crucial point will always be the information available from ACES for developers to create the necessary tools. Because ACES uses 3DSMAx and Photoshop, granted, commercial "standards", the tools for those specific programs will be created "in-house" first, and hopefully, the specifications for the tools and formats are then released.

    *I*, for one, remain confident that Microsoft/ACES will keep the hobbyist modeller in mind when creating the tools and providing the information.

    It might even be a good idea for Autodesk to sell a cut-down version of 3DSMax9 - a gMax II, so to speak - with limited features and that can use the 3DSMAx9 FS-X scripts. For the "general" gamer modder, it would export to only a basic x file.

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