it's a uni project and .3ds is set in stone.
I'd love to write the curriculum but I don't. Sorry dude.
Also nevermind discussion on SDK reliance, and Collada's not a great idea - it's a 'game' so I'm looking for a quick load.
Look in the future I'll use FBX I promise, but to be fair the only problem with .3ds is the documentation, other than that it's a great format imo.