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What to export to for loading in game

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I use 3DS Max, and I'd like to know what format can I export my game models to, so that it can be read by most 3D engines. Please note that it has to be able to contain animation as well and that the "starting point" must be MAX (I'm too used to it). So far I've noticed that: - the MAX format (native to 3DS Max) is never used in games (so it's out); - the 3DS format only exports animation in certain conditions; Please give your opinions - what would _you_ do?

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First, I should ask you what Graphics API are you using. If you are an artist and are working with programmers, simply ask them what API they are using.

If you are using DirectX, you should export to .x files as DirectX has a ton of helper functions for the format. It may not be the best format from what I've heard some people say, but it gets the job done and does what you need.

If you are using OpenGL though you should probably use something like .3DS, CAL3D, or the ASSIMP library. You could also write a .x loader for yourself as well, but that could be a pain. I hope I've helped. If you have more questions, lay them on me.

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Here's the short answer: you - the artist - shouldn't have to worry about that. Ultimately, engine and/or tool programmers are the ones that need to worry about getting your work into their software.

The gist of the longer answer comes down to this: modern development introduces the idea of a content pipeline that imports an artist's assets, processes those and outputs to a (most likely) proprietary format that the engine can use with minimal processing itself. This is the case with many modern engines to date, such as the Unreal Engine (for example). Another example are the Collada specs that function as an intermediate format (the combination of asset data and metadata to aid in the processing). A final example is the content pipeline paradigm in Microsoft's XNA platform.

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