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So I understand .3ds now, whats my next step to making my own model format?

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Do I just make a little program to parse the important parts of .3ds/.asc/.ase files and put them in a new file with a new extension? Would I then use this new type of file to load models in my engine?

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Yes, you are exactly right. Your new file format should include only the data your program needs. Alternatively to converting, you can write exporters for most 3d modeling packages that will allow you to save directly to your format.

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