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 Home / 3D Theory & Graphics / .max file format documentation.... Help !!! Account Manager
Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

March 02, 2005, 11:44 AM


I'm french so sorry for language mistake(s) ;-)

Today my job is to make a .max loader in C++ for a research laboratory. The problem is that I can't find any Max format documentation on the web (I'm looking for any information since several days and Google begins to be boring :D.

Do you know where I can find informations about this myterious file format ?



March 02, 2005, 01:22 PM

It's a closed file format, someone may have tried reverse engineering it, but I doubt it; maybe you can have a go? Maybe it would be even better if you looked at the Studio max SDK and write your own exporter...


March 02, 2005, 01:53 PM

The Max File format is a class serialization file format. Every class in 3DSMAX that takes part in a scene has a "serialization" routine that dumps its data to a file and reloads it again. While this is a very flexlible approach when it comes to upgrades of 3DSMAX etc it is quite hard to reverse engineer it. ( or i would dare to say to make a robust loader is quite impossible but that changes with dedication perhaps )

So i think loading .max files directly is out of the question. However loading .3ds files ( if you can live with that file formats limitations ) or ASE ( which is text based ) should be quite easy. Both are exported by 3DSMAX. For 3DS Files there is the free lib3ds ( sorry don't have the URL ready ) which is very robust. For ASE there are a number of example parsers floating around.

Note that .3ds files have a limit of 65000 vertices per object.


March 12, 2005, 10:14 PM

The 3ds format is quite easy to work with, but contains too few features. Making a export plugin for Max is a better way to do it and not that much harder either. In my plugin I used xml as storage format and created my own structure for the data, though only used for self-study.

Nils Pipenbrinck

March 13, 2005, 09:20 AM

google for flexporter. it's a good exporter framework. You can use the ascii-format directly if you don't want to use your own format.

.ASE is broken in some places and not supported. I would stay away from it unless you just want to load the geometry.


March 23, 2005, 06:59 AM

flexporter is dead. I used to use it some time ago, but the author seemed to completly have stop supporting the new version of Max.
so you should consider writting your own plugin. what i've done. Using the IGame lib it's not a real issue anymore

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