Setting up Max for environment work - how do you approach it?

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fearian Polycount Sponsor
When I started 3d, it was making props, so I've grown with the habit of making an individual prop in 3ds max, and then arranging it in a scene in UDK. It took a long time for me to get out of the bsp habit! But I know this is a limited workflow and I've tried in the past to work on an environment as much as possible within Max before bringing it into an engine.

The trouble is, I find it really awkward to work with an environment in max. Primarily, the controls are a pain in the ass. I like being able to fly about in UDK and source, but I haven't been able to get the same controls in max. orbiting can be a pain too. Orbiting around one object with an entire street whirling about you is useless.

Scene management is annoying when things get too large also. Max gets slow faster than it really should, either due to many objects or just high polycounts...

The grid and snapping in max is... a love hate relationship. (ooh, Can anyone tell me how to have the grid spacing set to 16, 16 and 8 when I start max?)


So! Environment artists, how do you jiggle max to make it work for you in this setting?

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  • sprunghunt
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    sprunghunt polycounter lvl 13
    working on an environment mostly in max is not the expected workflow in a professional setting. Especially if you're using the Unreal Engine or Source.

    Because in many companies the person who places the assets is not the same person as the person who makes the assets. Usually you'd have 3-4 people working on an individual scene at a minimum.

    However there is a way to fly around a scene in max. It's called "walkthrough navigation". Here's an explanation:

    http://docs.autodesk.com/3DSMAX/15/ENU/3ds-Max-Help/index.html?url=files/GUID-5B06CB73-DEA7-465E-9C6F-B8E7D454A7FB.htm,topicNumber=d30e10820

    it's not something you'd do normally though.
  • Mark Dygert
    We do most of our environment work in max. When I was doing environment work I used walk through mode so much I bound it to shift-c. To put that in perspective, nothing gets bound to the lower left corner of the keyboard unless it gets used all the time.

    ] increases step size, camera speed (kind of like brush size in photoshop).
    [ decreases step size.
    WASD for camera movement while its on.
    Keyboard Shortcut override must be on for this to work unless you need to unbind WASD from everywhere else.

    Keep to the grid be familiar with the different forms of snaps. Also start using "active grids" they can help in all kinds of ways, they are like the home grid but don't stay locked in world space, they can be positioned any way you want. I mostly used them on wall sections or angled ceilings. You can have a bunch of them all over the place and activate the one you need at that moment.

    I wrote about snaps and active grids a while ago, some of the issues I brought up where actually fixed so ignore the bitching lol! Autodesk also created new grid system in 2012 that when you create objects like boxes and start to define the vertical dimensions it sticks to the grid also, which is nice.
    http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1098044#post1098044
  • Sage
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    Sage polycounter lvl 13
    I set the grid spacing in max with max script. it's makes it a lot easier to deal with. I also made a max script that toggles the 3d snap to perspective or to 2,5 if you are in left, right, top... etc. I also made a script to increase or decrease the grid to 2, 4, etc... This has made it less of a pain to work in max. I'll post my code later, but it's far from pretty... for the grid tools I just made a toolbar and dragged the scripts there... it's nothing special.
  • David Wakelin
    Is there anyway of doing this sort of navigation in maya :O
  • Sage
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    Sage polycounter lvl 13
    here is the code...

    set grid to a certain spacing;

    macroScript Macro18
    category:"DragAndDrop"
    toolTip:""
    (
    setgridspacing (2)
    )

    that sets the grid to 2... I made this set it to, 2-32 since those are the options I use the most.

    and a set that increases or decreases the grid...

    here is the code for that...

    this increases

    macroScript Macro26
    category:"DragAndDrop"
    toolTip:""
    (
    n = getgridspacing()
    setgridspacing(n*2)

    )
    to decrease you would would divide instead of multiply

    macroScript Macro27
    category:"DragAndDrop"
    toolTip:""
    (
    n = getgridspacing()
    setgridspacing(n/2)
    )

    dealing with the snaps issue I had...

    macroScript Frontsnap
    category:"mytools"
    toolTip:"Frontsnaps"
    (
    actionMan.executeAction 0 "40060" -- Views: Front View

    snapmode.type = #2_5d
    )

    snapmode.type sets the the type of snap you want... the reason I set top, side, front views to 2.5d is because 3d snap doesn't behave properly... I hate changing that shit I have to switch views.

    for perspective I use 3d snap mode and that is as follows

    macroScript Perspectivesnap
    category:"mytools"
    toolTip:"Perspective"
    (
    actionMan.executeAction 0 "40182" -- Views: Perspective User View
    snapmode.type = #3d
  • Cap
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    Cap triangle
    sprunghunt wrote: »
    working on an environment mostly in max is not the expected workflow in a professional setting. Especially if you're using the Unreal Engine or Source.

    I completely disagree, you can find tons of studios who use a proprietary engine and do all the world building in their 3d package. If you're using UDK or source you wouldnt because those engines arent setup for that kind of pipeline.

    We use maya at work (however the same techniques apply to max as well), and the best thing for me is to stay organized with layers/groups so viewport navigation stays quick. Isolate (think thats what its called in max) is super helpful as well. Also hit z like crazy to center on the selected object. If you have a huge scene thats just too unwieldy, break it up into logical chunks as seperate scenes.
  • poopipe
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    poopipe greentooth
    same where i am. we have a huge toolset on top of maya that helps manage the large environments and provides useful bits and bobs but largely its just maya

    wouldn't be quite as pleasant with max due to its handling of external referencing being a bit ropey in comparison but no reason why it should stop you
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