What about a 3DS exporter?

During discussion with a ModelConverterX user recently the subject of being able to import the objects into GMax or 3DS Max came up. If you want to continue editing your work that is indeed something that would be very useful. Now I did take a look at the 3DS format and it seems very well possible to write an exporter for it. Actually in about one evening I already made the base of it. Below you see a screenshot of a museum object that I imported into GMax from a 3DS file exported with ModelConverterX. As you see the materials are not yet there, as I have no written them to the 3DS file yet, but the geometry is getting through very well already. 


 In the next few days I hope to extend the writer further to also include the materials and other more advanced features. Of course an export-import process like this will never be perfect. For example the original parts that you had in your modelling tool will not always appear when importing in GMax. That is simply because this kind of information might not be stored in the API or MDL file that you imported. But at least it might be better than starting completely from scratch, especially if you only want to make some minor changes.

One other issue I am thinking about is the more legal part, as this would allow people must easier to edit other people’s work. That might give a copyright problem, although it is always the question if the user or the tool is to blame for that. At least it is something that we have to be aware of.

But in total I am quite enthusiastic about this, it might even help us to get our models out of GMax when that tool is no longer supported for FS in the future. By being able to write in a common format as 3DS the way to import into other tools is a bit more open.

7 thoughts on “What about a 3DS exporter?

  1. Daisuke says:


    I have built some FSDS madels that I wish to covert to Gmax but are
    too difficult to do so.
    I have longed to see a converter like you are making!
    It will be great if the converter will be able to handle textures and
    UV cordinates too.



  2. arno says:

    Hi Daisuke,

    The texture mapping coordinates are already converted, just the materials and smoothing I still have to do. But I will continue on that this evening.

  3. Daisuke says:

    Hello arno.

    > The texture mapping coordinates are already converted

    It’s a terrific news!
    I am going to dig old FSDS source files from the depth of my hard drive.
    The thing I have been kinda dissapointed is that FSDS does not have
    UV manipulating functions.
    .3DS converter will give me an opportunity to fix texture streching
    often seen on the top and the bottom of the fuselage!

    Great big thank you!


  4. arno says:


    You should be aware that the 3DS file does not store a lot of FS specific things. So especially for aircraft I doubt the conversion is very useful, as you will still loose a lot of information. For simple scenery objects it should work best.

  5. Daisuke says:

    Hello arno.

    Thank you for your response.
    I understand I have to wait and see how the properties will be translated, but I’m highly positive it will be a lot easier to use your converter than following .mdl->.dxf converting path I tried in the past as I lost all the textures too.


  6. arno says:

    I am still working on this, but progress is a bit slow. I think I am writing the texture information as well now, but when I import it GMax shows nothing. So I have to do some debugging. Which can take some time as it is all done at the byte level :).

  7. arno says:

    See this blog post with the results, things are working now (but not yet released):


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