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Gmax is an application based on Autodesk's 3ds Max application used by professional computer graphics artists. 3ds Max is a comprehensive modeling, animation and rendering package with some secondary post-production and compositing features. Gmax is much more limited due to its singular intended use—game content creation. Infrequently used tools and features, or the ones completely unrelated to creating 3D game models, were removed (these include most, if not all of the more complex rendering, materials, shaders, physics simulation, some of the more advanced geometry tools, in addition to the rendering engine), leaving the core modeling, texturing, and basic animation rigging and keyframing capabilities. In 2005, the promotional freeware software was discontinued after version 1.2, but a licensed version is still available from Turbosquid com under one of those strange but fortuitous and happy-making accidents of life— A real rarity: A lawyer forgetting to put an expiration date on a contract!.


Gmax's utility can be expanded by "game packs" which feature customized tools that allow creation and exporting of customizable content to games and websites. As Gmax did not have its parent software's rendering engine, game packs were typically required to provide those features when needed(Auran was the first company to write and distribute a dedicated renderer for their Trainz Railroad Simulator series Gmax gamepacks in their initial pre-production Beta Release V0.9 (2000). Thereafter Gmax was bundled with subsequentTrainz until Trainz 2009. Maxis was the second company to write a dedicated renderer for their Gmax gamepack, BAT (Building Architect Tool) for SimCity 4 (ca. 2002). In both the game environments, a user can enter the virtual 3D world, interact with the environment, ride a car and sight see, or in the Trainz series of simulators - operate a carefully modeled realistic Train Locomotive, ride in an observation car, automobile, boat, airplane, or steamship.)

The introduction of Gmax and Autodesk's distribution of the core tools was thought to be aimed towards remedying the 'limited-options piracy' of 3D modeling packages that had been widespread among amateur 3D modeling and game mod communities to that point. Until the introduction of Gmax, and a similar 'game modeler' version of Maya soon after, amateur modelers had extremely limited access to the tools needed to do so. Gmax enabled modelers to have legitimate access to content creation tools similar to those used by professionals.


Auran/N3V distributed Gmax from the outset as a licensed partner as an included part of the Trainz series of simulators, along with an excellent .pdf file "Content Creators" manual— up through and including the release of Trainz 2004 Deluxe, after which they provided a download link in the many versions of TRS2006 before the technology became obsolescent—i.e. assets designed for SP3 Trainz 2009: World Builder Edition (2008), when the updated game engine began supporting LOD modeling would not be developed in Gmax by the more experienced content creators in the user community. Those folks shifted to the Freeware Blender 3D modeling software at with its higher technology level for creating game assets such as factories, trees, buildings, and rolling stock (train cars and locomotives). Some models are still created in Gmax for Trainz and upgraded to newer graphics standards by a series of PEVtools,[1] which convert the meshes for the newer three Trainz GUI operations/run time modules[2] of each release.

Microsoft distracted Gmax with Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) beginning with the 2002 version. Most of the freeware and payware add-on aircraft and scenery is created with Gmax and it's considered to be the standard modeller for MSFS, although it does have competition in the form of the more user-friendly Flight Simulator Design Studio. It can make use of special animations through XML coding written into parts.


As of October 16, 2005 AutoDesk Media and Entertainment has discontinued and no longer supports Gmax. Instead, the company has decided to focus on 3ds Max. However, the last version of Gmax is available for free to download from the official support website.

Software license agreement[edit]

There has been some debate as to whether exporting Quake 3 models for use with a game other than Quake 3 is a violation of the Gmax software license agreement (or EULA). Product manager Paul Perreault has publicly stated that "Gmax is a tool to create 3d content—what you create with Gmax is your business, not ours." He continues, "Discreet is not opposed to exporting data from Gmax—provided Discreet is the decision maker about what formats are supported."[3] Export to the Quake 3 model format is officially supported by Discreet. Therefore using Gmax to create and export models to the .md3 format does not appear to be a violation of the terms of the Gmax EULA.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ PEVtools are written by a long term Australian Trainz enthusiast and content creator whose Auran web board and Trainzproroutes user name is PEV
  2. ^ The three Trainz GUI operations/run time modules are: Railyard, Driver, Surveyor
  3. ^ "Discreet Position on Gmax exporter". 2001-11-28. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 

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