MassFX for 3ds Max provides a toolset for adding realistic physics simulations to your project. This plug-in emphasizes 3ds Max-specific workflows, using modifiers and helpers to annotate the simulation aspects of your scene.
To see some examples of what you can do with MassFX, play this video:
MassFX simulations use rigid bodies: objects that do not change shape during the simulation. Each rigid body can be one of three types:
Dynamic: The motion of dynamic objects is controlled entirely by the simulation. They are subject to gravity and forces resulting
from being struck by other objects in the simulation.
Kinematic: Kinematic objects can be animated using standard methods, but they don't have to be; they can simply be stationary objects.
A kinematic object can affect dynamic objects in the simulation but cannot be affected by them. A kinematic object can switch
over to dynamic status at any point during the simulation.
Static: Static objects are like kinematic objects but cannot be animated. They are useful as containers, walls, obstacles, and so
Running the simulation combines the outcome of the physics calculations with your own predefined animations. The result displays
entirely within the viewports, in real time or near-real time, depending on scene complexity.
If you are using MassFX to set up a simulation for use in a game or other real-time project, you can export the settings for loading into the PhysX and APEX SDKs from NVIDIA.
If you are using the plug-in to add simulation to a scene that you will render, you can bake the results to animation keyframes. This speeds up your workflow (fastest repeatable renderings), locks down your results (no unexpected
variations), and allows you to tweak the resulting animation as desired. Later, if you need to tweak the simulation, you can
unbake the animation, restoring the original dynamic nature of the scene.
Additional features of MassFX include:
The ability to use a "multi-editor" interface to modify simulation properties for multiple objects simultaneously; see MassFX Tools - Edit Panel.
The MassFX Visualizer displays various simulation factors such as object velocities and contact points. This feature is invaluable for debugging
A kinematic body can switch to a dynamic at any point in the animation. During its kinematic phase, it behaves as you animate
it and can influence dynamic bodies but not respond to them. For example, you might animate a character swinging a tennis
racket up to return a serve. Then, after the body becomes dynamic, it responds to other bodies and forces in the scene. For
example, the tennis player might accidentally hit the net, at which point the racket could become dynamic and fly into the
air, following the laws of physics.
MassFX Explorer is a special version of Scene Explorer dedicated to working with MassFX simulations.
Use constraints to allow objects to restrict each other's motion, such as with a hinged door.
The MassFX Skeleton helper allows pre-animated (non-dynamic) characters to influence dynamic objects in the scene. The helper includes special grouping
tools for treating all bones in a particular area (such as a hand) to be treated as a single collider for efficiency's sake.
This section describes each menu item, button, and parameter of the plug-in. If you like to jump right in, stop reading and
go play! When you have a question about a feature, you can come back here and look it up.