3DS Max 9 arrived today. It's nice to be among the first to use this new version. I'd like to say yippee, as was the case when Max 8.0 arrived last year - but yippee's are on hold for the time being.
Edit: Actually I was initially disappointed that there was a complete lack of documentation of new features. Previous versions included a new features guide. The new features guide in Max 8.0 was very helpful and I still find it useful a year down the track. There is not even a pdf or help file on the new features with the product and none as yet available on the Autodesk site. Initially Autodesk's web site informed there was no printed documentation for this product however today I was able to order a printed tutorial manual. Light at the end of the tunnel :)
This year's release is a bit light on new features. I guess main concern at the moment is the value of the Autodesk subscription to me. In 2005 subscriber's received a cloth plugin and later a hair/fur plugin and updates in the form of Max 7.5 and of course Max 8.0, was a great upgrade for me. This year the subscription offered the very useful ProBoolean & ProCutter tools and Max 9.0. As I do not have a 64bit processor I have yet to readily to experience any direct benefit for this release. Hopefully that will change as time passes. I won't be upgrading to 64 bit until next year and am sitting on the sidelines to wait and see what happens with Vista.
The problem with the Autodesk subscription system is that Autodesk do not announce ahead of time what will be included in the next year's subscription. It's a bit like a lucky dip.
Additionally most scenes created in Max 8.0 have corrupted meshes when loaded into Max 9.0. Max 9.0 disagrees with some Max 8.0 modifiers. Thus one has to flatten the mesh in Max 8.0 before loading in Max 9.0. Even then I have experienced problems with meshes appearing to load and display correctly in Max 9.0, collapsing when I convert an mesh object to a poly object or place a modifier on the mesh. Existing WIP projects will remain in Max 8.0 for the time being
The other bummer is that all plugins will have to be re-compiled with this release and some publishers such as Cebas indicated that they will charge for doing this. I was one of the last customers to purchase the ACAP TurboToolkit and am waiting to see whether there will be an upgrade. I will still be using Max 8.0 for some time to come.
I have also checked the Max plugins included with the FS X SDK in Max 9.0 and of course they do NOT work. The reason I mention this is I notice people various FS forums talking about moving from gMax to the full product. It's best for anyone contemplating purchasing 3DS Max primarily to develop for FS X, to wait until Microsoft ACES release new, Max 9.0 compatible, plugins before purchasing an expensive product such as 3DS Max 9.0.
Anyway Max 9.0 will hopefully reveal its worth in the coming months.