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3ds Max 2013: new features of MassFX in review

with 13 comments

Autodesk and NVIDIA continue their effort to create the universal physics simulation system for 3ds Max package – it is known as MassFX.

What has changed in new MassFX version, that comes with 3ds Max 2013, in comparison to the first release? We have tried to answer this question in our review.

One of the main new features of MassFX 2013 is the addition of mCloth – cloth simulation module, which was co-developed with Autodesk. Despite the rumors, mCloth uses PhysX 2.8.4 cloth solver for underlying physical calculations.

In comparison to APEX Clothing tools in PhysX plug-ins, mCloth is clearly oriented on VFX area: “one click” set up (no need to skin the mesh and apply movement constraints, as for APEX), full collisions with MassFX rigid bodies with two-way interaction, vertex group operations (like pin or attach to object), support for dynamic and kinematic cloth, ability to bake the simulation in keyframes.

Desired cloth behavior can be archived by tuning fabric settings, like density or damping, which can be saved and loaded as presets.

Additional parameters include rigid body collision responce and solver precision settings.

mCloth objects support per-vertex tearing.

Interesting option is ability to visualize material tension within given treshold.

Another feature is so-called “ballon behavior” – closed meshes can be inflated with internal pressure to imitate soft body, jelly-like objects or baloons themselves.

However, if hole in the baloon will be detected (as result of tearing, for example), it will deflate and force will be applied to the point of air outflow.

Hardware acceleration” option can be enabled for cloth simulation, however, we were not able to spot any performance difference between CPU and “GPU” execution. It seems GPU acceleration is not fully operational yet.

To summarize: mCloth is a strong cloth simulation solution with decent pack of features and sufficient artist control over simulation, however, as a new tool it has not avoided some “childish” problems, like nonoptimal baking process (it is significantly slower than sim in viewports), unstable behaviour of baloon objects or overestimated cloth solver settings (they are set automatically, based on mesh resolution, but for real 3-5 times lower values are sufficient).

Another vital new feature – standart Forces (like PBomb, Vortex or Wind) can now affect MassFX objects, both rigid bodies and cloth.

Being developed in Autodesk, Forces interaction feature is not using forcefields mechanism from PhysX SDK, instead, custom forces are applied directly to actors.

Third major addition – stable auto-generated ragdolls from biped skeletons.

Instead of abomination – jiggling mess of rigid bodies and joints – that may be familiar you from original PhysX plug-ins, “create dynamic ragdoll” option now generates fairly adequate ragdolls, usable even without aditional tuning.

Note: unlike latest PhysX plug-ins, MassFX is only using one version of PhysX engine - 2.8.4.

Apart from all the features described above, MassFX 2013 also contains numerous amount of smaller features, interface changes and bug fixes. Here are some examples:

It is now possible to assign gravity to Forces (or even it completely) through MassFX Toolbar.

Convex decomposition (this tool allows MassFX to support concave objects) has been reworked – it is now using simplified interface and operates faster.

Physical meshes can now be displayed not only as wireframe, but as shaded hulls as well.

Multiple constraints can now be adited at the same time via Multi-object Editor tab (previosly only available for rigid bodies).

And.. more !

To summarize: MassFX has grew up, but still not enough to reach level of Reactor’s feature set. However, with continuing support from Nvidia and Autodesk, MassFX will eventually overcome previous solution from Havok.

Written by Zogrim

April 17th, 2012 at 4:53 am

13 Responses to '3ds Max 2013: new features of MassFX in review'

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  1. Small tip on how to imrove cloth performance:
    after you’ve applied mCloth modifier, always check “Solver Iter” parameter – often it is automatically set to excessive values like 30-50 (and thus runs very slow), while 5-10 is sufficient for preview simulation.




    17 Apr 12 at 12:36 pm

  2. Is possible that in MassFx for max 2013 is absent the parameter “Original”?

    In Maxhelp it’s mentioned (MassFX > MassFX Reference > MassFX Rigid Body Modifier >
    MassFX Physical Shape Types) but in Rollout is absent… you have news?

    Thanks Michele71




    21 Jun 12 at 11:53 pm

  3. Michele71:

    Is possible that in MassFx for max 2013 is absent the parameter “Original”?

    “Original” physical shape type is only available for static objects.




    22 Jun 12 at 1:44 am

  4. Zogrim: “Original” physical shape type is only available for static objects.

    Is strange… why this solutions in massfx2013? What has changed?




    25 Jun 12 at 8:27 pm

  5. Michele71: What has changed?

    Well, triangle meshes are not supported by dynamic and kinematic objects in PhysX SDK.

    So if it was enabled in previous MassFX, it was by mistake.

    But you can use compound/concave shape freely.




    25 Jun 12 at 11:24 pm

  6. Ah! ok. It’s was very useful in previous versions…

    I must change the my basic workflow ;)

    Thanks for the nice explanation Zogrim




    27 Jun 12 at 11:47 pm

  7. That is a shame about the Dynamic Objects and the Original Shape Type. I teach my students how to make stemmed objects like cherries and apples and drop them into a fruit bowl. The stems were included as part of the object and it looked great. Now I must take the stems off. Is there any way to work around this?



    Eric Joseph

    11 Oct 12 at 11:09 pm

  8. Eric Joseph: That is a shame about the Dynamic Objects and the Original Shape Type.

    Is the Concave shape type with enabled “Improve Fitting” option not producing good enought results for you?




    12 Oct 12 at 8:08 am

  9. Zogrim: I cant find the compound shape in the hape type list. I want to make a chain but I got no hole.
    Pls help.




    27 Oct 12 at 2:34 am

  10. Geir: I cant find the compound shape in the hape type list.

    It is now called “concave”. Doing the same thing.




    27 Oct 12 at 9:52 am

  11. ==> Why did you delete the original?

    Zogrim: “Original” physical shape type is only available for static objects.




    10 Jul 13 at 9:38 pm

  12. lyo: Why did you delete the original?

    Cause, afaik, dynamic meshes do not support “original” shape, only convex or concave-convex compound.

    I dunno why it was there in the first place.




    11 Jul 13 at 9:04 am

  13. When i am using convex shape on non simple objects i have an explosion before the objects even begin to animate.
    I think this is because the meshes are split when i cut an object to more pieces.
    When i am using concave nothing is even moving.
    Have the same problem in Rayfire plug-in when i am using boolean fragmenting.
    If anyone know a solution to this problem write me at pleace. Thanks in advance.




    12 Jul 13 at 11:56 am

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