FSX and Gmax

Pro Member First Officer
art lippel (effieveda) First Officer

I'm trying my best to get something, anything, exported from Gmax into a form that the FSX SDK can deal with. I don't care if it's just a simple red box. So far, the only export extension is .p3d which I know will not work. Somehow the file has to be exported as an x or xml file or something like that for the SDK to convert it properly. I think it ends up as an mdl or bgl file when it's all done. That's where I'm stuck. Can anyone offer some assistance? Read
Thanks in advance ... Art

5 Responses

Pro Member First Officer
Orion (ollyau) First Officer

Don't know much about Gmax, but the friendly folks at FSDeveloper might help you. Link:

They have helped me alot on my FSX Multiplayer Acceleration Carrier mission (still not finished, though. Check my mission (progress) out at

Hope this helps


Pro Member First Officer
Orion (ollyau) First Officer

OK. You had said

If you're able to decypher anything those folks are talking about, please let me know. Have a look at my post re. Gmax and FSX SDK in this forum. It would seem that my question is fairly simple, but the answer is not.
Later ... Art

So, I go to the SDK and give you a direct answer.

Exporting a Model from 3ds Max
When exporting a 3ds Max model to be used in Flight Simulator X, go through the following steps:

Textures for the model should be converted to mip-maps, using Imagetool (found in the Environment Kit\Terrain SDK folder), and then converted to DDS files, also using Imagetool. To appear in the simulation the DDS files should be placed in the Add-on Scenery/texture folder.
If skinned animation is to be applied to the model, ensure that a Flight Simulator X material is applied (click the FlightSimX box of the Material Editor dialog), and that the Skinned Mesh box is checked in the enhanced parameters section of the Material Editor dialog.
To animate using skinned animation select the bones of the object, then bring up the Animation Manager. Set Start and End frames. Select a name for the animation, such as Ambient, and click Create.
To animate a piece of geometry without using skinned animation, select the geometry, then bring up the Animation Manager and set Start and End frames, and a name. If there are multiple animations, then select different names for each (such as Ambient, Ambient2, and so on). Click Create to create the animation.
Bring up the File Properties for the model. Select the Custom tab. For Name enter the word FriendlyName, and for Value enter a suitable name for the model. Then click Add. Enter another property called Guid and enter a GUID into the Value field. See the Overview documentation for a link to a GUID generating tool. After pasting in the GUID, remove the curly brackets at either end. Click OK. Alternatively use the LOD and Name Tool to enter the friendly name and GUID.
To export the model, make sure the format Flight Simulator Direct X File (*.X) is selected, no other model format will work. If the option Flightsim Model (*.MDL) is shown, do not use it, it has not been implemented in this release.
Click Save. Make sure that the options Export Skin and Export Animation are checked in the Flight Simulator Model Export Options dialog, if skinned animations or animations are included in the model.
If everything is correct, this process will create a .x file, and optionally a .xanim file. If there are any errors, fix them before proceeding any further.


Importing a Model to Flight Simulator X
To import a model created by 3ds Max and exported correctly, go through the following steps:

Convert the .x file and .xanim file to the correct model format (.mdl) using the XtoMdl tool. Make sure the /XANIM switch is set if there is a .xanim file, and the /XMLSAMPLE switch should also be set.
Follow the instructions for the XtoMdl tool to edit the placement xml sample appropriately. This will place the model near the main runway of Sea-Tac airport.
Copy the .mdl file output from the XtoMdl tool, and the edited .xml placement file to the BGL Compiler SDK folder.
Drag the xml placement file over the BGLComp icon, which should result in a bgl file. If it does not, open up a command window and run the BGL compiler from there, as the errors will then be readable. Refer to the Compiling BGL documentation for more details.
Copy the bgl file to the Add-on scenery/scenery folder.
Run Flight Simulator X. Change the airport to Sea-Tac International.
The new object should be visible from the user-aircraft at the start of the runway.
When you are satisfied with the model. If the object is a scenery object, create a new placement file placing the object exactly where it should be. If the object is an aircraft, refer to the Aircraft Configuration Files for all the other steps necessary.

Hope this helps more


Pro Member First Officer
art lippel (effieveda) First Officer

Hi ollyao,
You have nailed my problem. When I try to export, it only gives me one choice, "plasma(*.psd). There is also a drop-down which says "all formats". If I use that and type in model.x, model.mdl or any other file extension, it gives me a message "Don't know how to save that file type". That is what I fail to comprehend. There must be a bridge between Gmax and SDK that I am missing. It's probably something staring right at me, but I'm failing to see it.

"To export the model, make sure the format Flight Simulator Direct X File (*.X) is selected, no other model format will work."

I cannot select the *.X! Possibly you can show me what I'm missing. A plug-in perhaps? 😕 So far, at least I have learned to spell cipher properly. Embarassed

Regards ... Art.

Pro Member First Officer
Orion (ollyau) First Officer

Another quote from the SDK

In order for gmax to work correctly with the scripts and tools of this SDK, go through the following steps:

Ensure that .NET Framework Version 2.0 is installed. If not, install it from:

Install gmax by visiting and running the download and installer. After installation you will be required to register with Turbosquid to activate the product.
Ensure that the gamepack provided in the SDK (FSX_GmaxGamepack) is copied to the correct folder, which in a default installation would be the C:\Gmax\gamepacks folder.
Make sure that you run gmax from the shortcut provided (FSX_GMaxGamePack). The shortcut provides Flight Simulator X specific additions to gmax, and the recommended procedure is to copy the shortcut to your desktop.
In order to view all of the features of the Oil Rig Sample file, copy the files from the FSX_GmaxGamePack\textures\DDSFiles directory into the Microsoft Flight Simulator X\Addon Scenery\texture directory.
The gamepack supports the tools described in this document (attach point, animation manager, cloud tool, LOD and Guid generation) and FSX Materials.
There is a known issue with gmax that will cause the model textures to not be found on first run of a model. There are two work-arounds to this problem:

Open the model file once and from then on use the shortcut created at the bottom of the file menu in gmax.
Redirect the path to the textures directory using Customize -> Configure Paths -> Bitmaps.

Hope this helps


Pro Member First Officer
art lippel (effieveda) First Officer

Help! Man did it ever. You nailed it for me, and all the time the answer was hidden in plain sight. Thanks to you hitting me in the face with your last post. I must have read that a dozen times and it went right over my head. However, I don't know why they buried it under so many folders. Oh well, that seems to be the way I learn things, the hard way. Now all I have to do is memorize my eight hundred and fifty-two page "gmax Bible", and that will bring me all the way up to FS2002. Anyway, it is now at least, working. Thanks again for spending your valuable time on my behalf.
🍻 Art

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