3ds Max 2018 Highlights

MCG - What's New 2018 + Sample Pack!

By Martin Ashton
- 12 Apr, 2017
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
  • Design Visualization
  • MCG
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
30 min

What's New?

If you've been working in MCG 2016 or 2017, you're in for a breath of fresh air with MCG 2018. In this release, we focused on the following aspects (all the while maintaining backwards compatibility with older graphs):

  1. Improved MCG Package Installation Experience.
  2. Improved Graph Authoring Experience.
  3. Improved Graph Compiler Efficiency.
  4. Revamped Learning Experience.
  5. New Operators and Compounds

With these improvements in mind, if you want to jump right into the sample pack, follow the instructions in the MCG 2018 Samples section at the bottom of this post.

1. Improved MCG Package Installation Experience

In previous versions of MCG, the package installation process of an .mcg file involved the automatic extraction of its contained .maxtool and .maxcompound files into the user's 3ds Max /Max Creation Graph/Tools/Downloads directory. A consequence of this installation method was that common compounds would often conflict with each other, resulting in duplication messages.

In MCG 2018, we've simplified the package installation process to make it much more robust. You can now install a .mcg file by dragging it into the viewport. All installed packages now reside in the user's 3ds Max 2018/Max Creation Graph/Packages directory, and are evaluated as standalone .mcg files. No more file extraction, no more conflicts, no more problems.

2. Improved Graph Authoring Experience

Live Types

One of the major challenges in previous versions of MCG was keeping track of all the types flowing through your nodes. If a problem crept up, you only knew about it when you tried to evaluate your graph, and that often meant doing some detective work based on an error message as your only clue.

In 2018, the types flowing through your nodes are updated as you wire them, so you know exactly where you're going. If two types don't match up, a red wire will indicate that the connection is incompatible or that the graph is incomplete.

Mapped Connections

Another challenge posed by previous versions of MCG was the continuous need to use a "Map" node to transform the contents of an array. In MCG 2018, most array transformations can be performed simply by connecting the array directly into the node you want to transform it with. We call these connections "mapped connections", and they greatly improve the readability of your graphs by reducing the need to create functions. See the MCG Help Guide for more information about mapped connections and their requirements.

Undo + Redo

We've added the ability to Undo and Redo actions in the node editor with Ctrl + Z and Ctrl + Y.

New Color Scheme

The node color scheme is now aligned to the 3ds Max UI, so we can say good-bye to all those dark purples.

3. Improved Graph Compiler Efficiency

The graph compiler in previous versions of MCG would occasionally repeat unnecessary evaluations in certain loop structures. To avoid these repeated evaluations, the compiler has been improved to delineate portions of a function which can safely (and lazily) be re-used in each iteration. As a result, we've observed an exponential performance improvement in specific pathological cases. This effort has also made the "if" node more reliable, since non-accessed portions of a graph are no longer evaluated.

4. Revamped Learning Experience

New Naming Scheme

The MCG 2018 learning experience has been revamped from the ground up. The biggest change you'll notice is that we've renamed almost every node based on a more consistent naming scheme (while preserving backwards compatibility with older graphs).

To help you ramp up on the new names, we've provided a conversion table at the bottom of the "What's New in 2018" Help topic. We've also laid out the guidelines of our new naming scheme under the "X Search" section of the "Editor Tips" Help topic.

Here are a few major naming changes we've made this year:

  • Map has been renamed to For Each.
  • CombineMeshes has been renamed to Attach Meshes.
  • Range has been renamed to Array of Integers.
  • RangeExclusiveFloat has been renamed to Array of Floats Exclusive.
  • RangeInclusiveFloat has been renamed to Array of Floats Inclusive.
  • ZipToTuple has been renamed to Array of Pairs.
  • MeshFromNode has been renamed to SceneNode Mesh.
  • NodeMeshInLocalSpace has been renamed to SceneNode Mesh in Tool Space.
  • Parameter nodes have been renamed to Tool Input (ex: Tool Input: Float), while compound inputs are now prefixed with Compound Input (ex: Compound Input: Float).
  • The types Single, Int32, IArray, INode, and TriMesh types have been renamed to: Float, Integer, Array, SceneNode, and Mesh.

Categories and the Node Properties Panel

We've also reduced the number of top-level categories in the Operator Depot, and simplified the Node Properties panel, where you'll now find consistent and informative node descriptions. What's more, you can now click on the "Used in compounds" links in the Node Properties panel to open a new tab in the editor and explore how a node is used.

Revised Documentation

We've restructured and updated the entire 3ds Max MCG Help to cover the following core topics.

  • Getting Started
  • File Management and Packaging
  • Arrays and Functions
  • Tool Inputs
  • Customizing an MCG Tool with MAXScript

5. New Operators and Compounds

We've also added a set of new operators and compounds. The complete list of new, modified, deprecated, and removed operators is available in the table of operators at the bottom of the "What's New in 2018" Help topic.

  • Generating random transforms on a mesh: Random Transforms on Mesh.
  • Polygons and extrusions: Mesh Polygons, Mesh Polygon Transforms, Mesh Extrude Polygons.
  • Sampling noise values: Noise 1, Noise 3, Fractional Brownian Motion, Fractal Cell Noise, Turbulence.
  • Interpolating values on a spline based on a normalized distance between each sample: Points on Spline, Points and Tangents on Spline, Transforms on Spline, Transforms on Spline with Guide.
  • Array summing, sliding, shuffling, grouping, and sorting: Partial Sums, Sliding Window, Shuffle Array, Group by Key, Sort by Key.
  • Seeded random value generation: Array of Random Integers, Array of Random Floats, Array of Random Vectors, Array of Random Booleans.

MCG 2018 Samples

We've created a sample pack to get those creative juices flowing, and to help you discover the new tricks MCG 2018 has to offer. In it, you'll find tools, compounds, and animated sample scenes, as well as a collection of standalone .mcg package files if you're only interested in test-driving the sample set. Most of the scenes in the sample pack are configured to render with Arnold, and some even make use of the Data Channel Modifier.


  1. Download the mcg-2018-samples.zip file, and extract it anywhere on your file system.

  2. [Option A] If you only want to use the .mcg packages and open the scenes (and don't want to explore the tools and compounds in the editor):

    1. Open 3ds Max and go to Scripting > Install Max Creation Graph (.mcg) Package...

    2. Navigate to the extracted folder's /packages directory and select all the .mcg files.

    3. Press Install.

      Note: you can uninstall these afterwards by deleting the .mcg files in your user's 3ds Max 2018/Max Creation Graph/Packages directory, then restarting 3ds Max.

  3. [Option B] If you want to explore the tools with the "Open in MCG Editor" button, or if you want to use the compounds in your own tools:

    1. Open the 3dsMax.ini file in any text editor (C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Autodesk\3dsMax\2018 - 64bit\ENU\3dsMax.ini)

    2. Add the following paths to add the .maxtool and .maxcompound files contained in the /src directories to the MCG loading path and restart 3ds Max:
      [MCG Tools Directories]
      [MCG Compound Directories]

  4. You should now be able to use the sample tools defined in this sample pack. You can verify this by opening any .max scene file contained in the /src subdirectories.

    Note: Performing both Options A and B will lead to duplicate tool definition warnings when 3ds Max starts up.
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ijaveed9 | 6 months ago