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With the release of the Subscription Advantage Pack for 3ds Max 2013, simulation and particle effects artists have received an extremely powerful set of physics-based simulation tools that are collectively known as mParticles. Because mParticles offer up such a vast array of tools and open up such a vast array of options, we will in this chapter only be able to touch on a tiny fraction of what is possible with this impressive and powerful set of tools. In this video we want to take a look at the MassFX flow preset and point out to you the new mParticle operators that have been added to particle flow.
Naturally, the first thing we want to do is open up Particle view. To do that we can just hit the 6 key on our keyboard. The first piece of the mParticle toolset we come across down in the depot is the MassFX Flow. This is basically a quick-start preset that can get us up and running with mParticles very quickly indeed. If I just left-click and drag, I can add a MassFX Flow to the event display area. Instantly, not only does this basic flow show up in the display area, but we also get a working mParticle system in our scene.
The cubes we can now see are of course as a result of the standard particle flow shape operator. The particles we now see as ticks are as a result of a standard particle flow Grid Birth operator, and of course, ultimately both of these only show up in the viewport courtesy of the Display operator. All standard particle flow stuff. The cool thing here is that with everything enabled, if I just press play in our animation controls, you see we actually have a self-contained MassFX dynamic simulation working not with scene geometry, but with particles.
The simulation part of this set up is being handles by the MassFX-specific operators present in the flow: the MassFX shape and the MassFX world operators. If I just disabled each of them in turn and press play in the animation controls, you can see that the simulation needs both of them present and enabled in order to work. Not of course that we need to disable and enable our operators in order to figure out which of them are MassFX-specific. If we take a look down in the depot, the fact that all of the MassFX operators have the words MassFX in their title and a big green X in their icons does make them rather hard to miss.
Going back to our MassFX Flow, let's take a quick look at the two essential MassFX operators found there. The MassFX shape operator performs a function in mParticles very much along the lines of the modifies, both rigid body and mCloth, that we've been working with in the MassFX dynamic system. If I just click to select it, you see we have the ability to set the collision shape for our particles, and we can of course set up physical properties that the particles will make use of inside the simulation.
This operator is very much akin to a MassFX modifier. The MassFX world operator actually has no real parameters with which to work, as it really is just the connection between particle flow and the dynamics driver, or MassFX world, that we see in our scene. If I just select the MassFX world icon in the viewport, you can see, over in the Command panel we get a wealth of per-event parameters that essentially control how the dynamic simulation in that event will behave.
In essence, the MassFX world and its associated parameters can be thought of as the mParticle equivalent of the MassFX Tools dialog, housing, as it does, parameters that will affect every aspect of the simulation. The difference here of course, as we have stated, is that these parameters control the simulation dynamics on a per-event, rather than completely global, basis. The MassFX Flow preset is of course just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating and working with dynamic particle simulations in the mParticle system.
As well as working with a wealth of MassFX-specific operators such as Glue, Collision, and Buoyancy, to name just a few, we can also make use of standard particle flow operators to both augment and influence our dynamic particle simulations. In our next video, we will start to explore some of the possibilities that open up to us when using the mParticle system.
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