Tutorial [3DS Max 8] Setting 3DS Max 8 up for NR2003

Lengthier learning guides you can learn more in-depth processes to improve or setup NR2003 or related tool/programs
This tutorial is included in the Mod creation section but is applicable to track making section as well in regards to setting 3DS Max 8 up for NR2003 mod/track creation.


While many programs can be interchanged when it comes to designing and creating content for NR2003 from painting a car in your preferred paint program, modeling track objects in Blender, or using any audio editor for NR2003 sound edits. The one constant is 3DS Max is required if you plan to build and compile true NR2003 3do's. While 3DSimEd3 can make 3do's it is not recommended due to the the extra unnecessary poly count it adds to models plus it does not include all the psg scripting code that certain 3do's requires. For example making a car mod has many state switches 3dSimEd3 cannot output. Its a great tool but not workable when making 3do's that NR2003 requires and is optimized for.

With that said, it gets one more level deeper in the difficulty with tooling requirements with NR2003. It is a old game and unfortunately like with many game development studios they use the industry standard of their time also having their plugins and tool only compatible for that program. In this case 3DS Max 6-8 as the plugin option available require one of these versions to be able to output a PAS file.

Installing 3DS Max 8 for NR2003:

If you do not have 3DS Max 8 (the recommended 'newest' version that NR2003 plugins can work with) it is nearly impossible to find the program. Autodesk who owns 3DS Max doesn't support or even distribute the software or its Service packs anymore. Up until a few years ago you could still officially download the Service pack 3 update for 3DS Max 8. Now it is all gone. Even with hard copies you'd be hard pressed to even find someone selling a legit copy. If you do have a working version then continue to the first launching section. If don't have the program but always wanted to make models compatible 3dos for NR2003 you are in luck and get 3DS Max 8 below with steps to install the NR2003 plugins.

3DS Max 8 + Service Pack 3

Papyrus 3DS Max 8 Plugins

Panda DirectX File Exporter (Car X File generation)

First download all 3 files above. Unzip 3DS Max 8 + Service Pack folder with 7z read the readme file included.

After all steps in the readme are completed, before launching the program, go to 3dsMax8/plugins folder (if you installed in default location this would be at C:\Program Files (x86)\Autodesk\3dsMax8\plugins for example) and place the 2 files from the Papyrus 3DS Max 8 Plugins download in the 3DS Max Plugins directory.

Lastly on the Panda DirectX page locate the 3DS Max 8 download addon. This is the export tool that allows you to create Direct X files just as you see NR2003 mod include carfiles with. This file also goes into your 3dsMax8/plugins folder.

You can now proceed through the rest of this Tutorial

First launching 3DS Max 8:

Assuming you already have NR2003 papy plugins installed in your 3DS Max 8 program launch the program, its recommended you have Service pack 3 installed too. Gives just a little extra stability as well:


Once the program is initialized first thing to do is ensure the NR2003 plugins and DirectX plugin is working. Got to File > Export. In the drop down ensure you see both export options available:


If you do not see these options first go to the top menu bar and choose Customize > Plug-in manager. Locate the plugins and ensure they are at least marked as 'deferred'. Also at the bottom 'Additional MAX plugins' should be checked. After you enable them they should appear in the export menu now. You may need to restart the program as well.


If you still do not see the plugins re-read the 'installing 3DS Max 8 for NR2003 section'

Optimizing 3DS Max 8 for NR2003:

Now that the plugins are enabled you are essentially all set to fully be bale to export the NR2003 files needed to generate proper 3do's and DirectX Car file for the car-viewer program. There are still a few extra steps that will ensure you have the best setup for NR2003 when making models.

Setting the Scale:

Set 3DS Max 8' default scale that the compatible mode NR2003 uses which is meters. To do so go to Customize > Units Setup... option


Improve performance settings:

Next we can improve 3DS Max 8 performance by going to Customize > Preferences... option

From here choose the tab called 'Viewports'

On the bottom left choose the button called 'Choose Driver...' and make sure it is set to 'Software'


Next choose the button under it called 'Configure Driver...'


Have all boxes checked and Texture Size to 512. Since 3DS Max 8 is an older program your modern pc should have no issue with these settings.

The reason why we set the Driver to Software even though it may appear slower in some areas is there is significant frame degradation when choosing multiple lattice points. This comes into play for example when you are creating damage for a mod and have many lattice points selected it becomes very difficult to move around the viewport and will lag heavily. If you find you will never be editing or creating a mod then you do not need to set this to software

Set undo to 500:

After driver is set go to the 'General' Tab and set the level of scene undo to 500:


While you shouldn't have to undo this far back its still a good safety precaution.

Set UI in dark mode:

You may have noticed this entire tutorial 3DS Max is in a different UI color than the bright white UI color yours is in. You can choose a different UI color that is easier on the eyes.

To change the UI to dark mode choose Customize > Customize UI interface. From here click the load button. 3DS max 8 should default to a folder called 'UI' in here are different UI skins you can load, choose the one called 'ame-dark.clr'

After opening then press the button 'Apply Colors Now'


Give 3DS max 8 a few seconds to initialize the new UI colors. Your program should now appear in Dark Mode:


Set default import/export paths:

By default every time you open 3DS Max and want to import or export files it will start in the 3DS max 8 root directory. This can be annoying when you need to navigate to your NR2003 files that may be on a totally different location and drive. You can change the default starting directories by going to Customize > Configure User Paths, from there chose the File I/O tab.

In this section you can set the preferred directories you want the program to start in when you are importing or exporting files. In this example my NR2003 modding project files are reside in a Folder on the H drive called 'NR2003. I edited the import and export paths to start there:

This will save you a lot of time instead of constantly having to re-navigate to the same root area over and over again.

Using default starting file for NR2003 projects:

One way to ensure you are always in proper scale for NR2003 is to use a default file you save as every time you begin a new project. I have create a default file you can use as a baseline to save-as from. OR once you have your own created file can just save-as from that once you know the export settings work for NR2003.

Starter File

Simply open this project file in 3DS Max 8 and it should just include a single cube object. Delete it and you can begin import your model to NR2003 from another program such as blender.

At this point the program is fully ready in the best way possible to make NR2003 models for you. You can of course further customize the program to your liking, many other options to edit the tool bars and such are available in the 'customize'
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Some reason google drive marked it as 'suspicious' and only I am am able to view it. I will re-upload it to this forums' data server so that will be avoided.
ok it has been re-uploaded to the forums' file server. I have updated the download link, let me know if you have any issues with it still.

I will most likely update all current and future NR2003 modding related tool download files to the forum server to avoid this in the future.
I must be missing something or I'm just not looking for the right thing. The readme says to use the "xforce keygen", but I cannot find where that is to get an activation code for 3DS Max 8. Please help lol
I have an issue with the keygen. I t won't launch. I try deactivating the antivirus, but nothing seems to work either. What can I do? Thanks
Not had issues with it myself. If you are sure its not antivirus deleting the file try running it as admin.
Did you run with compatibility mode on? If I run it with Windows 98 compatibility, there is an error. However, when running with other versions, the cursor have the loading logo on it but nothing apear. I'm on Windows 11 by the way. Can it be the issue?
I'm on windows 11 as well and didn't have any issues, didn't need to run it in compatibility mode as all.
I get it working but on another pc. I take the code and submit it on my pc and it worked! Thanks for your help!
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