BACKGROUND It appears that DICE used Maya as the primary modeling tool to develop the models for BF2. When the BF2 editor was used, they released plug-ins for the current version, which, at the time was 6.0.1. Dice created a conversion utility that helped Maya with handling the conversion into their proprietary BF2 format. The plugins for BF1942 & BF Vietnam were created for an older version but later updated to run with versions up to 3ds Max 2013.
When you install BF2Editor you get a small set of tools to be used with MAYA. There are in the folder ../EA GAMES/ Battlefield 2/maya. These tools are add-ons or extensions for MAYA mostly written in mel (MAYA Embedded Language). There are a few other tools in there as well. But, for various reasons, MAYA didn't catch on with the BF2 modding community. Maya 6 only works with Windows XP and the BF plugins have not been updated to work with newer versions.
Rexman, who is believed to have worked directly with DICE (and may have actually been contracted by DICE) created the plug-ins for 3dsmax, for versions 5, 6 and 7, and later updated for versions 8 and 9. These plug-ins also used a conversion utility to help 3dsmax with the file conversions. These plug-ins use maxscript. 3ds max version 9 will work with Windows 7, but has graphic artifacting issues with Windows 10. There are plugins that have been updated to work with 3ds Max 2009, 32 bit and even version 2016.
Remdul, without any help from DICE, developed the Battefield Mesh Viewer which can read all the classic BF file formats, from BF1942 to BF2142 and even the BF P4F format. He also created a collision mesh importer for 3ds max. However, the tool can only read the BF format.
The 3dsMax plugins for BF1942 and BFVietnam were designed for older max versions and were updated by the BF community.
Blender is a powerful open Source 3d Modeling package that should be able to handle interfacing with the conversion utilities to be able to import and export the BF format. But, this would take a someone that understands 3ds Max and Blender scripting as well as the BF model format.
- The BF2 plugins for 3ds Max use 32 bit apps to help with the file conversion. These won't run natively with the 64 bit version of 3dsmax. See below for a work around to get the apps to work with the 64bit versions of 3dsmax.
- These older versions of 3D software that have BF plug-in support are no longer available, except as second hand or pirated and will only run on older operating systems.
- Older versions of MAX and Maya are not being updated to support newer Operating systems.
- Even worse, Microsoft is not support older operating systems on newer machines and support for the older operating systems is running out. XP is no longer supported and Windows 7 is on extended support until 2020.
- Because of the use of conversion utilities with the Plugins for 3ds Max and Maya we don't have a complete picture of the complete BF model format, which makes updating difficult. Even Remdul only figured out enough of the format to be able to read the model with his BFMesh tool. His tool can export to OBJ format, do some mesh repairs, but does not export to the BF Model format.
- A 3ds max scripter would need to be able to interface with the conversion utility, which is not documented.
- DICE did not want their models to be imported into 3ds Max to be changed or otherwise exploited. The import tools for 3ds max are not perfect and the results frequently have to be fixed. DICE intention was to provide tools so that modders could create and export their own models into the games.
Work around to get the 3dsmax BF2 file conversion apps to work with 64 bit version of 3dsMax:
In the folder:
\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max [ver]\Scripts\bf2\bin\release
There are 4 files:
Select properties of each file and set compatibility to XP SP3 for each one.
Now they will run correctly as 32 bits app with the 64 bit version of 3ds Max.