3ds Max is a proprietary, professional modeling software owned by Autodesk that is sometimes used to make assets for Morrowind.
The .nif file format that Morrowind uses was originally designed to replicate the data structure of 3ds Max, and full capabilities for exporting .nif files for Morrowind are for 3ds Max versions 3 to 5. Those versions of Max are outdated and no longer available. Max is no longer well documented for Morrowind in the English-speaking community, so don't choose this option if you aren't comfortable with figuring things out yourself.
Exporting to .NIF
Currently, the easiest way to export models to Morrowind .nif is through Blender, using the Blender Morrowind plugin.
If you do have access to 3ds Max 3 to 5, you can use the public version of Bethesda's own exporter for 3 or 4. The same official exporter works for 3ds Max 5 for models that do not require morph (using a morpher.dlm from 3ds Max 4.2 allows exporting morph).
An unofficial importer was also available: NifPlugin v0.11 is the beta version from 2004, origin of later versions of MaxNifPlugin. Niftools' MaxNifPlugin for newer versions of 3ds Max is incomplete and abandoned but supports simple export features. Several other plugins and forks exist. Newer plugins meant for Skyrim may work to import Morrowind meshes.
- Beginners guide by Thanatos [PDF]
- Notes for Modmakers from Symphony team – contains many notes on 3ds Max and modelling in general.
- Archived page for more information and tutorials from 2004 as well as some original 3ds Max files from Bethesda.
- RX31 Animations Toolbox for Morrowind and Oblivion – user script tools for 3ds Max 5.