Experience with 3dsMax - 3 years, experience with MODO - 3 months.
TLDR: It was a difficult decision to switch main 3D software after all these years, but I don’t regret at all. Sorry for long read!
3dsMax and MODO are **very **different.
3dsMax is more like good old hammer. It’s simple, robust and easy to grasp. But if you need something more complex/vary from original - you get ugly hammer with tons of glued thingies that tend to fall off. Also you don’t have direct access to internal stuff(vertex data, uv data and etc), you’re use tools to access it.
MODO is like lego technic(but not a toy). It’s simple, yet versatile and allows to use it in more creative ways. Also internal stuff is “unlocked” and on the table - you can see how exactly vertex normals are stored, get information per vertex/edge/poly directly and so on.
**User Interface **
The main idea - you have different workspaces for different tasks and fast method to switch/cycle between them. Hold [ctrl]+~] to call circle menu and choose workspace by hovering over it.
It’s not a restriction - you could call menu from another workspace and use its tools in current workspace if you want to.
It’s very user friendly, highly customizable and smart. Same tabs and buttons could lead to different actions if ctrl/alt/shift is hold(For example “Create Copy” button visually switch to “Create Instance”).
Same hotkey could lead to different actions, depending on which selection is currently on(Bevel edge if edge selection, Bevel poly if poly selection. Of course you could change it however you want).
Every action you made is written in action history, so you can simply click on past actions and directly map hotkey to this actions.
You can add custom buttons, menus and etc **everywhere **! No restrictions at all.
I prefer MODO way of doing things. In 3dsMax you are the end user of different pre-built tools + you can customize them a little bit. In Modo you still have same tools(much more actually), but you are the creator of tools: you’re able to change built-in tools significantly and then combine them into single action, then mix’n’match/layering different tools into single action and reuse it as basic hotkey’d tool.
In 3dsMax you have separate sets of tools for UV, Modeling, Sculpting, Retopo, Movement et cetera. In MODO tools are designed to be used however you want to use them! You can sculpt UV and particles(Yeah, really, google it), apply UV operations on mesh and so on.
Workplane. This beast let you work in perspective mode with orthographic grid precision. You can rotate working grid, align to another view/poly/edge/etc and work in this dimension, yet saving your viewing perspective.
Action Center is something like advanced pivot point for modeling - every action made in 3d is relative to this point. Like rotation, scaling, twisting and so on.
Sculpting is a good tool for organic modeling - you could create your base model from cube and then using multires(Like subdiv levels in Zbrush) sculpt high poly. Then with single click switch back to your lowpoly that get form and details from high poly.
Way more intuitive than Max. I’ve tried to rig stuff in Max, but at some point decide that I can’t to everything in 3d and let it go. In MODO it’s actually fun(still difficult, don’t get me wrong, but easier to grasp and work with). I’m not a character artist by any means, but I had a lot of fun by creating this in MODO
Also you can see how useful color organizing could be - I animate only golden objects and export only purples
Same as Rigging. Tried at Max, but really loved this in MODO
Character animation is simply outstanding! You can store different transform sets(ie Movement and rotation of bones) into “Actors” and then create “Actions” for each actor. Each actor action have separate unique timeline with animation, so you can easily swap/chain them and do whatever you want. You could have single file with dozens of animations stored in separate actions. Veeery handy to say the least.
Some tools were mind blowing for me - Motion paths(02:55) for example. You could change trajectory of movement/rotation by modifying real trajectory curve in viewport.
After some time MODO I can’t get back into 3dsMax - it feels like old mammoth and I can’t recall any feature I miss from 3dsMax. Maybe architectural and rendering pipeline in 3dsMax is better, but I simply have not tried this in MODO since I switch to gamedev.
You have to change your working mindset to fully “unlock” MODO
Probably the most important thing is the learning materials… I’ve tried MODO 2 years ago and did not understand it at all. This time I’ve tried official video series(free) and they does their thing really good!
Worth mentioning that I had hundreds of crashes in 3dsMax and I have zero crashes in MODO, boyah!
And again, sorry for wall of text