Unwrap Pro is a Max plugin by Marius Silaghi that unwraps meshes and produces low distortion, overlap free, weighted density UVs, providing a better result than the 3DS Max Peel command. According to the author, Unwrap Pro is fast (a 1 million triangle mesh can be unwrapped in 23 seconds), easy to use (just select some UVs and hold down a button), and allows to use vertex colors or soft selections to increase the pixel density of important features. Unwrap Pro is priced at €100 and is compatible with 3DS Max/Design 9-2018 (32 & 64 bit). More on Marius Silaghi's website.
Håkan "Zap" Andersson, known for his work on Mental Ray, bids Mental Images' renderer goodbye and discusses the integration of Arnold with 3DS Max, and his experiences with Solid Angle's renderer. More on Zap Andersson's blog.
(Updated) Jon A. Bell has posted more information on the features brought by Max 2018. Read his comment.
Today Autodesk released the next major version of 3DS Max to customers on rental or maintenance. Some of the new features include OpenVDB support, Arnold proxy objects that work with all platforms Arnold is available on, new VR camera, user interface improvements, MCG improvements, motion paths and more. Read the what's new section of the 3DS Max 2018 help file for more.
Cebas have released Drop 5 for ThinkingParticles, new features in the rule-based particle system for procedural creation of VFX include VolumeBreaker Clustering, ShapeNoise, FlowEmitter and more. The software is available through rental-only licensing at $660 per year. For full details you can visit the Cebas website. Watch the new features video on YouTube.
Kinetic Lab has posted a series of commercial scripted plugins called UI Toolkit that is aimed at helping artists quickly create modern and sci-fi user interfaces as well as motion graphics. Among the tools are 18 new geometry plugins, the abllity to quickly create lines and circles with lines, dots and numbers, a holographic effects that works by projecting lines onto a mesh and many more. For more information, visit Kinetic Lab.
Itoo Software has posted a great tutorial by Mickael Riciotti, environment artist at Unit Image in Paris, on how to create detailed sand with Forest Pack. Read the full tutorial on Itoo Software's website.