The primary way Newton is used is to use basic primitives and place them as an overlay with the 3D model. The primitives are triangles, cylinders, boxes, and similar. You can also create a convex mesh but the documentation said this is much slower and more memory intensive.
What I was originally looking for was a physics library that just worked with any arbitrary mesh.
Once I found out Newton can’t do that I had 3 unappealing options to choose from.
1. Write my own physics editor, that would let designers create a physics model using primitives and materials.
2. Force all ship designs to be convex and accept the memory and speed hit
3. Write my own physics
I could always switch libraries to something more powerful of course. Novodex is the next step up but they are not free. I contacted them but if they ask more than a few hundred I can’t use it. Considering it is one of those libraries that don’t show the price I’m assuming it’s a “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
Out of the three options I think #1 is the only thing that can achieve my requirements for both gameplay and design. I was really bummed out at first since this puts the schedule back a week but at least I discovered this early on.
If I’m lucky Novodex will get back to me with an offer I can use. I’m pretty sure a library that powerful would have a built-in editor into 3DS Max which will be far more than anything I come up with.