So, Today I messed around with MSmooth and Auto-Smooth in 3DS Max, and made a couple joysticks and a few taps.
The basic models were first created by creating a box, adding an edit poly modifier to it and just using extrude, inset and bevel until I got the basic shape.
For the joystick, I then added some chamfers (which cuts/flattens a corner/edge) to make the shape seem a little more natural and then added auto-smooth so the render visual would seem a lot smoother. The top of the second joystick looks much more smooth than the tip of the first Joystick.
With the taps, I simply applied M-Smooth and then a few Auto-Smooths (under Polygon Smoothing Groups) to the second one – it ended up very round, Not something I’m a huge fan of. With the third, I applied a few chamfers to some areas and then auto-smoothed, I think it turned out much better.
I found that while M-Smooth does apply a lot of smoothing to the shape, it also makes the geometry unecessarily complicated, and it gives me much less control – it will smooth the entire shape. Chamfer with Auto-Smooth gives me much more control on specific sections and groups of the object.
Overall the process was rather simple, Just a few modifications will smooth a lot of the object in almost any way I want it to. I could see use of this in modelling to reduce the amount of geometry I need to make something appear smooth – or make something appear smooth if I think it already has enough geometry.