Maybe I'm just remembering this wrong, but I would swear that in the Curves Editor in V3.0, I was able to view the separate characters of the text, and keyframe animations in which I might, for example, have the text fly in with each letter offset by a few frames, similar to the look you can get with many of the After Effects presets.
When I create text in Max 8 from splines, then extrude them, all I see in the Curves Editor is one object, with no sub-objects for the letters. I have to convert the extruded text to polygons, then break each letter off and rename it, then do the animation on each separate letter. It's very time consuming, and the text is no longer live, so I can't just retype it when I want to change the text.
Am I mis-remembering this feature from Max 3, or has the way the text spline sub-objects appear changed, and I'm just not finding them. I'm about to go into Max Script, and see if there's anything there, but I'm not exactly a Max Script jockey - another thought is to wire the parameters of one animated letter to the others, then offset the animations, but I'm still stuck with extruded text that is no longer parametric.
Thanks for the suggestion. I was trying to keep the text "live" (retaining its' parametric properties) so as to re-use the elements, or easily change the parameters as requested during the production process. It's a real pain to convert text to polys, then have the client come back and ask for the typeface to be changed; you're basically back to square one.