Help understanding IK (for characters)?

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I've been wanting to try my hand at making custom animations for custom npcs in game, but I haven't the first idea on how to set out doing this. I have a rigged model already available and I want to fix up an existing npc's rather bad set of animations, but I run into a variety of problems. Namely how it's nearly impossible for me to properly animate a character using a non-biped skeleton. Why? Because characters made with biped have access to the ability to plant the hands and feet to a spot and keep them there. Such things allow for walking or grabbing a stationary object while letting other parts of the body that act as parent to these appendages move freely.

But without the biped, I lack the planting ability, so it's almost impossible to animate a character without moving the pelvis and deeply screwing up a character's standing position on the ground, and trying to reposition is a fool's errand because there's no way without tremendous effort bordering on the insane to put it back where it was.

I now am led to believe that a normal bone structure can recreate this planting feature using Inverse Kinematics, which, surprise surprise, I've never been properly taught, and finding a proper tutorial is monitor-punching frustrating considering just how non-straightforward the IK interface is to someone whose never used it.

If I could be enlightened as to how to achieve the results I hope for, I'd be extremely thankful. After a few years of working in Max, IK has always been a looming hole in my education that I just knew would one day look a lot more important than it had before.

For the sake of limiting confusion on the matter, I have 3ds max 7, and know nothing about how they may have changed IK since my version.

Thank you for your time, and I thank anyone willing to help.
 
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Okay, I figured out enough IK to do what I wanted, but now I need to export the animation I finished with it, and I need to convert the IK information into actual frames. How do I do this? exporting just using the IK leads to the IK'd limbs not having animation.

Please, can anyone help?
 

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