| 3D Studio Max is a $3,500 program. Maya costs even more. I'd love to fiddle around with adding new models to the game, but I'm not going to spend over three grand for the software.|
Are there any other options for someone who just wants to mess around, not sell their mods for a million dollars? ]
A single user license for Maya costs much less than 3ds max, just FYI.
There are many excellent free or low cost options for 3d modelling. The tricky part comes with the Direct X export. (How you would get it into the game). I dont think any package has native dX export, and only some of them have third party options for it.
Theres Blender which is the poor mans game modding tool :
Its free, and I think may have a Direct x export feature floating around somewhere (its open source, so likely somone has wanted to do it).
For an excellent Free sub D Box modeller, theres Wings3d:
For the price ( or really any price), its quite excellent in what it does. Even though Ive got much higher end software availible to me, Im not above knocking simpler stuff out , or spot modelling for some functions in Wings for its ease and accesibility.
And speaking of ease and accesibility for dedicated modelling, Silo 3d is not free, but its cheap, and very excellent. Its very rare youll see me do the bulk of any modelling in a high end animation package anymore. Silo is my first choice for most utility work:
again though, the rub comes down to the direct x export. Your most reliable options for that remain Max and Maya, as they are the only progs that are supported by the official MS dX SDK for export functions (which, snce theyre owned by the same company now, raises legitimate anti-trust questions, IMO, but what do I know).
Hope this is helpful to some people