For the past ten years or more, moddable games have been using file formats from extremely expensive software. I've always wanted to get started with 3d graphics modding for my favorite games, but in the past it has been very difficult to convert from free software like gmax or blender for many games. 3ds max has a 30 day trial and Maya PLE has a protected file format that can't be used for anything else.
I will never in my lifetime be able to justify the expense of 3ds max or maya. It's off the table, period. I'm doing this for fun only.
3d modeling software is always very complicated and takes forever to get to a productive level of competance. There was a time when I had some fluency with gmax, but then as time went on the games I wanted to mod weren't compatible, so I've since freed those braincells for other uses.
I expect that Elemental is going to be one of the best modding platforms we've seen. I'd like to do some graphics modding. Is there a free/low-cost option that I can learn that will integrate with Elemental? I'd like to get some practice in, but if I pick wrong it's all wasted effort.