3ds max, maya, xsi etc. are all programs which cost more than the car a humble student like myself drives.
I've had a look at Blender but the only thing that it has useful to game development (appart from the modelling ofcourse) is the ability to write python scripts to export a model the way you want for your game.
What would be nice is if there was a way to write new types of objects, such as a physics object with center of gravity/mass/inertia tensor and be able to tie it to an existing mesh. Or objects that represent bullet exit locations and vectors, and add it to the model somewhere. Or joints/hinge points and their constraint attributes between rigit bodies. And so some code could be written to export the model and all of the custom objects to your prefered output format.
Is there a free modelling program that is able to do this?