So, is there more of an intuitive, less cluttered 3D software out there? Something which provides fairly simple and straightforward mesh editing and some basic bone/skeletal work. Not a heck of a lot (but neither am I looking for the cool-software-for-teens thing).
The two I know about are anim8or and K3d. I haven't really used either one and I would recommend Blender. There are a lot of tutorials for Blender on youtube, just do a search for blender tutorials. It takes a while, but it's worth it. Sketchup is good for architecture but can be hard to get into other software. Maya has a personal edition, but has restrictions on the models being used.
Another good place for tutorials is blendercookie.com
Blender is difficult to start with, but once you know the ins and outs you won't regret it. It has a lot of game-friendly tools to help you produce the content you need. Another great site to learn Blender is BlenderGuru. The site appears to be down right now, but you can view Andrew's tutorials on his Vimeo page. He has excellent tutorials on smoke and explosions, creating artistic trees, producing muzzle flashes for guns, various architecture, etc. You may or may not find the content produced useful, but simply watching and learning through his videos will improve your familiarity with Blender. Some of the things I do in Blender include creating levels and defining trigger zones, lightmapping, animations, modeling via curves (very powerful!), creating logos, creating bitmap fonts, etc. I'm not an artist dedicated to Blender, but when I need something done now it's a walk in the park. For such a powerful and free tool with its Python scripting engine for writing extensions, it's unbelievable.
look man, paying a measly \\$100 for the educational version of 3d coat isnt too much to ask of a buyer.
Thanks all, very helpful. I suppose I should sort of get on Blender then and bite the bullet. Actually, I just found a free program last night called CB Model Pro. It's very simple and works very well. I'll hafta weigh the learning curve of Blender I suppose.
Blender is the way to go. However, if you want to save yourself a ton of headaches, leave online tutorials for later, and buy a book - I'd suggest "Blender Foundations" by Roland Hess, published by Focal Press. Be prepared: there are dozens of hotkeys to memorize!
Yes, from doing some online tutorials (lol), it appears that Blender is indeed pretty epic. A lot of power there. I've actually been doing some vids by that Andrew Price fellow; thus far his vids appear to be great stuff. I'm going to check out that book, however. I do indeed prefer to have a video version to learn such things, but I'll certainly check that out.
And yes...there are definitely a heckuva lotta hotkeys in Blender!
For great videos&tutorials take a look at cgcookie.com - I think their Blender section is the best!