When it comes to the Blender Game Engine updates, there is now support in this free software game engine to play multiple streams of video textures simultaneously, whether it be video files (or remote video files), images, video captures, memory buffers, or a camera render. This game engine should also run faster now that Scene Graph optimizes static objects, there is faster View Frustum culling, Occlusion culling, and faster Bullet physics. The Blender team shares that games like Yo Frankie run three times faster. There is now also game engine modifier support, for allowing non-time dependent modifiers. Further enhancing the game engine there is improved game logic and a Python API within the release for developer interaction. Affecting both the game engine and Blender itself is a Bullet Physics library update, which brings in various improvements of its own.
Within the Blender modeling software there is now real-time dome rendering support for Fulldome, Truncated domes, Planetariums, and domes with spherical mirrors. Textures within Blender as of the 2.49 release now support Node editing. This allows designers and modelers to create procedural textures and fractal-based systems. The Blender 2.49 release notes also mention that a Texture Nodetree can even be used as a brush when painting surfaces within Blender. There is also improved projection painting, for painting surfaces in Blender's 3D view without the user needing to worry about UV mapping or seams any longer. Other improvements in Blender 2.49 include Etch-a-ton armature sketching, boolean modifier improvements, JPEG2000 support throughout, Python Script extensions, and various other new features and fixes.
While Blender 2.49 is quite a large release already, Blender 2.5 is coming up next and it brings even more changes. With Blender 2.5 there will be a new Blender window manager, a new area manager with many new features and abilities (like to integrate custom editors much easier), a new event system with Macros and multi-touch support, a generic data API, and a generic tools API. Some other features include the ability to have custom key-maps, an animation system upgrade, and a threads job manager for effectively managing CPU-heavy tasks. More information on the Blender 2.5 work can be learned about on this page.
The open-source Blender software can be downloaded at Blender.org.