Um? Photoshop or any image editor is required to edit image content . . not exactly new or new fangled.
I have used 3ds MAX for almost 20 years, also lightwave, and few others that no longer exist. Blender, Miya, modo, milkshape , gmax and wings are also ones that I have played with and allot of people use.
In the end they are ALL 3d editors and you can build your ships in any of them.
It would seem final assembly and texturing should be done in MAX. Depending on the format of your favorite editor can export, retexturing may be a minor job (ie lightwave objects bring over the mapping and textures well)
Maps seem to require the Max flavor of .dae export (but this may not be the case for all programs)
So, content wise they say they are giving us the tools and instructions for porting in the new content. This should be easy for anyone that has moded content before . . . no more guessing!
A total and simplified guess of process.
Make your ship, follow instruction on adding maps and the format size they need to be for conversion (in max or other program). Bring into MAX. Add/move pivot points and linking for dummy objects, Turrets, placeholders for lights etc Per instructions. Export with script. Possibly view through mod tool? or add extras post export (order can change here). bring into game.
Now pulling content is currently not supported (hope they give us the work models!) But even if they do not there are ways to get the objects and textures out, they will have to be rerigged though.
And Scripting should not change in procedure, though I expect allot of change in hooks and functions.
Again I am not seeing the difficulty or for the need of some “new age” of moders. I am a old bastard and am looking forward to the relative ease dev supported moding tends to bring. Sure it will be different but every game is different so adapting is required for any long time moder.
Or am I misunderstanding what you are saying?