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Looking for a good engine

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Greetings all.

I am a computer programmer who is intending to write my first 3d game. I have already written a 2d openGL game using a custom physicis engine and collision detection. (pretty much simple but realistic a 2d space sim in openGL)

I am looking to start creating a 3d game, but i want to use an engine to save myself the work and make it possible. I know how to model in 3d so the art wont be a problem.

What i would like to do is find a good engine that is very open ended in regards to what is possible.

I need to be able to load maps in a tile based manner, but due to the requirements of the game, they have to be allowed to be any mesh, not just a typical square height map.

I was thinking of using truevision3d, but it seems a bit dated. Also, although i am under the impression that TV3d supports tile based loading, all the methods ive seen specified use a typical square height map as the terrain.

I want collision detection which TV3d includes.
I also need a physics engine that is open enough that i can use the equations i have written to specify fundamental forces, like gravity, as a vector/scalar that may take any form.

Graphical quality is secondary in this game, but since i have decent modeling skills and computers are getting more powerful, i expect it to be atleast as good as a typical game from 2005, which should be easy enough with TV3d since i have seen some decent screenshots.

Does anyone have any advice as to an engine that would be better? I need a realisticly unrestrictive licence, so something like unrealengine3 is out of the question... i may try to profit from this game if it works well.

If anyone has used truevision3d, i have some questions:
is it possible to load large arbitrary shaped meshes as tiles of the terrain? (non square, not heightmaps... just a bunch of traingle faces)
If so, i beleive my worldbuilding algorithms will be suited to TV3d, if not, i will be restricted to pre-generating a tile and not allow the player to travel in an open type of world, or will have to continually warp players from one square piece to another, which could be more complicated and more restrictive.

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What you're looking for seems to be quite specific. While I understand that writing your own engine will be a big stone to step over, I would still suggest you to try to do as much as possible by yourself. The reason being that if this is your first real 3D project, it would be crucial to understand what is happening under the hood and why. Also the added flexibility wouldn't hurt. The cost though.. At least thousand working hours. Practically double the amount of work.

As suggested, I'd take a look at Irrlicht or Ogre. At least you would get the graphics easily and then implement level handling by yourself. Working hours spent on the engine would be dramatically cut, while still retaining good visuals.

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