regarding the ode integration in the "non game" part of blender, I started a long time ago some work to create a C module - using python and importing this module it's possible to create animations with physics calculated by ode.
An example movie in my old post:
My work stopped because I wanted write access to the object matrix, tried an euler->matrix conversion function didn't work.
I think it would be really simple now to complete this job making the object matrix writable from python - this would make physics driven animations possible in blender very soon.
I'll post my old source code if anybody is interested.