So, I meandered about, asked lots of opinions, and finally decided to go with Torque 2D. I bought it with some trepidation.
At 5:30 last night, I finally booted it up.
At 6:00 I had completed their introductory demo - a (really shitty) game.
At 7:00 I had dissected their more advanced space game - it's pretty straight forward, and relatively fun.
By 8:30 I had made a game of my own, using my own (5-minute) graphics, acceleration, and mounting difficulty levels.
I called it 'asteroid dodge', and it featured the adventures of a plucky, if inept, red and blue ship with dodgy controls (relatively slow acceleration and deceleration). The ship was, as you might have guessed, trying to dodge steadily increasing numbers of asteroids travelling every which way.
The game is a classic excersize in nihilistic gaming, seeing as that even if you manage to survive the mounting odds, you are eventually faced with a WALL OF ASTEROIDS:
(I, alas, did not survive to the end on this particular run. So, no plucky red and blue ship can be seen.)
From zero to game in THREE HOURS. I haven't been able to do that since using PAPER and CARDS. Sure, it was simple. But it didn't have to be.
Torque 2D, and engines like it, are the future.
But what I'd like to note is that games are relatively EASY TO MAKE. I'll be producing at least one over the course of the next month.
And I see no reason why I can't test all my theories on gameplay and spatial reasoning in the process.