Hello, this is probably going to be more of an open discussion rather than a Q&A session, but I just want to get some opinions and vent about first-world programmer problems.
I've been working on a project for two years now with a buddy of mine. I feel like I've tried everything available to make this game happen. I've learned a slew of languages, downloaded a hundred tools (usually each with its own scripting language), tried dozens of libraries, and its just starting to get to me. I'm technically the programmer of our two man team, but when it comes down to it we're both really aesthetics driven... it just happens I'm a little bit better at programming than he is due to some formal exposure during school. I'm just absolutely fed up with it though because I can't seem to find the right tools.
Every half-decent game "editor," I suppose you would call it, let's you get right in and start toying around with mechanics, but eventually you hit a brick wall because some obvious feature isn't included (like custom controller input) or the ability to add custom implementation is hidden behind a hefty price tag just to see the source code. On the other hand, writing a game from scratch has none of these limitations (except for hardware, obviously) but you have to leap over hurdles to even get something printed to the screen... or you have to download three layers of overhead graphics engines to get it to work, but then run into the same problem of implementation being behind a wall of someone's sloppy and poorly documented code.
OR, if something seems easy and does a lot of stuff, you're definitely limited to like... only having it run on Xbox and PC like XNA and have to wonder how much you're alienating other potential users on Mac and Linux, or even other consoles if you could get some sort of license with them.
I guess it's just overwhelming.
I just want to maybe get some opinions on what has worked for others or advice on what I should try out to solve my own problems here. I just wonder if there are any good engines or whatever that can provide a decent balance of being able to rapidly prototype and design ACTUAL game mechanics instead of graphics/sound/whatever core, and having the ability to change these things if I want.
(Also, if there are no specific tools you can recommend but have a good book you know of that helped you, I have some Barnes and Noble cards I'm looking to spend...)
Thanks for reading, I would really appreciate anything you guys have to offer.