I'm a beginner/hobbyist when it comes to game development, but would like to expand my knowledge and experience in the area - I trust I've chosen the right place.
I am looking to have my final project as a full 3d RPG, possibly MMO (haven't decided yet, depends on the "market" when I reach that point), but I know this is a tall order. I intend on starting small with possibly 2d/top-down RPG - think original Zelda or Final Fantasy, moving on to the likes of FF2-6/Pokemon and so forth toward my main goal as my skills and contacts improve.
I have followed basic guidelines (create a Pong game first, etc, etc) and am comfortable with the concepts of basic programming in a range of languages... I say a range, I mean C, C++, Java and SQL.
My question to you, the GameDev public, is where do I start with the likes of an RPG? I can trawl through a thousand YouTube videos telling me to have a story, and how important it is that a solid background, character development and storyline is fully mapped out before starting, but I'm at the stage that I'd like to get my hands dirty - have a bit of something to show myself I'm making progress.
What would be a good engine to begin with, hopefully supporting 2d and 3d, and do I start with my own crappy art or get sample/free sprites (where would i get these?) are the kind of thing I'm after. I have dabbled with UDK and Unity 3d, but these look more like what my final prject would use (and UDK is so very much an FPS engine!).
Thanks for any advice you are able to give, and please hold the scaremongering of "It's a huge project, you'll get bored before you're even half way there." and other such comments made to people who come on asking "How can I make WoW??"