I've read that some have used the XNA framework, along with Visual Studio, however I don't know where to proceed beyond that. I want my engine to incorporate DirectX 11 features such as ambient occlusion and bokeh DOF.
Of course, by now I know you're thinking something along the lines of 'just use something like Unity to create your game', and that is where my situation is a little different. My end result is to create a game engine, and not an actual game. Of course, I want to be able to use my engine to create a game, however that is not the purpose behind my ambition. I'm not foolish enough to expect this task to be accomplished over a weekend; I'm actually ready to devote several years of my life to this project. It is very ambitious, and that is exactly why I want to pursue it. I've tried my hand at coding scripts for games using C# for Unity, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
The main problem is that I have literally no idea where to start. I'm not sure if I need to make use of my C# background, or if it would be more advantageous to learn C++ (which would not be a problem for me at all, as I love learning new languages) or something else entirely. I don't know if I need to use XNA or something else entirely. From what I'm aware of, the set of tools is preferential, but I'm as lost as a man writing code on a napkin. Most resources that I've read have talked about the "general idea", but I don't know how to even put that information to any kind of use.
I know I'm asking for something quite specific, and I know that many have ambitions that are equally as large as mine, and they never finish them. I know it's easy to look at someone on the internet and group them into piles, simply because of the general behavior that said people possess. I don't want my dream to die, but I need the communities' help to get it started.
Thank you for any and every resource, tip, and assistance that you can provide. I greatly appreciate it!!