Hi guys. I'm starting development of New Star Soccer 4 and i'm having real trouble deciding what path to take. I should point out that NSS4 will have an extensive career mode which invloves lots of stat screens, fixture lists and so on (think Football Manager) but will also have a 2D action side to it when match day rolls around. NSS3 was coded partly in Visual C and partly in BlitzPlus (the match action). I've decided that I want re-write the game completely as I am unhappy with two aspects. 1) A lot of my early code is a shocking mess. 2) I don't like the game being split into two halves (VC and Blitz+).
Now, forgive me if I waffle a bit as I go through my apparent options, but i'm trying to get my thoughts in order here.
Visual C++/DirectX: I love programming in C++ and VC makes creating a functional gui very easy. However, I would prefer the game to have a full-screen colourful GUI, which links seamlessly to the match action. This would rule out VC would it not? I mean, I can skin VC apps but getting nice curved buttons and having background images is not really what MFC is designed for. This also doesn't solve my "game of two halves" problem. It's still a windows app which switches to DirectX for the match action. On top of which, i've never programmed DirectX, so there's an immediate learning curve there (although the VC side would be a doddle.)
BlitzMax: I love what i've seen of BlitzMax so far. It has a lot of similarities with C++ and has my favourite benefit of all - getting things whizzing around the screen in next to no time. Another huge plus point is that the game can be developed simultaneously for Mac and PC. The downside? NSS4 will be stat heavy, so the gui is all important. Ok, i can use MaxGui which allows me to create lists, combo boxes and so on, but if i want them to look nice I have to use some kind of wrapper like iGlass or HighGUI3 which to be honest, don't seem to be quite up to scratch.
Torque: I'm thinking TGB here rather than TGE seeing as though NSS4 will be strictly 2D. I've had a dabble with TGB and really should give it some more time, but my initial feeling is that it might be a bit lightweight. I've yet to see a TGB game dealing with something as complex as a footie match with 21 AI players running around the screen, not to mention the massive football database and career mode. (Point me in the right direction if i've missed it.) On the other hand, Torque's potential compatibility with Xbox360 get's more than a few neurons firing with excitement. Then there's the built-in netcode which could prove useful and like BlitzMax, it's cross platform.
There may well be other options, so please do suggest them but that's my thinking so far. In making my choice I guess I have 3 priorities in mind...
1) I want the game to look and feel like a professional product (one of NSS3 biggest drawbacks).
2) Speed of development is essential if I want to remain a full-time indie.
3) I seriously want the NSS series to be able to compete with commercial football games one day. This may take years to achieve so it's absolutely critical that I make the right choice now so that I don't have to rewrite the game every couple of years.
I welcome your comments.