Sorry to add another "can you recommend a games engine" post, I've been looking but it seems info on 2d engines is a bit thin on the ground..?
I'm looking to make some 2d games (with a view to hopefully moving onto 3d later - but most likely not with same engine). The first one will be a top-down-view, turn-based board/strategy game with simple animations (later looking to move on to others with more advanced graphics/animations/interaction).
Ideally looking for an engine that's well documented with good API's (i.e. doesn't take too long to get up to speed/scratching head trying to find docs on how to use them), ideally integrated/plug-in support for audio and networked multi-player (LAN and internet - a few players, not MMO), and packages exes for others to install (developing on Windows 7 and running on Windows XP +). Don't mind DirectX/OpenGL, whichever is most used/supported. More advanced features (physics, collision detection, shading etc, would be nice but not essential). Also need to be able to program some fairly involved AI. Ideally looking to program in C/C++, but happy to use/learn scripting languages if it gives better options.
I guess most engines/game IDE's import 2d/3d animations built in other packages. So am also looking for a good 2d animation tool, ideally using vector graphics(?) (so don't have to redraw each frame from scratch?).
Ideally for both of the above freeware, or not too expensive. If anyone can help, and has some tools they would recommend, would be great.
(Quick personal info: I have a fair bit of programming experience, strong on C/C++, written a few apps in Java, JScript & scripting languages, and for Symbian OS (including some v simple animations), also played with making simple 3d Blender animations (a walking man with a hat:). But this is my first attempt at a game/graphics engine.)
ps I stumbled on GDK, and heard a few people mention it's quite good for 2d games (plus can integrate into Visual Studio), but was too slow for 3d. So I'm toying with the idea of giving it a try, but would be great to get some advice on what else is out there before wading in.
(ps sorry for the long post)