I am involved in a team study at college this year, and we will be working with graphics and game engines. We're having a bit of trouble deciding on how to start out in the course (it is almost all student ran). We have been doing research on various engines and graphics libraries. We don't have to go in any single direction, we could either try to make some games or we could develop an engine, really just whatever we fancy. I just wanted some advice on how we could get started with our course, I will provide some information on our research so far below.
As far as engines go, we have found:
Ogre, Monacle, AngeL 2D, and perhaps a few others that I am forgetting, but these are the main ones.
Ogre: This one seems like a very popular option, and very well documented, but it is also seems a bit complicated, and it seems to be mostly for 3D game development and my group specifically wants to focus on 2D games. This seems like a good option overall though, taking care of all of the low-level stuff for you. Any information regarding how to get started with this would be appreciated.
Monacle: This one doesn't seem to be terribly popular (another team member found it, I never came across it during my research), but another team member seems to be really supportive of it, so I thought I would include it. The plus is that it is totally C++ oriented and we will be able to use Code::Blocks to develop with it, so it is a solid option in that way at least. Also, it seems to be pretty easy to use, but the documentation is practically non-existent.
AngeL 2D: A nice prototyping engine it seems with a fair amount of documentation. This might be perhaps one of the simplest/quickest routes to a working game, but also maybe not, that's why I'm here after all.
Irrlicht, SDL, SFML, Allegro, and, again, probably a few others I'm forgetting.
Irrlicht: Seems to have good documentation and seems like a really powerful tool. Also in 3D, see Ogre above if you don't see why that's a problem for us.
SDL: Seems a bit dated, but one of our team members has a bit of experience with it so I thought I would put it on the list.
SFML: Good documentation, gets many recommendations.
Allegro: The professor under who we are working mentioned this one, I don't know much about it, but it also seems like a fine option just looking at their website.
Of course, we would have to develop some sort of engine if we used any of these libraries, which is something that I'm not necessarily opposed to, but I think it might be best to start out with the (probably) more fun part of actually designing a game, however simplistic.
So, in short, my question is really two-fold:
first, which of these engines would you recommend to start with (alternatively, feel free to suggest another) in designing and building our own game(s)? What are the advantages of that engine over another?
second, would you recommend trying to build our own engine, and, if so, with which of these graphics libraries (again, alternative suggestions are welcome)? Again, what are its advantages?
Also, any advice on how to start this process would be appreciated as well. We are all CS majors or minors and we would like to keep the language of use C++ because we all know it fairly well, although I would appreciate any suggestions requiring other languages (I was looking into pygame because I really want to learn Python) if you think it could be learned in a short enough amount of time, we only have until the end of the term after-all. Thanks in advance for any help/guidance you can provide.