As I mentioned in my introduction I am like a kid in a candy store and honestly I do not know which way to turn and consequently where to invest my energies.
During my research I have come across ArcGIS, OssimPlanet, Natural Earth(which does have the Image I would like to use),Earth3D, FracPlanet, gismapgen, Height Map Generator, Final3D(pascal), IrrlichtTerrain, VR GIS(Pascal ), InnerWorld. And, since reading the forums here there is Bryce, Wibur, Gott, and SagaGIS. Needless to say I have a headache.
Maybe if I can explain what I am trying to do then a knowledgeable person will volunteer some mentoring.
1- Start with a globe which I can rotate.
2- Zoom/ Fly down to “street” level but not have the clutter of roads. Natural Earth has a good start (1:10m Cross-blended Hypsometric Tints | Natural Earth) but it does get out of focus when zoomed in to deep.
3- Land/Start at Point A build a road and then travel that road building bridges and tunnels as you travel.
4- Stop some place and build a city using images created in Blender, or SketchUp. Build an industry say a farm. Truck the farm produce to another town for commerce.
5- Wanting to have the initial project as real as possible I would like to use the Earth as the “game space”. I would also like to use data from USGS to place natural resources…coal, oil, iron ore, etc. which will be used by industries to grow a cities commerce.
6- Eventually utilize other maps…Middle Earth from LOR, Stephen Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever(one of my favorites), Stephen Erikson's Malazan: Book of the Fallen just to name a few. Not that the purpose would be an extension of the novels but just an interesting Terrain.
I have access to C++ code for Sprites to build/manage the various industries and infrastructure.
Yes, an extraordinary venture considering I must first learn the software to build the map/gamespace. Then teach myself C++ in order to integrate the snippets I have. All while maintaining my family, professional, and social requirements.
So, I humbly come seeking advice. Where should I focus my energies and (to be honest) which applications are the simplest to understand and easiest to use.