First I wanted to say that I just recently discovered Arcen Games and really like their attitude towards their games and their community. I'm still playing my way through the AI War demo and am loving it!
I have a solid background in embedded C programming for automotive and aerospace applications. I've always wanted to delve into some game programming for the PC or Linux. Finding the Arcen games website and forums has resparked this interest. Especially since I have free time around Christmas and New Years to experiment.
I want to start of by doing some experiments with AI and the graphical interface. Perhaps something like making some game units (ships) follow a path drawn by the user with the mouse. Or perhaps make the different units align themselves in different patterns on command by the user's mouse input. I reserved this book from the local library and it looks like a great resource: http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Game-Example-Mat-Buckland/dp/1556220782/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323642810&sr=8-1
Back in the day I briefly experimented with OpenGL 1.2 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2005C++ and that seemed to work pretty good.
So, the question is, what tools (compiler, Graphics library, etc) would you recommend I experiment with? I prefer to code in C or C++ if possible. I need something that will let me start focusing on the AI part of the project relatively quickly. If possible, I don't want to spend more than a day or two setting up the environment and learning the user interface for the mouse and screen output etc.
AI War looks really good. Does AI War use OpenGL? I figure it can't be using DirectX if it also works on the Mac.