@jamieh • As this was your one (and only) post in 4 months., it's doubtful you'll actually see this.
Some friendly advice though...
• Work on a project you can complete on your own
• Create based upon a Simple Concept / Idea... something that you personally find interesting and/or appealing
• Aim for a Short-Term Goal., something you can complete within say a Week, or a Month... maybe 3 Months at the most.
But working and/or managing a Team...
Being Beholden to Investors (who expect results / return)…
Aiming for Retail...
These are very stressful, challenging and difficult things for those with Seasoned Experience... for those without such., it'll be near impossible.
Passion and Dreams are good for the Creative Process., they're the Kiss of Death for Project Management; as you have to be more realistic, brutal and critical when engaging in such.
In fact this goes double when you become responsible for Employees and a Business.
And here's the thing., the reason why I suggest the three bullet-points above is because MOST of your Projects will Fail in some way or another.
I'm not saying that to discourage but rather to say that you always need to be more realistic with Goals and Aims.
There's no "Magic Formula" as to what makes a Game Popular... and frankly the main way to achieve this is to throw ungodly amounts of money into advertising.
That isn't even an exaggeration., a minimum of 50% of every Major Game released is spent on Advertising / Marketing / Influencer Campaigns / etc.
Gaming Audiences don't have High-Standards., in-fact their Standards only as High as the Hype you Generate.
Developers themselves can often be their own worst enemies in this respect.
Make something that's Fun, Runs Well, Doesn't Crash (at least not enough to be noticeable) and has something Interesting about it... then someone will like it.
And if you plan to sell it... well for it to be a Success, it just has to make more than it cost to Develop, Market and Release.
When I start work on a new Project, my aim is never to create "The Best" … this doesn't mean I don't aim to make something Awesome., but rather what I'm looking to do is create an experience that personally I find engaging, entertaining and fun., as well if YOU don't like your own creation, then how is anyone else supposed to? Yet beyond this, is to create a lasting impression with others... something that they want to talk about with friends, and ideally that they'll keep coming back to play again.
Look at it like this... how often do you remember the Hollywood Blockbuster a few weeks after it's initial release hype has died down?
How often do you go back to watch it again? Do you even bother to purchase it when it's release for Home Retail?
Chances are, it was entertaining but fleeting entertainment. Same is true for frankly most AAA Blockbuster Games today... you'll talk about them week of release, you might even complete it during them... but after that, you'll put it down and basically never touch it again.
Well what about those smaller titles... the ones that don't have big budget productions.
How many times have you played Undertale? Minecraft? Five Nights at Freddys? Monster Prom? etc.
When you take the time to think about the games you constantly go back to... the ones you play over-and-over-and-over... when you're being honest, which are the ones that becomes your go to games; months or even years later?
There's a reason that the "Retro" Genre is absolutely massive right now.
As I said, Gamers don't have High-Standards... they're just looking to be entertained., while what you as the Creator should be looking to do is create something that makes an impression.