Just a quick update, mostly to put to rest concerns that I've given up. First off, I have to thank TripHamer for pointing me to a series of videos on Unity called 3D Buzz. My initial impression of the site wasn't good; there are a LOT of videos there; so much, in fact, that it's easy simply to get overwhelmed and leave immediately. Eventually, though, I took the time to explore the site a bit, and found a series there called creating a simple 2D shooter in Unity with C#. I figured that project didn't sound too bad, and if I couldn't even figure out how to create a 2D shooter in Unity (something I can do in my sleep with Gamemaker), I was out of my league.
Apparently, just for registering your free copy of Microsoft's Visual Studio Express at this Website enters you into an interesting drawing for a full-size Namco Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga anniversary arcade machine, t-shirt or Atari TV game. The intent seems to be to spur "arcade game" development.
According to the Website: