Its much better to have an ugly UI, and a fully functional backend, than a backend that's in shambles and a UI that looking good is all it actually does.
Start where the project revolves
When you start with the center-most aspects of your project, it will usually wind up much more on-center oddly enough.
For example, with Desutezeoid, my point and click adventure game engine, i started with the core screen data format (XML) and some basic clickable text items that jump between screens, and worked from there. sure, it wasn't pretty at first, but now Desutezeoid has a solid plugin API, an animation system, inventory management, and a host of other features. and you know what? It even looks halfway decent.
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