Seeking Good BASIC Distro for building CUSTOM Distro

Hello. First time Poster, short time Listener (I just started listening this year as something related to work to listen to while I go from job site to job site). I totally love the podcast, but I had some curiosities I would like a couple of pushes in the right direction.

Part of this idea comes from the AmogOS (Among Us OS) that released in late 2021 due to the hype behind the AmongUs game.

My idea is for a christmas present I have planned this year. I want to make a sort of combined idea of “Puzzle Video Game” where the video game begins from the moment the “Game” is unwrapped. I rescued a bunch of 2010 NUCs that were destineed for the landfill that run linux on them GREAT.

I mostly run pop os on my machines, but I have dabbled with Linux Mint, Cinnamon Remix, KDE Plasma, Manjaro and a handful of others, but I keep going back to Pop OS. I love the entire process of installing a new distro, and just learning the individual interface that each offer. Specifically that about PopOS reminds me almost of an android of iphone interface with its version of GNOME. It is so click-intuitive and very easy to use.

Ultimately, I want the idea of the Puzzle Video game to start from a clue for its login password to be in relation to a rainbow I am planning to paint on the shell of each nuc. The unique color names etched into the painting of the rainbow with one color without etching. The splash login graphic will have all the colors on the screen, but the password field will eclipse the same color without its color etched onto the shell of the PC as its first clue.

As the user logs in, they will be presented with one single icon on the desktop to click on, as a to do list. From there, they will need to click into the applications, to the browser, whose homepage and bookmarks will be self-referential to the local disc for all its url destinations. Each link clicking into various clues, and programs that have to be run in order to compose each next step, etc.

It is a bit of obscura, but my main thing I want to fulfill is the least resource intensive version of gnome in order to pull this off.

Can anyone point me in the best direction for which version of GNOME desktop I should select that will come with the fewest bells and whistles out of the box, and what sort of packaging tool i should use in order to package the final product into an iso so i can easily install it identically onto multiple systems? Someone has previously suggested that I use a tool called, “dd,” unless there is a better suggestion.

Thank you for all the courtesies of reading this, and any input is always appreciated!

Thank you!

Over week, some views, and no responses.

For those who read this thread:

Are there any limiters or questions i can help to expand on here to garner a response?

Thank you!

I have no experience with custom distro builds, especially not with one I would have made. So I am not the right person to ask. But as a Debian guy I would probably base my distro on Debian or even Ubuntu. Most of the custom distros are actually based on Debian.