My oft-stated intention since this project's first conception was to really step up my game in terms of presentation, not only to make it more attractive to the potentially disinterested, but to give the player a more complete experience-- music and visuals that evoke mood and atmosphere, dialogue and story that give a more compelling context to the experimental gameplay. And while my composer, C. Filipe Alves, is hard at work on some tracks, I've had more trouble with regards to the artwork. By which I mean, I've had no success at all in attracting collaborators, despite trying several different indie gaming forums.
For some, this wouldn't be a particularly insurmountable obstacle-- substitute rectangles for this, circles for that. But without actually seeing what it will look like, I have only a vague idea at best of what the game will feel like; also, it is frankly impossible to playtest a game in that state: I've never met a player yet who was able to "look past" inelegant square and circle proxies to the gameplay underneath. The lack of art slows the entire process down to the crawl, and I've begun to feel my enthusiasm for the project dwindling.
That's why I've decided to embrace the indie gaming cliche and go as lo-fi as possible with the graphics. I'm not talking about simply using my inelegant proxies, but about creating simple, blocky art using 4x4 pixel squares that emphasize the way each sprite has been constructed. It's better than trying and failing to create more detailed art, and better still than having no game at all.
I'm also considering scaling down the dialogue and story in the same way-- trading my character interactions and careful parsing for something more naive, earnest, and idiomatic. While that, again, puts it in the same circle as a lot of other freeware games, it would match the presentation in a more cohesive way-- thus creating a more cohesive overall experience, which was my goal in the first place.
We'll see if things come together any faster with this new approach.