These are all set pieces, so no interactivity unless you count talking with the patrons. Good point on the gradients. Hard shadows take longer, but... they look a lot better I guess.
I think if you started being more careful with lighting and shading you'll find the end product way more engrossing. I took the liberty of shading your Lady-and-cart, well, the way I would do it. Basically, light from the top right and everything shaded more or less accordingly. I think I also messed with the saturation slightly because the shading took some color out. Took about an hour and a quarter with Photoshop. And you can probably tell I'm way better with objects than with characters... Anyway, here's my thinking:
[attachment=13337:Lady and Cart.png]
Edit: Swapped versions