The first thing that came to my mind was the old LucasArts game "Loom." I remember the music scale being integral with that game, but its been a long time. Might be worth looking into for inspiration.
As for your overall idea, it is very intriguing, but I still don't have any impression on how the game plays. You mentioned it being a side-scroller, but how does the musical scales feature in it? Are they an integral part of the gameplay or just the setting? A Mario clone would be less interesting than a more tactical game, where you use music as an ability to overcome the obstacles. For instance, if you are in the land of C, calling a C (perfect consonance) would give you one result, while calling an F (perfect fourth) would give you another, and a G (perfect fifth) would give you a third. Perhaps all the perfect consonances would be defensive, imperfect consonances would be distraction/illusion, disonances would be aggressive, etc. (My music theory is real rusty, sorry). Start the player off with a few notes and as they progress they open new ones. Plus, as you advance in the world to the lands of F and G, your current notes would no longer have the same result since the key changes. So your perfect C might become a minor sixth in the key of E or a dissonant note in the key of C-sharp.
Just realized I didn't answer any of your questions. So...
1. Yes. Yes.
2. Mobile puzzle.
3. Yes, I think people would be able to get it.
4. Depends on the gamplay, but I would get frustrated.
5. Figure out what type of game it is. You could get vastly different games from the same idea.
You may wish to check you specific state's/coutry's laws, but a quick internet search found me this (from Nevada, since they are the world center of gambling).
NRS 463.0152 “Game” and “gambling game” defined.
“Game” or “gambling game” means any game played with cards, dice, equipment or any mechanical, electromechanical or electronic device or machine for money, property, checks, credit or any representative of value, including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, faro, monte, roulette, keno, bingo, fan-tan, twenty-one, blackjack, seven-and-a-half, big injun, klondike, craps, poker, chuck-a-luck, Chinese chuck-a-luck (dai shu), wheel of fortune, chemin de fer, baccarat, pai gow, beat the banker, panguingui, slot machine, any banking or percentage game or any other game or device approved by the commission, but does not include games played with cards in private homes or residences in which no person makes money for operating the game, except as a player, or games operated by charitable or educational organizations which are approved by the board pursuant to the provisions of NRS 463.409.
NRS 463.01862 “Representative of value” defined.
“Representative of value” means any instrumentality used by a patron in a game whether or not the instrumentality may be redeemed for cash.
So, according to NV law, as long as the instrument can not be redeemed for cash it should be fine. Which I suppose is how Chuck-E-Cheese gets away with it. You can only exchange your tokens for items and not cash. Ultimately, due to the incredibly large amount of gambling simulations out there, I would expect you to be fine. Just do a check and see if Zynga's Texas Hold'em Poker has ever been litigated against due to breaking gambling laws.
But, if Mr. Sloper has some actual links to such cases instead of anecdotal evidence I would be interested as well. I know that in this article at Cracked.com, a guy stole almost 150,000 USD in in-game goods which can be exchanged for cash and hasn't had any criminal charges brought up against him.
Edit: Here is a link to the UIGEA, the US Law that governs Online gambling.
After reading some more, I'm still not convinced Artists are the special snowflakes people make them out to be. Like JBourrie said, we are all special in our own way, but artists are not better than coders and coders are not better than artists. So to try to say that we need to tread softly with our artists as to not offend them is kind of asinine. I'm still standing by my earlier statement that respect is a two way street. Just because you can do one thing we cannot is not grounds to be disrespectful (at least not the way I was raised, but then again, times change).
Plus, imagine how you would feel if you decided to take your hourly wage instead of a 5% stock option and it turns out that project leads to the next Zynga? 5% of 10 billion is a lot more than $20 an hour. Sometimes it just may pay off to take five minutes to see if there's potential in the project.
But all that aside, I would like to point out that paying $1000 is not the same as asking for it for free. Even if I can't get all the art I want for that price, I have to say I have learned a lot about the inner workings of the freelance art business. As for using the word 'exploit', I apologize for assuming that it would be taken in the context of the sentence and not automatically associated with the most negative connotation of the meaning (although I still feel it is the best word for the job, I'll have to pay better attention to that in the future). I guess that's why they say when I assume I make an ass out of 'u' and me.
When I get to the art part of my project I'll have to a little deeper digging on DA. Its possible I've passed over a few talented artists with an open policy, so its comforting to know they're out there.
Calling this "exploitation" is your first problem;
Um, why is this a problem? Isn't that what it is?
def: to utilize, especially for profit; turn to practical account: to exploit a businessopportunity. (dictionary.com)
Isn't that the point of this thread, that when it comes to art and games it all boils down to money?
Also, there was never a point of contention about
It is 100% completely reasonable for an artist to say "I own all rights and you cannot make money from this", especially if you are paying very little.
We all agreed that its the artists right to dictate the terms of how their art is used. But if I'm trying to run a business, why am I going to sink $1000 into art that I can't use? How will I benefit from that?
Respect your artists and stop thinking in terms of money you may or may not make later on.
Once again, I'm trying to run a business. Businesses run on money. I have to think about it. (and might I add respect is a two way street as well)
Although I do appreciate your perspective on some of the inner workings of creating art. You're right, as a non-artist I have no idea how long it takes to produce some concept background art. Knowing that will definitely help me budget accordingly. And like you said, its all a balancing act. You've got to get the right mix of detail, style, and quantity at something that makes the project feasible. And it is a relief to find out not all artists charge a premium for commercial work, plus I never considered the ability to buy the rights later. The devil really is in the details!