If you take a contract it could lead to others, better paying ones.
You can finish your game much faster if you could afford to pay the best on your team full time.
If you get a contract, and an advance or milestone payment
(50%), you can afford to pay them. With more people you may be able to finish your game
in the next year or so.
But see how many people are not employed at the moment, land a contract saying "we have X people in our company."
Where X is the number of people who work for free, and who could be employed right away. Larger companies get larger contracts.
Superman fighting games made by Blizzard were made in 3-5 months. They only had 10 people.
If you do not pay your volunteers, they're going to find work eventually, then your project will be hurt by having to bring new people up to speed.
Your people could be poached. But if you pay them, even minimum wage, they will stick around.
This will cost you time. Time is money. Game developers flock to money like dwarves to gold. They're attracted to success.
Land the contract and then pay or hire people you've worked with before.
Do not underbid the contract, or you will be working at a net loss.
Once you have the contract, you can subcontract work. Like how a building renovator contractor, subcontracts the electrical and painting.
You only need to guarantee you can manage a small game project, deliver on time, with your company, freelancers, and subcontracters.
And be accountable for the work, behind schedule, on schedule, at or below expected quality.
Speaking of quality, provide the minimum features expected for contract projects, no point in adding features, for free, you won't be compensated for.
You never know, you could get a contract that is so good you can afford to hire new people.
Have you tried retargeting animations to speed up production? You only need a male and female walk cycle, for example.
You can also find people at game jams. This might be a good way to get a feel for how long an animator take to complete their work.
You do not need a 3D modeller to take 3 months to do a simple prison cell, and an animator 1 year to do a horse walk cycle, for example.
You've been working on this project for 4 years, how many more years can you afford to do the lions share alone? Everyone in the industry gets old.
You have one plus for you're company, you're a computer science major, not a non-coder, you can do the work yourself and attract people to work with you.
That is a big plus. You've managed to inspire these people.
Using Unity3D you can finish contract projects fast, and move back to your game. Companies have not reduced the contract rates of getting their 3D minigames done,
although your cost has reduced by using Unity3D.
Just don't make the mistake of hiring unproductive people, unreliable or insubordinate egos. They will cost your company money, and your contract reputation.
The biggest mistake you can make after getting the contract is hiring, or subcontracting to unreliable people.
I think it is time to put on another hat besides producer and director.
You're going to need to put on a suit, practice a sales pitch in the mirror, walk into a room with a computer, plug it into a projector, play a demo reel, and land a contract.
Selling without fear.
Think of what you can gain for your team, paid employees, an office for them, and an employee kitchen stocked with icecream, pop, pizza Fridays. Happy hour Tuesdays.