I picked up a second job in order to pay for contract work to be done for Asparagus. It's a bit tough, but to be honest, it's the best way to go. If you need to pay people, you might as well take a second job to do it, because that way it doesn't bite into your budget.
Anyway, as per the responses to Asparagus.
Thank you to everyone for the positive response. I alerted the art dudes, and they're flattered.
The art is not concept, it is all in-game art. However, many additions will be made to what you saw. Some interface pieces need to be added, interactive objects need to be added, and a few other bells and whistles will find their way in.
Thanks for the UI suggestions, I agree. We'll be working on this as we go in order to make sure the game is as good as it can be when we put it out.
And yes, to be compared to Earthbound certinaly makes my day. It's been my favorite since I played it. It's no secret within the team that we're trying to emulate the style of the Mother series while adding a bit of our own personality to it. It's a popular opinion in the group that the graphics of Earthbound really helped open the game up and give it a "down home" or "innocent" feel: the game made no presumptions. And that's what I enjoyed so much about it.
What is next for us, however? We're finishing base maps at the moment. I listed out for Matt how many maps we need in total, and he's been working with Jin on finishing them. Mr. Chounard is working on getting the program together and, when the scripting comes along, I will be working on putting the game into playable order.
Sprites are, for the most part, finished. The basic animations have been completed, and now we need to build the game and decide what other animations will be required for the rest of the story.
I think I can best describe the game now as a mix between the puzzle elements/gameplay of The Lost Vikings, the aesthetics of Earthbound, and certainly some elements of the Zelda series.
For instance, the game starts without a story. You enter a name and then ... bam! ... in the game. It's a direct homage of sorts to the original Zelda, which I feel got the whole idea of "adventure" correct from the get-go. You just get thrown into the game with no back story, no intro, nothing: you are truly alone. And I'd like players to be able to attack Asparagus with the same sort of mystery and wonder that they did the original Zelda.
In any case, it is Sunday, and I make dinner on Sundays, so I will do so.