Thankfully, I didn't have to look far.
Lumines, developed for the PSP, is a prime example of taking a concept and making it more appealing by enhancing the audio-visual experience. At heart, it's a simple and addictive puzzle game. This is fine on its own, but Lumines is able to mke itself a star by employing very appealing experiences to a user's eyes and ears. Multitudes of skins makes adds a bit of freshness to the gameplay, even when it get repetitive. Lumines is an inspiration to me in this area, and while I don't want to copy the exact style, emulating its emphasis on music and art is something I think would benefit my game greatly.
The next challenge was finding people who are capable of bringing he audio-visual experience to life. On the music side, the Help Wanted forum on this site led me to the maintainer of this site. I fell in love with the Video Game music samples posted on the site, and am now corresponding with this person about doing music for my game. I personally think he'd be perfect for the job. My budget is low though, so the challenge will be agreeing to an acceptable rate while getting the results tha I think befit a professional game.
Art is a bit more of a challenge. I searched around a bit, but art is an expensive affair. The associate of mine who will help design and develop games is good at pixel art, but I'm not really looking for pixel art for this game. Fortunately, I may be able to employ someone under favorable circumstances (a friend of mine from where I used to live), but we'll have to see how that goes.
Regardless of what happens, one of my primary goals is to stray away from the generic style of puzzle games. Good gameplay will keep a customer playing, but the game won't have a chance if you can't grab that person's attention. A good audio-visual experience will go a long way in that regard. Despite this, a good design and good gameplay is of paramount importance. I don't believe you have to sacrifice one for the other, though time constraints and budget constraints will obviously put a limit as to what is possible.
Let's hope for the best. While I wait though, I'll have a chance to carry ot the plans I laid out in yesterday's entry. once enough headway has been made on that, I can do an entry on what will be one of the defining features of the game: Multiplayer :)