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There are no problems, only solutions

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So it costs astronomical amounts of money to build your game, and even if you went through a publisher you'd only get a fraction of the money back to put into your second one, and it takes a bunch of people who require expensive salaries, and people are loathe to invest in a hit driven business, and publishers won't fund you until you have at least 50% in most cases done, and most games don't sell that much anyway, and...

Doesn't this strike you as a problem requiring extremely creative solutions? It does to me.

Have a book milestone due (25%, ugh!) so I haven't had as much time as I like, but I'm still working on balancing the virtual life elements so that they compliment adventuring.

One interesting challenge is fixed versus mobile property. A car and a starship can be interesting because they're means to get somewhere. If there's driving or navigation, this is an interrim challenge that you enjoy while keeping your eye on your goal.

But what about owning an orbital hacienda? Should it just sit there? What about a small shop? Got some thinking to do.

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Indeed! But how? How to deliver a quality project that actually gets seen and played on a shoestring budget? It's not just the game you have to worry about, but the promotion and whatever you need to survive long enough to do it again.

In my book, at least 2/3 of the problem is graphics because 2/3 of the budget typically is consumed in that area. You CAN scale this back, but that's very risky. Or you can cut out content and gameplay, which I think is even riskier.

Procedural methods for generating graphics look to me to be the way of the future, but I don't get a sense of that technology being all that robust right now.

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