So my new motto is this: "All of life is a problem requiring creativity."
That little gamma ray burst of insight comes courtesy of my forays into neuro-linguistic programming. I'm taking the tact that you've got to find creative solutions to the huge problems of getting a game out there, and the first solution is to manage your morale.
With that in mind, the GDC was good smackdown experience. I attended every business and indie track I could. I now know two things: VC funding isn't an option for games (I was probably dumb to think it was), and even simple games are bloody expensive.
I also learned that publishers take everything, IP-wise. I hadn't expected that they'd want your wall and ground textures. Why on god's green earth they need your wall textures I don't know. I was prepared to give up rights to using Siegers and whatever else I came up with... but for god's sake man, not my wall textures!!!! [grin] Seriously, this makes me rethink the plan of releasing on the internet with the hopes of getting picked up by a publisher for a bit wider coverage. One publisher at a session said, "If you did it once you can do it again." Sure, easy for you to say, bud. But I look at it as starting from scratch. It might be a stupid obsession, especially compared with the hardship imposed by limited 'net circulation, but you really have to think about not just one game, but several, and what might hurt your ability to stay in business, especially when you're thinking of doing a series of games set in similar environments.
Anyways, the good news: The bloom of game programs in schools have eased the way to getting help. I made some great contacts with local universities that may prove useful.
Ran the "go anywhere gameplay" idea past a hardcore gaming friend and he barfed. Hmmm... Certainly gives me pause. We extrapolated and playtested a few scenarios, but he still was cool to the idea. I won't change it based on one person's opinion, but he's been a great bellweather in the past, so I've got to look at this more closely.
Had a weird brainstorm involving representing personality using symbols. Oddly enough, it reminded of the UI mechanic Doom used, where the guy's face become more bloodied as you take damage. Not sure how viable or effective it would be (90% gets tossed, it seems [wink]), but I could see certain people striving to evolve a certain "symbolic look."
Then again, could be waaaaay too cerebral.