Original post by The Man Firstly, is it a need or a desire?
1) Skeletal anim code-- Not a need. Current code works sufficiently well for my purposes. As it currently stands, blended animations are really not part of the design. And models will never be viewed up close or in sufficient detail to make the lack of vertex/bone weighting glaringly obvious.
2) Shadows-- In my opinion, the only real use of a shadow (outside of eyecandy, and I'm not big on eyecandy) is to make it easier to 'place' the object in context; ie, as a point of reference. You see the object's shadow on the ground, you know pretty much where it is standing and whether or not it happens to be floating. In this light, complicated shadows are unnecessary. I will implement 'blurry ovals', and only try trickier stuff if it really looks like ass.
3) Water-- Eesh. Still somewhat undecided, but I'm thinking about a simple texture-animated, translucent plane drawn after everything else. Nothing fancy, just enough to give the illusion of water, and it would be trivial to add to the engine as it stands.
4) Translucent walls-- Still on the fence about this one, but strongly leaning toward no translucency. With large, open levels I believe that the occasional need to rotate the camera to see something should not be too onerous. As the design stands, items and objects dropped are going to be cartoonishly large and obvious (rather than the 'realistic' tiny little thingies as in Diablo and friends) so they will be hard to miss even if occasionally obscured by walls. Especially with the sound bites that will be played when they're dropped.
No pretty images this post either. Building and converting various rock and cactus models for the desert scenery, maybe I'll hook up some screenage later this evening or something.