Incoming text wall and probably lots of unsolicited advice.
Before you do anything else, I really recommend reading Satoshi Taijiri’s Wikipedia page.
Particularly this section:
Click to show full quote
When he first pitched the idea of Pokémon to Nintendo, they could not quite grasp the concept, but were impressed enough with Tajiri’s game design reputation that they decided to explore it. Shigeru Miyamoto began to mentor Tajiri, guiding him during the creation process. Pokémon Red and Blue took six years to produce, and nearly bankrupted Game Freak in the process; often, there was barely enough money to pay the employees. Five employees quit, and Tajiri did not take a salary, instead living off of his father’s income. Investment from Creatures Inc. allowed Game Freak to complete the games, and in return, Creatures received one-third of the franchise rights.
Between the approval and completion stages of the project, Tajiri assisted in the design of two Mario spin-off games for Nintendo: Yoshi and the Japanese-only release Mario & Wario. He also worked on 1994’s Pulseman.
Once the games were completed, very few media outlets gave it attention, believing the Game Boy was a dead console; a general lack of interest of merchandising convinced Tajiri that Nintendo would reject the games. The Pokémon games were not expected to do well, but sales steadily increased until the series found itself among Nintendo’s top franchises. Rumors of a hidden Pokémon creature named Mew, which could only be obtained by exploiting programming errors, increased interest in the game. Tajiri had included Mew in the game in order to promote trading and interaction between players, but Nintendo was not aware of the creature upon release. The franchise helped Nintendo’s waning sales. Tajiri deliberately toned down violence in his games. In this vein, he designed Pokémon creatures to faint rather than die upon their defeat, as he believed it was unhealthy for children to equate the concept of death with losing a game. After the completion and release of Red and Blue in Japan, Tajiri later worked on 1997’s Bushi Seiryūden: Futari no Yūsha. Tajiri continues to be involved in the more modern Pokémon titles as well. In the most recent incarnations, he supervised the process from start to finish and approved all the text. While developing games, Tajiri works irregular hours, often laboring 24 hours at a time and resting 12 hours.
Chaos is the natural state for a game of this scale.
It won’t be over and done in a few weeks, it’s going to be a slow burner.
I bring it up quite a lot, but I worked on Dark & Under (partly as a consultant, partly as the one responsible for reducing the code size).
Before that first bit of Arduboy code was written there was a nearly fully functional prototype written in processing as well as proper game design documentation created by an arts professor.
The first bit of code was committed on the 27th of September and the last bit of code before we declared ‘done’ was committed on the 19th of December. In the next few days we still ended up committing more stuff due to bugs cropping up and other things that needed doing.
It was a long slog and in the last few weeks some of us were getting a bit twitchy because working on the same project day-in and day-out was getting to be a bit much.
The moral of this story is that big games take time, there’s no sense rushing it or feeling under pressure to finish it.
Just chip away a bit at a time and take a break every now and again.
But the point of a reference is not to ‘copy directly’ it’s to study and emulate the style of the reference.
Many artists study the work of existing artists in order to be able to develop techniques and to provide a baseline for their own work.
By reverse engineering different art styles or ideas, you learn about the fundamental concepts underpinning them and see patterns emerging.
Once you’ve discovered those patterns, you can manipulate them and mix styles in the same way as mixing paints in a paint palette.
Hence I’ve previously studied the work of Eiichiro Oda.
You never know until you ask or try.
You can always make a poll if in doubt.
We have a different vision because we’re not sure what ‘the original vision’ is.
That’s why we need examples and direction.
You say ‘monsters’ to me any I’m thinking cartoony stuff like Pokemon, Dragon Quest, Yokai Watch.
You say ‘monsters’ to @drummyfish and I have no idea what he thinks of, but I suspect it’s something different to what I’m thinking of.
And now you’re saying that you’re actually thinking of gothic Castlevania-esque monsters.
This is why we need a guideline.
I’m not being critical here, I’m being open and honest.
So far the only thing anyone’s threatened to leave over is the licencing, and that’s because we’re in an awkward situation where two of the established contributors have slightly opposing viewpoints.
(Even if I wasn’t submitting art I’d still be around to offer programming advice if asked.)
You can’t please everybody, you just have to pick what you want to do and roll with it.
If it’s burning you out, you’re trying too hard.
I adhere to the ‘Larry Wall’ school of programming - if you can’t solve it now, let it stew for a little bit and come back to it.
This is why I think you should start looking to existing games for inspiration and creating a sort of ‘mood board’ (it’s a stupid name but they’re very useful).
Don’t worry about ‘copying’, in most cases you’d have to be trying hard to copy something to the point it’s recognisable as the thing you’re trying to copy.
Also, you can’t necessarily rely on the ideas coming from other people.
At the moment there’s only 3-4 of us (including you) and half of us aren’t really sure what the game is supposed to look like beyond ‘medieval fantasy’ (which is a vague category - it covers TES IV Obvlivion, D&D, Dragon Quest, etc).
I think you’re expecting too much too soon.
RPGs are hard to make. They take a lot of development.
And currently there’s only 3-4 of us with no fixed roles.
I get the feeling you’re trying to do too much at once as well.
Take the whole game, break it up into smaller chunks, pick one of those chunks, break that up into even smaller chunks, repeat as necessary until you have something small and achievable.
Also I think you should try to pin down the aesthetic before worrying about code.
I very much believe in designing first and programming later.