I'm just about ready to launch another Alpha (read: at least a couple weeks solid of fixing, tidying up, etc.) I'm in the state of development where I'm just kind of walking around making notes about what's broken and what seems to be missing.
Early on you have to trek along a river bank to a cave; this is a nice enough trek but a bit empty-feeling. I really wanted to solve this, but somehow felt I should avoid the obvious thing of having enemies along the path.
But... I recently read an article that talked about keeping to your original vision (http://hardydev.com/2010/01/12/design-taught-in-pitfalls-4-when-do-i-stop/). Good advice for me, as I'm in that funny place where I start to itch for a brand new direction to head.
My original vision definitely involved shooting things. It didn't involve an overwrought sense of forced innovation. I remembered this, and that's when I realized it's OK to put enemies here; based on the original vision, that's where they belong.
The other enemies that I've created I'm either holding out for later (e.g., there are bats but they are going into a cave a little later on, and don't belong out-of-doors) or already have a "home". You can create a sense of place by having different types of enemies in different areas; if you paint everything with the same brush, by putting the same enemies everywhere, it can feel a bit undifferentiated and dull.
This is an early quest; we need a basic enemy. There is a long tradition of putting a weak enemy early on. Zelda II does this with droplets, as in Dragon Quest (slimes); in Zelda 1 it's Oktoroks, Final Fantasy has Imps, etc. Here I drew a picture of them:
The trouble is, for the size of world Texas is, I already have enough variety of enemies. Or at least it feels like I do. Any idea I had for an enemy seemed to be too mish-mash. I was instinctively considering slimes, but ultimately felt that anything I added would be somehow disappointing.
Then I went and laid down on the couch for awhile. Finally I realized: I needed some variation on a current form.
Not that I want the same enemy just with different coloring, but in order for a new enemy to not feel too out-of-place, it needed to have a cousin.
So I went with monitor lizards. They have similar attacks in some ways to the cousin, the magic salamander (which is already in the game), but are larger and more agressive.
I got them in today and it's perfect!
Lately I'm reminding myself: stay humble, dude! Don't reinvent the wheel or try to accomplish too much. Fun is not the only thing in this world worth doing but it's something...