Hey! Thanks for your feedback. Actually I agree with everything you've said =) There are two main reasons for not having more detailed models, story, etc.
The first reason is that I'm only one guy =) It's a big job for one person, and Venture the Void took about 6 years full time for me to complete. In some ways, I admit I'm disappointed with it, but on the whole I'm extremely satisfied.
The second reason has to do with the way things are automatically generated. To generate a building, for instance, umake has first to generate a style for the building which itself is based on architectural style parameters for that alien race, itself generated. The architectural style includes information suggesting what sort of angles, curves, and textures can be applied. Then, the building style is created which is another level above the architectural style, which is like a building "type". This is more like, rules for putting together architectural style elements in order to produce a building. This "type" information is what goes into the world file, along with the basic outline of the building's walls inside the city (and this outline, it turns out, is also generated... and on it goes... =) So the game takes this information which is fairly detailed, and produces the model which is actually what you see. Textures are also combined together and operations are performed on them by the game engine, so that there are a high number of textures possible. So the process of generating a building is actually quite sophisticated!
Not nearly as sophisticated as what a talented art team would go through in generating the same thing. For instance, they could put billboards, skyways, plain-old-more-detail, more subtle/higher detail curves, and that sort of thing, without really having to tap into anything other than a few sketches and their imagination. A totally different process, which yeilds a better result, but much more expensive (the computer time to do the autogeneration is free =)
Now take this, and apply it to: alien languages, NPCs, story, ships, planets, etc. etc.; this sort of approach has to be taken almost everywhere in the entire game!
Anyhow, I thought you might appreciate some of the design that has gone into it. It's a wonderful experiment. Ultimately, you are quite right, the artwork it pales in comparison to hand-generated art. But it was interesting for me to see what it *could* be! And of course, if I go ahead and produce another automatically generated game, I will take what I've learned, and expand on it: so a possible sequel (or another game; certainly no sequel to VtV is int he works) could be a lot more detailed. =) So what I hope is that VtV can be foundational for me if I produce another automatically generated game (which I almost definitely will).
My current project though is mostly hand-crafted.
Thanks for the toughtful input, it's actually quite appreciated! Happy gaming,