I attended the standing-room only session at GDC one year when Michael Abrash spoke about the development of Quake. While some of the technical details of what they had to do don't have too much relevance with today's technology, the talk had a number of anecdotes that still hold up. He said that he and John Carmack tried a number of different rendering methodologies over the course of a year before arriving at one which - surprisingly - brought them full-circle back to the BSP trees Carmack had used for Doom. After going through about eight different flawed rendering engines before getting it right, Carmack remarked to Abrash that if they'd known exactly what they were making before they started, the engine would have taken less than two months to write.
That's how I'm feeling with some aspects of Frayed Knights. Like character progression.