There is a part of us all that wants to do everything from A to Z, write our name on the cover and marvel at our success. In years past this has turned into me working on a feature for weeks and not getting it to half the quality of a 30$ asset on the open market. More recently I've learned that there is a time and a place for doing everything meticulously by hand, and that time is not now.
There is however often some very nice middle ground.
I recently picked up a new weather package to help improve my clouds, sky, and weather, but am not using it as advertised. I already had a weather system that I liked very much, and so have merged the two into a glorious companionship.
I'm using my own cloud maps with more layers than are supported out of the box, spreading the different layers into different short range and long range rendering schemes, some overlapping terrain with others not. I have taken full control of each cloud layers coverage individually, the different layers of rain and their animation sheets, multiple layers of fog, atmospheric scattering colors, and more. It would have taken me months to write all of the helper functions and shaders that I'm using just for the weather.
My budget and free time are non-existent, so it's not easy to pick something and go with, but it certainly beats trying to do everything by hand. Many of the assets available to indie developers such as myself are built by passionate indie developers that spend months or even years perfecting their products... just like me! It's just a different target customer base.
I'm currently hard at work on a promotional video as I finish the last bits of company registration fuss with some help from my family. With Steam's Greenlight getting the axe... I'm not sure how that will all play out, but Kickstarter is getting closer and closer. Stay tuned!