How to use marketplace assets in an indie game

POSTED BY admin September 12, 2019 in Game design
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Pre made game assets are awesome they allow you to save a ton of time and money when making your game and I highly recommend you use them however they come with risks all of which can be avoided and help you make a professional unique game. 

Risk 1: Your game will just be considered an Asset Flip!

Games marketplace are awash with Asset flips these days and with marketplace selling complete games. It’s not really surprising that they receive a bad name. 

Asset flips aren’t necessarily bad games, however it would dent their sales and possibly your reputation. 

How to avoid being considered an asset flip:

  1. Don’t use Assets prominently.

Jim Sterling commented on how much the Horrid Spider was an overused asset in asset flip games that he run a competitor to see what creative way it could be used. 

When you are using assets you don’t want them to be the things that define your game, avoid the main characters, highly featured enemies large hero pieces of level design. This rule goes double for any promotional material you have, even a sniff of a reconigazinable assets in a promotional trailer will lose you more audience than you recieve. 

  1. Don’t take complete game packs. 

It might be tempting to use a completed game as your starting point for a game it mean all you need to concentrate on is tailoring it. The problem you will find is even if you change all the graphics and the story to the game it will be very difficult to make it not feel like the 100 other games using the same starting point

Risk 2: You game style will not fit together well. 

If you buy a load of different assets that you like the look of that you think are in the same genre what you are likely to quickly find is something feels a little off. The problem is assets need to match really closely in order to not break the reality of a game.  In a triple AAA game you will have art directors and art guides to make things that match really well. 

How to make sure your game style fit together

  1. Pick a common style

When you are selecting a style for your game, some are going to be easier to find complementary assets. The style that would be the easiest is near realistic, this is because everyone how is creating the asset has the same style sheet they are working from reality / something that might be possible. 

Things that are incredible stylist like pixel art for example is great because the art is easier to make, however it would be very hard to find matching assets. 

  1. Pick assets from an artist who has produced a lot of complementary assets. 

If you have to tie yourself to one style try to make sure there is a lot of assets in that style to select from. For example Dungeon Mason is a good choice since he has created a lot of the pack in the same style:

  1. Use post processing to make everything fit together. 

The Borderland series did a great job of having a very unique look they use a new technique uses hand-drawn textures, scanned in and colored in Photoshop. However this effect can be created by using post processing. 

This asset by Aasura-san allow you to create a cartoon effect which has the added benefit of hiding a lot of the minor stylist differences between different asset packs. 

RISK 3: Altering the assets will waste a lot of time and leave you with something you do not understand.

Often you will be tempted to buy assets that do functional things inside of a game, such as climbing a ladder, opening a door, or turning on a light. If this function is going to be used often or as part of your core game loop you are going to need to alter them, usually a lot!

If you are going to have to alter them a lot then you need to try and figure out if it is more work to figure out how it works or better to start from scratch. With a well written asset pack it is likely that they added in a lot of features that are not relevant to you but allow it to appeal to as large an audience as possible. These features will make it even more difficult to figure out how to manipulate it. 

So this is my system for figuring out if you should use a functional asset or not. 

Basically you are weighing up how integral this functionality is combined with the chances major changes would need to be made to them. 

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