Someone just emailed me and asked me how I sourced the art and music for my games, and I sent back a rambling reply that I thought might be useful to others - so I’ve posted it here for all to see
For the first game, Xmas Bonus, I bought in some cheap art from IStockPhoto.com and did some of the shapes in Corel Draw, and did the menu text myself too. Indiepath gave me some free music and I found some more by browsing the net (proper royalty free for commercial use stuff). Everything I use is above-board, no pilfering. However, I wouldn’t recommend this piecemeal approach as it’s a) time consuming b) doesn’t really give a consistent/pro feel to the game. It is cheap though.
For Easter Bonus I think I posted on the Blitz Basic forum to find out what artists were interested and Quicksilva ended up doing the job (great job too, just not the style that portals really want I found out afterwards) – I paid him for the job. I also got more istockphoto art (title screen + menus), and more net music + coolly Cynus offered to help and he made a few nice tracks that we worked on together with Skype (well he did most of the work, I just interfered).
For Oz I was a contract programmer and the producer supplied all the art and music (but not sound, which was a pain, so I had to be the sound engineer on top of the 500+ hours of programming).
Finally for Holiday Bonus, I posted on the Blitz forums again about needing 3D rendered or hand-drawn backgrounds and 3D shapes for the game and got a few responses. Most were overpriced and didn’t have a lot of examples to back themselves up. However, in the end IPete2 (and a friend of his) did the job brilliantly for a good price. Music was by CS_TBL for a very reasonable price + a royalty + a secret “deal” regarding future games, and has turned out nicely. So basically I have paid out, and have to recoup a good sum before I’m in profit. It’s a risk, and at the moment I am broke, but you’ve got to speculate to accumulate as the saying goes…It’s also why negative comments (non-constructive) aren’t helpful as my family’s finances are on the line here and I got 2 kids, house, car etc so I don’t need some stupid flaming about something that I’ve worked my nuts off for (/rant over)
Since Xmas Bonus I actually get approached by people on the forums who want to work with me, which is nice. I guess this is because, as someone once called me, I’m a “finisher”. If you’ve got finished games behind you and you say you need artists/mucisians etc on Blitz and list your games, you should get lots of responses. I was going to post on Indiegamer (and search the Art Portfolios thread and post in Help Wanted) if I didn’t get anywhere on Blitz, but I never needed to. I’m not really an expert at finding these resources at all, I’ve just needed them and the Universe has provided. Helps to have friends on the forums too + I have lots of people who have bought my BlitzMax Game Framework.
Oh and to put things in perspective, the graphics took >50% of the time for Holiday Bonus (>100 man hours - I log everything), that was talking to the artist (via Skype/email) and then coding the graphics in (mind you the match-3 engine was already in existence). If you think your game is finished, well you are still going to have to “plug in” (makes it sound so easy) the graphics/anims and particle effects and so on and this will take quite a while unless you’ve got animated placeholders particles etc.
Right, anyway, hope that this ramble is of some use and that you are successful in your quest – and good luck with your next game!
New material follows
Thought I’d post this from a forum where a discussion about this thread ensues. I wrote:
I think it’s going to get harder and harder for people to make competitive casual games unfortunately. Basically 3 years ago Xmas Bonus would have look RAD, but last year it just look OK, and this year it definitely looks dated.
So what if you don’t have much art skill or much money? All you can do is make a game that looks like Xmas Bonus OR try to convince someone good to do the art for royalties (not easy). And if it looks like Xmas Bonus, unless it’s radical, got something really new, it won’t sell very well (still may not sell even if it is radical!), and then you’ll be put off making another one and have no money to reinvest. But at least you’ll have another “practice” game under your belt to hopefully attract more royalty-based team members…
It’s like a few years ago Indie games were more one man band things, like the old 8-bit days. But now they’ve gone all sophisticated (well in the graphics/sound/polish department) and require small teams to make so it’s harder to compete. I don’t want to put people off, but I see it going more that way as the customers and portals now demand polish – it’s just a hard fact. So maybe it’s best to either a) code games for fun (that’s what I started doing originally, hmm) or b) actually get some investment from somewhere and do it properly. Or I guess c) build up with mini-games and get people at low cost or on royalties, but this could take a while… or wait there’s d) join an existing team based on your merits or get headhunted/hired (but again this requires some kind of track record). So it all comes down to FINISHING something even if it’s not great. And then doing it again, but better and so on…