Imagine you’ve polished your programming skills and created majestic gameplay – no other coder can compete with you. You release the game, you wait few days, you check the logs. Some people entered the game, but they left just after two minutes. Let’s check what they write on Reddit… You read “graphics look like made by a drunk”, “my grandmother draws better”, “this game gave me cancer”. Seems like I have to use third party assets – you thought. After all, many developers use third party assets, maybe you should too?
So… This is why you need game assets of at least not-questionable quality. While the visual assets should be as good as possible, they absolutely need to at least not scare players away.
This article is about video game assets and the best places on the web to obtain them. If you are interested in other resources and interesting findings then check out my article about best Reddit gamedev threads & tutorials, Reddit is great place for indie game developers and professionals, the work they post is often unique and great to derive inspiration from.
Introduction To Game Assets
Game assets are artistic elements that can be added to the game by developer. It’s unusual for game assets of all types to be made by single person because their creation would require skills in many different professions. There are many types of assets:
- Sounds, songs and melodies.
- Textures, images and sprites.
- Models and animations.
- Libraries, features and code.
How to obtain valuable game assets? We can either buy them, download them for free, or make them. Not every game developer is good at creating assets other than code, so what’s left is either downloading assets that are free, or buying them. You can also learn how to make each type of asset but that will take a lot of time.
Paying For Assets
Now, should you really buy assets for your game? They say the more money you spend the bigger quality you will get. That saying holds some truth but it also couldn’t be further from it, as you can get really valuable assets of satisfying quality for free. And if you absolutely want to pay, then at least make your first game with free assets.
Selling Game With Assets
And let’s not forget that there are gamedevs who release games full of third party assets! Not that I recommend this approach, I like to make the majority of assets on my own, so they will have the same, consistent style.
But it’s absolutely possible to find many assets of similar style, so the end product won’t look like a mix of different asset packs. It can also speed things up a lot. If you’re making your first game, then there’s nothing wrong in using third party assets only.
Creating Prototype With Assets
Even if you don’t want to use third party assets, they allow to create game prototype quickly, all we have to do is to download them and then hook them to our code to see how it works. It’s not a bad approach. And we can always change them later.
Creating Your Own Assets
If we create our own assets then we can be sure that we will never run out of them, and that they all will have consistent style. But on the other hand, coding game till we need assets, then switching to creating them instead, then again switching back to coding when done, is a serious context-switching problem.
It tires our brain more than if we were doing just one thing. So if you are going to make your own assets, make sure to prepare them first and not switch the context too often.
Best Sources With Free Game Assets
Here’s a list of top websites with game assets. They contain both free and paid products, and if you’re about to make your first game, then I suggest you to use the free ones.
Unity Asset Store
Unity Asset Store is probably the biggest resource with assets (both free and paid). That’s because… Unity is the most popular engine.
If you want to browse free assets, then click this:
And search at the top what you want:
Wow isn’t that huge? You can get models, sounds, images, textures, code, frameworks and more things this way. Since recently Unity started showing products on sale along with free products. That’s annoying indeed but it doesn’t stop us anyhow.
Itch doesn’t have as many items as Unity but they can be trusted. This looks very cute honestly:
Itch is often my second choice when I can’t find anything in Unity Asset Store.
Craftpix is resource full of both free and paid 2D game assets.
And here’s a example of what we can get from there:
Isn’t it looking absolutely welcoming?
OpenGameArt is a website that looks like made many years ago, but new game assets are still uploaded to it.
As you can see they’re mainly 2D so if you’re looking for 3D assets then OpenGameArt may not be the best place.
Should I Use Assets In My Game?
Third party assets, whether free or paid, will always bring different style to your game. So if you want to use them, either get something that blends well with your current style, or get a whole kit but be sure that you won’t need to extend it, as you may have issues finding another asset pack with similar style.
That being said, creating assets on our own takes a lot of time. So whether you should make assets or not, depends on how much time you are willing to spend on your game.
If you still don’t know whether you prefer to use third party assets or to learn how to make them, then give a try to some free asset kit. Connect it with code, and try to make basic gameplay. By the time your gameplay starts making any sense, you should’ve already made your mind whether you’re into third party assets or not.
Will You Use Third Party Assets?
We can get ton of good things for free, things that we couldn’t get 10 years ago. Game developers are very generous and often release their work for free, either because of their good intentions, desire of recognition, or just to prove to others that they’re good at whatever they’re doing. In this article you’ve learned:
- Unity Asset Store is the biggest source of game assets that can be later used in any engine (unless they were made specifically for Unity).
- What are other top websites with free and paid assets.
- You should always check if the game engine you’re currently using has it’s own asset store.
- Products from asset store such as inventory systems are often packed with unnecessary code, are slower and may add even up to 20 MB to your project size, which will lag the hell out of editor and game. If you code them on your own, your inventory system may take only 100 kilobytes, which will boost performance significantly.
- Game assets are great for game prototypes.
- With too many assets your project and game will grow in size, unreadable code, and have many coding styles mixed.
- If you buy visual assets, and run out of them, you may have troubles finding similar packs that will fit your current game style.
So, will you use third party game assets? If you’re creating 3D games, then apart from code, the assets that you will need the most are models. They can be made in free modeling tools like Blender, and if you choose to master simple style then learning won’t take long time.