Prototypes are tough for game programmers. If you have a competent artist involved on your project, your game might look way better than it is, which makes it easier to show off the potential of your designs, but it also sets expectations higher. Since most programmers haven’t honed their art skills, programmer art tends to look pretty lame, which makes your game look pretty lame, even if it isn’t. Still, you probably want your game looking its best if you want to attract not only customers but talent.
So where do you turn if you can’t afford an artist’s help yet and don’t want to spend the time plotting pixels yourself? Here’s a few options.
Dave Toulouse of Over00 offered up some free spaceships graphics for your prototypes. Originally made for Star Corsairs, Toulouse is offering them up for no charge for non-commercial use.
Dan Cook has offered lots of free game graphics in the past. There is a fairly complete futuristic RTS graphics set (Hard Vacuum), hand-drawn textures, a Zelda-ish RPG set, and more. So long as you credit Cook and don’t use the graphics in a clone of one of his games, you’re able to use these high-quality assets.
Chris Park released some free graphics for indie developers from an older version of AI War. Some of the art is Dan Cook’s (see? Free assets are great!), some revised and updated. Others are original.
OpenGameArt.org is interested in providing a resource for quality, freely available art for games. Since some of the licenses aren’t ideal for people who don’t want to release the source of their game, you should make sure that the art you do find is something you can in fact use.
Reiner Prokein offers Reiner’s Tilesets. Besides 2D tiles and sprites, you can find 3D models and textures, and sound effects.
Having ready-to-use, high-quality art is great for non-artist game developers. You can concentrate on your strengths instead of trying to struggle through a weakness. Plus, you can always pay someone to replace the art later when you have enough interest.
Do you have a favorite art resource not listed here? How do you make your prototypes look good?