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Workshop/Asset Store creators: How do you decide what to make?

About me: I have a fair amount of 3d modeling/texturing and digital 2d experience and have done varying amounts of both free and paid work over the years. Without going into detail about my personal life, I need extra income and I'm willing to try my chances on things like Steam Workshop, Unity/UE4 asset stores, etc. (This is not necessarily the only think I'd try.)

My question is not about technical stuff (I've got tools, I have or can find the knowledge), but this: how the heck do I figure out what to make? Doubly so if it's game assets for a game I have limited familiarity with?

(Obvious things I've considered already and in some cases am doing: ask other people who play the games what they'd be interested in, look for forum threads of people asking for stuff (no luck here)).


My current level of knowledge about the various platforms looks like this:

  • Unity: Have poked at it on and off over time, currently working with people on a game project using it. (I do have one solid idea for this but it's longer term and involves coding, which I'm not great at but know almost enough to get in trouble with.) I get the general idea that generic, reusable stuff is going to be the most useful, but there are also a lot of people who have already cornered the market on some categories of that.
  • UE4: I know it exists. I assume it's a similar environment to Unity Asset Store.
  • Turbosquid: I made an account on it a long time ago and even put a couple things up but I haven't looked at it in a long time.
  • TF2 Workshop: I used to play TF2 a lot before it went F2P, had drawings for a map design that fell by the wayside, had poked at Hammer. I'm familiar with the power of the Hat.
  • DOTA2 Workshop: I'm not a MOBA player - I don't dislike them, but I'm not good at them and the time it would take me to get good is more than I'm willing to invest. But I've downloaded the game and have started poking at the tutorials.
    • (I'm also aware that all the Steam Workshop stuff is voted on by players, so I figure getting an idea of demand is doubly important.)
  • CS:GO: Is neither the sort of game I'm interested in playing nor the type of stuff I would enjoy making. Nothing against those who disagree.
  • SoE/Daybreak Games Player Studio: I have a Player studio account because I'm in the closed beta of Landmark and I'm fascinated by voxel tech, but I need more practice with it (mesh prop submissions aren't a thing yet) and before the wipe they had last week the servers were almost dead; it's picked up again but I think the environment might be too volatile right now. I poked at Everquest 2 and didn't really get out of the starter area; I might need to find a lore/style guide. (My MMO attention span is pretty much occupied by Final Fantasy XIV.)
Are there any I missed?

Replies

  • RyanB
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    RyanB Polycount Sponsor
    What sells on asset stores:
    - anything for mobile, especially if you slap an "optimized for mobile" sticker on it
    - high fantasy RPG stuff (Dungeons and Dragons, flashy spells, dungeon models, etc.)
    - FPS stuff (weapon models, bombs, shooting/murder/death animations, etc.)
    - 2d stuff that looks like most of the other 2d stuff out there
    - "hand painted" and anything that looks like a Blizzard ripoff

    What will sell lots in the future:
    - PBR versions of RPG and FPS assets

    Assets are not purchased by game developers.

    Assets are purchased by gamers who want to be game developers. They buy stuff that looks like the games they play or what they think an "indie" game should look like. You are aiming for MASS sales at low prices, so don't try and be too creative. Give the masses what they want and they will buy in volume.

    I've sold thousands of asset packs and learned a lot, still have tons to learn. It's a completely different goal than being an artist on a AAA game.
  • themindstream
    Could you elaborate more on "optimized for mobile"? I gather that low poly budget and small textures are part of that but I don't really know any specifics or where to look them up - most stuff I've done has had PC as a base line (even if some of that is "PC ten years ago").

    Also, PBR?
  • JedTheKrampus
  • RyanB
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    RyanB Polycount Sponsor
    Could you elaborate more on "optimized for mobile"? I gather that low poly budget and small textures are part of that but I don't really know any specifics or where to look them up - most stuff I've done has had PC as a base line (even if some of that is "PC ten years ago").

    Generally, what it means is:
    - low poly
    - static lighting
    - smaller texture sizes
    - correct image formats for each platform
    - low draw calls (use batching as much as possible)
    - clean meshes obviously
    - minimum overdraw on particles
    - no alpha blending

    Show a screenshot with lots of stuff onscreen and a low number of drawcalls and high framerate.

    Each engine (Unity, UE4, etc.) should have it's own guide for optimization on their website. There's lots of info on the interwebs about optimization.
  • RyanB
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    RyanB Polycount Sponsor
    One other thing...

    Be patient. The money doesn't come in one lump sum.

    I'm still making money from stuff I made four years ago. It adds up slowly, but it does add up.
  • CheeseOnToast
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    CheeseOnToast polycounter lvl 16
    Ryan, is the income you get purely supplementary? Or is it equivalent to a salaried position?
  • RyanB
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    RyanB Polycount Sponsor
    Ryan, is the income you get purely supplementary? Or is it equivalent to a salaried position?


    Supplementary. I quit working full-time in games five years ago after ten years of mostly AAA game work. I work as an electrician/fire protection technician and that is a better lifestyle for me.

    I've also done a few short-term contracts in games to make extra cash the past few years.

    I've made about $40 per hour on average from the asset store, but it took about two years for the money to reach that level. I could live off of the asset store, barely, but it would take about six months of full-time asset development.

    There is a side benefit to selling on the asset store: taxes. I write off all of the software I buy on my taxes. I then use that software on my own projects in addition to the asset store stuff. NGUI, Playmaker, Quixel Suite, Scrivener, Artrage, Pro Motion, TexturePacker, WorldMachine and more all written off on taxes :) And I write off any tutorials or courses I buy online that are related to my asset store work. :)

    I also write off 7.5% of my rent and electricity, half of my internet bill and anything else that I can prove supports my professional income (Canadian tax rules).
  • CheeseOnToast
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    CheeseOnToast polycounter lvl 16
    That's great info, thanks man. Just been made redundant again, so I'm looking at alternatives to in-house employment. Like you, I've been doing this for about 15 years now and my longest job has lasted about 5 years. I kind of like the idea of being at least somewhat financially independent.
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