Asset Shopping!

One of my greatest pleasures is pulling up the Unity Asset store, or skimming through FreeMusic and looking for some gem. There’s nothing better than browsing what’s out there and even if I’m not actually intending on buying anything, I have a look now and again. It gives me an idea about the “State of Technology” about what is out there, what the game conventions and standards of play currently are and a general sense of value. A lot of times I come across something I hadn’t thought of, didn’t even know was possible, or solves a problem that I didn’t even know I had. Most of these  assets are professionally done, and at a very high standard of quality. A lot of the time they do things at price that hides the amount of effort they clearly had to put into it. I am happy to pay my money when I can shortcut months of coding and design work.

I still feel a twinge of guilt when I pay for something though. The thought that runs through my head is that I am “cheating” in some way. That the game isn’t truly “mine” when I use a paid asset. This is extremely hard to ignore, and in my first released game “Vault”, I used no bought assets. I didn’t have a problem using assets I have no business trying to create myself, like music or sound effects. I grabbed those off of free sound and music sites, and I ask for permission to use those resources. I have since gotten over this idea of purity, and in Space Salvage/Space Uber I bought large chunks of code I didn’t want to spend months creating myself.

I am usually cautious about actually buying something. I go through the reviews, look up the publisher, and even after I’ve learned all I can from their store page, I stew on it for a week or so before “pulling the trigger”. Every once in a while I get desperate, and I need to find some asset before X deadline, and that’s when I run into trouble. I was trying to create the Space Uber asteroid scene before the next Jam, and I only had a couple days. I wanted to set the scene close to the Sun, and I wanted an “Animated Skybox” of the actual sun, with its fiery churning, flares and sun spots. It was going to be impressive and dominate the sky!

I thought I found it too! Since I was rushed, I pulled the trigger almost immediately on what they said, and looked like exactly what I wanted. Well it turned out it wasn’t really a skybox, it was a big cube with a sun animation projected on it and it looked exactly like the inside of a cube when I put it into the scene. I was very disappointed. I’ve looked into tutorials on making your own skyboxes, and I understand the process, but the animated ones elude me so far.

By far most of my purchases have been 3d art, props, trees, everyday stuff that I don’t want to bother putting effort into. These are pretty cheap too,  most were free, but $3 – $5 is common. However I did spend $15 on asteroids. OK, just rocks, right? In space? But, wow, these are really good asteroids, 45 different models, with 3 levels of LOD with customizable materials. It’s weird to say, but I love them, they were one of my best buys.

So now I am looking for a passenger model for Space Uber. I need a human in a SciFi, non-armor looking, space suit, with a clear faceplate, with built-in animations, waving, idle shifting that kind of thing, at a high level of quality, and maybe a bit customizable … for cheap. This could take a while … Wish me luck!

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