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lougv22

Best ways to obtain an animated 3D model(s) for indie developer

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So I am an indie game developer working on a small game in Unity and I am in need of a few animated 3D models. I am currently the only person on the project, other than contracting with a music composer for a few tracks, that is. I am a programmer by education and trade so I cannnot do art and I don't think it wise for me to start learnning how to do it at this point in my career. Even if I do learn, my art would not be nearly as good as the one created by a professional artist and I don't want the rest of my project to suffer because of it. So basically, I need some 3D art and I've come here for an advice on what the best ways to acquire it would be.

 

I've come up with an action plan with several possible avenues of achieving my goal. They are:

 

  1. Find an artist in my local area and pay them to do it for me. I've already tried that and the main problem I keep runnning into is (yea, you guessed it) money, or rather lack of it. It seems the average cost for a simple model with a couple animations is upwards of $1,000. I could afford that, but the problem is I'll need a lot more than a couple animations. As the game I am working on involves fighting gameplay mechanics, I'll need many animations per character, probably about 20, at the very least, i.e. a lot more than $1,000. So that is an option, but it would be very difficult to really get what I want with my limited budget.
  2. Do the initial version myself (in Blender or Unity) and then find an artist to polish it later. Similar problem as #1 above. It'd still cost a lot of money. Plus it'd take time away from my specialty and what I really love doing, i.e. game design and programming.
  3. Find somebody on Fiver.com to do the model(s) for me. I heard about this site from a co-worker, but I haven't really given it a try. Supposedly you can find people there to do all sorts of art for very affordable prices. Has anybody had any experience with that site? Is it legit? Do they really deliver anything good for such low costs? Sounds to me like one of those things in life that's too good to be true.
  4. Request/hire an artist to do it for me on OpenGameArt.org (or another similar site). This actually seems like a really good option. It's likely I could find an artist there who'd be open to negtioation as far as the cost is concerned. Has anybody here done that and if so, what was your experience and did they deliver good art?
  5. Figure out how to generate animated 3D models with Kinect. This is something I only learned about very recently and it actually sounds like an exciting and really goood option. You can purchase a stand alone Kinect for about $300 and the necessary capture softare for a few hundreds dollars more so the cost would be lower than hiring an actual 3D artist. You can scan a person performing the animations you want, then generate an animated 3D model from it, and finally import it in Unity. Of course, it's not as simple as that. You'd still have to do some mesh clean up an so forth, but even with that it's a lot less work than creating a model from scratch. Has anyone here tried this and if so, did you have any success with generating good 3D models and actually using them in a game?

So I need some advice on which of the options above seem best for a lone wolf indie developer with a limited budget? Or are there any other alternatives I should pursue?

 

Thanks in advance.

Edited by lougv22

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7.  Purchase suitable "stock" assets and customise them to meet your needs, either by learning to make simple adjustments yourself or hiring someone to do it for you.

 

See for example the "Frogames CS:Warriors and Commoners" pack in the GDNet Marketplace.  $150 for a package of various body parts you can assemble to create characters (along with a number of pre-assembled characters), with 76 different animations included.

 

If you can find something suitable stock assets can more cost effective than custom assets.  Searching for "stock models" will turn up plenty of other places to purchase, or a quick look through our Your Announcements forum should turn up a number of different groups who regularly advertise stock assets there.

 

smile.png

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6. Find a local artist in your area who you trust and form a partnership / shared LLC. You're now a 2-man indie shop instead of a lone indie. Finding someone who's unemployed and willing to basically remain unemployed (unpaid) while also working a full-time job is tough though!

 

@Hodgman,

 

Thanks for the answer. There a couple of problems with this though: as you said, finding someone who is willing to work for free would be very, very hard to do. Besides, I don't want anybody doing stuff for me for free. I wouldn't feel right about it and also, people aren't nearly as motivated when they work for free as when they know they have to deliver something good in order to get paid. And as soon as they find a job that pays them they'd be gone.

 

@welly_59,

 

I actually tried that already. I had found a game artist student from a local university who was willing to do the art for me at a reasonable price, but then he was told by his professor that, as his copy of 3ds Max was a student one, he wasn't allowed to profit from any work created on it. Apparently it's a restriction on student versions of that software.

 

@jbadams,

 

Great idea! Thanks! I hadn't thought about that. It sounds like I could get what I need for a reasonable price. I'll do some research on that one.

 

Anyone else have any other ideas/comments to offer?

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Besides, I don't want anybody doing stuff for me for free. I wouldn't feel right about it and also, people aren't nearly as motivated when they work for free as when they know they have to deliver something good in order to get paid. And as soon as they find a job that pays them they'd be gone.
If it's a partnership, they'd be working free for you just as much as you're working free for them. You're both paying yourself in equity (owning the company, which owns the game). The company is only going to make money and then be able to pay you both a salary if the work that you both do is good.

If someone is going to run off to the first paying job that appears, then that person is not going to try and found their own company in the first place (i.e. you're not going to partner with those kinds of people). Anyone who's going to sign on as a founder of a company is going to be pretty damn dedicated to the project.

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7.  Purchase suitable "stock" assets and customise them to meet your needs, either by learning to make simple adjustments yourself or hiring someone to do it for you.

 

See for example the "Frogames CS:Warriors and Commoners" pack in the GDNet Marketplace.  $150 for a package of various body parts you can assemble to create characters (along with a number of pre-assembled characters), with 76 different animations included.

 

If you can find something suitable stock assets can more cost effective than custom assets.  Searching for "stock models" will turn up plenty of other places to purchase, or a quick look through our Your Announcements forum should turn up a number of different groups who regularly advertise stock assets there.

 

smile.png

 

This however needs a huge disclaimer.

 

First off, "modifying" a stock object is not always a simple matter.  In fact, most of the time it is a downright difficult matter.  In many ways, if you dont already have the skillset to create the model in the first place, you dont have the skillset to properly modify it!

 

Second, a lot of assets you find out there for purchase arent appropriate to be dropped into a game.  This is especially true for resources like TurboSquid, but is equally true for a number of free sources like OpenGameArt or the various free Blend sites.  Hell, it can sometimes take more work to clean up a model than to just create the damned thing yourself!

 

That said, things are improving.  A lot of what you can find in the Unity store for example, is pretty much turn key, if used as is.  You can use services like Mixamo to create game ready assets that will actually work in a game environment.

 

Just be really really really careful if you go down this road, especially if you dont have the skills, as you can very easily be throwing your money away.

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I second jbadams:

 

7.  Purchase suitable "stock" assets

 

Since you do it in unity, you can obviously take advantage of the unity asset store:

https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/

Can't you find something suitable there? It'd save you lots of time and money.

 

Otherwise, there are many sites out there selling further 3D models, from big protals to small one man web stores. I'd first check them out to see if you find what you need, or something close enough.

Edited by creatures-of-gaia.com

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I second jbadams:

 

7.  Purchase suitable "stock" assets

 

Since you do it in unity, you can obviously take advantage of the unity asset store:

https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/

Can't you find something suitable there? It'd save you lots of time and money.

 

Otherwise, there are many sites out there selling further 3D models, from big protals to small one man web stores. I'd first check them out to see if you find what you need, or something close enough.

 

@creatures-of-gaia.com

 

Thanks for your answer! I have not really looked into the Unity store for this particular thing, but I'll definitely check it out now.

 

Can you give me some examples of sites selling 3D models, other than TurboSquid, that is. I know about that one and they don't have what I need there.

 

On another note, has anyone here played around with Daz3D? I found out about it the other day, but I am not really sure what it is. Looks like you can buy 3D models and they have some software application of their own, but I am not sure what it does. Is it a 3D modeling tool, similar to Blender, Maya, or 3DsMax or what? Can Daz3D be used to customize 3D models to your liking and then export them into an FBX (for example) format for use in Unity?

 

@Serapth,

 

What exactly is Mixamo? I've never heard about it.

 

So nobody commented on the possibility of using Kinect to generate animated 3D models. I know it can be done because at the latest Game Development Association meeting in my area another developer actually brought a Kinect and demonstrated how to capture animations with it and then generate animated 3D models for use in Unity. The only thing I am wondering is, how feasible this really is, and how much work would it involve? Would it be more difficult  than, say, modifying an existing stock asset?

 

And finally, has any of you played the fighting games Soul Calibur III, IV, or V? The reason why I am asking is because there is an awesome character creation mode in those games. You can pick between multiple face types, body types, skin colors, hair types and colors, head outfits, arms outfits, etc., etc. Essentially you can make your character look like anything you want and then use them in the game. So ideally, I am looking for something like this for creating 3D models. For example, a program, not for 3D modeling, but where anybody with little or no art skills, can go in there and put together a 3D model from a variety of available assets, and then export it into whatever format they need. I'd pay good money for something like that.

Edited by lougv22

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So nobody commented on the possibility of using Kinect to generate animated 3D models. I know it can be done because at the latest Game Development Association meeting in my area another developer actually brought a Kinect and demonstrated how to capture animations with it and then generate animated 3D models for use in Unity. The only thing I am wondering is, how feasible this really is, and how much work would it involve? Would it be more difficult  than, say, modifying an existing stock asset?

It sounds like a really interesting idea, but I don't have any personal experience with it or know of any related resources -- I'd love to know more myself if you're able to find anything or if you end up trying it out though!

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