Apocalyptic Characters (Asset Store) - Creative Discussion

Hey everyone, not sure if this is the proper place to post about this, but DarkSoe contacted me about some characters he was interested in having me produce as purchasable assets on the asset store (Unreal, Unity). You can see my freelance artist post at; I’ve been interested in creating more assets for purchase since I started freelancing, but I haven’t wanted to produce assets without a purpose.

It occurred to me last night that there doesn’t seem to be any easy way to actively participate in the production of, or customize the assets you purchase. The problem seems to be that though you’re purchasing some decent characters for cheap, they’re the same asset the other guy or gal is using, and it’ll never be as good or as customized as contracted characters. How do you make your game stand out? There seem to be a lot of smaller or singular devs with minimal budgets on the forums, and while guys like CheapModeler are filling those gaps in service, I feel like there could be a more systemic solution to this problem (if it’s even a problem).

The big picture solution would essentially crowdsource asset development, democratically pulling feedback and design choices directly from the people purchasing the assets and intelligently curating content. It’s about creating content fundamentally produced to meet community needs. I feel this is the biggest gap in the production community right now, and while there are amazing tools and assets at our disposal, there’s a separation of developer and content that just doesn’t need to be there. I feel like there’s a possibility to help make some fundamental changes to the way we produce content, so please let me know if this is good idea, or a bad one.

So in conjunction with describing these potential character assets I’d be producing (with the interest from DarkSoe) I want to discuss the asset store situation (Unreal, Unity, TurboSquid) and learn more about everyone’s experience, what they like about it, what they don’t like, and what they’d like to see more of. If possible, everyone should post a bit about each subject and not just about singular things/complaints (I’m not interested in discussing asset pricing for instance).

The characters DarkSoe pitched to me are Last of Us inspired, survival/apocalypse characters, 2 human variants and 2 zombie variants. There are a lot of zombie apocalypse characters on the market, and while I’ve been interested in producing a few just as general portfolio pieces, if there’s a way to set them apart as assets why not produce them to that end? What would get you interested in purchasing this set of characters? What’s going to get you amped about them? The production quality? The design? The features (rigged, retargeted, full engine integration)? Customizability? Complete texture PSDs with layers/groups? Full outfit customization? Weapons? Let me know what you all think.

I may be completely wrong about all assumptions I’ve made, so please let me know if that’s the case. I’m interested in providing as good a service as I possibly can as a freelance artist, and if there’s a way to improve the indie development experience I want to hit it hard. So give me some feedback in this thread, or shoot me some emails and we can discuss it personally.

Thank you for spending the time to read this. I appreciate it.

(Here’s some recent characters I created for reference)

Hi smessier,

I’m a fan of your work since the days of Mongrel. I appreciate the direction you’re going with this discussion. It aligns with my concerns with Assets sold to the masses in Marketplaces. I’ve been seeking solutions and vocalized them in several threads:

  1. Mystique Entity System
  2. HierArch Emporium
  3. The UMECHS Compendium of Interchangeable Modular Entity Asset Parts
  4. I Buy Modular Parts Website
  5. TUTORIAL C++ - Runtime Async Load Modular Character (Intermediate)
  6. Full Models -vs- Modeled Parts
  7. A New Model Pack System: Modular Entity Construction Sets (MECs)


In a nutshell: **Modularity, Interchangeability, Extensibility, Mass Customization, and Price Point geared for the masses.

The community didn’t take well to my concept of crowdsource asset development (one of many possible incarnations). Prior to that discussion, I had no clue or connection to the Art community. It was an truly an eye opener. I still feel there is significant potential with Marketplace Assets designed to be customized. I think it just a matter of content creators deciding to create interchangeable ‘parts’ & ‘accessories’ for existing assets. Let popularity dictate the standard.

I do understand the concern with ''producing assets without a purpose". Trust me I feel that with every half-arsed game I’ve written that sits on my workstation. But, I think this scenario only exists with rigid assets. Assets designed to be customized can adapt to meet the future need. You’re 3D work is top notch man, I can only imagine SM Objects becoming the standard for high quality modular/interchangeable 3D assets.

For me, the question of “How do you make your game stand out?” is answered by Gameplay. The games I want to build focus more on immersion and realism and not on flashy special effects and cool eye candy. Think Skyrim/Fallout: New Veags or Dayz/Arma III. I don’t care if my assets are used by other games as the players I’m want to play my games are attracted by the story and the game play. An example of this is the Arma II/III mode community that has spawned games like DayZ, King of the HIll, andBattle Royale.

What I would love to see is flexible, extensible human models that have separate clothing and head/hair/facial setups so I can build the game look I want by just creating cloth models and changing out the heads. No zombies, if I want zombies I want to be able to add them with just texture changes based on the original models. Here’s the list of things I like to see:

  1. One male and one female nude body model. They should be of average size/shape, not overly actiony/heroic or sexualized. It should be possible to make them anatomically correct or sexually neutered, depending on the game requirements. The heads and hair of each model should be easily separable, ideally so the game can swap the heads and hairs to make unique characters.

  2. Three heads/hair for each model, one for asian, european and african facial types.

  3. Skin textures/materials to match the head racial types.

  4. Separate clothing models for each body type. Clothing models should be compatible with UE4 clothing physics. I would like to see business, business casual and casual. Even better is parts were separate, so that I could match business pants with a casual t-shirt.

  5. All assets should include all components needed to make modifications or new versions. PSD files, original 3d files, etc.

  6. Tutorials for making basic changes. Adding new cloths, adding new heads, changing eye color, etc.

  7. Licenses for this should be flexible to permit other artist to supply replacement and additional parts such as new heads or clothing through the store as well as by contract.

A product like this could produce an eco-system that could enable small developers to tackle games that would normally take a large number of artist to produce.

If you could do all this, it would be a “shut up and take my money” product for me.

Wow, great feedback guys, it’s greatly appreciated.

Techlord, I’ve always appreciated your input, and your past ideas came to mind when I started thinking more about a better system for asset production. I feel like there’s a way to better design asset integration and customization, so I’ll keep thinking about how those systems will work. I’ll also read up on the links you posted Techlord. Maybe we can discuss each of our ideas further at a later point.

Jcoder, I’ve been thinking about how to best provide customizable characters/assets within a reasonable production time, and you’ve given me some good ideas.

An idea that keeps recurring for me is the “Genre Pack”; essentially it’s the separation of characters/assets into single genre defined asset packs that can be purchased alongside other packs to mix and match clothing, textures, items, etc. For example, you’d purchase the Zombie Apoc. character pack, and can combine it with assets from the Scifi Shooter pack. I see the distribution mindset as similar to Magic the Gathering, where you can purchase theme decks, but still fold the entirety of your card collection together to make custom decks. Hopefully this analogy makes sense.

But from what you’re describing Jcoder, it feels like separating characters into artistic styles, and not just genres would be the way to go, and then providing genre specific customizable options for the base character styles (IE WoW painted style characters with western genre customizations). The difficulty with this option however, is going to be the tweaking of the same asset into each different style available. I see this as being a potential production drag, but I could probably design a good workflow to get around that.

Let me know these ideas sound. And please, I’d love to have even more feedback from the community.

Thanks again Techlord and Jcoder for your thoughtful responses. You’ve helped reignite my enthusiasm for this idea.