Content On A Shoestring

Organized by Eleanor Robinson, 7-128 Software

Person's Notes

Johnny Richardson's notes:

Eleanor: There are basically 7 people at 7- 128 Software, and as a result they have to develop content very cheaply

  • Reusability of content is absolutely critical
  • Saves money
    • e.g. Word games
    • Developed a dictionary used across 8 games
    • Inexpensive graphical technology
  • Can’t afford elaborate 3D level design
  • Doing 2D graphics
  • Making background out of photos, clipart, etc
  • Online image services for clipart as opposed to original art
  • Reusing same model and same game engine for several games
  • Develop a character and re-use it in more than one game
  • Recording own audio
  • Very important that indies make content cheaply

Can’t afford 3D?

  • Because of cost of tools and expertise
  • Also, content from some tools like Maya or Flash can’t be accessible to handicapped gamers
  • Andrew: Using Google Sketchup for 3D instead of a bigger tool for a current project
    • Jeremy: Google 3D Warehouse is great for getting lots of pre-made models
  • Making own sound effects with your mouth!
    • People love it!
  • Free sound libraries are starting to charge
  • Creative Commons is also great – some of those licenses even let you make a profit
  • Scott: wants Heritage players to make content themselves and then pull it back in, release it again
    • Awesome feedback loop
  • Art/Music
    • Compositing things
      • Keeping Layers of files you can reuse for different events
      • Mix and match
      • Change tempos/etc of music and you can get a ton of tunes out of 3 or 4 tracks

Getting people to do favors

  • Somebody talked about getting bands he knew from Seattle to make tracks for his project for free
    • Putting out $$$ for marketing artists in return for their effort
    • Musicians are really used to this
  • Nathaniel Chambers gave Johnny free tunes for his game for a splash screen at the bootup
    • Free PR reciprocates back-and-forth
  • Scott: even people who are established will do free stuff


  • Does quality suffer from this?
  • Game design is always set by constraints
    • What areas can I go into? Set limits at beginning of project
      • Content creation is an easy way to slim down project size
      • Trickles down into code, production, etc. workload
  • Tom: Good doesn’t always mean good for you
    • People will always sell you music and other assets for lots of money
    • Pays off a lot to look hard for cheaper folks that are just as good
    • Sometimes expensive != awesome
  • Localization: 7-128 thought about doing a machine translate
    • Then hire a languages student from college and both parties get something

Is it ever really worth it to spend more money to get better content?

  • Oftentimes outsourced designers or tech end up spending your money just trying to communicate with you or one another, let alone create the content
  • Doing series of games where the content re-usability makes a lot of sense
    • Becomes an asset
    • Casual games/family-friendly
  • If you have a gun sound, using the same over and over across titles isn’t going to be a huge issue to the player
    • Novelty vs. familiarity is an important decision

Traci: Sometimes more cost-effective to start from scratch than upgrade from really old content

  • e.g. taking content from a Win 95 game and then just re-starting the code base

Old games can and will always sell, says Jeff Vogel, who re-releases his RPGs by just adding a little content

  • Asset reuse in a macro sense
  • People who are new to the series don’t care that it’s been re-released over and over

Session Audio

From Johnny Richardson:
.mp3 Audio, 3.8mb (Pretty good quality, may need to crank your volume for some parts)

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