Zero-Budget Dev needs advice!

TLDR: I have no budget and need an artist and general team (art/music/sfx). Offering rev-share feels wrong to do. It also doesn't feel like I have a chance with publishers given I cannot work full-time and the game is full of placeholder art , making a potential pitch look horrible . The entire goal of seeking a publisher is finding funding to hire an artist/musician/sfx-magician, but it seems like to make a pitch in the first place I already need atleast an artist so the game doesn't feel like an MS Paint Adventure. What do I do?

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Hey.

Earlier this year (after making a bunch of test projects to learn the ropes) I started seriously working on a game - alone, with a Budget of 0. I am a university student, but made it a goal to at least fit 5-4 hours a day into the project, 7 days a week. I didn't think about art, I didn't think about music, I didn't think about marketing - I wanted to get something on it's legs first.

Fast forward several months and what I have is a very deep in development - often tested - game with all kinds of systems in it, a decent amount of content and seemingly fun gameplay as testers seem to tell me. The Problem: It's almost all Placeholder Art. 90% of it - Art, Sfx, Music, it's all Placeholder.

The gameplay loop works, I have a vision for the scope of the content of the game and I am tracking along this path very well. It's just that the game has reached the point where the backlog for art, sfx, music etc. to be done is absolutely massive and I have no clue what to do to fix that problem. Design/Context/Programming-wise the game is easily over 50% done, but all other fronts are at 5% at best, or 0%.

This week I made it my mission to finally figure out where to go, because it can't stay placeholder stuff forever, especially because the game is intended for commercial purposes, too.

However I simply do not know what the hell to do given I lack a budget. No talented artist will want to waste their time on a project that promises “rev-share”.

I have considered maybe contacting a Publisher, but I run into several roadblocks going that path:

- I am a student, I can't work on the game full-time. Is a publisher really up for that?
- The game is still placeholder art. A Publisher won't be “wowed" by placeholder art and sfx, why would a publisher care if I can't offer a vertical slice?
- The entire idea of contacting a publisher is to potentially get the funding needed to hire an artist, but to pitch to a publisher in the first place most sources seem to suggest that you already need an artist for the pitch itself to look good - which I can't hire because of no budget. It's a vicious circle.

What the hell do I do? Is my impression of Publishers wrong? Do I just suck it up and learn to do art/sfx/music by myself? Are there really crazy people out there that work for “rev-share” that aren't naive beginners? Offering rev-share feels like I am scamming people. I can't do that.

I feel very lost and without direction and wondered if someone here could maybe offer advice. I am confident others were in a similar situation and found a way to deal with it.

Thank you for your attention.
 

pixeltroid

Member
1. I suggest you forget about publishers for now and just focus on finishing a project that looks and sounds nice. If you're currently wondering about art and sound, then publishers should be the last thing on your mind. Think about publishers once you have a solid game with proper graphics and music.

2. For music you have 3 options:
Option A : Work with the free tunes you can find online.
Option B : If you have friends or friendly peers who know how to compose music ask them to help out by contributing a track or two.
Option C : Compose it yourself. Set aside a few weeks to research music theory and compose something yourself. It's really not that hard. All you need is a good beat and a tune to go with it. The trick to getting a tune is to use notes from a particular scale. You may not create something "epic" but it wont sound "off" either.

3. For art, I'm sorry to say this, but if you can't create it yourself, you have to invest some money for art.
And yes, rev-share is a bad deal for the artist. I'd stay away from rev-share projects because it's too open ended and depends on things out of my control. For example, I can do a perfectly good job on the art, but if you do a bad job making the game or promoting it, that would reflect in the sales.... and I'll get paid less because of your mistakes. And if you lose the project because of a hard drive crash, then I'll never get paid for my work and time!

What you can do immediately is finalize in your head, the exact art style you want. Then go about collecting the correct visual references rom other games and media and compile it in a folder. So when you do find an artist you can just show him what you have in mind and brief him. But the important thing is YOU need to be clear about the art style you want. Another thing you should do is research the process of working with a hired artist and acquaint yourself with his working terms and conditions, fees etc, There are several artists on this forum and they can help you with that.

For now, let your first priority be to raise money. And once that's done, find an artist (or musician) and start working!
 
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For now, let your first priority be to raise money. And once that's done, find an artist (or musician) and start working!
I appreciate the post, but the entire reason I am considering a publisher is to raise money - which in turn would deal with the problem of art and sound. Afterall, funding is what they are there for partly. I have thought about alternatives but wasn't able to think of any.
 

pixeltroid

Member
I appreciate the post, but the entire reason I am considering a publisher is to raise money - which in turn would deal with the problem of art and sound. Afterall, funding is what they are there for partly. I have thought about alternatives but wasn't able to think of any.
Hmmm. I think a publisher will only fund a game if they are convinced that you've got an excellent and unique game concept. I think for now, your best bet is to make a good demo using placeholder art and send it out to a publisher. If they like it, they might fund the game.

Good luck to you and your project.
 
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