Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

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KomiTsuku
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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#16 Post by KomiTsuku » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:06 am

papillon wrote: The real problem is if the reference pool is too small and people keep re-using the same stuff. Blue Forest may make the largest collection of sprites for sale on DLsite, but they've already been used in multiple well-known EVN productions, making them no longer a good choice. There's another set of sprite art you can find which was popularised by DTIPB; probably not a good idea to use them in any other game now because people will think you took them from there even if you didn't. There are several other sprite sets for sale that haven't, as far as I know, been used in ANY english games. Those are a better option to go for if you need art fast.

What you don't want is for your game to be mistaken for someone else's, or for your art to drastically contrast with your theme/tone. It's better to use such things sparingly or in the background. (Also, if your game focuses too heavily on off-the-shelf art, then someone else can legimately come along and make something that looks very similar and confuse people.)
It's rather funny, actually. The DTIPB sprites were being used in a game that was supposed to release at the same time as DTIPB. Naturally, I quickly shifted away from those sprites, changed the whole script to make Anton's Vacation, and used the sprites being shown here. For the record, Anton's Vacation EP:2 is the last time you will see me use them, despite the fact I have the full set of all of Blue Forest's sprites. I've had new sprites commissioned solely for the fact that I DO NOT want my work associated with other works that use the same resources.

Now we start moving into the backgrounds. When I started, I was the only one using those particular backgrounds. It worked really nice. Some of them are STILL going to be used in AV and upcoming Rising Angels and Pet Project. However, now that they are becoming more and more popular and used, I have to move away from them again and spend more money on BG artists. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I have 25 sets. I had them all planned out for upcoming works. Do I risk moving forward and potentially tainting games that I've sunk a lot of money into the CGs and sprites, not to mentioned the MONTHS of writing I've sacrificed? Do I throw the whole set away and waste even more time and money getting unique backgrounds? My budget for free games is not infinite, but I'm not going to blow everything I've done out of the water because I didn't go for the alternative route.

In short, if you want to and have no alternative method, go for it. Just realize like I painfully did that you aren't the only rider with that pony in the show.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#17 Post by PyTom » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:45 am

Speaking solely as a player here.

The use of stock art in screenshots might affect my decision to play a game. A lot of it depends on the art, and how it's used - if I see free image on top of stock backgrounds with a standard theme, I may not spend the time to play it. (But if it looks like the maker put in a little bit of effort, that's often fine.)

By the time I've been playing a game for twenty minutes or so, if I'm paying attention to the provenance of the art, it's a good sign that the game as a whole has failed to engage me.
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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#18 Post by JDarryl » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:54 am

Why would you make a 'new' game with reused art, backgrounds and music ? By doing so you would allready be contradicting your own intentions. Characters have to fit certain personalities, one character appearance doesn't fit all, and changing hair color or the like isn't helping either. Every story takes place in a different location so backgrounds aren't interchangeble either. Just like BG's, Music has to fit the story and (I hope) that every story is different. So basically it's impossible to make a quality game without customizing everything in it. It's like writing a new story with just different names.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#19 Post by papillon » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:04 pm

Every story takes place in a different location so backgrounds aren't interchangeble either.
An awful lot of stories take place in 'generic japanese school environment'. You could swap their backgrounds and not even notice. :) With some stories, of course, this is less so.
Just like BG's, Music has to fit the story and (I hope) that every story is different.
There is *so much* licenseable music available in the world that you can very easily assemble an entire soundtrack full of individual pieces that none of your players will have ever heard before and that are completely appropriate for your specific story. Buying music off-the-shelf is not the same as ripping the full soundtrack from an existing game and using it again in a new context.

Pay enough attention to movies, television, commercials, games, etc, and you will hear the same music and the same sound effects being used multiple times. It's just that it's done in a way that doesn't really draw attention to itself, a tiny aspect of a huge sea of music.

On the other hand, if you have a small well-known source of free music and therefore everyone keeps reusing that small list of songs, everyone will notice.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#20 Post by Van Knox » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:12 pm

I don't see anything wrong with using those resources, but I would say you need to be careful when using them. It's perfectly fine to use a pre-made background if it fits your story perfectly and feels natural. Does the stock art feel like it belongs in the story? Then there's nothing wrong with it. The issue is if it jumps at you and takes you out of the story, making you think why the story set in America has a Japanese looking classroom.

I don't have an issue if I'm playing a game that uses stock backgrounds so long as the story makes sense. Character sprites on the other hand are a bit more difficult to justify. For that reason, I wouldn't mind using stock backgrounds(so long as they fit) in my game, but I don't think I would do the same with character sprites.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#21 Post by applegirl » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:37 pm

I don't mind the free backgrounds, they are quite nice. Again, the character sprites are pretty. But I would be pretty steadfast in my opinion that a commercial game that used this would not be worth buying. A lot of the commercial games I buy have ridiculously great art that either took the artist a lot of time or cost the developer a chunk of money. It makes me feel like every cent I spent was well invested. If I saw this art, I would just feel like the developer cut corners to maximize profits and that would bug me considerably. I saw this art in a commercial game before and refused to buy it (it was one of the few commercial OLEVN that I immediately passed on without trying the demo). But for free games, hey, do what you like.

I can't help but agree with DaFool and the others, quite a few of these will be associated with other OLEVN. I can't see any sprite from DTIPB without thinking of those characters. But I'm biased in doing that for sprites, not backgrounds.
KomiTsuku wrote: Do I throw the whole set away and waste even more time and money getting unique backgrounds? My budget for free games is not infinite, but I'm not going to blow everything I've done out of the water because I didn't go for the alternative route.
I honestly doubt people would notice that much as the sprites. Personally, I would be perfectly fine with a developer that used this kind of background. In fact, I'd encourage it if that meant original character sprites.

Also, @DaFool, I don't know if you could answer this about Dragon Spirit, but:
Really, Cthulu tentacles?? :shock:

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#22 Post by J. Datie » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:41 pm

I'd tolerate reused backgrounds a lot more, since the story's probably more focused on the characters, so it's more important that they be unique. Of course, backgrounds can go a long way in adding to the experience, so I guess it all comes down to the creator's intentions.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#23 Post by Blue Lemma » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:50 pm

I basically stay away from games with reused character art. It says to me (fairly or not) "I didn't want to bother with sprites" (and therefore, who knows what else was being scrimped on? The characters are the core of the story, after all.)

As an "artist" the idea of using character art from a pre-made pool is awful to me. The practical creator in me can see the utility though. I guess I just like to see my own characters be unique because they ARE unique :)
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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#24 Post by CheeryMoya » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:27 am

I generally don't have too much a problem with free backgrounds being reused in some of the games I play. Background artists are hard to find, and not many artists want to even try doing backgrounds. Free character sprites, on the other hand, I try to avoid using. If you want to make a unique character, then how can you use a generic sprite that may have appeared somewhere else already? Most people will remember a character in a VN by how they look, and if written well, personality too. However, most of us are inclined to visualize someone first before we go into specific details about personality and stuff.

Now, using free resources in a commercial game is a total turn off for me. Hello? You want to make money off your game? You better pay up and spend a few bucks on unique art, damn it. Can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and you can't make a few dollars without spending some first. I sure as hell am not going to pay my money for any product that looks like something I can pick up for free.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#25 Post by applegirl » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:17 am

CheeryMoya wrote:Now, using free resources in a commercial game is a total turn off for me. Hello? You want to make money off your game? You better pay up and spend a few bucks on unique art, damn it. Can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and you can't make a few dollars without spending some first. I sure as hell am not going to pay my money for any product that looks like something I can pick up for free.
Exactly how I feel. I would keep wondering in the back of my mind, what else did they possibly skimp on? I already recognize a lot of those sprites as being used already (quite a lot were in the SG for example). I can understand how practical it is to have a pool of cheap and ready made art, but there aren't enough to give all creators unique sprites. As BL said, I want unique characters in stories :) There is nothing that takes away from a story more than having sprites that were already used in other VNs. I just can't imagine wanting to ever pay for a VN like that and even free ones would make me pause slightly.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#26 Post by Anna » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:50 am

Also, these are visual novels we're creating; the different and matching art to the stories is one of the big appeal points next to the actual story. Why the heck would skimping on that be a good idea if you're making a commercial game? For backgrounds it might be not that bad to get such a set, but for sprites... please don't. Sprites need to convey personalities well and when your character is not a stereotypic high school boy/girl, that might become a problem.

Look at some of the artists' recruitment topics, I noticed people offering their skills for much less than the bare minimum. If you think that's too much, then try drawing everything yourself or if you can't draw, think about 'trading skills'. Such as, you do the coding for one game for free while someone makes you ten sprites for free, for example.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#27 Post by papillon » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:21 am

Price is often not the main problem when it comes to commissioning artists. Certainly it is for *some* people, and on any art recruitment forum you'll find lots of newbie gamedevs trying to find artists willing to work for a share of future profits. However, finding an artist, even a supposed fulltime professional, who will actually complete a job, can be harder than it looks :(

I would *never* hire anyone offering to do sprites for free-or-super-cheap, because I would be absolutely *certain* they would do two pieces and disappear. But even paying more than the going rate doesn't seem to prevent that. :(

This is not to say that you should just shrug and accept seeing the same batch of sprites used over and over again in commercial works, obviously! Just that it's not always as straightforward as it seems, particularly for people who are running a business. (And remember, anyone using the Blue Forest art sets legally IS still paying for them, it's not a 'free' resource.)

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#28 Post by Anna » Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:16 am

papillon wrote: This is not to say that you should just shrug and accept seeing the same batch of sprites used over and over again in commercial works, obviously! Just that it's not always as straightforward as it seems, particularly for people who are running a business. (And remember, anyone using the Blue Forest art sets legally IS still paying for them, it's not a 'free' resource.)
Well I'm not saying this is a free alternative, I just don't think it's a very good one for sprites. Sprite sets which are pre-produced and used by many others 1) may not fit the characters and 2) are very unoriginal, which is not really awesome to see in any commercial visual novel.

Mh, you make a point about people not finishing their work though - I didn't think of that, as I just draw my own sprites. Not sure how you'd prevent that, maybe ask for their past experience with projects before hiring them? That way you can see what they can do. What might also help is paying after X amount of work or letting them have some kind of say about the characters/story input. Frequent contact over messengers and what not might also help.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#29 Post by papillon » Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:42 am

Well I'm not saying this is a free alternative
Yeah, I know. Someone else was talking about free resources, so I was clarifying that off-the-shelf != free. :)

Working with hired freelancers is a crapshoot. Some are absolutely wonderful, some will ruin your life.
Last edited by papillon on Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Paying for an artist? Stop! Read this first.

#30 Post by LeandroP » Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:42 am

The art is the main image of a game... If you use stock characters and stock backgrounds, what will people think about your game?

Just another generic boring VN.
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Would write your VN for character's sprites.

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