Prototyping without Assets

Get your priorities right! Know the benefits of working without assets

As all newly created projects, you’ll stare at an empty scene and asset folder. If you already have a document or a developed idea, you’ll quickly start assembling a Test scene and some scripts.

Now, one of the usual mistakes developers make is wasting time on looking for assets, or working on, for example, animations for your placeholder model. Don’t even bother thinking like this.

Keep it simple!

Prototypes mainly exist to test the game. Having art assets from the go is just a bonus to that prototype, but it will also cost you time to integrate. To briefly summarize my opinion on prototyping without assets, the benefits are:

  • You ensure your game is fun and works perfectly fine with placeholder assets (programmer art is fine!). You can later replace the placeholders for the final assets.
  • You save time and speed up the development of the core features of your game. Setting up models, animations, sounds… will subtract more of your time, which is not wanted because prototypes are meant to be done as fast and cheap as possible.
  • You save money. Ideas are not always final, and you will iterate a lot through that idea. You might end up changing the aesthetic of your game completely, and switching is an expensive move. Remember that prototypes are all about testing your game idea, not the final look of your game.

Do you want to see how Golf Journey started? Here, take a look!

This was the original prototype for Golf Journey. Unbelievable, right?
And this is the same project using Kenney assets!

Don’t worry too much about the art assets, you’ll find a way to get or create them. To aid you in your search for placeholders / assets, here’s a list of webpages with resources (but remember, the game is the priority, not the assets):

Free:

  • Mixamo, by Adobe. You can download free 3D models and animations!
  • Kenney. Definitively one of the best asset resources there is! There’s a bit of everything.
  • OpenGameArt. A place where people can submit their work, and let others use it freely.
  • SVGRepo. If you ever need an icon for your UI, this is a free library with more than 300k icons!
  • SFXR. Are you in need of some retro-style audio? This page will help you out greatly. (If you want a more advanced version, download BFXR here)

Free / Paid:

  • Unity Asset Store. You can almost find anything here!
  • Itch.io. Yes, the biggest hub for indie developers has also a market with free and premium assets.
  • CraftPix. It offers a wide variety of 2D assets, ranging from game to UI assets!
  • CGTrader. Look here if you’re looking to buy models. There are some high quality stuff out there (but don’t expect it to be cheap).

Paid (but worth)

  • Humble Bundle. It’s not exactly an asset store, but they sometimes offer excellent game assets. Keep an eye out.
  • Synty Studios. Stylized low-poly assets with an incredible quality! If you’re asking me, try buying the Prototype pack.

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Junior Unity Developer

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Pablo Gómez Platón

Pablo Gómez Platón

Junior Unity Developer

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