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2013/09/24

Free the Monsters! campaign

Justin Nichol is a contributing artist to Flare. He is the artist behind all of the NPC portraits, the texture work on the Wyverns, and the skin textures on the upcoming Wandercall base human models. Justin brings tremendous skill and creativity to the team, and that makes it even possible to dream big about the future of Flare.

That's why I'm so excited about his new indiegogo campaign titled Free The Monsters. The goal is to create a professional quality set of monster concepts and models and release them to the free culture community (CC-BY-SA license, the same that my games use).

It helps Wandercall

What you see in the Flare alpha demo is mostly me barely able to operate Blender. I've come a long way since then, but reworking all new assets at a higher quality takes a ton of time and effort. Wandercall represents a grand project to make an Action RPG and set of assets that is fun, beautiful, and completely free/libre. But I can't do all of that on my own.

I absolutely love all of the monster concepts shown so far in the Free The Monsters campaign. They will each be perfect for the style and tone for Wandercall. Having concepts or entire models already done will help me get new monsters out the pipeline faster, and more content tools in the hands of creators.

It helps Open Game Art

Two common complaints about Open Game Art: it's hard to find professional quality work, and it's hard to find a large set of consistent styles to use in one game.

This is the kind of project that bring OGA closer to that dream. Having this set of high quality fantasy monsters will spawn a new quality of FLOSS games. Also, it will set a style guide that others can use to contribute to this collection. In the future I want to see dozens of monsters featured here, covering the needs of fantasy games with a strong artistic style.

The style is strong but inclusive

Goblin concept and 3D render

Have a look at Justin's goblin concept. He's pushing style and shapes that give the goblin a definite feel and tone. But he manages to do this without forcing a specific style on the entire game. This goblin would look great and be visually interesting in most fantasy games (barring those with a completely unconventional style of their own).

And style is important. It's critical for this goblin to read as "goblin" but still have its own style that isn't directly Tolkein or Warcraft. A strong style prevents the model from just looking like "short green man". Here the strong shape and silhouette give the monster an identity. So later when we make room for other humanoids they will each be visually distinct.

Why you should contribute

If all these monsters get posted CC-BY-SA, why should you personally donate money? I'm preaching to the FLOSS choir here so bear with me.

First, if you love Flare and are looking forward to Wandercall, this is the best place to put your money right now. These creatures will be an absolutely huge help to Wandercall and will get that project moving far sooner than anyone expects. Whatever monsters come from the campaign, I will use to create 2D isometric sprite sheets ready to plug into the Flare engine.

Second, if you love Free Culture and want to see greater works come from it. Open Game Art just does not have a professional quality set of 3D monsters yet. This will fill a huge gap in their library. This campaign has the potential to help dozens of projects in the short term, and countless ones in the future.

Third, you're an art patron. What Justin and company are doing here isn't just creating strong art and design on their own. They are enabling a new group of young creators to chase their dreams. These assets greatly lower the bar for what game projects are possible without a budget. I want to see the kind of games and art people create when the tools and assets are ready to go.

Games are a largely untapped medium because the barrier to entry is so high (between programming, 3D modeling, etc). If you love the medium and want it to thrive creatively, consider helping us free these monsters.

-Clint Bellanger