In the middle of evaluating the different game engines & frameworks I recently went over, I also went on the hunt for some game assets.
Of all the skills necessary or useful to developing a game, digital art is probably my weakest. In the past I have happily made icons for some of the projects I've worked on, but they have always been 1 or 2 colours, and usually something easy (making arrows is not that difficult, for example).
But making a full-colour character and terrain tiles from scratch, even at 16x16 or 32x32? That is a whole different level of involvement I am not prepared to delve into right now!
So, knowing that I had previously found some free resources online for other things, I went searching.....
There are definitely some sites I know I could have looked at but would have been like looking for the good old needle in a haystack. For example I may have found something on DeviantArt, but maybe I wouldn't too, so I didn't bother looking there (yet). I also briefly looked at Sketchfab, they have a wealth of 3D models but not much for 2D game development.
But a few searches later and I came up with some interesting sites, so I thought I'd share my findings for the benefit of everyone else.
They have a decent selection of resources here, all of it reasonably high quality, some of them free.
The only major thing to be aware of is their three-tiered content. They have free, flat price, and premium content. To download anything (even the free stuff) you need to create an account. The flat price content requires a one-time fee and then it is yours to use, or you can also access it as part of premium. Premium content you can only get with a monthly or yearly paid subscription.
But if you are only after their free stuff you can get most (or maybe all, I'm not going to check) of it from other sites that don't require a signup.
As you can maybe guess by the name it is a public marketplace for game asset artists to sell their work. As such it is a mix of different levels of quality, some free, some expensive, and some high quality, some not so great. There are definitely items there I have seen on other sites too.
The site itself is a little slow to respond and a little awkward to use. The menu is a little confusing because every entry in the menu looks like there should be a submenu thanks to the arrow icon, even when there isn't one. You also need to signup to get their free stuff.
This one appears to be all free resources, but given the problems I have had trying to use the site I haven't been able to completely verify it, I'm just going by the name!
There are some gems here, but a lot of it is lower quality. I would say it is more of a community for hobby game developers than a resource for your more serious attempts.
The site is also a very old and not-so-user-friendly design, and while I was writing this it went down a number of times too 😅
Game Art 2D
It is all unique high quality content, and a small selection of it is free. It is mostly available on other sites though, I think this is just the artist's own page.
Overall a pretty nice site, but the selection is not so extensive.
Another marketplace site so quality varies, but there is some great stuff here.
The site is really easy to use and navigate, and probably best of all, you don't need an account to get the free content! Anything above where I have said "also available on other sites", this is where I mean. It seems to be the amateur game dev industry's go-to site.
The quality here was high enough that I signed up, and I already bought a bundle of tilesets & sprites on sale that I plan to use. But I missed another cheap bundle through my own miscalculation of time. I will keep an eye on those for a later date.
There's probably other sites I missed, but I'm happy with the selection I found anyway.
I'll be back again later, or maybe tomorrow, with an update on the concepts I've been squeezing out of my tired brain these last few days.