Why is doing the right thing so difficult?

Being a tech guy, I gravitate towards the technological challenges of a new project. It’s no different for the current game I’m writing. I’ve researched the game engines thoroughly and have an architecture in mind for when I began coding.

Feeling good about where I am on the technical side, I’ve decided to begin thinking of the creative side before I go further with the tech research. Like most technically oriented people, I have huge ideas of how I want to game to look, and how it will flow, and the feel I want it to have. But the process of getting that out of my head and onto paper is very, very tough.

For artists, perhaps they put pen to paper and the creative just flows out. Maybe I’m oversimplifying this. Maybe it is actually very tough for artists as well, but I would be surprised. I know an artist who makes games and freezes up at the thought of how to put the game together on the tech side, whereas that comes easy to me. So I’m assuming the opposite is the same.

The plan is for my game to have a steampunk feel. It’s a simple game and having this niche market of steampunk should entice people who know what this is to check it out just for that. But even for those who don’t know what it is, it should be visually appealing for them as well.

With an idea in mind of how it’s going to look, I proceeded to research steampunk imagery. Not being an artist, I tend to take existing, royalty free, license free images and modify them as needed for games I write. So far this has been fine since the games have been simple and not really focusing on graphics.

With something as specific as steampunk, I couldn’t find many images with a license that allows commercial use with modifications and be royalty free. Still trying to find the free options, I searched google images by a license type I could use but found nothing. I then searched the web for popular image sites that might offer free images, or at least images in exchange for attribution. Nothing really came up.

Hitting so many brick walls, I decided to price out approximately how much it would cost if I purchased all of the images I needed. I still haven’t decided to commission the artwork (I’ve done this before, and it’s way more expensive) so I went to the most popular image site around: shutterstock. There were tons and tons of images for steampunk. I think I could get every image I needed for my game without having to make many modifications at all. And they seemed reasonably priced, at first. Maybe I could buy the 25 image option for $230. If I could get all of the assets for my game for $230, that doesn’t seem so bad. But then you read the fine print and it starts to get concerning. Can I modify the image? Am I breaking the license if I crop it? What if I change the tint, is that breaking the license? How do I know that shutterstock can actually transfer this license and someone didn’t steal someone elses work and put it there? On top of this, there are multiple types of licenses such as Standard and Enchanced. What is I start with the standard and then need to upgrade to enhanced due to something I’m done to the image? If so, the price quintuples. It’s all very confusing and I haven’t wrapped my head around it yet.

Of course it would be easy to snag any image and do what I want with it, but I’m not doing that. It’s not right. It’s robbing the artist of their royalties, or attribution, or whatever they want in exchange for their art. So I’m going to do the right thing, it’s just going to take some more research as to what that is.

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