A collection of free resources for game development. Very useful if teaching game development – or developing games to support learning. Originally posted on this blog here, after I spoke at the Game2Learn event in Dundee about ways of reducing the costs of developing new learning games and/or virtual worlds. Unlike that post, this list will be updated with new resources as I find them.
Before using any resource be sure to check the license and conditions for use – some resources allow reuse for any purpose, others are only for non-commercial use.
If you are developing your own game or using Unity, then chances are that you can import models that are available in the popular Collada format (and mesh import is now also available for Second Life and OpenSim). If you are a teacher working with high-school students you may want to check these sites first for suitability. The same site also has lots of programming tutorials and slide-decks but that is another topic.
Google’s 3D Warehouse is home to thousands of static 3D models – particularly strong on models of notable buildings, due to the links between Google Sketchup, the 3D warehouse and Google Earth, but interiors, objects and vehicles can all be found.
Blend Swap has thousands of free (personal and commercial use) models submitted by the Blender community.
More free 3D models at TF3DM, including some fantastic city models. I would be careful using some of the models from this site, as there are quite a few that are clearly under copyright – some original recreations perhaps of copyright characters and objects, and some models ripped directly from commercial games.
An interesting new resource (especially if you want military type models, or models of things you might find in or around army bases) is the ADL 3D Repository. You’ll also find a lot of regular household items (chandeliers and bidets!) alongside the weaponry and vehicles, plus models of US soldiers and Afghan civilians. The NASA 3D model repository, on the other hand, has lots of satellites and spacecraft – plus a few miscellaneous other items.
More commercially oriented sites like TurboSquid are marketplaces for the buying and selling of 3D models – prices vary dramatically but there is a lot of low cost and free content to be found, and the quality is sometimes of a very professional standard. Loads more at this massive list of sources for free 3D models.
If the models are not available in the format you need, remember that free tools such as Blender can be used to convert models to your preferred format.
Autodesk now also have their own site for sharing 3D models – this includes an odd mix, some models from 3D captures, some modelled from scratch. Some good quality models and some very poor, and not very helpful tagging, so browsing is a bit random. See for yourself at 123dapp.com
2D Textures and Images
You can search Flickr for Creative Commons licensed photos, but the photos are not normally very good for use as textures. Wikimedia Commons is another good source of photos, but few are ideal for use as textures.
In comparison, CGTextures specialises in textures that can be used in game development – and has thousands on offer. Free for commercial or non-commercial use. The only use that is explicitly not allowed is in creating your own texture packs (e.g. you can use some of these textures to build something in Second Life that you will sell commercially, but you are not allowed to create an in-world texture pack to sell or give away)
HasGraphics links to a small but quite high-quality range of sprites, tilesets and other 2D graphics resources, while Moosader has posted a range of her own creations under public-domain license at OpenArt.
Also check out the files at OpenGameArt - licenses vary, so check for each image that you wish to use. The unrelated Open Game Art Bundle has a mix of free 2D art as well as a range of free music and audio files.
Reiner’s Tilesets contains a large, and still growing, amount of 2D graphics – including lots of isometric tilesets for environments and animated characters. Free for personal or commercial use.
Pixar One-Twenty Eight is a collection of repeating textures from animation giants Pixar, on the Renderman Community pages.
I had found this before, but managed to lose it. Luckily one of my students pointed my to the textures at humus.name – pages and pages of photographic cube-map textures for creating skyboxes in games. High resolution, high quality and lots of variety (indoor, outdoor, day, night, urban, rural,…).
Some other good skybox textures (in decently high resolutions) are available free for non-commercial use from Hazel Whorley - except most of the download links are broken. Sigh. I found some of them along with others at gamebanana. There is another nice set of free skybox textures available at 3delyvisions, also some 3D assets but those are a little more dated. More skybox textures here.
Music and Sound Effects
Freesound is home to a huge number of Creative Commons licensed sound effects, while ccMixter homes similarly licensed music samples, loops and mixes. Also check the Free Music Archive and the Creative Commons audio blog.
Back at OpenArt, Moosader has collected (and produced some of) a small range of retro-styled music files suitable for games.
Incompetech has a pretty large library of music files and loops suitable for games – and interestingly allows you to browse music by ‘feel’.
OpenSim and Second Life Specific
There are two OpenSim specific archive formats – OAR and IAR. OAR files archive complete regions – including terrain and all objects including textures, scripts, sounds and more. IAR files archive users’ inventory – again including all data required to fully restore the items (scripts, sounds, etc.).
A third archive option (for which I’ve been unable to find a specific name) is the xml format used when backing up objects from Second Life or OpenSim using the export option in 3rd party client software. While most online discussion of this format is based on how to transfer your own objects, it also provides another way to share OpenSim/Second Life objects.
Four sources for OpenSim Archives (OAR files, Hypergrid Business)
OpenSim Creations (OAR files, IAR files, XML objects, terrains files, textures. Includes many NSFW)
OpenSim Terrains – Flickr Set
Keith Ditchburn has collected more links for 2D textures and 3D models over at Toymaker.
Colin Maxwell has collected a list of resources (software and assets) on his TeachGames blog.
Kulis Android has yet another list.
You can also always do a search for images licensed for reuse at Flick or on Google.
If models or textures are not in the format you need, you can probably convert models using Blender - while GIMP or IrfanView (highly recommended for Windows users!) should be able to convert just about any texture format you are ever likely to meet.