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When I'm creating games, I really love the coding part -- designing, developing the main functionality and "core" part of the game. However, most of my games are reasonably small/easy in terms of coding, but require a lot of content -- whether graphics, levels, sounds, puzzles, story narrative, etc.

I find development speeds through the coding parts, but nearly halts when it comes to content creation -- it's tough, sometimes boring work.

What can I do to make content creation quicker and more interesting/fun? I'm already integrating content into a working game, and building/using tools as much as possible to quickly assemble my content.

Edit: my question is not about learning any particular labor-/time-intensive skills like drawing assets or picking out sound effects; it's about that psychological hurdle when you have to just sit down and grind out the rest of your game, even if it's not the most fun thing in the world to do.

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There's a great post on Zen Habits about this. If you can force yourself to sit down and work on whatever it is, even if just for 5-10 minutes, that will break your barriers and get you moving on your project.

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When all else fails, there's always the option of finding a partner who is interested in content creation. If you have friends that play the type of game you're making perhaps one of them is interested.

Game enthusiasts who aren't necessarily programmers are likely your best bet. It doesn't even have to be people who've worked with game creation, many people with a deep love of games have the potential to create great content depending on their other talents (e.g. a writer, artist, someone who really loves puzzles, etc).

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I always come across this blocker when I'm making games, particularly graphics, sound and music, so I'm going to focus this answer on graphics, sound, and music.

Finding art or an artist has been hard for me. Then Google Sketchup came along and changed the playing field for me (at least on the graphics front). There are thousands, if not millions of models that you can use for free from Google's 3D Warehouse. All of the models on Google Sketchup can be used for non-commercial purposes:

"For the avoidance of doubt, you may modify, distribute, and create derivative works of Content uploaded by other users in 3D Warehouse" - http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/3dwh/tos.html

FYI: I try to contact all of the modellers, thank them for their wonderful work, and tell them where I will be using it. I'd recommend you do the same.

Now... you may be thinking: "But I might want to make money one day!". And that brings me to my next point:

My game is presently free and open-source. This lets me use free resources like Google Sketchup and open-source music and sound clips. There are significantly fewer restrictions on content that you find if your project is open-source (or strictly closed source among you and your friends).

If I get to a point where I think my game is pretty awesome and I want to start selling it, all I have to do is freeze the open-source portion of the project (yes, sorry guys), pay an artist or two to change all the art & sound, add some new features to make it "better" than the free version, and away I go.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent answer. But what about broader content creation -- story, scenes, dialogue, levels, and so on? \$\endgroup\$
    – ashes999
    Aug 30 '11 at 23:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ashes999: To be perfectly honest, I have no clue. I have avoided games like RPGs for those very reasons. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31 '11 at 0:53
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Perhaps you can attempt to create textures and sound through programming? Via procedural textures, Generative music and dynamically composing sound, you could not only create a style that's specific to your games, but "program your art". Seems like that's the best way to program AND create content.

You can always use the procedural content as a starting point too. Have your code create a level, and you can fill in the details.

Clearly this totally depends on the type of games you make, but I'm sure it could make some of the more tedious aspects more enjoyable.

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This really wont help make it fun, but what about using free assets you can find online?

For making levels, what if you could generate them via code? This wont work for all types, for it does for some games.

If you just can't stay motivated through it, what about paying someone to do it, or teaming up with somebody? For me, I do all the coding and a good fried of mine does the art, story line, etc...

What about breaking it up into more manageable pieces? Maybe tell yourself you will do 2-3 levels per week, and if it takes you 3-4 weeks to do them so be it. At least you finished! I find this helps me a lot on mundane programming tasks.

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If making levels and puzzles bores you, then perhaps you should stick to being a programmer and stop making games. Level and puzzle design is the very meat of game design. It is what separates a good game from a crappy game.

If that's not enjoyable to you, then you need a new profession.

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