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The Budget Game Designer

How to Create a Game: Content Quality

It’s time to put all of your commitment issues to the test.

I know what you are thinking… you have poured months into this, there have been countless sleepless nights, and you have friends that no longer return your calls.

Blood, sweat, and tears have created a masterpiece in your eyes, and now it’s your job to make others see it that way too.

People always say time is money; which is true, but now it’s time to decide how much actual money is going to feed into your creation.

Getting to the point I’m talking about might have been a breeze or might have caused you to punch holes in the walls. I won’t lie, from day to day I would switch between the two in a very bipolar manner.

Either way, if you have made your way to the final game, it’s time to see how much you believe in your work.

Quality design does not come cheap or easy. You will have to up your game x10 in either time spent or money spent. Sadly, when I say that it will really be both in most cases.

Depending on what you have more of, you can skew the split in your favor. First, I’ll go over all of the software I used that can be acquired either for free or inexpensively, and what I took the time to learn to counter a lot of the basic costs of the game. Then we will get into the locations and sites I found most helpful to find people to work with or hire.

This way you can choose how much of each spectrum to use. Balance is everything when it comes to maintaining your stress vs enjoyment level, so it’s nice to have a backup plan.

Here is my strategy for the do-it-yourselfer.

Photoshop is going to become your best friend. Any designs you have, whether for cards, game boards, rule books, etc. you will be using it constantly. If this is a program you are already familiar with then you have a huge leg up, but if you are like me you had never used it.

You can learn all the basics and even most of the advanced settings and techniques on YouTube. Take the time to learn this program backwards and forwards. I can’t begin to tell you how many hours I have spent on Photoshop.

You can get Photoshop free for the first month, but then you will have to pick a monthly package after that. It is not expensive, but something to include in your costs.

If you want to go the completely free path, there is another program called Gimp that is a simple version of Photoshop. I don’t like the setup as much, and it can’t do everything that Photoshop can, but it is a great option when first starting out.

Below is a link to the sites you can get these programs from.



All you have to do is go online and you can become a master at any program I mention here.

This brings me to my second most used tool: YouTube. There is an endless amount of information out there, and many people are willing to teach you almost anything step by step. YouTube and all of its users can become any professor you have ever needed with lesson plans, quick tips, and much more.

Of course there are other sites out there like Udemy and Masterclass that will provide a vast amount of resources and knowledge in one place. While I have used both of these sites, I have never found one teacher or mentor that could create a curriculum that works for everyone. With YouTube you create your own experience with a little more work (but a lot less money).

I'm hoping everyone here knows how to get to YouTube, so I will move on from here.

We are now moving past the essentials in my opinion. Next comes programs that can be used for creating your actual art. If you or a member of your team is designing the art/pieces of your game, then these next two are my go to.

For drawings and art, the award will always go to Adobe Illustrator. The company has almost a complete monopoly on the software to create art on a Mac or Windows device. It also pairs well with Photoshop. You can put both programs on the same plan. It will raise the price a bit- but not an astronomical amount- and you can move between the two with ease. I also just found it easier to learn many Adobe programs together, since they share a similar look and feel.

I happen to use an iPad Pro for a lot of my designs. Using the pencil, I can create files of everything in one place and easily send them anywhere needed. For any real detail or control, you will have to look into some kind of tablet that can be linked to your computer and that you can draw on. Or you can always work with pencil and paper. Not much game art is finalized this way, but you could always use that as an advantage.

If you are looking into a tablet, I have a couple good options below.

Top Tablets 2017

If you want to get even craftier, there is an app called Astropad. It can link your computer screen to your iPad or drawing tablet so that anything you draw on there will be seen in real time on your computer monitor and can be saved directly on your computer. There are many other options for the iPad and I'm sure Android tablets, if you go that route.

None of these options are free, but can be obtained for free for a period of time, and are not terribly expensive after that. It can still add up quickly though, so of course there are a few free options that can be used.

The main programs I know of are Serif DrawPlus (Windows users), Paint (anyone), and SVG-Edit (anyone). These are all more basic programs, but if you are just starting out they will get your feet wet all the same.

Now you can create most ofy our 2D designs if you feel up to it, and we can move on from there.

The big things in board games right now are miniatures and adding 3D designs. My vote goes to Blender all the way. Unless you are an expert already or have some background in 3D design there is no better starting tool than Blender.

It is completely free and there are tutorials built into their site for you to work with, and thousands more online. I have worked with Blender a few times, but have never added any of it into the Scorched Kingdoms game. I plan to in future, once I get a better handle on everything, but it is more of a hobby for now.

Of course there are so many programs you could use that might go into greater detail or have more options, but I have not found anything else I liked as much without it costing quite a bit more.

Just to show how many options are out there here is a great list below. It really comes down to preference of style and how you learn best.

3D Design Programs

That about covers the programs I used while learning how to create the game. Even if you can’t become the Picasso of games, they are all great to look at and try out as you figure out what you want to design.

You are crazy if you are going to take the time to master every step and program I have listed, unless you have a team of 25. I have worked to get a basic understanding of each one as I go, mainly focusing on Photoshop to put all the final touches on things. At some point you are going to have to look for outside help for when you just can’t figure out how to pull something together or even how to start.

In these cases- and there will be many- I have a few sites that can help with any step of the process. The big three for me are UpWork, Freelancer, and Fiverr.

UpWork in my opinion is the best overall. You can find people to help for any length of time on large or small projects. You post the job you need done and people read the info and come to you with their proposal. It's that easy. Just put in a timeframe, price range, and description of the job on the site and you will have hits in minutes. After that, you talk to as many as you want ahead of time and figure out who feels like the best fit.

I have been working with a couple of the same people on this site for a year throughout my different business ventures. Here is the site below.

UpWork Site

Fiverr is very similar overall. You go through the same process as UpWork to find people and post jobs. The biggest difference is quality and price of work. I would say look to this site for your smaller jobs, or things you can’t put much money towards. It's called Fiverr because most of the basic jobs start at $5 and you can add on specifics from there. I used this for little logo designs or side pieces I needed to have designs made for, that I could hire 4 or 5 different people for very little to show different perspectives.

Fiverr Site

Freelancer is the middle child of the two. I didn’t like it as much when it came to big or small jobs. I mainly went back and forth between the first two, but know many people who really like Freelancer as well. Once again, it works the same way as the others above, but I found that I could not get the quality of UpWork or the quantity of Fiverr when it really came down to it.

Freelancer Site

I'm sure there are many other sites out there to use. I can say from experience that the people on these sites are great for the most part, and very rarely was I unimpressed by each person’s commitment and ability to work with me on every project.

Well, there you have it. These should at least give you a good start to creating the game of your dreams. If I forgot anything or if you have questions about how I used a program, feel free to email me at I am always happy to answer your questions.

I can also link you to great tutorials I used with each program, while I was learning all the basics. There are more programs and sites I have used along the way, but to stop this from being a book I am going to split those up in different topics.

Later I will talk about creating videos and pages for Kickstarter, and also go over marketing for the game. Step by step we will make it to the end. I hope you guys keep working and following along with me, I would love to see what everyone creates.

I’ll talk to you guys later!

As always, don’t forget to check out my social media to see all the designs coming from the programs and sites I talked about above, and of course SUBSCRIBE below!

Written by
Joe Rozier
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