August 23, 2016

Marketplace Spotlight: Jonathon Frederick

By Daniel Kayser

The Unreal Engine Marketplace is booming with over 1,500 items currently available through hundreds of vendors - many of whom are finding consistent success amongst the UE developer community. One such instance of this relationship in action is Jonathon Frederick, who has been single-handedly supplying assets to the Marketplace for nearly two years now.

As the Unreal Engine Marketplace Summer Sale is in full swing and as the opportunities for both developers and vendors continue to expand, it seemed like a good time for me to catch up with Jonathan to discover more about his content, how he got started and what he recommends to content creators looking to be successful within the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

How long have you been creating assets for the Unreal Engine Marketplace and how did you get your start?
JF: I started creating assets for the UE4 Marketplace around September 2014. I was inspired by the launch of the Marketplace and was overcome with desire to be a provider of high quality environment assets. My favorite genre in gaming is Sci-Fi, so it seemed like a natural fit for my first collection.
From environments to props and materials, you create great custom content for developers to utilize in their projects. What is the most rewarding aspect of delivering these assets to developers?
JF: The most rewarding aspect for me is probably being able to provide high-end content at an affordable price. Any indie developer can use these assets and have visuals on par with today’s games. That to me is very amazing, and I enjoy whenever I get a chance to see how developers incorporate the assets into their projects.

While providing the core assets is extremely helpful for developers, allowing customization is essential to ensure that each project is unique. What customization options exist within the content you offer and how can different elements be combined?
JF: There are many different options, both materially and physically. I like to provide extensive material customization, so each piece has up to 4 individually masked areas where you can tweak color and PBR values. In my latest Materials & Decals pack I’ve experimented with modifiable wear and tear, allowing developers to tweak their assets to be clean or worn and scratched. In terms of physical modularity, aside from the typical floor/wall/ceiling pieces and their accessories which can be used to create extensive environments, I like to provide swappable pieces. These help to break up repetition and also give a unique look to certain areas. These are assets I typically like to add in my free updates from time to time. Working on my latest pack which is a bit more restricted in terms of layout due to its nature, these pieces help in providing customization.

What do you think helps differentiate your content from everything else inside the UE Marketplace?
JF: I’m building a vast collection of assets that can be used together in order to give developers a large resource pool from which to draw, which encourages the collection of my content. Think of it like in the Unreal Tournament games, how there would be large asset resources based on different factions like Necris, Liandri, etc. That’s what I’m doing with my sci-fi series, gradually building up to a large library of interconnected assets. This is one of the major things I do to set my assets apart from others and one of the reasons why I am so happy to be continually creating.


How do you go about determining the best type of content to create? Do you have a method of determining needs from the development community or do you produce product based on what you think the community might like?
JF: It’s a combination of what I feel like exploring creatively, user polls and reading feedback. I generally have a few packs planned ahead, and I ask people to let me know which they would like me to prioritize. Command Center, which I have in development now, received the most votes in my recent inquiry. Feedback is very important in determining the direction of the series, and where I go next.
You offer post-release support of your assets. Can you explain what developers can expect in regards to ongoing support?
JF: Post-release support is important to me, because I never want people to feel like they bought something and then that’s it. Compatibility updates are always rolling out, and I like to do expansion updates when I have the time. I don’t guarantee them, but you can probably expect them in one form or another. I enjoy doing it, mostly because it is a way to get a handful of new cool assets directly to the consumer without having to make an entire new pack. It’s also a way to say thanks for the ongoing support. I started the practice with my first pack upon seeing my first sales report, and resolved that I would continue to do expansions whenever the opportunity arises. My latest expansion was for the Interiors pack a couple months ago, which added 12 new assets.

Your Modular Sci-Fi series of content has focused on interiors thus far. Will you be delivering exterior assets as well?
JF: Absolutely. It’s a question I get all the time, and I definitely have plans for it. My goal is to deliver a vast library of sci-fi assets, and exterior environments are a big part of that. Other things I’m looking to explore are characters and vehicles. Being a one-man team it takes time to develop content, but I am heading there.
Part of your success is determined by your ability to generate awareness for the assets you offer. Do you develop your own website and create the media, such as high-res images and YouTube promo videos, or do you outsource that instead?
JF: I developed/maintain my own website and social media accounts, and create the promotional images. The YouTube videos are shot by me, and are put together by a friend of mine. Aside from the help I receive on the promo videos, I handle everything.
Customer interaction is also key to being a successful seller within the Marketplace. How important is it for you to respond to customer requests?
JF: Very important. Interacting with customers is one of my favorite things about this line of work. I treat my customers the same way I’d like to be treated. I am very approachable and usually respond the day I receive a message. A happy customer is a loyal customer, but above all I want my customers to be happy.

Your next pack is the Modular Sci-Fi Command Center. What can you tell us about this content and when can developers expect it to be released?
JF: Command Center is a new architectural pack focusing on the props and architectural designs you’d normally see in a something like a CIC. So far it’s shaping up to be the largest pack I’ve done yet. It will continue the trend of modular, interconnected content the series is known for. I’m hoping to release it sometime this fall. Keep an eye on my website and Twitter for the announcement.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to deliver assets within the Unreal Engine Marketplace?

JF: Continue to push the quality bar. One of the things I love about competition in the Marketplace is that it forces us sellers to strive for higher and higher quality content, which ultimately does a great service to the buyer. I would also reiterate the importance of treating your customers right. These are the people who support your work. Any time they come to you with questions, feedback or concerns treat them how you would like to be treated.

Thanks for your time, Jonathan! How can people connect with you to learn more about your work?

JF: Anyone interested in my content is invited to visit my website, ArtStation and YouTube channel. They can also connect with me on Twitter as well.