Monday, 14 December 2015

Tools of the Trade

Hello everyone,

Today I chose to compile a small list of tools that I make use of that may or may not be useful for beginning game developers. The tools are split depending on their function - and needless to say there are very likely alternative programs that you could use in place of these; but I will be listing the ones I've been using primarily myself - as well as ones I'm looking to use and try out down the line.

Software: Pyxel Edit

As many of you who read my blog likely know - Pyxel Edit has been my software of choice when it comes to pixel art. It's tiling features coupled with it's easy shading and lighting preview with the colour pallet has made it much easier and convenient to learn and use as I went on.

Software: Graphics Gale

Graphics Gale was the first pixel art software I actually used - it is definitely worth checking out and I found that got the job done and is fairly easy to get to animating with. The software is more or less free - with the optional purchase to allow you to export to certain formats.

Software: Inkscape

Inkscape is a software I have not tried yet - I have downloaded and install it but I've yet to give it a try. I have seen some videos online of what it is capable of and I am excited to starting practicing with this software at a later date. If your not into pixel art itself - then Inkscape may be a very good alternative for 2D sprites. It is an open source software so there's no reason not to give it a test run if your interested!

Software: Qubicle

Qubicle is a software I have very excited to try out hopefully in the near future. It is a 3D editor that works via voxels. Think little squares that make up a model - 3D pixels if you will. Stonehearth is a game that uses this style and seeing the various models and what has been made using this software gets me excited to give use it for my own projects.

Software: Blender

Blender is a software I used a while ago - it is used to make 3D models and if that's what your looking for then it's hard to go wrong with Blender as it's free and open sourced. It fairly powerful - however it is a bit daunting to get into until you put some practice into it. There are a lot of online tutorials to learn from so don't worry about lacking training resources.

Software: 3dsMax and Maya

These are both 3D modelling software - they do have a student's version to use and practice with but for commercial uses you need to purchase the license which isn't cheap. I have more experience with Maya where the user interface felt more user friendly than 3dsMax and Blender - however with practice you can get the hang of both. Both are powerful software - from what I found out many use Maya for movie-based development where as 3dsMax is used more towards game development - however you can always use either or for both as far as I'm aware.

Software: BFXR

BFXR is a really useful software if you want to create quick game sounds that are reminiscent of many old 2d games. It's a free software and comes with a browser app as well as a downloadable client - both of which work very well.

Software: Audacity

Audacity is a software that allows you to modify and change existing sounds by adding in effects or simply manipulating the sound itself. It is free and open sourced and if you need a sound editing software you can give this a try. It is powerful and fairly simple to use - especially since you can simply look up tutorials to get a hang of the software.

Software: LMMS 

LMMS is a software I have not used - however those of you who read my blog may remember Amik Lanfranco [Soundcloud Profile]. She made quite a lot of tracks using LMMS and she shows that the software is capable of a lot if you simply experiment and work with it.

Game Engine
Software: RPG Maker Series

The RPG Maker series is a series of game engines that create primarily 2D RPG style games with turn based combat. You are able to use the Ruby coding language and other coding languages within the newest RPG Maker MV engine to change things around. It is a good engine to try out - particularly if your not too keen on coding just yet.

Software: GameMaker

GameMaker is currently the engine I am practising with and making use of. It is a very good engine which I am still scratching the surface of. I would recommend checking out some games that were made using GameMaker such as Stealth Bastard.

Software: Unity

Unity is a game engine that is extremely powerful and offers a lot of versatility. It can be used for 2D and 3D games - however you will need to know how to code, unless you have someone working with you that already does. There are a lot of different elements to Unity that you can learn using the online resources of the engine itself as well as Youtube and so on.

There is a vast amount of software that I have not covered here. Finding the software that works for you is very important. Just like a carpenter needs their tools to create their own masterpieces and finish their projects - you will need your own tools as a game developer to create and finish your own projects and master pieces. Depending on whether you want to focus on a single area of game development - or want to get a piece of everything, you would obviously need to focus on certain software more so than others. A coder may need to understand more on how an engine works and what coding languages it accepts - where as an graphical artist may simply need to know the format and what the engine will accept and how the project will look like. Sound artists would be similiar - they simply need to know what is needed for the project and how to get the sound they need to make it work - so learning what the software you use is capable of is important.

Until next time,

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