Here I have assembled and organized a bunch of useful tools that help with the game development process. All the tools I list here are indie-friendly; since being an independent game developer doesn’t exactly rake in the dough, I have come to rely on (and love) free and open source software found on the internet. The following tools are all either freeware, inexpensive shareware (but worth the money), or have special licenses available for independent developers.
Flixel is a free Flash Actionscript library created by Adam Saltsman which is distilled from a variety of Flash games that he has worked on over the last couple years. It’s primary function is to provide some useful base classes for creating 2D Flash games that developers can extend to make their own game objects.
Game Maker is a game creation tool for Windows. It’s an all-in-one package for game development, coming with a sprite editor, room editor, drag-and-drop object management, and also a script editor for those who want to try something a bit more fancy with it. My game development career started with Game Maker, which Skullpogo, Beacon, and Monster Pop were all created with.
Unity is another all-in-one game development tool, but is much more powerful than Game Maker and oriented towards 3D game development (although it can be used for 2D if desired). Unity has recently released a free version that can be used by independent developers, although for more advanced features the pro version will still have to be purchased.
Construct is another free, all-in-one game creator for Windows, and is designed for creating 2D games. It uses an event – based system for defining how the game behaves and provided a visual, non – scripting interface for defining this behaviour. It’s intuitive for beginners, but powerful enough for advanced users to work without hindrance.
For coding Flash games on Windows systems, FlashDevelop is definitely my recommended code editor. It has all the bells and whistles, regular updates and feature additions, and is specifically designed for working with ActionScript. I have even written my own getting started tutorial for those who want to get starting making Flash games with FlashDevelop.
Flash Builder is a cross-platform ActionScript code editor provided by Adobe for working with Flex applications. It has more powerful functionality than FlashDevelop, and is also available for Mac, but is unfortunately not freeware. Still a recommended code editor for those seriously into ActionScript game development.
Ogmo Editor is a free cross-platform 2D visual level editor for independent developers. Creating levels in games is much easier with a visual editor, and Ogmo Editor is an editor designed to be used for many different kinds of game projects. The editor works with XML, which ActionScript has a good set of classes for working with, and the website has several tutorials to walk you through getting started.
GraphicsGale is a shareware program designed for working with sprites and pixel art. While generally considered difficult to get into, those who know how to use it recommend it as the fastest and most useful tool for spriting. .
Paint.NET is a free graphic editing program for Windows, and is basically a more powerful version of paint with layering, more graphics and selection tools, and even a useful animation plugin that can be downloaded. Great intermediary program for people who cannot afford Photoshop; even if it doesn’t compare in power, it’s useful for quick graphic jobs and even pixelling.
GIMP, short for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a freeware photo manipulating and image composing graphic program. GIMP is expandable and extensible, and designed to be augmented with plug – ins and extensions to do just about anything. Useful for people who cannot afford Photoshop and want a powerful substitute while working with graphics.
SFXR is a tool created by Tomas Pettersson (aka. DrPetter) to provide a simple means of getting basic sound effectsinto a game. It was originally created for the 10th Ludum Dare competition, in which developers have to create their games in 48 hours; many of the entries did not have sound effects, so SFXR was naturally a success, and its use quickly became widespread to independent game developers everywhere. Just about all my games to date have used SFXR for sounds to some degree!
Audacity is a free, open source, and cross-platform audio recording and playback program. A great tool for quick audio adjustments, and fiddling with sounds to get them suited up for your game. It can work with several different audio types and has a few useful plugins available providing extra features. Not a master tool by any means, and prone to crashing, but great for quick audio jobs.