I’ve picked out my top 20 favorite game development tools and resources I’ve used over the past few years. Enjoy!
Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
Microsoft Visual Studio
Visual Studio is my personal favorite C++ IDE. I use Visual C++ 2010 Express, which is a free version. I haven’t tried out the 2013 versions yet, but I like how Visual C++ is targeted directly towards the language.
When I’m working on my MacBook, I’ll use XCode for Objective-C (specifically iPhone) and C++ programming. XCode is actually my favorite IDE overall. It’s a beauty!
Eclipse is what I go with for Java development. It has different versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
When you set out to make a Java game, I recommend pairing up with LibGDX. This library lets you create one main game program that you can deploy on iOS, Android, Desktops, and the Web. It’s amazing, really. I wouldn’t rely upon the cross-platform capabilities too heavily, but the library itself is great, too. There’s built in physics and graphics engines! Yay!
I’ve created many games using SDL, and it will forever remain a classic by my standards. I’ve always used SDL to create Windows desktop games with C++. However, SDL 2.0 lets you develop for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows! Be careful though, because Objective-C is still the best language for iOS development. Regardless, C++ and SDL pack a powerful punch.
SFML has gained some ground on SDL for being one of the best C++ libraries. It tends to be a little easier to learn than SDL. Also, SFML is currently working on versions for iOS and Android development.
OpenGL is one of the most powerful graphics libraries you can get your hands on. It’s main build is used for C or C++, but it also exists in various forms for other programming languages. OpenGL ES is used for iOS development (and on other mobile devices). I released an iPhone game to the App Store using OpenGL ES, and I was fairly happy with the results. It’s time consuming to use this library, but I consider the experience worth the extra effort.
The iPhone has a ridiculous amount of game libraries and engines available, but I think that Cocos2D is at the head of the pack. Some of the top games you see in the App Store are made with Cocos2D. The nice thing about it is that you have full access to the source code, compared to some engines that are fairly restrictive.
Unity is one of the best all-around game engines there is. You can make 2D or 3D games and deploy them to tons of platforms. Unity has more of a software-feel rather than a coding environment. Unity goes down well with people who don’t like to code as much, due to the fact that you only have use scripting languages. There are free and pro versions of Unity.
Graphics and Visuals
Gimp is a free graphics creation and photo editing program. I’ve used Gimp for as long as I can remember – it’s by far the best graphics software you’ll find online for free.
We’ve all heard of Photoshop, and it’s a beast of a product, so I couldn’t just NOT mention it! Photoshop is the industry standard for graphic design and all other photo editing. The subscription is $20 per month, which is $240 per year. A hit to the wallet, but most definitely worth it to anyone who works with a lot of graphics.
Adobe Premiere Elements
Premiere Elements is actually video editing software. Why did I include this on a game development website? Most effective marketing campaigns for games include a trailer, and Premiere Elements does the job well. It’s also significantly cheaper than Premiere Pro.
In order to record in-game footage, you’ll need a screen recorder program. Camtasia records extremely high quality footage directly from your screen. It also has video editing capabilities, so if you buy Camtasia you might not even need another video editor. There are different versions for Mac and Windows with different prices, so be sure to check that out.
CamStudio is a free alternative to Camtasia. The quality isn’t quite as good as Camtasia’s, and there isn’t a built in video editor. But for a free program, I love it!
SFXR is a nice little tool used to create basic sound effects.
If you need to edit any sort of audio file, get Audacity. It will almost always do what you need it to do. Plus, it’s free!
Blue Yeti Microphone
This is the mic I use, the Blue Yeti. I’m in love with it’s quality.
Looking for an artist? Looking for a programmer? Looking for a graphic designer? Stop by oDesk. You’ll find a nice community of freelancers who will produce very high quality content for you.
An alternative to hiring freelancers is to buy stock graphics, sound, code, etc. Envato has multiple different stores you can browse for all of these. They have AudioJungle for (you guessed it) sound, GraphicRiver for icons, and a few others!