Hi, Ludum Dare #36 is starting in less than 24 hours! I already wrote a post with some tips to succeed in this game jam, but I thought it would be cool to share which tools I'm using for Ludum Dare –and other game jams.
I will also indicate which tools are free. For the ones that are free with a basic license, but then have other pricing plans, I will mark them as
free* (with an asterisk).
I'm putting in "engines" categories everything related to the engine, framework, libraries, or game making tool you will be using to create your game. Before listing any of them, let's clarify something:
There is no shame in using a visual game making tool.
Game making tools allow you to create games without you having prior coding experience, and are a great way to get introduced to game development.
You would be surprised at the amount of games that have been created using tools that some look down to. To the Moon was made with RPG Maker. The first version of Spelunky was made with Game Maker. The same goes for programming languages, some very popular games have not been created with C++ or C#: Minecraft was coded in Java, for instance.
You are not less worthy as a game developer if you don't use C++ or Unity. Tools are tools, and in the end what matters is what you create.
That said, I recommend that for a game jam you pick something that allows you to export / create an HTML 5 game. Why? Because is the medium where you will get more people to play your game! No downloads, no installation, no unzipping a file or running an installer… And when you create a game for a jam, it is a good thing to get as many people as possible to play your game!
What I'm using:
- My generator-gamejam (free) to create a blank template for the project and set up automation tasks with Gulp: auto-reload the browser when the code changes, handle modules, deploying to a server, etc.
Other engines/tools that can export HTML 5 games:
- Pico-8: a very fun game engine, I already wrote about it some time ago.
- Unity (free*): an extremely popular 3D game engine.
- RPG Maker MV: a game making tool to create 2D Japanese-style RPG's.
- Game Maker Studio: a generic 2D game making tool.
- Twine (free): a game making tool to create interactive novels.
I'm not super fancy in this aspect, but here's my list:
- Github (free*) with git for version control and code backup.
- Atom (free) with vim key bindings as text editor.
- Firefox Developer Edition (free) to debug the game, test performance, etc.
- Gulp (free) to automate tasks, creating builds, etc.
One thing to take into account is that fancy tools won't make you draw better. A digital tablet can't draw for you. A pixel art editor can't do pixel art for you.
In the same way that a state-of-the-art text editor won't make you a better programmer –it will make you a more productive programmer.
That said, here is what I'm using:
- An (old) Wacom Intuos digital tablet. It is the smallest size, but it is enough for what I do (all of this means: a tablet is fantastic, but you don't need to spend loads of money in one to get started on art).
- Pixelmator, which is an affordable image editor for Mac. I even used to do pixel art on it, but I've moved onto specific software.
- A pixel art editor. I've used Asesprite for a jam before, but I don't feel comfortable with the UI. This time I'll be trying Pyxel Edit and see how it goes.
Audio is my weakest point, and I'm trying to improve my skills, so take my list here with a grain of salt. These tools work for a complete novice like me.
- bxfr (free): a retro sound effect generator. Useful to create sounds for lasers, power-up's, etc.
- Audiotool (free): an online DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). You can compose music here, but it might be daunting to use for the first time. Do check the tutorial videos available at their website.
- Audacity (free): an audio editor, useful to alter sounds, normalize volumes, clip them, etc.
Other tools and apps that don't fit in the previous categories:
- Pomodoro One (free*): a pomodoro timer I use. It helps me a lot in being productive and getting enough rest.
- Twitter (free): to post my WIP animated GIF's and get encouragement from people!
- GIF Brewery to capture animated GIF's of my screen, to show work in progress.
- A notebook, to draw sketches, mind maps, and to track my TODO lists during development.