Hey everyone! I thought I’d make a short post about my go-to game development tools. These are things I use by default, and things I turn to during game jams, when time is limited and I need to know my tools like the back of my hand. Sometimes I’ll branch out and use other things, but these are tools I use with consistency.
I like using Construct because it allows me to execute game ideas without having to worry myself with coding and syntax. I can code, and occasionally still do, however I just find it frustrating and prefer not to. Construct 2 is a 2D HTML5 engine, which means I can create nearly any 2D game I can think of and export it so that it runs native in a web browser. I can also wrap the game into an executable using NW.js to create a downloadable game. Limitations come from it being a 2D engine – I can’t create anything 3D using this, so I tend to mainly design 2D games.
I use Graphics Gale and Photoshop for art
Graphics Gale is a Japanese pixel animation program that I’ve been using for at least six years. It has a strange, and potentially steep, learning curve and looks relatively outdated, but it has every feature I could think of needing and more, and I enjoy the ability to arrange windows in a way that allows me to have any reference images I need next to the main animation window (I currently only have one monitor). Photoshop is pretty self-explanatory. I use it for some pixel art, but never pixel animating – Photoshop’s animation feature is awful. Any other art that isn’t pixel art also gets done in Photoshop.
I use SFXR for sound effects
SFXR (and its browser-based counterpart BFXR) are free-to-use chiptune-based sound effect editors. They’re pretty straightforward – they have buttons on the side for categories such as “powerup” “jump” “hit” and other common game sounds, and sliders to change specific attributes of the soundwave. Generally I end up hitting “random” until I get something close to what I want, and then fine-tuning the sound using sliders. I was recently introduced to another browser-based sound editor called Chiptone, and I may migrate to that instead – it’s much more visual and user-friendly. I haven’t had a need for creating sound since discovering Chiptone, but next time I have a need for some sound effects I’ll probably use that instead of SFXR.
Of all the things I’m a “jack of all trades” of, music is absolutely not included. I have zero concept of composition, and even the “easy” programs like Terry Cavanagh’s Bosca Ceoil seem monumentally difficult to me and nothing I make sounds good. So my solution is to use a procedural music generation tool. I’ve tried a few, such as CG Music, but the best one I’ve found so far is Abundant Music. It’s algorithms are designed in a more classical way, so for the most part it tends to generate things that sound like “generic RPG” music, but with some tweaking, you’re able to generate some more interesting melodies. It exports to MIDI, which I then take to the next step: I’ll import the MIDI file into one of two programs depending on the style of music I want to produce.
For chiptune music, I’ll open the MIDI with a Japanese program called GXSCC Midi to Chiptune. There are very few options to play around with in this program, so for the most part what you hear is what you get, but it’s easy to use (despite being Japanese and poorly translated) and produces results very quickly.
If I want to make music with real-sounding instruments, I’ll use a sequencer called LMMS. I don’t compose using this program (though occasionally I’ll cut or copy-paste bits of the MIDI I import) but I use this program to assign instruments to the song I made in Abundant Music, and add effects (like a bit of reverb to make the song sound more “real”). I know I don’t use the program to its full potential, and to be honest, I have no desire to learn how, but it does what I want and for now that’s all I need.
So those are the programs I turn to most often. I’d love to hear what your favorite tools are too!
Also remember that if you enjoy my work, I would love some support for my Patreon.