As we work daily to publish instructional game development material for Tuts+, we come across high quality tools and services. Here are the top resources we recommend for you, the gamedev professional, all assembled with care by our editorial staff.
Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. This simply means we'll earn a small commission if you purchase that particular tool or service. If you do, we thank you for supporting Tuts+.
Core Gamedev Applications
New game engines appear every day. With the many platforms and languages available to gamedevs, it is no wonder that hundreds of engines in a dozen languages exist. This list can only scratch the surface of what's available, but points to some of the more popular game engines that get mentioned the most.
Unity is the current king of game engines. It’s far more popular among students and indies than all other game development tools. Unity has a vast community, great support, and a stellar reputation for attracting developers. Learn more over at Unity3D.com.
GameMaker is designed to allow non-programmers and first-timers the ability to create cross-platform games. It’s one of the most popular 2D game creation tools, loaded with all you need to deal with fonts, sound, images and music, as well as other resources needed to create a game. Learn more over at Amazon.
A powerful Windows based HTML5 game creator designed specifically for 2D games. Bring your work to life in hours and days instead of weeks and months. It allows anyone to build games with no coding required. Learn more over at Scirra.com.
A popular game creation toolkit that, like GameMaker and Construct 2, doesn’t require programming skill. It features a drag-and-drop editor and can target iOS, Android, Flash, HTML5, Windows and Mac. Learn more over at Stencyl.com.
Arguably the most cutting-edge game engine on the market, this underdog competitor to Unreal can be used to push 3D graphics to the next level. It’s free when used for non-commercial game development. Learn more over at MyCryENGINE.com.
Now open source, the Torque engine is an aging 3D game engine ideal for creating the next Doom or Halo. Not as modern as UDK or CryENGINE, but the price is right. Learn more over at GarageGames.com.
The top choice of AAA console game studios, the Unreal Engine is now gaining popularity among indies as well. Unreal is typically responsible for defining what “next gen” graphics look like. Learn more over at UnrealEngine.com.
Gamedev Editors and IDEs
Every coder has a preferred work environment, and most vehemently argue that theirs is the best. When you're programming, you want an editor or IDE that can handle syntax highlighting, automatic code completion, debug breakpoints, watches and stepping through code, error detection and quick searches. Try a few editors and decide for yourself.
No matter what your weapon of choice, the key is to become so comfortable with your tools that ideally you no longer think about them; they just get out of your way and let you create.
Slick, fast, and well supported by the community, this is a text editor that does almost everything a proper IDE can do. Its feature set is robust, with split editing, the ability to go to anything, and distraction-free mode. Learn more over at the Sublime Text homepage.
An amazing open source text editor that supports lots of programming languages with highlighting, automatic formatting, and plugins for everything from debugging to linting. Learn more over at the Notepad++ homepage.
A straight to the point code editor that’s fast and polished. For Haxe and AS3 development, this open source IDE is far better than Adobe’s built-in code editor. Learn more over at FlashDevelop.org.
Gamedev Art Tools
Making games is half science and half art. Most games require at least half of the development time to be spent on design, such as the layout, GUI, the in-game graphics, and effects. From shaders to meshes, from sprite sheets to background music, from taking screenshots to recording video, a gamedev must wear many hats.
Free 3D modeling, plain and simple. There is an active community behind this one-hundred percent open software. Learn more over at Blender.org.
TexturePacker allows you to quickly optimize your game graphics as the best sprite sheet generation tool on the market. Amazingly useful and efficient for sprite sheets, atlasas, and whatnot. Learn more over at Code'n'Web.
Audacity is a free, open source, cross-platform software tool, great for recording and editing sounds. Learn more over at Sourceforge.net.
Great tool for bump, specular, normal maps and tons more. It's really humorous software too. Their slogan is "Indistinguishable from magic". Learn more over at Crazy Bump.
Color Oracle is a free color blindness simulator for Windows, Mac and Linux. It helps you design UIs that work for everyone. Learn more over at Color Oracle.
Open source image editor for graphics. GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. Learn more over at GIMP's website.
Free, open source live streaming and video capture software. Learn more over at OBSproject.com.
Spriter is an intuitive 2D animation tool for video game makers. This animation editor exports as frames or SCML format. Learn more over at BrashMonkey.com.
Free online tool to produce 8-bit sounds that you can export to WAV, then either slap into your game as is, or rework in other software like Audacity. Learn more over at Bfxr.
Ogmo Editor is a generic level editor for indie game developers who use Windows. The editor is built to be reconfigurable, so you can set it up to work well for your game project. It's an open source, tile-based level editor. Learn more over at Ogmo Editor's website, and check out our introductory tutorial.
Glyph Designer is a bitmap fonts editor for Macs. You can use it to design fonts for almost any framework. Learn more over at 71 Squared.
ShoeBox is a free Adobe AIR-based app for use in Windows and Mac OS X. It's packed with game and user interface tools for working with game graphics, and lots of useful small features, like a tile extractor. Learn more over at ShoeBox.
Camtasia Studio gives you the tools you need to truly customize and edit your videos. Easily record your entire screen, import media, and create videos with professional polish on your PC. Learn more over at Amazon.
Gamedev Project Management
Even small games are big projects. Combating feature creep is a constant battle for all gamedevs, and whether you use a detailed design document, a simple todo list, or a complete team-sharing version control system, the infrastructure and methodology with which your control the lifecycle of your project can make or break it.
Puush allows you to easily and quickly grab a screenshot of anything on your screen and copies the link to your clipboard. While not directly a game development tool, it is super useful for communication with teammates online. Learn more over at Puush.
Open source FTP client. Learn more over at FileZilla.
Online file hosting service. Useful for backups and file sharing among friends and fellow developers. Learn more over at Dropbox.
KeePass is a free, open source, light-weight and easy-to-use password manager. Learn more over at KeePass.
Trello is a great app for project planning and task management. You can use it to organize your game development projects, or anything really. Meet deadlines and collaborate with this intuitive todo list app. Learn more over at Trello.
The version control software Git has a solid command line interface, but that's not for everyone. TortoiseGit supports you by providing a GUI interface for regular tasks, such as committing, showing logs, creating branches and tags, creating patches and more. Learn more over at TortoiseGit.