Developing games is a tough process. From solo and indie to big-league developers, the tools and practices of making great games can vary. Larger studios can afford the expensive tools that are a hallmark of the AAA game world. In contrast, indie studios and solo developers often have to lean on their wits to discover more open source tools.
With this in mind, we have put together a top-five list, showcasing some of our favorite sites and tools for game developers and designers. Whatever level you’re at, there is always space to consider new practices and adopt them if they work.
Here are some of the best and most useful tools for anyone making a game, how they can help you, and where you can find them.
Machinations is a great tool for ridding your game of guesswork. There’s no greater feeling than running your game with no breaks, issues, or bugs, and Machinations can help you achieve that goal. Laying down game mechanics in a visual and often expansive format helps you completely map your game from the cradle to the grave.
It means developers can visually see their game and track and monitor how a player would progress. Machinations help you to communicate your exact vision for your game and work collaboratively with your team.
Machinations has a variety of subscription offers, including a free one, found on its website.
Ludo is your first port of call when you start to think about making a game or making an existing game even better. It works by typing in a few ideas and then having fun experimenting in Ludo’s AI sandbox before you even think about a line of code.
Ludo uses specialist AI that helps you craft ideas, develop game mechanics, and understand the current gaming marketplace. It is helpful for designers, developers, and those who want to stay in the loop about all things gaming; Ludo is a tool that provokes the best out of all.
Ludo is now available for a free 14-day trial, which is found on its website.
3. Sentient Sketchbook
Sentient Sketchbook may be an older tool, but it provides great inspiration for map creation. Real-time feedback on playability and balance and an intuitive interface allow for maps to be drafted, which can help to influence future designs.
This tool helps the level designer by automatically testing maps for playability constraints, calculating and displaying navigable paths, evaluating the map on gameplay properties, and adding details to the coarse map sketch. Not only that, but Sentient Sketchbook also suggests alternative map designs, helping to inspire developers.
Sentient Sketchbook is open source and can be downloaded now or used online via a JSON data structure input.
Twine is an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. It allows users to create detailed interactive stories that don’t follow linear paths. It means developers can either make a whole word-based game within the platform or be used as a mapping tool for dialogue and decision-making.
Created in 2009, Twine is now maintained by a handful of people at several different repositories. It publishes directly to HTML, so you can post your work nearly anywhere. Anything you create with it is completely free to use, including for commercial purposes, any way you like.
Twine is free to use and can be downloaded now or used online.
Put simply, Newgrounds is a platform for digital creators. The site provides an awesome platform to publish work and get community feedback with options such as movies, games, audio, and art.
For this article, in particular, the audio tab is brilliant. As Newgrounds is a place of collaboration and sharing, users often upload their work for public use. Of course, check with the creators beforehand. Still, with such a creative, innovative community, Newgrounds is the perfect place to open the discussion for your game, whether audio or beyond.
Newgrounds is free but is accepting supporter funds to become 100% ad-free and is available now.
These tools were specially collated and are either free, have a free trial, or are open source. From game ideas and research to mapping and narrative, they should help you create your next game. Happy developing!