5 Best Video Game Development Tools for Indie Game Devs
Mobile games are everywhere, and the industry is growing. Want to get in on the action? Take a look at these popular game creation tools.
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We’re in the golden age of indie games. Mobile gaming alone made $41 billion in 2016, and indie developers got a hearty piece of that pie. Digital distribution, an ever-expanding video game audience and the proliferation of powerful computers can be thanked for the indie game industry’s growth.
Without the help of affordable engines and frameworks, however, game devs would be unable to meet the growing demand. Fortunately, these software tools do exist, and they serve to start the careers of indie dev novices and experts alike.
Here are the 5 best video game development tools for indie game devs.
1. Unreal Engine
If you’re looking to create a game with AAA graphics without writing a single line of code, look no further. The Unreal Engine 4, while still plenty useful to C++ programmers, has allowed designers to dabble in game making with their ingenious Blueprint system. With Blueprints, no laborious coding is needed.
The Unreal Engine has powered mighty franchise games like Tekken 7 to indie gems like Abzu. Previously, the Unreal Engine was only available to game developers with serious cash to burn. Now, you can get your hands on a copy of Unreal Engine 4 for free, if you agree to a 5% royalty of whatever you earn.
One of the most popular game engines out there, Unity has been used to create the critically-acclaimed Gone Home, the strategy mobile game Deus Ex: Go, the immensely popular space flight simulator Kerbal Space Program, as well as countless others.
This beloved engine is free, but extra features come at a price. Luckily, it won’t break the bank. Unity offers a few affordable royalty-free subscription plans for burgeoning indie devs.
3. Godot Engine
The Godot Engine is open-source. It’s completely free to use for personal or commercial use. You own the game completely. You can even edit the engine directly if you so desire. No royalties, subscriptions or tributes necessary. You only have to have passable C++ programming skills and a concept for a video game to start. That’s all. You can create cross-platform 2D or 3D games right out of the gate.
The Godot Engine may be light on the wallet, but, thankfully, it’s never light on features. It offers a fully-integrated development environment similar to paid engines and adds new features regularly.
4. Gamemaker Studio
GameMaker Studio is the leading all-inclusive 2D game development environment available. Its drag-and-drop interface makes it possible to make a video game without any coding -- simply set your scene and actors with a few clicks. You also have the option of programming in its own scripting language, Game Maker Language.
GameMaker Studio is an especially good fit for mobile developers as it is strictly concerned with 2D game development. Popular iOS games such as Cook, Serve, Delicious, Simply Solitaire and Deadbolt were all made with GameMaker Studio.
The newest iteration, GameMaker Studio 2, boasts a host of features, such as animation support, a tileset editor, an improved workflow editor, and easy git integration. Access to every feature will cost you, however, around $800
Monogame is an open-source video game framework. It utilizes .NET to make its code manageable and reliable when it comes to cross-platform development. No need to worry about exporting your code to different machines and operating systems.
Since Monogame is a framework and not a full-blown engine, building a game upon it is not for the faint of heart. If you’re an adept C# programmer who prefers to program all the bells and whistles yourself, or you're looking to create your own game engine, this framework may be the best option for you.
3 million hours of gaming are logged each week in the US. A great many of these hours are devoted to indie games. If you’re interested in making your own video game, there are tremendous development tools waiting to be utilized, and an audience already waiting to play it.
Test out the tools mentioned above, familiarize yourself with them, and see what works for you and your team. With all the options available to you, you’ll find something that suits your needs in no time.
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