10 Essential Tools for Making an Indie Game

• 4 min read • 50 votes

This post was last updated Dec 29, 2015 and may be out of date

When I started working on my first game Platform Pixels about a year ago, I had no idea how much work it would be. Since starting the project I have learnt how to make a game, create music, design graphics, edit video, and a bunch of other useful stuff!

As I prepare for the initial launch, I though it would be cool to put together a list of the tools I found most useful throughout the development process. This list contains 10 essential tools but I also through in some not-so-essential mentions at the bottom.

1. libGDX – Game Framework

libGDX is a cross-platform game framework that uses Java as a base language. Essentially, you write an Android game in Java and libGDX transpiles it so that it runs on iOS, HTML5, Desktop, and even Blackberry. This is the reason that I can have Android, iOS, and Desktop versions in beta at the same time (and I’m only one person!).

2. IntelliJ – Code Editor

IntelliJ is by far my favourite code editor. It is fast, lightweight, powerful, and has even prevented bugs from creeping in.

IntelliJ Project

3. Affinity Designer – Graphic Design

Affinity Designer is actually one of the reasons I switched Linux to Mac OSX. It is a great vector/bitmap program that makes it really easy to design app icons, promotional materials, and more. I even use it as a level editor.

Affinity Designer Project

4. Garage Band – Music Creator

Garage Band is an Apple product that helps me pretend that I know how to make music. I get the impression that it’s fairly basic if you are an audio guru, but for a newb like me it’s awesome! All the music you’ll hear in the game is created by me in Garage Band.

Garage Band Project

5. Microwave Express – Basic Audio Editor

Microwave Express is a very basic audio editing tool that I used to trim sound effects and balance audio levels.

Microwave Express Project

6. Screenflick – Screen Recorder

Screenflick is a screen recording tool that can do it all. It can record retina resolution screencasts and has support for awesome stuff like highlighting the mouse cursor, showing keystrokes, and overlaying a webcam feed on top of the recording. It can also export to almost any format you can name, including animated gif!

Screenflick Recording

7. iConvert Icons – App Icon Generator

iConvert Icons is a simple tool that generates app icons for multiple platforms from a single image. Platforms like iOS and Android require icons to be in 5-10 different sizes, so this can save a lot of time.

iConvert Icons App

8. iMovie – Movie Creator

iMovie is yet another Apple product that I used. I haven’t produced anything public-facing with it yet, but I’ve started working on a simple game trailer which it seems to do fairly well at.

iMovie Project

9. GameAnalytics – Free Analytics Tool

GameAnalytics is similar to Google Analytics except better for games. It can be easily integrated with multiple platforms and best of all, it’s free!

GameAnalytics App

10. Buffer – Social Media Management

Buffer is a tool to help you be better at social media. I have been using it to post to both Google+ and Twitter throughout the day.

Buffer App

Honorable Mentions

The tool above were the necessary for building Platform Pixels, but there are a few more that I want to mention that have helped along the way.

  • Surge – Static website publishing
  • Trello – Task management and organization
  • 99designs – Graphic Design Service
  • Keka – File archiving/unarchiving
  • packr – Package JARs as desktop apps
  • iTerm 2 – Mac terminal replacement
  • Capitalize My Title – Title capitalizer
  • Pen and Paper – For note taking

Wrap Up

The tools I have mentioned above are the tools that I currently prefer. Almost all of them have competitive alternatives that would also work, but these are the ones I prefer.

What tools do you use to build games? I’d be curious to see if some of my recommendations have better alternatives. If you have any suggestions feel free to reach out. If not, thanks for reading!

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