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Favorite Game Making Tools

A topic by flankstaek created 1 year ago Views: 4,868 Replies: 47
Viewing posts 1 to 35
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Thought it might be fun to have a thread where everyone could share their favorite tools for making games.

I'm gonna use this post to list all of the tools everyone's posted and try and organize them!






Version Control

Mobile (thanks thatguynm!)


I've always used Game Maker so I kind of have to put that, but I've also dabbled in RPG Maker and had a lot of fun with it.


I've been using Scirra Construct 2 extensively for the past 2 years (Steam clocks me at over 1,000 hours) and I love it. I've made all my games using that alone, though I've recently been doing some Unity tutorials so I can push into doing 3D stuff as well.

Eric Neuhaus (@donkeyspaceman)

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I'm using a 3D open-source game engine called BDX. It's a 3D Java-based engine built with LibGDX that interfaces and works with Blender as the editor. It's integrated really well, so there's no "Import / Export" process manually involved - BDX handles everything.

It's pretty fun and easy to use, and has a lot of cool stuff that I'd miss if I jumped elsewhere, like gamepad support, input maps (with gamepad support!), 3D physics, a component system, animated sprites, draw batching, 2D filters, filter downsampling, 3D shaders, and, obviously, integration with Blender. Even despite those nice additional features, the engine itself is rather small, as it's built on top of existing frameworks and programs (LibGDX, jBullet, I think, etc). This size makes it easier to understand the functions and features of the engine, and also makes it easier to work on it or add new features.

I've contributed quite a few commits to the engine to improve and patch it up, and it's improved a lot since I first started using it around a year ago. Actually, one of the games I published here on itch, Kyro, was made in BDX, which is cool.

Anyway, check it out!

EDIT: Oh, and Aseprite is a cool cross-platform open-source sprite editor; nice animation tools, in particular.

++ for Aseprite!

#TeamLibGDX \o/

Wow so many people using different engines! Luxe is very interesting - I haven't looked into it... but I have developed in Haxe and OpenFL.

Construct 2 and Game Maker are super awesome. I don't have much experience with these either. GameMaker I must say, super impressed with some of the games developed in it - Hyper Light Drifter... omg.

I develop mainly in Flash (now renamed to Adobe Animate). I've been making Flash Games since 2005, and have my first title on Steam this year - Armed with Wings Rearmed.

Rearmed is developed in Flash Pro 2015 targeting AIR Desktop. Flash is great to develop desktop games in, super quick, flexible and can be quite powerful .

I've also worked in Unity, pretty standard stuff. I much prefer developing in Flash over Unity, I just wish Adobe supported as many targets as Unity does.

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You actually make games in Flash the program? I haven't seen the UI or seen people make games in Flash itself for awhile; I think most people do it all by code and external tile editors these days... Haha, it brings back memories to think about Kirupa's Flash demos and tutorials. I remember having a Bubble Bobble 2 platforming demo that I checked out, but could never really replicate.

HAha yeah I generally make my AS3 games with Flash Pro + Flash Develop for coding. In the case of Rearmed, I'm coding everything within Flash Pro on the timeline - fully classic! Rocking it like it's 2005.

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I use GameMaker Studio and Photoshop mainly, but when doing more detailed 2D animation I use Plastic Animation Paper, which is great for pencil- or ink-style animation (bonus: it's free).

I also have this neat tool called Autostitch, for making panoramas out of photos. Not something I use for games often right now, but pretty handy if you ever need to do a skybox.


Here are most of the tools I use to develop my games:

  • Haxeflixel as my development framework (which includes other tools such as Lime and OpenFL).
  • FlashDevelop for my IDE.
  • Pyxel Edit for art and animation creation.
  • Reaper for music creation (with a bunch of free VSTs)
  • LabChirp for sfx creation.
  • git in combination with Bitbucket for my source control.
  • LICEcap for creating animated gifs to show off.
  • Paint.NET, gimp, and inkscape for image creation that isn't my in game art (banners, boxshots, etc.).

My toolkit is pretty much the same all these years:

  • LibGDX, IntelliJ IDEA for programming
  • Photoshop, Aseprite, PyxelEdit, MagicaVoxel, Wacom Bamboo for GFX
  • BFXR, REAPER w/ tons of VST for SFX
  • Tiled for levels (thought I used inkscape for level design once)
  • Bitbucket as VCS
  • LICEcap for GIFs
  • OBS for video recording and streaming

Im a total unity fanboy. Does everything I want, runs on everything and is fun to work with - I'll leave it at that.


Unreal Engine 4




Source Tree

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If we've got Visual Studio up, might as well throw in a vote for eclipse - https://eclipse.org/downloads/

As I do most of my work by hand, and my day job features it, it's what I use. Platform has drastically improved since they pushed the Luna re-release, now comes with an inbuilt dark theme that doesn't suck (mandatory for constant programming I find, especially at night) and Java as a whole is really pushing usability improvements since 8 was released.

(automatic generic classpath var, no more multiple conflicting Java versions, eclipse has an auto-installer / updater, all sorts of nice stuff. As someone who's used eclipse since Ganymede and Java since 1.5, these are actual real improvements I value)

Note: is an IDE for programming, is not a game engine. Use at your peril, Your Mileage Will Vary :P

There's been way more variety in here than I initially expected! To be honest I totally expected everyone to toss out Unity/Game Maker as their game engine, it's super cool to see the diversity in tools here :)


i use haxepunk for my engine (which, like hexdie said, includes lime and openfl),

aseprite for makin my pixelart,

flashdevelop for my ide,

and usually bfxr + audacity to make sounds (i usually try to get someone else to make sounds, though)

Flash Develop for the win! Good luck with HaxePunk. I hear OpenFL is supporting consoles soon and I truly hope it works out well. I'd love to develop in Haxe again, but I'm still waiting for the tools and community to grow.


Yeah that is honestly a major issue right now. I felt kinda pressured to switch because Flash is becoming less popular by the day, but HaxePunk's forums are much less responsive than Flashpunk's were in answering questions and such.

Try the OpenFL forums too, Joshua Granick responds to most threads - he knows much about OpenFL :) Hopefully a thing or two about HaxePunk as well.

If you're like me and end up with free time on a train or somewhere away from the computer that could be better spent working on your project, then you may find these programs useful:

Pixly (Android) Free (donate to remove ads)

Pixly is an amazing little powerhouse app for creating sprites, tiles, backgrounds, or anything pixel art on android. It supports layers, animation, custom palettes and has a set of great tools. The developer is a cool guy who is usually quick to respond to any concerns or suggestions. You can also export scaled images and gifs as well. I've been using this for a while and so far it's been one of the best pixel art programs I've used and the best on android.

A cool thing about Pixly is that even though it saves layered and animated files in a proprietary format, if you go into the gallery on your phone these files will be available as PNGs. These PNGs will have their layers and frames separated. This works well for starting a piece on mobile, the bringing it onto the computer to finish.

It does have some quirks. It won't copy/paste anything that is the same color as the background color (easily fixed by changing the background color before copying). Undo can be funny when selections come into play, but there is a histor toolbar that lets you step through any changes made. It also has some other quirks, but overall it's a fantastic program.

Sprite Something (iOS) $4.99

Pixly isn't on iOS, but those with Apple devices do have Sprite Something. This app has many of the same features as Pixly and a great interface as well. I haven't used this one in a while so there might be better alternatives out there. It has a bit of a learning curve for some features, but it is great for making anything pixel-related. Works great on an iPad as well!

Out of the pixel art/sprite apps I've seen and used on iOS, this is one of the best.

Caustic (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android) $9.99 (Android, iOS) Free (Windows, Mac)

Caustic is a nifty audio program/app that has a bunch of features for a good price. It combines a sequencer, mixers, drum pad, vocoder, and various synths that allow you to create music, sound effects, etc. It can sound pretty artificial at times, but then again I'm a crappy musician with no training, so your results may vary.

I like it because you can customize a lot of the instruments, create presets, and the file formats are the same across devices. This lets me start something on my phone, save it to a dropbox, then tweak it on iPad.

There are some better audio apps on iOS like Figure, Rhythm, and Tabletop...but This one works well for what I need.

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  • I use Ren'Py, it's a python based visual novel engine. Easy to understand, ports to a good number of platforms and is free for commercial use.
  • I just came across Bfxr, a cool sound effect making tool.
  • I also love Hexels as a graphic program, it's a pixel art program that lets you draw in different shaped hexels.
  • Medibang and FireAlpaca are both great paint tools for those who want to draw, they're free, available on plenty of platforms and offer cloud saving.
  • Someone needed to mention presskit()

All of my games have been made in LÖVE. It's a desktop Lua based game engine (with support for Android and iOS coming out next release IIRC). All of my games are written in MoonScript (which is what itch.io is made in), which compiles down to Lua. There's nothing game specific about the language but it makes the syntax for Lua much nicer.

If I need to do any pixel art I'll use Aseprite

All the music I write is done in Renoise, it's a modern adaption of a music tracker. Music is written in a matrix instead of a piano roll or as sheet music.

I'm pretty bad at sound effects so I'll typically generate some stuff with bfxr.

For writing code I use Vim.

If I'm recording a timelapse I'll use gLapse.

And for hosting games... well naturally I'll use itch.io :)

I've used Unity for my last two Ludum Dare games, but that's pretty much the extent of my Unity usage. It's good, but it's also a non-open-source commercial engine. So a few minus points from me.

I've made a few games in LibGDX, but I don't like it that much. Probably something to do with Java and my negative attitude towards that.

I've made a few games in Phaser, and I like it. I don't like its "sprites are gameobjects" way of doing things, but otherwise, it's pretty great.

I've also made my own "engines" for many of my games. Currently I'm making a very simple 3D engine with TypeScript and Three.js. I intend to use it in the Ludum Dare in a few days.

And then to the programs I use:

  • IDE/text editor: For Java/Scala I use Eclipse, and Atom for others. (Which are mostly Rust, TypeScript and C#) I also used to use emacs, but Atom seduced me with its looks.
  • Graphics editor: Paint.NET, Blender, learning Photoshop
  • DAW: LMMS, Reaper
  • Timelapse tools: For screencapping, I use scrot if I'm on Linux and Chronolapse if I'm on Windows. For making the screencaps into a video, ffmpeg.
  • Streaming: OBS

Oh wow, what makes you want to make your own engine instead of using a proprietary one?

Is there a specific set of features that you generally find lacking or do you just like to do it? I'm not sure I'd be able to code my own engine, although I did a couple personalized graphics libraries/game utilities on top of SFML a while back a whole engine seems like an enormous undertaking for a single project.

It's mostly just that I like low level stuff. I'm also a bit obsessed about being the one to make everything in my games. And I'm lazy and can't be bothered to learn engines ^^'

Just to clarify, I haven't made games big enough that they would need actual proper engines with all the cool features, so my "engines" aren't that much of an undertaking. Also, haven't yet made one in a low-level language, just Java and TypeScript so far.

Ay ay ay, if you're going to post tools, don't forget Sunvox! The most powerful, cross-platform, free (on almost all platforms), and easy-to-use tracker DAW there is, in my opinion! I've made quite a few tutorial videos over the years using the program, and have made quite a few songs with it as well. Every song on my SoundCloud there was made in Sunvox, and you can hear the quality falling the further back you go in time, haha. That means I and Sunvox are just getting better. :>

My favorite tools so far are Unity and Game Maker for creating games, and Blender for creating 3D models.

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For anyone using Unity, I recommend using Visual Studio Code as an editor. It has the speed and customization of Sublime Text, with debugging support and omnisense for Unity C# projects.


-Unity Integration info : https://code.visualstudio.com/Docs/runtimes/unity

-Unity Debugging info : http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/vs-code-unity-deb...

I 2nd this. Monodevelop is rather terrible.

My workflow is pretty simple:

  • Framework: LÖVE (sometimes with Lua, sometimes with MoonScript, still not sure which one I like better)
  • Text editor: Atom
  • Graphics: Paint.NET, and maybe Piskel for animations
  • Sound:
    • FL Studio for general music stuff
    • Audacity for simple editing
    • BFXR for some sound effects
    • I'm gonna try and break out LSDJ for music for my next game
  • Level editing: can't decide :(
  • Version control: Bitbucket/Github/Github for Windows
  • Recording: OBS
  • Gifs: Licecap, begrudgingly
  • Video editing: Hitfilm
  • Hosting: itch.io, of course!

Just kidding, that isn't simple at all. :P

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    Gifs: Licecap, begrudgingly

    You could use Gifcam. It works pretty solidly, indeed, and is what I use when making GIFs. I also used to take videos with OBS and then use GIMP to convert it to multiple layers in a single image, and then export that into a GIF.

    Gifcam actually appears to have the same problem that Liceecap has, which is that you have to have the position the window to set the recording area. It's really annoying trying to move a window to line up perfectly with another one.

    Generally, you'd want to take a small portion of the screen for your GIFs so you can make out details and keep file sizes low, I think. If you need to perfectly capture a small gameplay window, you probably should go with OBS to record the window, and then use GIMP to export a GIF from that captured vid.

    Yeah, that's definitely an option I should investigate. I also heard you could use ffmpeg to convert videos to gifs?

    Yeah, that also might be possible, but I'm not sure. I think I've heard something like that around the Internet.


    I'm noticing Superpowers isn't on that list, a new-kid-on-the-block, open source, extensible HTML5 game engine.


    I heard about this today! It looks super promising, I hope it can be successful :)

    Admin (Edited 1 time)

    Game Maker:Studio is easily my favorite, but i've always been a GM person ever since the 4.3 days -- maybe the fact that i spent so much time with the tool is why i'm so comfortable with it? i will say that GM definitely has its frustrating parts, but i feel like just about every engine does, yeah? i could never get into Construct or Stencyl, and Unity is too overwhelming for my brain to handle. GM:Studio seems to be just right for me, giving me a solid set of tools while also giving me the ability to add onto it fairly easily and without learning *too* much code. (it's also a fantastic tool for prototyping!)

    for pixel art, i use GraphicsGale, which is kinda like a "Photoshop Lite, for pixel art and animations" if i had to summarize it. it's about $20 or $30 from HumanBalance, but it's a great program -- albeit a little buggy in places.

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    We use the Corona SDK. I've used it personally since 2010 and then when I formed Glitch in 2012 it made sense to continue using it. It's strictly 2D ( well there's some perspective stuff you can mess with to get 2.5d sorta ) and uses Lua. It's lovely to work in ( both for prototypes and full games ) and has a fantastic community. - https://coronalabs.com/

    I've been using Blitz 3D since I started. It's actually pretty good, but it's no longer supported and it's showing its age. I definitely want to use something new for my next project, something with similar features (3D graphics / code is all text rather than an editor / light on RAM) so I'm checking this thread to look for recommendations. (If you've got a good one, just reply to me directly)

    (I've tried unity but found it too fiddly. Same goes for Unreal, and I'm trying to get to grips with monogame but I'm having lots of compatibility issues with models.)

    As for everything else, I use milkshape for modelling (this is also really old, and I wouldn't recommend it per se, but it is surprisingly easy/fast to use for simple low poly models, so that's something), audacity and a korg M1 for music/sound.

    For the most part I've just been coding my games in Javascript and Python (the latter using PyGame), but I also tried my hand at Ren'Py, and loved it. On the rare occasions that I used pixel art, The GIMP turned out to be surprisingly well-suited, if overkill. It was also useful for altering some 3rd-party art that didn't quite fit my needs, thanks to all those filters. But I've been trying out all kinds of other tools, for various purposes. It's always a good idea to be curious.

    My pixel art workflow is kind of weird. I make backgrounds/tiles/decoration art with GIMP, but items/characters/animations with aseprite. I make low-poly 3D models with wings3D, I won't/can't really do hi-poly.

    I like the freedom coding in PyGame with no engine gives you, but nowadays I also make games in HaxeFlixel. I can add python libraries like MoviePy and create small video clips and tweet them right from inside the game. Distributing a game with PyGame and native dependencies is a pain though.

    I have discovered the Yarn dialog editor. That is pretty good.


    I came across this 3D posing program called DesignDoll yesterday that's designed to make to make poses for drawing. It's not a free program ($80 for the license) but you can fiddle around with it in trial mode. Trial mode lacks the ability to export the models to OBJ, loading (you can save in trial mode though) saved files, and the use of the program's community submissions. It's a pretty cool program for those dealing with detailed 2D figures as it is pretty limited as a 3D program, but it gives more than enough for details needed for proportions.

    A lot of these people have recommended amazing tools, and I don't have much to add when it comes to game design. However, I will add Aria Maetosa as a good open source MIDI creation software. I have had so much fun remixing and recreating past songs since I have no idea how to write my own stuff, but I hope for all my games to at least use this software for music.


    I was surprised to not see Clickteam Fusion here. Hundreds of games have been made in Fusion including big ones like Knytt Underground. It has been around in its various incarnations for almost two decades and is still going strong. It's the engine that Construct directly ripped off (apparently Scirra have even forced their way into Clickteam conventions before trying to market Construct).

    Fusion is very accessible to beginners, however as a game industry veteran knowing dozens of languages and engines, I still use Fusion all the time! Almost all the games on my website were made in it. It's deceptively powerful as its mouse-based scripting language lets you lay down the logic for a game much, much faster than in traditional languages. I know Unity inside and out but I can probably make a 2D game around 3-4 times faster in Fusion (no joke).

    Codea is a pretty awesome ipad programming tool.


    I use, among other game development tools, Unity, Construct 2, Lightwave, 3ds max, Blacksmith 3d, Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, and Premiere.

    I'm making realtime 3d games in the Unity engine and 2d in Construct 2.

    Lightwave and 3ds max are my main two 3d art tools, but I sometimes use Blacksmith 3d as a '3d paint' utility.

    Photoshop I use for texture art and 2d graphics, sometimes I also use ShaderMap 2 to generate normal maps and such from photographed texture assets.

    After Effects and Premiere are my go-to tools for compositing and video editing, respectively, but recently I've been using Resolve for color correction, and Fusion 8, sometimes, as it's a great video/VFX tool and it is available for free.

    Currently I'm creating a little adventure game called Spiral Skies. It is days away from completion at this point.

    Spiral Skies

    I have been using the App Game Kit (AGK) since 2013. It's a great little development environment that is cross platform (Windows, Linux, it's, Blackberry and Android with RaspberryPi in the works). I've managed to win an Ultrabook, an All-In-One and a tablet using this engine. I thoroughly recommend it. You can get it via www.appgamekit.com

    I've also used Game Guru which is a great FPS engine that enables rapid level creation. This is also from The Game Creators via www.thegamecreators.com

    For screen recording I've always used the free version of Screencast-O-Matic. It has some nice features, allows 15 mins of recording, you can hide the mouse pointer and export to AVi, MP4 or GIF.

    I don't believe this one has been mentioned but I am suddenly very impressed with open source 2D digital painting software Krita, especially given that the next, currently pre-alpha, version can even do animation:

    Will definitely be using that if I need to do any detailed colour 2D animation in the future.