2013 - 2 - 13 / 11:00 am / tools
Since I posted the time lapse video of me making a game for Global Game Jam 2013, I got a couple of questions regarding the exact tools I'm using for my game making needs. This is a pretty long post, so I'm going to put it all behind the jump tag. If you want to know my secrets, then click read more!
Flashpunk is a game development framework built in Actionscript 3. It runs in flash, but it bypasses the native Flash display list rendering system in favor of blitting to a bitmap. Flashpunk works really well for raster graphics based games, and especially low resolution pixel art games. All of the assets in Flashpunk are raster png files, and not native Flash vector movie clips or whatever. It shares some similarities to Flixel, but has a different coding style and I'm particularly drawn to Flashpunk because I just feel like it matches my brain better.
FlashDevelop is the holy grail of developing flash games on Windows. That is of course if you don't have to use Flash for anything. In my case, since I'm using Flashpunk, this is the perfect set up. I have never used a development environment as awesome as FlashDevelop. It has great autocomplete and intellisense, and it has a huge list of keyboard shortcuts that are all incredibly handy to know.
On the art side, I do a lot of my preliminary art passes in Photoshop. Making use of the Pencil tool, and setting the eraser tool to Pencil mode, I make all my pixel art in Photoshop usually. I've been using some iteration of Photoshop since I was very young, so I'm super familiar with it by this point which lets me work very fast with it.
Unfortunately Photoshop is pretty horrible at animations. Yes, it has animation tools, but they suck. This is where GraphicsGale comes in. Once I have a base sprite in Photoshop, I import it into a GraphicsGale file and animate it all in there. The interface requires some tweaking to get exactly right, but once you get passed some of the initial hurdles then this program becomes smooth as a baby's bottom. There's some weird issues with it, like I cannot figure out how the hell transparency works after years of using it, but that usually doesn't effect my work too much.
When it comes to making content for my games I almost always turn to Ogmo Editor. It's a great 2d tile based editor that spits out content in a number of different ways, and then it's up to you to interpret it on your end. It works great with Actionscript 3 with all of its cool XML reading capabilities, but it will work for almost any programming language that can parse the contents of a file. Right now the newer version is Windows only, but I think that's going to change in a future update if it gets ported from XNA to MonoGame.
When it comes to sound I don't really know what I'm doing at all, so that's where bfxr comes in. If you remember back in the day there was sfxr. Consider bfxr to be the next step in low-fi sound asset generation. This one has a couple more parameters and features compared to it's predecessor, including mixing multiple sounds together.
The program formerly known as Cool Edit Pro, Audition is a great sound editing program that is relatively easy to get into. I use this sometimes for more mixing of sounds that I create in bfxr. If you can't get your hands on Audition though, you can use a freeware alternative.
Audacity is a great, completely free, sound editing program that will get the job done most of the time. It's a little finicky to use at times, and I've managed to crash it a couple of times when editing sound, but for a completely free alternative to other sound software it's a great tool to have on your belt.
Sublime Text 2
When it comes to editing pretty much any file, I turn to Sublime Text 2. It convinced me to completely stop using Notepad++ which was my former generic edit-anything tool. There are just so many super awesome features of Sublime Text which make the experience of using it super smooth. The most awesome thing I've found is being able to edit multiple areas of text at the same time, which can sometimes make tedious tasks go by pretty dang fast. (Note that FlashDevelop can also edit any kind of file, but Sublime Text 2 sometimes takes over because of its overall elegance and syntax highlighting capabilities for almost any type of document)
When I'm feeling super ambitious I try to write music for my games. So far I've had some success (I use that term loosely) with openMPT. It was called Modplug Tracker back in the day, and if you're familiar with trackers already then this is a pretty good one to use. However, if you have no idea what a tracker is and you want to write music, this is probably not the best option as trackers can be incredibly confusing. I've been trying to lean off trackers myself now because I don' t think I'm musically inclined enough to really use them well.
I haven't really used this beyond the demo verison yet, but it is something I'm looking to now for music writing. Reason is used by professional music people a lot, and it seems incredibly overwhelming and confusing at first, but a couple of YouTube tutorials and I was rolling with some cool tunes. Just kidding, everything I've made so far in Reason sounds like garbage, but I gotta start somewhere!
Dropbox is an incredibly handy piece of software and I feel like you've probably heard about it by now. You get 2 gigs of free storage that can be on every single computer you use. It comes in handy for having to zip files back and forth, or just to quickly show someone something through your public folder.
Not exactly a piece of software, but I use BitBucket for all of my repositories. Every single one of my projects since 2009 or so have been kept in some sort of source control. I've had way too many incidents when I was a kid of my hard drives suddenly dying, or my computer blowing up, so now I am super paranoid about having back ups of everything. Using BitBucket with TortoiseHG on Windows makes my life so much easier.
And there you have it! I think that's pretty much every piece of software I'm currently using in my game development efforts.
Hi there, my name is Kyle, and I'm a 27 year old kid with adult powers. I'm making video games and living the indie game developer life in Tempe, Arizona. Here you will find my thoughts, games, websites, doodles, and other stuff like that. I worked on Snapshot, Offspring Fling, and a whole bunch of other games. If you want to get a hold of me use the form on the bottom of the page, leave a comment, or just tweet at me. I try to post three times a week. Thanks for stoppin' by!
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