There are hundreds of amazing packages out there, so rather than trying to
list them all, I will cover the packages I use regularly. As with many other
indie developers, I favour lower cost/free options. The good news is that
these are incredibly good packages, and in many cases they are better than
more expensive alternatives.
The best tile editor out there—so far I have used this to create the levels in
two games: Life of Pixel and SuperGolf. It is a breeze to use and incredibly
powerful. Supports orthogonal, isometric and staggered maps.
Explosion Generator 3
An amazingly useful tool that creates 2D sprite-sheets or individual frame
explosion animations, blood splats, exploding objects and more.
A basic tool for creating bitmap font sheets. It does the job, but there is no
finesse, so a better choice is …
Now this is more like it. Bitmap font creation with love; supports shadows,
gradient fills, strokes and more. Mac only is the only downside.
A very powerful and well-featured particle creation system which outputs to a number of different game frameworks including Cocos, Kobold2D, Moai,Starling, Pixelwave, NME, Marmalade and Platino.
Another particle animation creation tool that gives amazingly good results. I used Timeline extensively for sprite sheet explosions and effects in our PSM game MegaBlast and it worked a treat.
FRAPS is a great tool to use to record screenshots and video game footage
directly from a PC game. It is very reliable and does the job well, every time.
Shader Map 2
A brilliant tool for creating normal, specular and height maps from photo
textures. I used this extensively for creating normal maps in our Vita debut
title Indoor Sports World.
Large 3D Terrain Generator (L3DT)
Designed specifically for games, this terrain editor generates editable-height
maps where you can specify land altitudes, roughness, lakes, climate, etc. It
also supports the creation and export of terrain textures, light maps, bump
maps and alpha/splat maps.
Sketchup comes in two flavours, the free ‘Make’ and the $590 ‘Pro’ edition.
I’d ignore the Pro version and use Make—then go onto the 3D Warehouse
and smile. Thousands of free 3D models that can be downloaded and
adapted to use in your games.
The best pixel editor out there. ProMotion includes everything you will ever
need for drawing and animating pixel sprites, backgrounds and tiles.
I use ACDSee for browsing images on my PC. I have thousands of textures,
bitmaps and whatnot, so this is an invaluable tool. You can also batch edit
and process images; ideal for converting batches of images to different file
I must confess I haven’t used Inkscape; I have Adobe Illustrator as part of
Creative Cloud. Inkscape however is very well regarded and apparently an
excellent free tool for creating and editing vector images.
Another high-quality 2D pixel art drawing tool, this has really good palette
A free alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Jam-packed with features and well
supported by the community.
THE 3D package of choice when you are on a tight budget. It is free, yet
does everything you will ever need. It even has its own built-in game
engine, incredible stuff!
FLStudio (formerly Fruity Loops) is a brilliant music creation package, which comes packed with a whole host of audio plugins and tools. FL Studio
supports all PC industry plugin instrument standards including VST, DX,
Buzz and Rewire.
A great, and free, sound effects creation tool. You will hear sound effects in
many indie games made with Bfxr.
A free sound-sample editing package that will allow you to edit sound
effects and apply filters. Essential for creating sounds for games.
A free speech-synthesis program. Type in what you want to record, tweak
the voice settings and output your WAV.
Another free sound-effect creation package. Offers a number of different
options to Bfxr, so it is well worth installing both this and Bfxr.
Reaper is another great music creation package (DAW). It is also the lowest
priced option, offering excellent value for money.