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Augment Your Skills with the Right Tools for the Job

Under the surface, the fundamental requirements to become a game developer haven’t really changed. Creativity, drive, and vision are still necessities. What has changed is the accepted market space and the availability/quality of the equipment that allows developers to execute their ideas.

Tool suites such as Unity3D and GameMaker have helped to promote and propel this “basement developer” revival by offering flexible, powerful tools with a relatively low barrier of entry in terms of both required experience and pricing. Other, less-powerful tools with even lower requirements support specific skills or genres, such as Twine and Construct 2. Many of these tools allow a game to be developed on one platform and easily exported to other platforms for maximum market penetration with minimal fuss. Starting developers have more options available now than ever before, and these options account for a wide range of starting skill sets.

“But I’m just a typical artist, with no programming skills!” somebody loudly proclaims. That’s fine. The glut of new tools include options designed specifically to support future developers who are less code-savvy. Construct 2, for instance, is billed as a toolset that allows you to create content without having to write a single line of code. Similarly, Hutong Games’ PlayMaker plug-in for Unity3D allows you to arrange your code using visual flowcharts, rather than writing code.

“What about me? I’m just a programmer, with no artistic skills!” somebody else exclaims. Well, that’s fine too. One of the wonderful things about developing indie games is that the art requirements are wide and varied. Silhouettes, 8-bit retro, pen ink, and countless other styles have been used to great effect. It’s not about having high-quality art assets; it’s about making your art style work for your product.

Not everyone is comfortable pursuing the art requirements for a title, but a number of sites offer free or purchasable asset packs, including 2D and 3D art elements that you can use to make up for your lack of skills (or time). Often these packages are designed to be integrated easily into projects.

Packs for sound effects, music, visual effects, and all manner of other assets are available for download. Unity3D in particular has a massive, built-in Asset Store from which you can add materials directly to your project. Whatever your weakness, odds are that something is out there to help accommodate it.

“But I can’t afford all these fancy tools!” somebody wails. Certainly, some packages are pricey and high end, but many highly affordable, reasonable-quality options are also available. More often than not, the prices are much lower than you might expect for the content received.

The toolsets themselves also tend to offer a range of pricing options. Some include highly functional free versions; Unity3D’s free version, for example, is quite capable of churning out a quality game without investing in a higher-end version.

Online resources such as support articles, tutorials, and communities dedicated to these tools are also readily available to assist you in your endeavors.

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