So you’re an indie dev who wants to get their project over the finish line or a hobbyist or you just want to see if you can make a simple game for your friends to giggle over.
Most small game development teams don’t have a large team of people to create assets, art, music, and sound effects for their games, so it can be helpful to farm that stuff out or find free resources online.
This list aims to compile the best game development resources for any game developer who wants to get better at making games, or any indie game dev who wants to create their own games.
Resources to learn how to code
The following resources are for game developers to learn how to code, and also to learn about game design.
Learn Unity is a natural choice if you are using that software, and what better place to learn to use one of the most popular game engines from the developers themselves? The best part is the price tag. It’s completely free.
Game Programming Patterns is a free e-book that contains a ton of common programming patterns. It’s a handy reference to use to keep yourself from going crazy and has sample code for you in case you are worried that you’re on the wrong track.
Game Code School is a great place to pick up smaller courses to help you with specific design elements for different game engines like Unreal, Game Maker and other popular creation kits. If you need more in-depth help you can also take entire courses.
Envato Tuts+ is a big resource for not only coding tutorials but also art asset creation as well. If you’re doing all the work yourself, this is a good place to kill two birds with one stone.
Lazy Foo’s Tutorials is a good place to start if you’re brand new to coding and need to get in the right headspace. This place will help you learn how to learn to code and will help you get flexible enough to code in different languages without having to start from scratch any time you change.
Kenny is a great place for any Indie Dev to go to pick up assets for your games since the public domain license allows you to use things you pick up here in commercial projects. The Asset forge is also a great tool if you want to make 2D or 3D assets yourself.
Spine is a powerful animation tool for 2D assets and is a great way to streamline your workflow. It has free tutorials on how to use it and it isn’t a subscription service so you don’t have to pay more than once. It also comes with a free trial so you don’t have to pay upfront to try it and see if it helps.
Dragon Bones is a free open source skeletal animation program for 2D assets. It’s similar to Spine, but it doesn’t convert to as many engines. It does work for Flash, HTML5 and Unity so it’s still a good program to check out.
Blender is the go-to 3D modeling software for any independent creator. It is completely free and there are a ton of tutorials available to help you get started.
2D Game Art Guru is a pretty comprehensive site providing help for skill levels ranging from “I have no idea what I’m doing” to “I’m running out of ideas for character designs!” It’s an excellent resource not only to learn how to make 2D assets but also has tutorials for specific art software.
Krita is a powerful open-source painting program. It’s packed with features that will help you create your assets and even animate. It is designed to work with drawing tablets and screen drawing tablets, and it’s comparable to Adobe Illustrator. It also has a bunch of tutorials online if you’re having trouble using its robust toolset.
OpenGameArt is a great place to pick up free stuff quick in case you’re prototyping or working on a game jam. If you want to use an asset for a commercial project, you’ll want to double-check the licensing for the asset you grab and contact the creator for good measure just to make sure you aren’t accidentally using something outside the scope of its intended use.
TexturePacker is an incredibly useful tool for 2D sprite generation. It not only puts your assets into files that your engine can use, but it also helps with reducing the size and efficiency of those files to save room in your game and get the most out of your sprites. They offer discounts for indie devs as well, so if your budget is tight you could still afford a year license and get your art in your game.
Crazy Bump is a great tool for grabbing your bump, specular and normal maps. It offers three types of licenses for personal, educational, and professional use and is reasonably priced. The best part is the sense of humor that the site and program has. A little levity can go a long way on a project.
Color Oracle is a free color blindness simulator for Windows to help you make sure your user interface and assets can be seen and are usable for as many people as possible. It might not be necessary, but it’ll go a long way to make sure that anyone can play.
If you are looking for a good sprite animation program for Construct this is a good one to check out. It does cost money, so your budget is something to consider, but if you want to do it yourself and you want to have an easier time, Spriter is something to think about.
Ogmo Editor is an open-source tile-based level editor for windows. It’s an easy to use interface and simple to integrate with your preferred engine. It also has a manual available on the website in case you don’t know what a specific tool does.
Tiled Map Editor is another free tile-based level editor that supports hexagonal, isometric and orthogonal maps. Tile editing is efficient and there are tutorials for the program available to get you in the thick of it.
Shoebox is a free Adobe AIR-based app that helps you create user interfaces. It also has a bunch of other useful features like tile extractor and animation tools.
DSK Music is an excellent resource for free VST instruments. If you want to add a little punch or variety to your compositions and need some plugins this has a huge library to choose from.
If you have the budget to invest in some VST instruments and plug-ins, check out this comprehensive guide on the best VST plugins by Beginner Guitar HQ. We personally use about half of the instruments and plug-ins mentioned on the list.
Lmms is a free open source program that is great for beginners and veterans alike. You can even use a traditional keyboard instead of a synthesizer. It also lets you arrange your music without having to jump around a bunch of different programs.
Stock Music is a great resource for royalty-free music if you don’t fancy yourself as a composer. It’ll save you time and effort and the site also has sound effects as well.
Sound Jay is a wonderful place to go for free sound effects. If you don’t feel like wracking your brain trying to create the perfect sound for a mech falling over, you can grab something that feels right on the site.
We also compiled a list of 8 sites for free game sounds and music.
Audio Tuts+ is a tutorial site for most issues you’ll run into for recording game music, composing, and even sound design. If you’re feeling shaky or getting frustrated with a technical issue this is a good resource to get you over the hump and back to making your project.
Audacity is an easy to use sound recording and editing program. It’s completely free and works across platforms. It works for anything from making sound effects, recording music and even setting up audio tracks for videos.
Bfxr is a website that is free to use and an amazing resource for crafting chiptune sound effects. If you have a retro-style game in the works and want a more unique sound this is a must to get your sounds just right.
For music composers: We have our own guide on how to get your music into a video game.
Sometimes all you need is the knowledge of a tool existing for you to solve an issue, and if you want to learn and expand your mental toolset there’s a ton of game development resources for you out there for free. Now get out there and make your game with all the tools you need in hand.
If you think we are missing any links to any tools, guides, or resources for game developers, send us an email, or include them in the comments below.