Coding your game is only one step on the long journey to release – and just part of the final cost. In order to help trim down your budget, Develop presents some of the (literally) priceless tools, from editing audio and assets to capturing press assets, that you may not have considered using
Suitable for: Video conferencing
Available for Mac, Linux and mobile – not just Windows – Microsoft’s video chatting software can let devs communicate with free HD group calls when working remotely. It’s also useful for press interviews.
Suitable for: Tracking code
Free for up for five users, BitBucket is a collaborative Git solution allowing devs to review code, control permissions and work together in a desktop client. It features unified diff views, JIRA integration and can show the health of build code with a simple pass or fail icon. It also supports third-party integrations.
Suitable for: Problem-solving
Like Google specifically for devs, Stack Overflow is a free community that encourages game makers to help each other answer technical questions. It’s also a useful place to keep up on the latest job vacancies.
Suitable for: A quick start
Start-ups can use BizSpark to access Microsoft dev tools and software, including Office, Windows and Azure, for free for three years.
Suitable for: Various
You no doubt know that Unity is free, but it’s worth remembering that the engine also includes free access to analytics, performance tools and multiplayer networking.
Suitable for: Coding (without the code)
Stencyl’s toolset uses an accessible drag-and-drop interface to avoid the need for coding game logic when making mobile and browser games.
Suitable for: Editing audio
Boasting a number of features for recording and editing audio, such as contrast analysis and the ability to export in a range of formats, this open-source software is ideal for devs looking to tweak their game’s soundscape.
Suitable for: Art creation
Freely supporting the 3D pipeline from modelling and animation to rendering and compositing, Blender can be further customised using its API for Python scripting. Based on OpenGL, the 3D creation suite includes photorealistic rendering, integrated sculpting and a fully-featured game engine.
Suitable for: Capturing video
OBS captures game footage directly from the GPU to maintain performance when streaming or exporting to a video file. Devs can go live straight to Twitch, YouTube, DailyMotion and more, or save a MP4 or FLV file to use as press assets or edit into a trailer. The Studio software includes further features and an improved API.
Suitable for: Various
Though you’ll have heard of the engine, Unreal has a whole host of free features you may have missed. For example, Simulate Mode allows devs to run game logic and inspect AI in the editor viewport, while the Matinee toolset can be used to direct and produce in-game cutscenes and movies in a video editor-like UI.
Suitable for: Version control
Acting as a one-stop-shop for devs, Perforce’s Helix collaboration platform includes a versioning engine, Git ecosystem, review application, analytics tools and threat detection service. It’s free for teams of up to five.
Suitable for: Image editing
As well as operating like a free PhotoShop with the ability to edit and create artwork, GIMP’s framework also supports scripted language manipulation for C, C++, Perl, Python, Scheme and more.
Suitable for: Project management
Acting like a virtual sticky note board, Trello can make big projects easier to track and organise by colour-coding important tasks, letting devs drag-and-drop to rearrange cards and see updates in real-time. Checklists, uploaded files and due dates can also be utilised to make sure your team stays on top of everything that needs doing.
Suitable for: Instant messaging
Slack splits text conversations into multi-user channels based on projects, topics and teams. Various tools integrate into the software to provide instant notification when something needs checking or fixing. Up to 10,000 messages and attached files can be archived and searched in the free release.
Suitable for: Programming
These free advanced text editors allow programmers to write and edit code in multiple languages. Sublime just supports Mac, while Notepad++ is a Windows-only affair.
Suitable for: Source control
Providing Git repository management, code reviews and the ability to track issues and stay on top of changes, GitLab’s free Community edition supports up to 25,000 users on a single server and is MIT-licensed.