The Indie Game Developer on a Budget – Some Tips

The Indie Game Developer on a Budget.

Now let's not start out on a false pretense... you need a computer, and you need one that can run todays video games ideally - not necessarily on their highest setting of course; My own computer is a first generation i7 with a GeForce 760 I purchased second-hand However, if you are using a game computer I have two recommendations that you may need to beg, borrow (money from grandma) or steal (from your college fund / next month's mortgage payment) in order to get. This is assuming you have the graphics card and the computer to put it in of course...

MEMORY.
Get as much as you can. I'm not joking, this computer has 32 gigs of ram and it makes a MASSIVE difference when it comes to things like baking light in Unreal Engine 4, having multiple images open in my editor software and of course for playing Grim Fandango when I want a break.

SSD Hard Disk Drive.
If you have not got one of these, get one somehow. It does not have to be huge, however a 256 gig SSD for example will mean you have your operating system and main apps you use for asset creation and game development on a drive that will load them incredibly fast. Speed is massively important for an indie developer as the reduction of lag in your paint apps, increase in speed loading assets into your game engine and speedier caching when it comes to things like baking normal maps.

So, you have your budget game computer that is now your Indie Game Development Rig ready hopefully, if you have a spare screen throw it on your computer as a second monitor, fire it up and let's find things to put on it like...

Great apps that you can use to get right into game development without having to spend a damn cent! (Which is pretty useful with the 2016 economy...)

So you want to get into indie game development but however you do not want to spend a fortune - or anything for that matter because of budget issues? Good for you - if you can get the basic tools you need to make that game you have been always wanting to make, then we at www.WeCanBlue.com want to make that happen for you! And we will... with this handy guide to starting out on a ZERO budget!

ASSET CREATION.
For asset creation you are going to need a few tools, here I am assuming that you are making 3d game content, however this list is still more or less relevant to making games in 2D.  Asset creation by the way is the process of making the things that go inside the game engine - characters, walls, power ups, everything.

Your FREE paint software - GIMP

Nope, it's not a new friend you keep in a box! This is a completely free alternative to Photoshop. Ok, it may not have everything Photoshop has, however it will allow you to manipulate levels in your images, works with
all the formats you need and allows you to work on high resolution images easily. And it's free for heaven's sakes.

Your FREE 3D software - Blender

Ok so, cards on the table, I have never used Blender... however I have taught a lot of artists that do and the reason for this is that it has the same principles and tools as the software that costs car payment money. If you can follow along in a tutorial for 3ds Max and copy it in Blender exactly then there really is no reason for you to use expensive software if you do not have to. Plus there is a MASSIVE amount of support from the Blender community; Great work!

Your FREE Game Engines (for 2D and 3D Content)

1 - Unity
There is a free version of Unity that you can download right now and get started on, now... it does have limitations compared to a commercial licence however they are not massive if you are in a starting indie capacity really and include things like a maximum of 20 players concurrently in multiplay, no source code access or performance reporting however you still get a massive toolbase and game engine that has bought out many highly popular titles (including My Summer Car, which you really should get.)

2 - Unreal Engine 4
You surely recognize the word Unreal there, you may even know that this is the game engine behind Gears of War however do you know that you can get this for FREE? The entire engine. Everything with no limitations what so ever. It comes with a massive amount of support and again has a really good community. Of note to people interested in platformers and pixel art games should be the massive array of useful tools just for you to get started with!

3 - Lumberyard
Another free game engine - this time based on the CryEngine - Lumberyard has all of the above again plus in built support for AWS Cloud and Twitch. Lumberyard has a growing collection of tutorials and decent support with a lot of help being given to new creators in order to try and compete with the other two engines and their current huge userbases.

Your useful FREE tools

1. Trello.com
Are you an organised person or someone who uses the tried and tested "Oh god what do I need to do next?" developer? Either one will like Trello; A web based planning and organisation system that you can use for free, with to do
lists, comment areas, uploads and file sharing capabilities plus many other useful tools.
The benefit of Trello is that you can access your list from anywhere using a mobile and always be aware what your list of tasks for your project is, what is done, notes and so on. If you get a couple of people to help you then it
is easy to add them to your trello board and assign tasks, group notes and files and check on progress.
This may sound dreadful and the complete opposite of everything you ever wanted to do in game development however without organisation you are not going to get your project done. Ever.

2. Handplane3d
Really this is only free if you are a terrible person and do not want to donate money to this excellent product however we don't judge. If you are planning on working with Normal Mapped 3d models just download it and start
reading.

3. YouTube.com
Yes YouTube is more filled with Dicks than a Sir Richard Attenborough retrospetive (see what I did there? Admittedly it was actually 'Dickie' however shh) however among the horrible people and terrible videos there are people who have made amazing free things you can benefit from - people who have made tens of thousands of free tutorials that you can watch and benefit from. Maybe a site you are on now has some even? If only there was some way of saying thanks!

4. DropBox.com
You are probably using it already, if you are not though then sign up and get your free storage. The importance or Cloud based backups of your work cannot be understated.

5. PerForce.com
If you have a team and there are only about 4 people in it then go get the free version of PerForce and integrate it into whichever apps you are using. You now have a change management and version control system as well as a secure file server. It is not easy to set up and get working however once you have used it as part of a team you will never want to work without it.

Now, go make yourself an awesome game! Think of us when you frontpage Steam!

About the Author
Blue

Blue

Founder of Youcanblue as well as the founder of a large legacy training site for 3d artists, Blue is a well known and liked member of the 3d and game development community.

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  • Aguas3d

    I’m curious, why include Lumberyard and not Cry Engine V? (I always thought
    crytek was very deficient in providing tuts and stuff, but it’s a great
    engine)

    • Blue

      I thought Lumberyard was Cry Engine 5?

      • Aguas3d

        No, they sold the cry engine 3 package which became Lumberyard with some changes, and remade the engine to V themselves

        • Blue

          ohh didnt realise they forked it

  • Great stuff as usual, Cris. 🙂 I would recommend Krita as a 2d content companion or alternative to Gimp. It has many of Photoshop’s key features used in game dev.