It is hard to make a production-ready game when you are new to this industry and is an individual developer. To develop a game for multiple platforms you need many different skill sets, from coding, design to making music and not everyone is gifted with all of those skills.
Choose a game engine
This is an important step. It decides how fast you can publish your first game. I recommend you choose one between Unity and Unreal Engine. They have big community behind and their tools are up-to-date.
Following are the most popular game engines:
Unreal Engine dominates the market in terms of popularity. It came to life in 1998, created by Epic Games. Over the past few decades, it has been through a series of upgrades and new releases are always scheduled. The engine is very simple to use and comes with excellent documentation. It can be used for all types of games, including applications for iOS and Android.
Unity came to life in 2005 – plenty of time to grow and gain some notoriety. It is famous for making the game development an easy and intuitive operation. Your experience level is irrelevant, while the capability to create games across platforms is certainly an attractive option. Initially, the game engine was created for MacOS, but it is now available over more than 25 platforms.
Apart from games, the engine is widely used over other industries too, such as architecture.
Created by CryTek in 2002, CryEngine is one of the most reputable game engines out there. It is a cross platform engine that has also been used as a source for other engines. It gains regular updates and upgrades, so you know that you can always be up to date with the latest technologies in the industry. It allows creating all kinds of games, including realistic first person shooters.
CryEngine is widely used by a bunch of major studios. Some of the top games created with it include Hunt: Showdown and Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
The engine is great for both beginners and experienced users. Top names in the gaming industry also rely on it.
Amazon Lumberyard was introduced in 2016 and gained notoriety in no time. It was practically licensed from CryEngine, but it obviously “suffered” a series of tweaks and upgrades to match Amazon’s high quality standards. It is quite common among studios, but beginner developers can also figure it out without too much experience.
The engine is free to use. You can design a game from scratch, but also host it on Amazon’s own servers.
GameMaker has a self explanatory name and its reputation is given by the fact that it does not require any programming experience at all. Instead, designing a game is fairly simple – point, click and forget about coding. The software has been used for more or less known games, with some of its top games including Hotline Miami, Spelunky and Super Crate Box.
The game engine is available in a few different options. You can practice and gain some skills with the free version, but gaining full access to all of its features involves getting the premium subscription.
Create game assets
There are 3 options for game assets.
- Do it yourself – This approach is time-consuming and it is cost-effective. It is only doable if you are a good designers or have good eyes for programming graphic style.
- Buy product-ready assets – Many developers choose this approach for small games. There are a lot of available assets for different types of games in many stores.
- Hire a designer – This one is the most expensive. But you will have unique design for your game.
Free and Paid Game Arts
- Unity Asset Store – This is the official store managed by Unity. You will all kinds of assets which can be used in different types of games, from sci-fi to fantasy.
- Itch.io – Itch.io is one of the popular marketplaces offering free and premium game arts especially for indie-centric audience. Launched in 2013, Itch.io hosts 100,000 game assets with fantasy-based, 2D pixel arts. There are community tools powering the itch.io global community.
- Game Art 2D – Game Art 2D is one of the best destinations to search for royalty free game arts. Moreover, you can find space shooter assets, game GUI packs, character sprite sheets, game backgrounds. From the freebies section, you can find free themed sprites, UI buttons, and tilesets.
- GameDev Market – The biggest platform helps you to avail of game assets in both free and paid versions. Lots of indie developers have found this site useful for their purpose. Artists and designers have released their packs to let you browse through the collection.
- Craftpix – CraftPix provides you with premium quality 2D game assets, including game icons, tilesets, characters, GUI, and several other items. You can integrate these assets into most of the game engines, like GameSalad, Unreal Engine, and Construct 2.
- Kenney – Kenney is a big game studio, presenting you with more than 40,000 audio files, images, and 3D models. You can easily download these items to donate them to any website. Isometric game art is also available at free of cost.
- Game Art Partners – Game Art Partners has a bundle of game arts for you. You have to register for their newsletter to avail the free bundle. Free package of Game Art Partners includes weapons, Bro Stock’ characters, World War Mech level art, isometric objects, and lots of other things.
- Graphic Buffet – This digital store for game assets offers free graphics created by Ian, one of the professional designers. Game designers and indie game developers can browse through freebies and GUI elements. You can use them for developing game for desktop, tab, and iPhone.
- Game Art Guppy – Game Art Guppy is one of the best sites, where you can shop for pre-designed art to develop your game. Top-down, isometric, side view- these perspectives are available from the site. Furthermore, there are more than 20 backgrounds and 30+ objects for your game.
- Reddit r/gameassets – The subcategory of Reddit is r/gameassets, and here, you will find several free game assets. The big community posts these assets, and you can pick something that serves your needs.
- OpenGameArt – Open Game Art is one of the popular media repositories useful for your open-source and free software gaming projects. There is a public domain license for its assets. You can easily filter the available options to find new assets.
- Glitch the Game – More than10,000 animations and art assets are available for you. Although players stopped playing Glitch in 2012, developers look for the assets of the game. You will also find Glitch forums and snapshot of the game posted by players.
- Game-Icons.Net – This site presents you with more than 3,000 free icons. Create your games by downloading those images in vector format and customizing them in your own way. Shadows, blur, and colors are adjustable very easy. Game-Icons.Net add fresh icons every week.
- Crevasse – This Transylvania-based studio is best for indie developers. You can rely on this website to design Buildbox templates game, art, and apps. Gradient backgrounds, UI buttons, objects, platforms, and characters are useful for personal and commercial purpose.
- SpriteLand – SpriteLand is one of the resources for graphic designers. You will have free sprites and graphics for games and apps. Engage yourself in the world of webcomics and animations to get fun. Rich backgrounds, found in this website, are useful for platform games.
- Super Game Asset Store – Assets at this platform are based on role-playing system. Although there are most premium assets, you can find some free game arts. Use this site to download items, icons, and other things to develop your game.
- Mobile Game Graphics – Free and paid game arts of this marketplace include a range of bundles and themes. You can click on the tab, Free Stuff to install characters and free backgrounds.
- OpenClipArt.org – For free game arts and hidden gems, this site has gained high popularity. Over 100000 clip art images are valuable for game developers. There are also images easily accessible to you.
- 1001FreeDownloads – 1001FreeDownloads offers you cute looking animal vectors and other basic backgrounds that you can add to your game. You may browse through the collection to find vectors, photos, icons, patterns, cliparts, and fonts.
- Reiner’s Tilesets – It is another site to find the best free game assets. A hobbyist game developer has created this site to share his uniquely designed graphics with others. From this site, you will find sprites, tilesets, audio effects, and 2D graphics.
- Creative Game Assets – Although it is a small website for game assets, you will have both free and paid arts. Go to Free Assets tab to find button packs, shields, swords, different game elements, themed platforms, and landscapes. You can download for your use.
- Bitgem3d – It sells lowpoly 3D models designed by a small team.
- Lostgarden.com – This is Daniel Cook’s blog which shares free game graphics.
- Textures – This is the largest collection of textures in large varieties of categories – building, floor, decal, nature, animal, etc… It offers both free and paid textures. Free ones are in lower resolution.
- Games-Icons – The site has more than 3000 icons to download for free.
- UnluckyStudio – Unlucky Studio offers free 2D game art for different genres, including puzzle and rpg.
- Vecteezy – High quality vector graphics with worry-free licensing for personal and commercial use.
- Iconmonstr – Nearly 5000 free icons for download.
- Poly.Google – Google dedicates this page for all common creative 3D models.
2D Vector / Image Editors & Animation Tools
- Adobe CC – Creative Cloud is a collection of 20+ desktop and mobile apps and services for photography, design, video, web, UX and more. Now you can take your ideas to new places with Photoshop on the iPad, draw and paint with Fresco, and design for 3D and AR. Join our global creative community
- Gimp – GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and more operating systems. It is free software, you can change its source code and distribute your changes.
- Inkscape – Inkscape is a free, open source and professional vector graphics editor for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Whether you are an illustrator, designer, web designer or just someone who needs to create some vector imagery, Inkscape is for you!
- Krita – Krita is a professional free and open source painting program for concept art, texture and matte painters, and illustrations and comics.
- Aseprite – Aseprite is a pixel editor which can be used to create pixel-art, retro style graphics, and whatever you like about the 8-bit (and 16-bit) era.
- CodeAndWeb’s TexturePacker – This is a mus-have tool for generating sprite sheet.
- ShoeBox – Read and packs multiple images, animated SWF (AS1, AS2, AS3) or animated GIF’s into one texture Atlas.
- GraphicsGale – This is an animation graphic editor with Onion skinning. It supports many formats, including .ico, .gif, .avi, .cur, .ani.
- Pickle – Pickle is an Adobe Air-based pixel art editor. Its live previews of animations, game terrain, and seamless patterns update in real time as you edit.
- PiskelApp – Piskel is a free online editor for animated sprites & pixel art
- Emblem – An online tool to draw simple vector graphics. Drawing can be exported as SVG and PNG.
- Spine – Spine is dedicated to 2D skeletal animation, providing an efficient workflow both for creating amazing animation and for integrating it into your games.
- Synfig Studio – Synfig Studio (formerly known as SINFG) is a free, Open Source 2D vector and timeline-based animation software.
3D Modeling Tools
- Blender – Blender is the free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, video editing and 2D animation pipeline.
- Clara.io – Clara.io is a full-featured cloud-based 3D modeling, animation and rendering software tool that runs in your web browser.
- ZBrushCoreMini – ZBrushCoreMini is designed for new artists of all ages, with a streamlined interface that lets anyone jump right in and start sculpting immediately.
- Maya – Maya is the industry standard when it comes to 3D computer animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software.
- 3ds Max – 3ds Max offers a rich and flexible toolset to create premium designs of environments and characters.
- Monster Mash – A new framework for sketch-based modeling and animation of 3D organic shapes that can work entirely in an intuitive 2D domain, enabling a playful, casual experience.
Texture / Tile / Terrain Editors
- PixPlant – PixPlant is a smart texturing app with the best tools to quickly transform a photo into seamless repeating textures and 3D maps.
- Space-2D – An online tool that helps generate background for space game or app.
- OGMO Editor – OGMO Editor is a free, open source, project oriented level editor made for indie game developers by indie game developers.
- Artifex Terra – Artifex Terra 3D is a terrain editor application for height map based realtime modeling and texturing of virtual landscapes.
- World Machine – Use tools like erosion to create realistic CG landscapes. Then export to Unity, UE4, or your favorite 3D tool.
- MagicaVoxel – A free lightweight GPU-based voxel art editor and interactive path tracing renderer.
- goxel – Create voxel graphics (3D images formed of cubes) on Linux, BSD, Windows and macOS.
- Freesound – Free sound has a different variety of sound effects, voices, and more. It has great ambient music for free. You will only need to navigate their website through the tag cloud to find specific songs that you are looking for.
- Free Music Archive – A royalty-free music provider, well, that is the Free Music Archive. They have worked with another company that has creative commons and other sources that makes free music. They also have licensing, but some only ask that you need to feature the song to its original artist. In using this website, to search for the music, it is quicker if you will search it according to the genre that you like.
- SoundCloud – The music under this site are under Creative Commons license, so you are relatively free to use as long as you obey their rules. You can search for your ambient music by tracks, podcasts, artists, and bands.
- YouTube Audio Library – The YouTube Audio Library has the same library from Spotify. You can search for the music through the instrument, mood, genre, and duration. Also, they have a popularity filter that you can see on their most popular list.
- BenSound – They have unique music that you cannot find other websites. But they also provide Pro license for others who want to pa for the music. Free download is also available, but you need to attribute the artist to it.
- IncompeTech – What great of this website is that they have two options, the free ad paid ones. If you want free, you will only need to feature artists. But some music is not for attribute and needs to be born with an amount of $30.
- Dig.ccmixter.org – This website is one of the most popular one to use. They have three sections for music, including video, film, video games, and commercials. So generally, all types are music. They have it!
- PlayOnLoop – PlayOnLoop is one of the most original and affordable music and sound effects libraries with a large varieties of free music loops that can be used in games.
- Musopen – It provides recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions.
- Free Game Sounds – The site is straight forward. You can browse royalty free music and sounds for your games.
- PacDV – Their sounds have been featured in a variety of independent films and videos, television programs, documentaries, commercials, games, radio shows, and new media projects.
- SoundImage – Over 2000 tracks of my original music and sound effects, over 4000 images, as well as original game art and video footage that you are welcome to freely use in your films, games and projects.
- Bfxr – Bfxr is an elaboration of the glorious Sfxr, the program of choice for many people looking to make sound effects for computer games.
- jfxr – This is an online port of Bfxr.
- Audacity – A free multi-track audio editor and recorder which supports Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems.
- Audiotool – An online music producer.