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Top 5 Free Tools for Making Video Games

After playing a lot of video games, it's time to make them myself!

Audacity

The first video games were simply visual tools without audio but with the passage of time video games have evolved and the audio component is now one of the cornerstones of a good video game.

Just think about how changing a music allows the player to feel uncomfortable in horror games like Silent Hill or Resident Evil or how fast-paced music can stimulate players in fighting games where some moves only last a few frames.

The audio component has changed a lot over time and has acquired a fundamental role with the other elements.

My choice for the audio component is Audacity because it is easy to use and allows small changes to audio files in no time.

I often use it for sequencing different audios, mixing tracks or for eliminating background noise in recordings.

I often record my own voice and insert these small segments as a placeholder just to understand if I can transmit the scenes as I have imagined them while developing a video game or to indicate to the voice actors what the sensations to transmit are.

Best Friends Forever since the '90s

Best Friends Forever since the '90s

Blender

As much as it is said that graphics are not essential to making a good video game, as gamers we are fascinated by flashy graphics and breathtaking landscapes.

Therefore, creating increasingly detailed polygonal models has become more and more important over time and Blender is a fantastic tool to use because it allows polygonal modeling of meshes, is used to apply textures and decals, make animations, etc.

It is not a very easy tool to use (as the various memes also demonstrate) but the potential is undeniable since it can be used for video games, advertising, video editing, etc ..

With Blender you can make simple lowpoly objects to be used for the GrayBox of the levels so you can test the levels and start structuring the Gameplay elements.

After the GrayBox just replace the Lowpoly objects with the high definition versions of the objects and increase the necessary details, such as adjusting the lights or enriching the scene.

Blender is also great for people like me who are still beginners or don't have a team, so they can start making stylized models themselves in a short time and use them right away.

Then over time you can improve the models, learn new techniques and experiment.

Another point in favor is that in any case it is an interesting Skill to be explored also because it is very requested in various sectors and could become a career opportunity. Creating good quality assets to sell on the various marketplaces can also be useful for raising the necessary funds for advanced courses in the use of the tool or to purchase other assets or licenses of other useful tools.

My First Console

My First Console

Gimp

Making good polygonal models is only half the story.

Without textures or decals to apply on the gray models we should be extremely imaginative to play video games because we would not have the opportunity to grasp a lot of information.

Textures and Decals are also used to correctly manage the Normals and UV Mapping of objects and make them "Live" in the game world.

Especially the use of Decals allows you to make slightly different similar models and make them less artificial.

Gimp is a valid Free alternative to programs such as Photoshop to manage images, correct brightness and opacity values.

Also in this case, the knowledge of this tool can be transformed into an excellent skill to be cultivated even outside the context of video games, such as to improve our holiday photos or for those with a hobby of photography.

Materialize

I do not express myself too much on this tool, the video very well presents the potential of the tool in order to start from images and photographs and transform them into textures and maps (height map, normal maps, roughness, etc.) to be applied on various objects made with blender or even directly within the game engine.

The results are fabulous with a little learning of the features.

Personal advice, always try to photograph objects that are not in full light in order to minimize the interventions to be done and make the objects appear as natural as possible.

Applying too many filters or making too many adjustments, in my opinion, makes objects artificial, sometimes even defects make objects "real".

Unreal Engine / Unity

Let's now move on to the Game Engine, which are used to manage all the other assets made with the other tools and to make them usable for the console we have in mind.

Of course, even in this case there are many tools available, among which surely there are Game Engine specialized in a certain sector (such as sidescroller or for JRPG, etc.) or there are Game Engines that can play different roles.

Personally I always recommend starting with a small project when you want to learn how to use a Game Engine and only after a while to move on to more challenging games or projects. One of the biggest problems for those who start moving in this field alone is that of wanting to make immediately, alone and without experience, a game that can compete with an AAA while creating Music, Mesh, Animations, Cinematics, Textures, Plot and everything that goes through our minds. Always start with a small project, you will always have the opportunity to learn and add something if necessary at a later time.

Unless there is a dedicated Game Engine for what you want to do I recommend that you learn how to use Game Engine like Unity or Unreal Engine. I personally use Unreal Engine (the more difficult of the two).

They are VERY difficult to learn but they have many assets ready to be able to test and learn by seeing projects already made by others, they also have a lot of material such as manuals or courses that can help you take your first steps or perfect your skills.

Unity and Unreal Engine are more difficult to learn than other Game Engines but they can become a profitable career and the acquired knowledge can also be recycled for other projects even outside the world of video games such as being able to make animated films, special effects or cartoons.


Below I put a video that may be useful for you to see the potential of these tools:

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you want to try to make video games the path is really really long and full of notions to learn but it is a path that we can choose to follow at our own pace.

Consistency is the first of the necessary qualities because there will be setbacks and obstacles to overcome but with time everything can be learned.


As a Bonus tip since you've followed me all the way through this article, I also recommend using One Drive.

One Drive is an excellent tool to be able to manage all the files with the ideas and proposals for your games, especially to have everything shared on different platforms such as the phone or the PC to be able to take notes in any situation.

The tables can also be exported to be used by the Game Engine in order to define the amount of damage done by the different Weapons in the game or to calibrate everything from a single point without modifying the individual objects manually.

Finally, it is convenient to have an organized management of all the documentation of a single project as it could be useful to share files with others and form a small independent team if you are lucky enough to be able to do this journey in the company of one or more friends.

I hope this article makes you want to start making video games or can be of help if you are taking your first steps.

© 2021 Christian Allasia

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