Developers submit their favourite tools for thrifty game development

7 free tools that can save your studio

It is said that ‘a poor tradesman always blames his tools’, but Develop submits in response a far more realistic (certainly far more eloquent) phrase of its own: ‘Good tools are good’.

And as part of its new push to engage and aid indies, Develop has assembled a list of the most useful free programs to use, assembled with the help of our beloved Twitter followers (which you can become one of here).


Four million people already swear by Dropbox. It’s an online storage and syncing tool that allows devs to share thier assets and files.

The program has a simple drag-and-drop interface that doesn’t hog bandwidth, and doesn’t bother you, and doesn’t hate unknown file types, and doesn’t care whether you’re using a PC or a Mac.

2GB of storage space to play around with are free to all, with up to 100GB available to paying customers. It’s secure, foolproof, and clearly designed with flexibility in mind.

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Curtis Brunet
Simon Barratt
Stewart Gilray
Toby Barnes
Tony Wariner

Tiled Map Editor

Tiled is a general purpose tile map editor with XML-based map format. It is known for its ease of use and is flexible enough to work with varying game engines and in different game genres.

The free application supports orthogonal and isometric maps, and supports input/output plugins to open and save files in custom formats. Aspiring indie dev Stew Hogarth says he uses it with almost every project.

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Stew Hogarth


If it seems obvious, then that’s a good thing. Skype offers free personal calls between its users, which is great, but the programme also allows its users to set up simple conference calls.

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Hand Circus
Stewart Gilray


This one was recommended as an excellent free tool for dialog and storyboard creation. The tool is prided on being “the most complete media pre-production system available, replacing ‘paper & binder’ pre-production with a digital approach that’s more complete, simpler to work with, and easier to share.”

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Jeff Spock


We’re certain the most prominent image in your head right now is, of course, a ‘GNU Image Manipulation Program’.

In its creators own words, "Gimp is our answer to the current lack of free (or at least reasonably priced) image manipulation software." In our words, it’s free Photoshop for Mac Windows and Linux.

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The more a project grows closer to completion, the easier it is to mismanage your data. Subversion is an open-source program that hopes to remedy this problem.

It allows users to manage files and directories, as well as recover older versions of documents. It also allows you to track through the history of modifications, and can be accessed across networks from multiple computers.

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Simon Barratt


Not just a live audio recorder, Audacity allows users to edit and splice their sound files with surprising a degree of precision for a free application. Users can cut, copy, mix, as well as adjust things like tempo and pitch.

It features a straightforward interface, and is flexible enough to accept numerous sound file types. It is also built around a strong community should you ever need sound advice from thousands who have been there before.

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