Game development is a potentially expensive proposition. Most AAA studios spend millions of dollars on a single game. But fear not, for there are several cheap/free alternatives that can help get you started. Keep in mind that these aren’t the CryEngine, so don’t get upset when your game doesn’t come out looking like Crysis.
Blender is open source, freeware modeling program which just had a major release/upgrade with 2.57. With it’s latest release Blender has upgraded its capabilities that make it very close being on-par with professional level programs such as Maya. There a few things that Blender has going for it:
- Open source: Blender is 100% modifiable. If you know what your doing, your free to go and make all the tweaks and adjustments to it that your heart desires. With 2.57, Blender has it so that people can upload/download plug-ins created by other Blender users. These add-ons modify just about every type of functionality that the program is capable of.
- Free: That’s right free. So there’s no reason NOT to download it.
- Small size: For a fairly intense and powerful program, Blender takes up a scary small amount of space. My roommate was going to download Maya a couple weeks ago but saw that it took up 10 gigs. With Blender it was 20 megs.
- Built-in Game Engine: Yes boys and girls, not only can make amazing models and graphics but it can make your game as well. Blender uses Python to run everything, so if you plan on using Blender to make games best you brush up on Python.
- Documentation: There is a lot of documentation behind Blender and a very in depth and helpfully community. Odds are that if you’re trying to do something and get stuck, someone else has done it first and can help you.
Unity is a game engine that is free for the base level engine, with upgrades for mobile and pro versions that are $400 and $1,500 respectively. I’ve used Unity for some of my classes and it runs really well and has a lot of functionality. The nice thing about Unity is that, like Blender, there is a lot of documentation behind it to help you out.
Audacity is a freeware audio editor. While not the greatest for adding effects, Audacity will get the job done when it comes to just basic editing.
Fmod is a really cool tool that I’m not quite sure how to describe. The simplest description is that it is used to create and edit game audio and set up events and then bundle them all together so that you don’t have to hardcode every sound clip and it’s specific trigger.
Well, that’s my list. There’s a lot of other cheap/freeware tools out there for game development, all you gotta do is a google search for them and you’ll find dozens of options, but in my (albeit limited) experience these offer some of the best choices for your next-to-nothing buck.