12 handy free productivity tools for game designers

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If you’re an indie game designer, chances are you have to wear lots of hats, just like me. On top of writing and coding, we generally have to dive into level design, posting online, and all sorts of stuff! That why today, I’m sharing with you a list of the 12 free productivity tools I use extensively on my day-to-day job.

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Desktop tools

1- Shoebox

Shoebox is what its name suggests: a shoebox full of wonderful tools! It extracts sprites, generates sprite atlases, bitmap fonts, and does much more! Cherry on the cake: Shoebox’s UI is slick and very easy to use. It all works with drag and drop.

Please note that you need to have the Air runtime installed to run that application.

(Windows and Mac OSX)

2- Caesium

Caesium is a fast, open source image compression software. I’ve tried out a few in the past, and Caesium really shined for its efficiency. With this software, you can quickly optimize both your JPG and PNG files for your website or your game’s build.

I used it to compress my bank of reference images from 12 gbs down to about 3.5 gbs.

(Windows only)

3- Bulk Rename Utility

Another free gem! Bulk Rename Utility is a batch renaming tool. Its interface may look a bit daunting at first, but it offers a lot of flexibility. Whether you need to add an index to your files’ names, rename pictures using their metadata or pretty much anything you could think of, this software does the job! It also gives you a preview of the names it will generate in real time.

(Windows Only)

4- Tiled Map Editor

Tiled is simply the best free tile map editor available out there! Once again, it’s an easy to use piece of software, with a clean interface. It offers a solid autotile feature, and tools to quickly generate or add variations to your levels. Not only that, but with Tiled, you can generate data such as shapes and variables to later use in your game engine as interactive elements!

(Windows, Mac and Linux)

5- Bfxr

Bfxr is an online tool that excels at generating placeholder/retro sound effects for your games. It’s perfect whenever you’re prototyping a pixel art game or participating in a game jam. It is also available as a standalone version for both windows and mac.

(Windows and Mac)

6- Picasa

Picasa is my picture manager of choice. It is clean and easy to use. It integrates with google plus, which is a… plus, I guess? But it offers one powerful feature that all artists will love! Need to create a reference, or mood board for your next painting? With Picasa, you just have to select a few pictures, go to the create menu and click “Picture Collage”. Voilà!

(Windows only)

7- FastKeys

FastKeys does a great job at automating tasks. It’s a text expander, macro manager, and auto completion software. You can add shortcuts, setup mouse gestures, create your own context menu… FastKeys offers many, many handy functions. It is very discreet, but it’s great to be able to paste text without formatting or to lower your speaker’s volume just with your mouse wheel.

It is available for free with occasional reminders to buy a license. Otherwise, it only costs 10$.

(Windows Only)

8- Keepass

You may not have expected a tool like Keepass in that list: Keepass is an account and password manager. It offers a safe way to store all of you online account data in one place. Not only that, but it can type your account credentials on forums and social networks faster than light! You can also open a list of websites from within the software, and categorize your accounts.

(Windows, Mac and Linux)

Web tools

9- Trello

Trello offers a visual and flexible way to plan your projects! On Trello, you can organize your team’s work with cards and todolists. You can upload photos and add colored labels to your cards, discuss tasks… It’s visual, it’s intuitive, and it works with simple, drag and drop interactions. On top of that, Trello works well in conjunction with Dropbox and Google Drive, if you need to share files with your teammates.

10- Buffer

Buffer is a tool for social media. It makes easy to queue up posts on your social network accounts, and to share articles or pages you stumble upon online. It offers some analytics on your posts as well. Although the free version is limited as far as what you can do, Buffer covers most of your needs as an indie game designer. It is also very easy to use, and available as a Chrome extension.

11- Conjure.io

Conjure is pretty amazing. If you need to work with an artist, you’re going to love it! This tool permits you to share your design, get interactive feedback, and approve or disapprove pieces. It handles versioning and variations of your designs beautifully! In that case, you really have to take a look at it to understand how clean and efficient it is. All I can say is that it’s an excellent tool to work with your art teammates, and freelance designers.

12- Habit RPG

Last but not least, let’s take a quick look at this wonderful online app. Habit RPG is a gamified todolist. It rewards you for getting your work done, which is quite motivating! It feels very unique and practical thanks to its dailies system! Dailies are simply recurring tasks you need to tackle each day. On top of that, you can queue up general tasks that you have to do to earn more experience points and rewards. If you’re struggling to get work done, Habit RPG can help.

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Original Article on GDquest.com 

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