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Best game development tools: 50+ top game dev tools

Inworld Team
December 15, 2023
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Game dev tools are critical for supporting different stages of game development. They help facilitate the creation of character models, gameplay physics, AI for non-playable characters (NPCs), icons, menus, sound effects, help screens, buttons, and even backend systems integral to game development.

With the rapid advancement of technology, every year a new wave of video game development tools emerge to join the tried and tested tools all game developers can’t live without. In recent years, that’s included tools that leverage AI to, not only streamline the development process, but also push the boundaries of what's possible in game creation. 

From assisting in generating landscapes to building autonomous AI NPCs players can talk to voice-to-voice, AI-powered tools are finding a place alongside game developer tools that have been around for decades.  

In this post, we'll explore some of the top game development tools available in 2024, highlight their functionalities, and explain how they help game developers. 

AI tools for game development

Inworld AI 

Link: Inworld AI 
Category: AI NPC game development tools

Overview

Inworld AI has developed a comprehensive Character Engine designed to create and power AI NPCs (non-playable characters) with multimodal capabilities that extend beyond traditional large language models (LLMs). It adds a number of features essential for game development including things like configurable safety features, knowledge retention, memory functions, narrative controls, and multimodal features, setting it apart from standard AI models.

Inworld’s AI NPCs are designed to fit seamlessly into the game world and also handle voice orchestration, animations, emotions, goals and actions, and more. That makes the process of adding AI NPCs to a game significantly more streamlined and means that a studio does not need a whole machine learning division to implement AI NPCs.  

Why devs love it

Devs like Inworld AI for its holistic character creation Studio that allows for the development of NPCs with unique personalities and contextual awareness. The Inworld Character Engine also prioritizes real-time latency, scalability, and performance optimization, making it appealing for developers who want robust AI NPCs that can function dynamically within their game environments without compromising latency. Its focus on safety, nuanced memory, and narrative controls adds depth to the NPCs, allowing developers to create more immersive and interactive experiences for players.

Scenario AI  

Link: Scenario
Category: AI tools for game development, asset creation

Overview

Scenario AI is an AI-powered game asset generation tool created to streamline content creation for game developers. It offers a time-efficient solution that allows game developers to swiftly produce engaging game elements and assets.

This AI tool for game development allows developers to curate and upload their own training data, including various game elements like characters, props, and structures, to ensure that the assets it generates are tailored to the game and high-quality.

Why devs love it

While not every developer is a fan of generative assets, those that use Scenario AI like it because it allows them to experiment with novel game concepts and ideas efficiently. It enables efficient ideation and rapid prototyping, providing a platform where developers can breathe life into their gaming visions with minimal input. This ease-of-use and adaptability make Scenario AI a go-to choice for game developers looking to streamline asset creation process while still maintaining their own creative vision.

Other AI tools for game development

Design & art game development tools

Blender 

Link: Blender  
Category:
3D game development tools

Overview

Blender is a versatile open-source 3D creation suite. Its appeal lies in its wide array of features that cater to various aspects of game development. Notably, Blender offers robust modeling capabilities allowing users to craft intricate 3D models, characters, environments, and animations. 

Its flexible and powerful sculpting tools help artists to create detailed and visually stunning assets, while its texture painting feature allows for seamless texturing directly on the model surface. Blender also boasts a sophisticated animation system supporting rigging, keyframing, and motion tracking, providing developers with a complete suite for character and object animations. And, as if that wasn’t enough, with the integration of the Cycles and EEVEE render engines, Blender allows for high-quality output with real-time rendering and photorealistic effects.

Why devs love it

Game developers think Blender is one of the best tools for game development because of its extensive toolset and its accessibility as an open-source software. Its user-friendly interface, continuous updates, and community-driven development, foster a dynamic environment for both seasoned developers and newcomers to 3D modeling and animation. It’s one of the best indie game dev tools since it allows them access to professional-grade tools without a big price tag. Blender's active and passionate community contributes to its wealth of tutorials, plugins, and resources, providing invaluable support and insights for users.

Inkscape 

Link: Inkscape 
Category: Vector graphics & 2D game development tools

Overview

Inkscape is a powerful and free vector graphics editor, offering a wide array of features for game developers. Its most useful feature is its capability to create scalable vector graphics (SVG), supporting a variety of graphic design needs. 

Inkscape allows users to design intricate 2D artwork, logos, icons, textures, and backgrounds, providing a platform for creating visually appealing game assets. Notably, it supports a range of file formats, making it compatible with other design software and game engines. Its flexibility in handling vector graphics, along with its comprehensive tools for shapes, paths, text, and gradients, sets it apart as one of the best game developer tools.

Why devs love it

Game developers appreciate Inkscape for its user-friendly interface and its compatibility with other graphic design software. As an open-source 2D game development tool, Inkscape is available for free, which greatly benefits indie developers and small studios. Overall, Inkscape's capabilities in creating scalable vector graphics, combined with its ease of use and community support, make it a favored tool among game developers for asset creation and design.

Quixel 

Link: Quixel
Category: Environment and textures game development tools

Overview

Quixel is a comprehensive suite of tools and assets designed for creating high-quality 3D environments and textures for games. One of its most loved features is Megascans, an extensive library of high-fidelity, scan-based assets like 3D models, textures, materials, and vegetation. These assets are meticulously crafted to create hyper-realistic details, enabling developers to create immersive and visually stunning game worlds. Quixel Mixer, another part of the Quixel suite, offers a versatile material creation platform that allows for texture blending, layering, and customization, providing developers with unprecedented control over their designs.

Why devs love it

Developers appreciate Quixel for its extensive library of high-quality, photorealistic assets that significantly streamlines the game development pipeline. Megascans' vast collection of assets offers unparalleled realism and detail, reducing the time and effort required for asset creation. Quixel's assets are seamlessly integrated with leading game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity, ensuring compatibility and ease of use. Quixel Mixer also empowers developers to create custom materials and textures, providing a level of flexibility and creative control that contributes to the uniqueness and visual richness of their games.

Speedtree 

Link: Speedtree
Category: Foliage and vegetation game development tools

Overview

SpeedTree is a specialized video game development tool for creating realistic and dynamic foliage and vegetation. Its key feature lies in the ability to generate highly detailed and lifelike trees, plants, and other vegetation models efficiently. 

SpeedTree stands out for its procedural modeling approach, allowing developers to create a vast array of trees and plants with customizable parameters like shape, size, and foliage density. Its library includes a diverse collection of species, offering a wide range of presets and variations for different environments and climates.

Why devs love it

Game developers like SpeedTree because it allows them to swiftly generate complex and realistic foliage, crucial for enhancing the visual appeal and realism of game environments. Its procedural generation capabilities streamline the creation process, allowing for quick iterations and adjustments to suit various artistic styles and game settings. The tool's integration with popular game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity ensures seamless integration, making it easy to import SpeedTree assets directly into game projects. 

Krita 

Link: Krita
Category: Digital painting game development tools

Overview

Krita is a robust digital painting software designed for artists, illustrators, and game developers. It’s well-loved for its comprehensive set of features that cater to the creation of intricate concept art, character designs, and textures. The tool offers an extensive array of brushes, customizable brush engines, and brush stabilizers, allowing artists to achieve diverse textures and effects. Its layer-based workflow allows for non-destructive editing, enabling users to experiment freely without compromising the original artwork.

Why devs love it

Developers appreciate Krita for its versatility and focus on artistic creation, which extends to game development. Its user-friendly interface and intuitive tools simplify the creation of the visually stunning concept art, backgrounds, and assets required for game development. The tool's extensive brush collection and support for custom brush creation offers flexibility in achieving varied art styles – which is essential for game artistry. 

Character Creation Pipeline 

Link: CC Pipeline
Category: Game development planning tools, character creation

Overview

The Character Creation Pipeline tool is an integrated system designed specifically for creating and managing characters in game development. It streamlines the entire character creation process, encompassing modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, and integration into the game engine. 

This tool often includes a suite of features such as customizable character templates, sculpting and painting tools, auto-rigging functionalities, motion capture integration, and seamless export capabilities to game engines. What sets it apart is its ability to handle the entire character creation workflow within a unified environment, allowing for smoother collaboration and iteration among artists and developers.

Why devs love it

Developers value the Character Creation Pipeline for its efficiency in generating high-quality characters while maintaining consistency across the development pipeline. Its comprehensive set of tools caters to various aspects of character creation, allowing artists to craft intricate models, textures, and animations while ensuring compatibility with game engines. This tool's seamless integration and export functionalities contribute significantly to reducing the complexities of transferring characters into the game environment, saving time and streamlining the overall production process. 

Other design & art game developer tools

Source code game developer tools

Visual Studio Code 

Link: Visual Studio Code
Category: Source code video game development tools

Overview

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a widely used and highly versatile source-code editor, revered for its lightweight yet powerful functionalities. Its best feature is its extensibility and adaptability, offering an extensive library of extensions that cater to various programming languages and frameworks commonly used in game development. 

With features like IntelliSense for smart code completion, debugging tools, and Git integration, VS Code streamlines the coding process for game developers. Its ease of customization through themes and extensions allows developers to personalize their coding environment to suit their preferences and workflow.

Why devs love it

Developers gravitate toward Visual Studio Code and believe it’s one of the best tools for game development because of its flexibility and efficiency. Its robust set of features caters to various programming languages, making it great for different aspects of game development, from scripting to backend server code. Its lightweight nature and responsiveness ensure smooth performance even when handling large codebases. VS Code's integrated terminal and debugger tools also aid developers in identifying and fixing issues swiftly.

Plask 

Link: Plask
Category: Code game development tools

Overview

Plask is a creative coding platform that allows developers to craft visually appealing and interactive experiences using JavaScript and WebGL. Its most loved feature is its emphasis on live coding, allowing real-time alterations to the code and visual outputs. The tool's flexible design and seamless integration with web technologies enable artists and developers to create immersive 2D and 3D graphics, animations, and audiovisual projects directly within a web browser.

Why devs love it

Developers are drawn to Plask for its ability to facilitate rapid prototyping and experimentation. Its intuitive interface coupled with the power of live coding encourages iterative development and quick visualization of ideas. Its open-source nature fosters a supportive community environment where users share knowledge and collaborate on various projects, making it an appealing choice for those keen on exploring innovative approaches to creative coding and game development.

Other design & art game developer tools

Visual effects & animations game dev tools

Houdini FX 

Link: Houdini

Category: Visual effects and animations game development tools

Overview

Houdini FX is a powerful software known for its node-based procedural approach to generating complex visual effects and animations. Its standout feature is its node-based workflow, offering a flexible and robust environment for creating intricate simulations, particle effects, and detailed 3D models. 

Houdini's procedural nature allows artists and developers to create customizable and scalable effects that can be adapted and reused across different projects, saving time and effort in game development pipelines. Its ability to handle intricate simulations, such as fluid dynamics, pyro effects, and cloth simulations also contributes to making it one of the best tools for game development. 

Why devs love it

Game developers choose Houdini FX for its unparalleled capabilities in creating high-quality, realistic, and customizable effects and animations. Its procedural workflow provides an unmatched level of control and precision, empowering developers to craft intricate details and realistic environments for their games. Houdini's integration with game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity makes it a versatile tool for creating content directly optimized for gaming environments. Its procedural nature also allows for non-destructive editing and facilitates changes at any stage of development without compromising the entire project. 

Mixamo

Link: Mixamo
Category: Animation game development tools

Overview

Mixamo, now a part of Adobe, is a robust tool that simplifies character animation and rigging processes for game developers. It offers game developers an extensive library of pre-made character models and animations that can be customized and integrated into various game engines. 

One of Mixamo’s best features is its automated rigging and animation process, which enables users to apply animations to 3D characters effortlessly. Also, its asset library contains a diverse range of animations suitable for different genres, saving considerable time in creating and rigging characters from scratch.

Why devs love it

Developers love Mixamo for its user-friendly interface and the vast collection of high-quality, royalty-free assets. The tool's ability to provide quick and easy character animation solutions, along with seamless integration into popular game development workflows, makes it a go-to resource for indie developers and studios alike. Its compatibility with various software and engines, such as Unity and Unreal Engine, coupled with Adobe's backing, enhances its appeal among game creators seeking efficient character animation solutions for their projects.

Other visual effects game developer tools

Backend game dev tools

SpatialOS 

Link: SpatialOS

Category: Cloud game development tools

Overview

SpatialOS is a cloud-based platform designed to facilitate the development of large-scale, persistent, and multiplayer games. It stands out for its ability to support massive game worlds and simulations by leveraging distributed computing. 

The platform provides a suite of tools and services that enable developers to create complex and immersive virtual environments without the constraints of traditional server architectures. With SpatialOS, developers can seamlessly manage and synchronize numerous entities within a game world, allowing for intricate interactions and dynamic gameplay scenarios.

Why devs love it

Developers appreciate SpatialOS for its scalability and versatility in handling vast game worlds and persistent online experiences. The platform's innovative architecture allows for seamless integration with various game engines, allowing developers to enhance their games with expansive multiplayer functionality and persistent environments. SpatialOS enables the creation of ambitious projects that were previously much more challenging due to hardware limitations, offering a solution for developers seeking to build large-scale, dynamic, and interconnected virtual worlds. 

GameBench 

Link: GameBench
Category: Testing game development tools

Overview

GameBench is a performance testing and benchmarking tool used to analyze the performance of games and apps on various devices. It allows developers to assess how their games perform on different hardware configurations and operating systems. GameBench offers real-time monitoring capabilities, allowing developers to identify performance bottlenecks, measure frame rates, CPU usage, memory consumption, and energy efficiency during gameplay.

Why devs love it

What developers appreciate about GameBench is its ability to provide comprehensive performance analytics, helping them optimize games for different devices and ensuring a smoother gaming experience for users across various platforms. It offers detailed insights into resource usage, allowing developers to fine-tune their games for optimal performance on a wide range of devices. GameBench's simplicity and effectiveness in identifying performance issues make it a valuable tool for developers seeking to enhance their games' performance and compatibility.

Other backend game developer tools

Online video game development tools

PlayCanvas  

Link: PlayCanvas 
Category: Web-based game development tools

Overview

PlayCanvas is a web-based game development platform that specializes in creating lightweight, WebGL-powered games and interactive 3D content directly in a browser. It's an open-source engine with a user-friendly interface, allowing developers to create visually stunning and performant experiences without the need for extensive downloads or installations. One of its standout features is its real-time collaborative editing, enabling multiple team members to work simultaneously on a project, fostering efficient collaboration and iteration.

Why devs love it

Developers use PlayCanvas for its accessibility and efficiency in creating visually appealing and high-performance games that can run smoothly on various devices and browsers. Its cloud-based nature allows for easy access and sharing of projects, facilitating seamless collaboration among teams across different locations. PlayCanvas is known for its simplicity in asset importing and scene creation, making it a favorite among developers looking to create 3D games and experiences for the web without the steep learning curve often associated with complex game engines. 

Other online video game developer tools

Collaboration game dev tools

Parsec  

Link: Parsec
Category: Collaboration game development tools

Overview

Parsec is a remote desktop tool specifically designed for low-latency, high-definition game streaming and collaboration. It allows users to access and share their gaming desktops across different devices over the internet, enabling remote gameplay and collaboration. 

One of its key features is its ability to deliver low-latency, high-quality video streaming even on machines with different specifications, something that’s crucial for gaming applications. Parsec stands out for its ease of use, offering straightforward setup processes and accessibility across various operating systems.

Why devs love it

Developers appreciate Parsec for its robust streaming capabilities that allow seamless collaboration and real-time interaction during game development. It facilitates remote collaboration among teams by providing a reliable platform for sharing and accessing game development environments. Its low-latency streaming ensures a near-native gaming experience even when team members are working from different locations, enhancing productivity and efficiency in collaborative game development efforts. 

Incredibuild 

Link: Incredibuild

Category: Distributed computing game development tool

Overview 

Incredibuild is a distributed computing solution designed to accelerate software development by leveraging idle resources across a network to parallelize compilation and various tasks. Its standout feature is the ability to distribute and execute build and development processes across multiple machines, significantly reducing build times. 

Incredibuild uses a unique approach called ‘virtualized mode,’ allowing seamless integration with popular development environments like Visual Studio, Unreal Engine, and others. This game development tool stands out for its adaptability to different development environments and project sizes, optimizing compilation times regardless of the project's complexity.

Why devs love it

Developers appreciate Incredibuild for its capacity to drastically reduce build times, often cutting down hours of compilation into mere minutes. Its ability to distribute computing tasks across networked machines enhances efficiency, allowing developers to focus on iterative development rather than waiting for long build processes to complete. Incredibuild's compatibility with various development tools and its transparent integration into existing workflows make it a valuable asset, particularly for large-scale game development projects. 

Shotgrid 

Link: Shotgrid

Category: Game development planning tools

Overview

Shotgrid, previously known as Shotgun, is a production management and collaboration platform tailored for game development, film, and television. It serves as a centralized hub for managing project data, facilitating collaboration among team members, and overseeing the entire production pipeline. 

Shotgrid offers extensive features like task tracking, version control, review and approval systems, and asset management, providing a comprehensive solution for streamlining workflows. One of its best features is its flexibility, allowing customization to suit specific project needs and workflows, whether for small indie studios or large-scale AAA game development.

Why devs love it 

Developers choose Shotgrid for its ability to centralize and organize production assets and tasks, providing a holistic view of the project's status. Its robust tracking and version control systems enable teams to efficiently manage assets, revisions, and tasks, fostering collaboration and improving overall productivity. Shotgrid's versatility in adapting to different production pipelines and its user-friendly interface make it a go-to choice for game development teams seeking an efficient and comprehensive project management tool. 

Helix Core 

Link: Helix Core
Category: Version control game development tool

Overview

Helix Core is a version control and collaboration tool designed to manage large-scale game development projects. It offers robust version control capabilities, allowing teams to track changes, manage assets, and collaborate seamlessly. Its ability to handle a wide variety of file types, including large binary files, makes it well-suited for game development, where assets can be substantial and numerous.

Why devs love it

Developers love Helix Core for its scalability and high-performance features that ensure teams can work efficiently on complex projects. Its branching and merging capabilities allow for parallel development, enabling teams to work on different features simultaneously without compromising the integrity of the project. Helix Core's robust security measures, extensive integrations with other development tools, and its ability to handle massive amounts of data efficiently make it a preferred choice for game development teams looking for a reliable version control system.

Other collaboration game dev tools

Try Inworld’s Character Engine

Want to add AI NPCs to your game without all the trouble of integrating a large language model directly? Inworld’s Character Engine is a game development tool that accelerates your game development through value-added features and narrative design tools that help you create truly immersive NPCs and use them in your game to improve player engagement and core game metrics. 

Curious? Try out Inworld Studio and our SDKs today! Or read about others who integrated Inworld. 

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