Category Archives: music

The tools of the trade

Welcome back. Today I want to talk about the tools I use while developing games (well I talk about the development tools for GalaxiTaxi).

The choice of the right tools and development environments is an important task. After I know on which platform I want to develop I have to adjust and learn new tools almost every time. But fortunately some tools stay the same. The first tool I use most often is a pencil and some paper – believe it or not. I use it to get my brain sorted and quickly scribble some ideas or solve math or logic problems. I always carry a pen and paper with me – even on holidays as I never know when inspiration hits me.
My second most used tool is Omnigraffle Professional for the Mac. Since I develop most of my games on a Mac (but not necessarily for the Mac) it is the best choice in mind mapping software combined with an incredibly easy to use vector drawing tool that I know of. It is close to perfect for working on my ideas and interface layouts since it does not hinder me while thinking and creating. That said it is only good enough for scribbling vector art or interfaces.
The main graphical tools I use areĀ  of course Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Both programs are relatively hard to master, but if I want to compete on a professional level, that is the way to go. A rather excellent addition to Photoshop is FilterForge. I use it alot when creating e.g. starmaps or textures from scratch. It combines Photoshop filters and macros to do some of the more tedious tasks more efficiently. Without such great tools, that make my life easier, I would have to spend much time working around the game than actually for the game. I hear a lot of small developers complaining about the high costs of professional tools like Photoshop. While it is true that there are many cheap alternatives to professional tools like the aforementioned (like gimp) they do not have that army of professional users in most cases or the expandability. The community are the people that make a good tool great and feed me with information on how to get most out of these tools. This is a very important truth that I learned over a long period of time: Without a dedicated community a tool is only half as good. I still need to learn Flash for animations. I think it would make my life easier, but until now I really didn’t have the time and I animate mainly using Photoshop.
For GalaxiTaxi I started programming again. I learned programming a long while ago in my life and I was not to keen to get into it again, because I designed and wrote documents or lead teams most of the time. But since the beginning of this year, I am a real lone wolf and want to do everything on my own. A task that is both interesting and challenging. To succeed I need a programming language that is easy to get into and that will bring back the fun of coding to me. I tried to get into Unity, C#, Objective C and never felt right at home. But then I discovered the Corona SDK, which really brought back the fun and was so easy to understand, that I set out to do the whole project on my own. The scripting language is LUA and I am still amazed how fast the whole process went. I started about Christmas and I have now a game with physics, cute little aliens, multipliers, stars, level unlocks, savegames, highscores, a dozent levels, tilesets, transitions and even music and sound. I am really impressed about the progress.
Speaking of music and sound. I mainly use Garageband on the Mac – another incredible tool to do both my own music and sound. For cutting and converting music and sounds I use Audacity (which is available for free on different platforms). You can listen to a small ingame track here:
For the level design of my small game I use tilEd, a not yet finished but relatively stable 2D tile editor. It still has some issues, but beats working with raw XML datasheets by great lengths.
So I have to learn a lot for my dream job, but every second I spend is just pure fun as I am doing what I really want to do for a living. Thanks for reading!

Tomorrow it is time for some infos to the Corona SDK and some third party tools I use. So, see you tomorrow!