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Must-Have Tools for Game Developers

What are the essential tools for a game developer? What tools can help them to work quicker and be more productive?

In my days as a freelance writer and developer, I relied heavily on a hap-hazard approach to organization, knowledge of Wordpress and a copy of MS Word to get me through. People doing exactly the same as me relied on a host of tools to get them through and I could never see the allure.

A few years later I was developing full time and I had completely changed my approach. I was using a number of tools to get me by and I continue to use them. Here are the tools I think all developers need to keep in mind:

Coding Software

First, it’s important to start with the basics. You need a code editor. There are many of these available, but for me, Sublime 2 is the best one. It’s perfect for code editing on the fly and just feels so much more intuitive than anything else.  You can also customize it to suit your needs and on top of everything else, it’s free!

What more could you ask for? I also use Git Bash and I have tried many others, but it’s rare that something sticks like Sublime 2 has.

Screenshots and Note Taking

You can take screenshots on most computers and you don’t need a tool for this, but with Snag It you can do so much more. It’s just as quick and easy as taking them from your computer’s built-in screen grab, but there are many more features.

Note taking is also something that your computer has built-in programs for, but again, I prefer to use an additional program. The best I have found is EverNote. You can make notes on many devices and sync them all together. If you’re like me and are forever taking notes and forgetting them, this is a great way. Just make sure you commit to the sync, otherwise they will stay lost.

Organization Tools

I have personally struggled to find an effective program. I still use a haphazard approach and it’s not the best, but at the same time, I haven’t been able to get to grips with a tool that promises to do it for me. They seem too complicated, too fussy and it’s easier to just ignore them. The one that has come the closest to fitting into my regime is Asana, which is much more lightweight and therefore much more manageable.

If you want to use one of these tools, I would recommend it. But I will stick with the random sticky notes, Word Docs, open tabs and other chaotic methods.

Web Developing

I mainly focus on game development these days, but I still do the occasional web development work every now and then. For this, there are are few essential tools. The first is SEMRush. It will give you a complete rundown of everything from websites to keywords and more. Anyone can pass themselves off as an SEO expert with this software, and when you consider how much these experts are valued, that’s essential.

It is also cheaper, easier and, in my opinion, better than Moz, which seems to be the gold standard in this industry. If you get involved with creating your own websites I would also advise getting an account on Majestic, which can help you to manage guest posts and backlinks. Not an essential for a developer, but an essential for a webmaster.

Game Controllers

You can’t knock a good controller. It’s not just for gamers. You can use them to create and you can also use them to test. In the early days I refused to use them and always preferred the old fashioned keyboard and mouse. But after being introduced to the better ones on the market and seeing how useful they were, I was won over.

Don’t be scared to spend a little more and to buy something more comprehensive. The best controllers will offer better control, more features and more integration, which is just what you need.

Accounting Software

If you want to avoid an audit, then this is essential. In the past I’ve come close to facing an audit and it’s not pleasant. In fact, it’s terrifying. Back then it was all down to my inability to keep files in check and it very nearly cost me.

It was a scare that I needed to get me going and to convince me to start using accounting software. I struggled with a couple of these in the beginning but eventually settled on Quickbooks, which was the easiest for me. It might not suit you, but if you’re self-employed then you really need software like this.

It will keep track of all expenses, all income and everything else you need, before filing your taxes at the end of the year. It really does make life easier.

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