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My friend and I would like to program a 2D game. We were discussing about tools needed, so while I am working on the tools, he will work on game logic and stuff. Probably I will put our tools into the open source circuit once finished, so in your experience what kinds of tools are really needed, but don't already exist for free? I was thinking about what to work on first, so far my list is:

  • Texture generator
  • Path editor
  • Path finder
  • Grid visibility calculator (sort of PVS but for 2D)
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Some quick advice: focus on the game, not on the tools. Make them if you need to, but otherwise use ones that already exist, since your overall goal is a game (not a bunch of tools for a game). –  li.davidm Jun 12 '11 at 3:51

2 Answers 2

A simple 2D shader editor would be pretty awesome. NVIDIA's FX Composer is very good but also very overblown for what you need for 2D games.

While Tile and Map editors are usually needed, you don't need to make them yourself. There are tons and tons of freeware and opensource editors out there (for example: http://www.mapeditor.org/ ) with easy-to-parse map formats, and most of them will be better than what you'll be able to do.

Other than that, your tools will probably be game-specific. For example, you might want to program a tool which lets you create and maniuplate new types of objects in your world easily. Or you might need a tool that enables you to create and cut cutscenes in your engine. The sky is the limit.

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With the exception of the "path finder" (which is generally not a tool and usually something built in to the game logic, unless you are doing pre-baked navigation through a search space), the items you listed sound like potentially viable tools in general. Whether or not they will be useful for your game depends, of course, on the kind of game your making and its specific design. If you need all those kinds of tools, then by all means build them. But build them because your game needs them, and then consider if you should release them as open source projects -- you may find that they end up being far too specific to your personal game to be that useful to others.

Tile and map editors tend to be very commonly needed. It's quite hard to make a suitably general-purpose one, but for your game, it may be something to consider building.

If your goal is to make a game, you shouldn't be focusing your tools development around "what tools don't exist for free that I could make and release," but instead "what tools do I need for this game?" It will be a far more productive line of inquiry.

Not all 2D games require the same kind of assets or technology -- for example, not all games require path data that is complex enough to warrant a custom tool to author that path data. Many games that do could get away with using existing vector image editing programs to author the path and massaging the output format from the image editor. Likewise with "texture generator" -- by which I assume you mean a tool for tweaking inputs to various procedural texture generation algorithms or something.

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