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:?: Do you have any suggestions for what program I should use to create my game? :?: I preffer a free program.

I NEED HELP!!!! is a good resource.

And it depends on the type of program you're looking for.

Joined: 12/31/1969

See the Downloads section of this site, either the software section as well as the graphics editors section, depending on what you're looking for.

Johan's picture
Joined: 10/05/2008

It depends on what type of games you are designing.

I make games as a hobby and I'm spending 10 to 40 hours per week on it. I have used a lot of programs in the design process. When I select tool, it is based on what I want to archive. How to use a new tool takes time and I have to decide before I start with a new tool, if it will be worth the time.
There is no tool that can do everything and the tool that will not do the work for you.

The tools I'm mostly using are.

The first tool is always notepad (actually I'm using Ultra Edit, but that is the same). I write down everything I want to have in the game (as a list). Then I start to group the list to one basic module and extra modules (one of my games "The Princess and the Bard" has the basic module ready, two more modules up for tests and six modules are in the pipeline).
This tool is Simple and effective.

MS Word
MS Word is my word processor (there are several other programs, but this editor has the most of it) for writing the rules. It is possible to present the rules as a Word file, but this tool is short of some design functionality's.

I have tried Visio, Corel Draw, Photoshop, PageMaker and some other programs to design markers, cards and game boards. Still I think that PP is the easiest tool for this job (together with Adobe Distiller for the pdf files).
I never use PP for (hex) maps.

I never use paint, but both my daughters are using this tool and they get (near) professional results. They like the simplicity of the tool (they doing a lot of the artwork for my games).
There are a several free (bitmap) paint tool out there (I'm using a program that was included in my scanner package (I don't even know the name of it, but it works J )).

Corel Draw
Take a closer look on this tool. With the Corel Draw package, you get Coral Draw (a vector program like Illustrator) Coral PhotoPaint (has nearly the same functionality as Adobe Photoshop). You also get a bitmap trace program and a font-editing program (and some other programs that I never have used). It is possible to get an older copy (one or two versions old) for 50-100 $.

Campaign Cartographer 2
CC2 is an excellent to create maps (It take times to learn).

PageMaker / In Design
I'm using Adobe PageMaker/ In Design to design the rule pages (and make pdf). It is worth the cost.

Pen, paper and a scanner
One of the best tool for the artwork is pen and paper. Then use a scanner to include the artwork in the game.

Other tools
I have used Painter, Bryce (without success), Poser, Maya, and several other programs. They do the job and I do not have to have the latest one.

Every month I get a copy to the Computer Art magazine. From that I get a CD with free programs and plugins, a lot of idée's and descriptions on how to use (getting started with) the programs.
Also take a look on there homepage:

// Johan

Joined: 08/11/2008
If you're going to publish something professionally...

Firstly, if you are going to self-publish a few copies of something, do it in whatever format you're comfortable with. There's several links for templates in the download section of this site, but you don't even need those. I did my proto's in Microsoft Word, and lovingly cut out the cards by hand. Andy Looney of Looney Labs prints his out on sticky paper (available at office supply stores) and cuts them out, affixing them to spare cards lying around the house. (You knew all those old M:tG lands would be useful for something!)

Now, if you're going to publish something professionally, printers will want one of a few standard formats for graphics and layout.

Printers will have some requirements for the art that you submit. These will probably vary by printer, so check with them. Art will probably need to be CMYK format (as opposed to RGB) and will probably need to be ~300 dots per inch (dpi). The printer will probably accept one of a couple different formats for artwork: .TIF and .EPS were acceptible to my printer.

[Wisdom from your good pal Scotto: Check with your printer as to the format that they accept. If you do it in a different format first, you may (like me) have to redo all of your art!]

Now, for the files themselves, the printer will also be picky. Mine accepted EPS, CorelDraw, Quark, PageMaker, etc. All of those are professional packages which cost a bit of dough. If there are free alternatives to those, you may be able to work something out.

Also, another word of note, when dealing with printers, they seem to prefer Macintosh formats, rather than PC. The printers and I had a horrible time converting from one format to another. Apparently the Mac and PC versions of some software packages are mostly compatible, but those few incompatibilities can make for some irritating surprises. For some reason, my TIF files seemed washed out and yucky. I'm hoping to save my dough, and eventually get a Mac.

One of the big stumbling blocks I've found was the CMYK graphics issue. I don't know of any free graphics program that does a nice CMYK conversion. (I've looked.) Then if you find a nice free layout program that does EPS files, I think you might be in serious business.

I hope this helps...
-- Scott S.

Joined: 12/31/1969

I'm pretty sure Paint Shop Pro does CMYK conversion and I believe the free trial is still unlimiited.

The "best application" and "Mac vs. PC" issue has been resolved by most printers by shifting to a PDF workflow. Almost every printer will accept a PDF now and has special software to work with PDFs. As a result the underlying file format and platform doesn't matter. You can create PDFs for free using PDF995.

The one thing really missing from the free tool world is a decent page layout application. Yes, you can do stuff in a word processor but it's much, much more difficult than in a true page layout application. If you have to buy one product, though, I'd recommend something that can do both vector graphics and page layout like FreeHand, Illustrator, or CorelDraw, so that you get two applications in one.

Off the "free software" front, I use Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, Macromedia FreeHand (can't stand Illustrator), Adobe Acrobat, scanner, graphics tablet, and a whole variety of other for-pay tools. But then I'm also a part-time graphic designer so the tools have paid for themselves many times over.

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