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Being an independent game developer is never easy. Many developers do not have enough money or sponsorship to buy great game development tools to continue creating great games. If you are starting a career in game development or if you are already a game developer who doesn’t want to spend money on licenses,in this post we will examine how to create great games using only free tools.

There are some game engines with some free licenses available, which are limited but very powerful. Here are some of them:


Game Maker, Unity, Construct 2, Phaser, FlashPunk, MonoGame

GameMaker, by YoYo Studios, is a very powerful tool that doesn’t require a lot of programming skills, since it uses a proper script language called GML, which has a very small learning curve. The free version only exports to Windows. To learn more about it, go to their website: https://www.yoyogames.com/studio.


Game Maker, Unity, Construct 2, Phaser, FlashPunk, MonoGame

Unity3D is the most famous game development tool these days. With Unity you can create games from 2D platformers to 3D FPS with a few drag-and-drop elements and some scripting. And speaking about scripting, you can create Unity scripts using C#, UnityScript (a Unity version of JavaScript), or Boo. You can use most of the engine features, but if you want to make some money with your games, you can only use the free version if your game annual income does not exceed $100,000. If so, you will need to buy a Pro license.

Construct 2

Game Maker, Unity, Construct 2, Phaser, FlashPunk, MonoGame

Similar to the GameMaker tool, Construct 2 by Scirraprovidessome abstraction layers for non-programmers and makes it easy and quick to deliver a game. The free version can export to the Windows Store, the Chrome Web Store, and Facebook.

But if you are a good programmer who likes a bit of a challenge, there are several tools for you. Here are some frameworks to get you started:


Game Maker, Unity, Construct 2, Phaser, FlashPunk, MonoGame

Phaser is an open source HTML5 framework, which provides some nice features, such as WebGL and canvas renders, a physics, particles, animation and camera systems, and more. It also supports Typescript for development.


Game Maker, Unity, Construct 2, Phaser, FlashPunk, MonoGame

Monogame is the open source version of the XNA 4 framework. The main goal is to let Monogame users build their games for many platforms, such as iOS, Android, Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows 8.


Game Maker, Unity, Construct 2, Phaser, FlashPunk, MonoGame


FlashPunk is a framework written in ActionScript3 that helps you build 2D flash games. It has anything that a game needs, from collision support, audio and graphics system, to a live debugger that helps you fix bugs.

These tools are just a sample of many other tools that exist out there. We’ve created a GitHub repo, gathering information from many places and listing a lot of game development resources that you can use to enhance your game development experience. It covers many types of tools, like 3D tools to render terrains, audio tools to make sound effect and soundtracks, free assets websites and more. You can find the list by clicking here.

About the Author

Ellison Leão (@ellisonleao) is a passionate software engineer with more than 6 years of experience in web projects. He is a contributor to the MelonJS framework and other open source projects. When he is not writing games, he loves to play drums.


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