Best Open-Source Software For Making Your Next Game

Cocos loves open-source. We are an open-source company and think that needing money to build your “dream game” is a myth. Anyone with the knowledge and tools today can develop their games. And with just a few pieces of software, you can get your game off the ground.

With over ten years of experience, we’ve been building relationships with some of these companies and finding great open-source items we know will take that game to the next level.

Last year, we compiled the absolute best software to use with Cocos. But this year, we collected a more extensive list covering everything you might need to build every part of the game, including 3D modeling, map building, audio, and more, only using open-source software.

Game Engine

Cocos Engine

Of course, you can’t start building your game without a great game engine. The Cocos engine has been the premier open-source game engine used by amateurs, students, small companies, and AAA companies.

We started with the Cocos2d-x engine and have built Cocos Creator on top of it along with its own editor.

Both engines work great, and it just depends on your choice of language to get you started. C++ for Cocos2d-x and JavaScript and Typescript for Cocos Creator.

Art

Blender – 3D Modeling

It’s taken a massive jump from its origins and now is seen as one of the premier 3D modeling software programs out there. Not only can you build models, but you can add rigging, build textures and a whole lot more thanks to the massive add-on support.

We support many of the options available in Blender, so model away and get ready to see your assets inside the game.

Krita or Inkscape – 2D drawing

If you were looking to make a 2D game instead, you could use two of these great options to get what you are looking for. GIMP is built more for those who want to hand draw and create images similar to Photoshop.

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Inkscape is very similar to Illustrator, using vector graphics instead, making it easier to resize assets if needed.  The choice is more up to you and your preferences on how you like to do your drawings. In the end, export as a PNG, and you have your assets ready.

Piskel – Pixel Art

Are you looking to build a game using pixel art? This online/offline tool has everything you need to make pixel art and allows you to view animation happening before exporting your project to multiple PNG files. This helps you get all the animation for everything working perfectly.

Image

MagicaVoxel – Voxel Art Editor

If you are building some incredible voxel art for your game, our team highly recommends visiting this software. It’s got a ton of advantages like being lightweight, GPU-based, and still being updated today.

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Effekseer – Particle System

Cocos Creator 3.0 came with its own particle system, but if you’re still running games for Cocos2d-x, we recommend Effekseer. Not only is it one of the most popular with Cocos2d-x fans, but it comes with its own effect editor and direct plugins into the engine.

Free Texture Packer – Texture Packer

Though we love Texture Packer for putting all your textures into one atlas, for an open-source option, look for Free Texture Packer. It’s not as fully functioned as Texture Packer, but it does the job and works with the Cocos Engine.

Main workspace

TFT Font Factory – Font Builder

Want to build your own custom fonts for the game? We’ve loved this tool forever, and with our ability to make TFT fonts available for you to build from, it’s a great way to add, edit, and develop new fonts for the game or even new languages players will explore.

World building

Tiled – 2D/2.5D worlds

We’ve been working with Tiled throughout the company’s life and are always impressed at the quality of work put into the service. If your game requires 2D tiling or that 3D look without the 3D assets, you need to check out our friends. We fully support them with our game engines.

Rigging

DragonBones – 2D rigging

Blender already allows for rigging up your creatures’ skeleton in 3D, so we don’t have to go too far into that. But for 2D rigging, that’s a different animal. Sadly DragonBones went freeware a long time ago, with its runtime only being open-source. If you find an excellent rigging program for the future, let us know, because sadly, the number of great ones are shrinking.

Audio

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Audacity – Overall editing

Audacity has been a lifesaver for many who record audio for voice-overs, foley artists, and anyone needing a free audio player. The software has everything needed, including amplifiers, mixers, noise reduction, limiters, etc. It’s a must if you are recording any audio.

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LMMS – Music creation

Though some say it’s harder to work with than some paid products, having a free and open-source music creation software program that also allows for MIDI support and VST plugin support is already impressive. Many musicians love it, and you might love it as well.

Coding

Visual Studio Code  – Code Editor

We highly recommend using these programs for your next game as we’ve optimized your experience with the Cocos engine with these editors.

Multiplayer

Node.js – Server-side runtime environment

If you are building anything that has your players communicate with a server and have it do activities inside the server, you’re going to need to have Node.js installed on it. The software has been proven to help with multiplayer and run other aspects of your games on your servers.

Nakama – Distributed Server for apps

If you know your game could grow and grow fast, Nakama is probably the best multiplayer environment. It’s been built for scalability and comes with a lot of great added features like tournaments, leaderboards, and matchmaking. The devs messaged us directly to remind us how great their awesome product.

Pinus – game server

If you want to have multiplayer with your game, you’ll have to find something that fast, scalable, and offers many added resources like game chat, messaging, and more. Pinus is our team’s favorite open-source option but comes with the requirement that you need to have node.js installed with your game.  Other than that, its lightweight makes it perfect for any game you’re building.

Protobufjs – Protocol Buffers

XML was a great way to structure data to be sent on a server in the old days, but with so much coming to and from your game now, it’s time we get a better data storage and delivery structure.

Google helps by creating protocol buffers that allow faster and smaller pieces of data to be sent to servers and back.  The best open-source program using this new technique is Protobufjs. It’s fast and just works with everything.

Office Requirements

LibreOffice – Office suite

Every game developer needs to write documents for storyboarding, spreadsheets for money expenses, and a presentation platform to share your games with publishers. LibreOffice is perfect for this task and also allows you to do so much more.

One item we love with this software is the option to draw diagrams. This can be crucial in gaining the flow of the game and what achievements and accomplishments you need your player to succeed in. The more you prepare for your game, the easier it is to complete the rest of your tasks.

Taiga – Project Management

If you have any more than three people working on a project together and need to keep things organized among the team on what needs to be done, what is done, and what needs to be done next, You need some management system.

Looking at reviews, Taiga seems to be the strongest allowing you to do sub-tasks, comments on projects, add files and images to a task, and so much more. It’s free to use on their website for small teams and have a fully functional version available to add to your own web server.

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Thunderbird – Email client

Some at the team were exclusively using Thunderbird for their emails, and anyone looking for the same level of use as any professional, it’s the best alternative.

Also, it comes with a calendar to help you keep track of your events and send others emails of when it’s time to have a meeting.

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Rocket.Chat – Team instant messaging

We all probably are using Slack or Discord already for our conversations, but if you are looking for open sources, Rocket.Chat is a fantastic program that not only imports conversations from other software flawlessly but also allows for it to run internally on your own server.

OroCRM – Customer Relations Management

If you are serious about your customer complaints and want to make sure you have them neatly together and understand the history of their issues, you definitely want a CRM software suite.

OroCRM is excellent at looking for ways to improve your customer support for free and the added features to track the way people visit your website. This might be very high-end thinking for more advanced game companies, but it’s great to know you have something there for customers and BD teams if you start building up a BD department.

File Storage

Nextcloud – Cloud storage

If you have an international team or just a team that isn’t on the same site together, you might need to upload assets, code, and other items to a team drive. Luckily, Nextcloud has that covered with all the services you find on cloud file sharing sites, with the security of having it on your own internal servers.

QA Testing

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Bugzilla – Bug tracking

Started by the team at Mozilla, this has been one of the standards for bug tracking, coming with a wide variety of options that can help you track, monitor, and detect bugs. With duplicate bug detection, advanced search capabilities, and email notification ability for your team, it’s a fantastic piece of software that any size business could use.

Marketing

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OBS Studio – Video capture

You’ve seen the watermarks of other video capturing devices in the past, but it all changed with OBS Studio coming to the market. This software is what we use for our tutorials, and it’s been so easy to work with, giving you the option to record your gameplay and even stream it to Twitch.

Shortcut – Video editing

If you are using Blender for your 3D modeling, you can use it for your video editing tool, but Shortcut is just an excellent additional option if you are looking for a bit more of a cleaner-looking editor. When you start building demo videos for your game or small clips for your social media posts, you’ll need something that can get the job done fast and efficiently.

Coming with 4K resolution output, hardware support for multiple studio-used devices, and the ability to run as a portable app, it shows what amazing things are coming out of the open-source community. Adding to that, it’s updated regularly, so you’re always getting a better version sooner than later.

WordPress – Website building

Every great company needs a great website, and we can’t stop raving over what you can do with WordPress. Build your own front page, products page, and blog as well. It’s perfect and comes with a ton of options.

Discourse – Forum building

Gamers love talking about what’s going on in the game, what’s happening next, and ask questions. All of these requirements can be completed with a great online forum.

If you’ve been to our forums, you know we’ve been using Discourse for years and have been adding more great things like awards to the site. It’s easy to manage, comes with excellent stat tracking, and does everything you need with tons of customization.

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