Is There Any Software I Need in order to Complete a Game Design Degree Online?

Completing a game design degree online gives you the convenience of working from your own computer whenever you have time, but it also means you have to install all the necessary software yourself. Since you are learning to become a software developer, it’s good that you are gaining experience installing a development environment within your operating system. Almost all of the software needed to complete a game design degree can be acquired for free; some applications offer free or student versions but charge a fee for commercial use, so you can learn how to use them before you have to start paying a license fee.

game designThe software packages you need for a game design degree depend on the type of degree you’re getting. Developers will need several integrated development environments, programming language packages, compilers and emulators, while multimedia artists will need 3-D modeling software, which is considerably more expensive than the software needed by developers. Modeling software, such as Maya and 3ds Max, is extremely sophisticated 3-D design software, and a full license typically costs thousands of dollars. However, the maker of these programs, Autodesk, offers a free student license. Similarly, Microsoft offers a free student license for Visual Studio 2013 through its education program DreamSpark.

Software Needed for Game Developers

Game development students will probably appreciate working with IDEs, such as Visual Studio and Eclipse, as well as game development environments, such as Corona and Unity3D. Experienced developers tend to prefer working with lighter-weight software, such as the command-line text editor Vim. Depending on your operating system, you can install free IDEs for developing software in any language, although the most common game development languages are C++, Objective C and Java.

Since many game developers will need to know how to develop mobile-platform games, cross-platform software is also a necessity. Cross-platform development environments allow programmers to build game worlds visually using traditional game programming architecture, object-oriented programming and plug-in scripts. Over the course of a four-year degree, students will use these applications as well as conventional IDEs.

Student developers also need to learn 3-D programming with graphics libraries such as OpenGL and DirectX. As DirectX games are only compatible with Windows, most students will use Visual Studio to learn how to program with this library. Linux users can use open-source IDEs, such as Code::Blocks or Eclipse, but they can only develop 3-D games using OpenGL.

Software Needed for Game Artists

The standard 3-D art software is common to all video game artists, and most artists work with Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D and Blender. There are student licenses for all of these programs, except for Blender, which is free. Blender is an excellent 3-D modeling program now that it includes the Cycles rendering engine, which can create realistic 3-D scenes with a wide range of materials. More professional rendering engines include Mental Ray and V-Ray, but these engines are only available for proprietary modeling applications. Chaos Group offers a student license for V-Ray, so students can begin learning how to work with V-Ray or Scanline, the engine included with Maya.

Careers in game design are rapidly increasing due to the popularity of mobile games and the technological advances making mobile devices more powerful. If you can show proof that you’re a student, there’s no need to spend a lot of money on the software needed to complete a game design degree.