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PHB Ranger vs. Ranger/Rogue, or how multiclassing exposes badly made classes

TL;DR: Comparing the Ranger 5/Rogue X multiclass to just Ranger shows just how lacking Ranger’s lategame abilities are, and therefore the lack of incentive to actually play a pure Ranger. The XGE and UA ‘fixes’ for Ranger don’t do anything to the lategame, emphasizing the idea that T3 and T4 are mostly ignored
 
 
Part 1: “5 copper to throw sponges at the Ranger!”
 
It is known that PHB Ranger is indisputably the worst class of all, outstripping Sorcerer and Monk in just how lackluster and non-functioning it is. And if you somehow disagree with that last sentence, remember that the second half of Feral Senses (Ranger 18th) literally does nothing, Vanish (Ranger 14th) is objectively worse than Cunning Action (Rogue Level 2), and that Beastmaster was published in its current form. This indicates to me that Ranger had troubled development with little playtesting, either being rushed at the very end or done first and then forgotten about.
 
But fret not, if you want to play these foresty friends and not be super janky there are options! First, XGE provided 3 subclasses which were so powerful that they compensated for PHB Ranger’s weirdness. Second, you could play the UA Ranger, a re-balance of the first 10-or-so levels plus making Beastmaster actually goddamn function (though it was never published so DM discretion applies). Third, the Alternate Class Features UA provided some cool stuff for Ranger from 1st to 10th level (but again DM discretion). All helpful things that improve Ranger, especially at lower levels.
 
One thing you may notice is that all these fixes focus on the lower levels instead of the late-game. This seems odd to me – looking at PHB Ranger the late-game is when the class features utterly collapse into nothingness. This unresolved problem has inspired a secret fourth fix: PHB Ranger 5/Rogue X multiclass, i.e. taking first 5 levels of Ranger before heading into Rogue. This keeps Ranger’s earlygame, before transitioning into Rogue for a power boost. However, the inherent limitations of multiclassing keep this from just being purely better than a single class build... right?
 
I want to go through the multiclass (referred to as R from now on) compared to just Ranger (referred to as Pure from now on) as it REALLY highlights the problems of Pure. But to truly explore the tragedy of the situation, we must first explore why we even consider multiclassing.
 
 
Part 2: Viable Multiclassing 101
 
(This section is more of a vanity thing, feel free to skip. I just want to hammer home how messed up Pure is) Multiclassing is a fun way to spice up a character, giving them a considerably different flavour to a single class. However even if you’re not interested in fully optimising you don’t your character to fall into uselessness, so when planning a build you should keep several ideas into consideration.
  • "It gets better later, I swear!": The most important thing is that your build WORKS at all levels. There’s no point in having a FighteCleric/Barbarian that comes online at 11th level if you die to an ogre at 5th. You need to consider how the build works level by level, not how good it could be at the very end (similarly, being good now is usually better than POTENTIALLY being good later – I might make a whole post on this in the future). The only exception to this is if you start at high-level and so don’t have to struggle through mediocrity to get everything working.
  • Gotta hit those peaks: Classes are designed to have power spikes which give your character a big boost. For every class (except maybe Rogue) the first big one is at 5th level – martials get extra attack, casters get 3rd level spells – though other power spikes exist such as Moon Druid 2 or Hexblade Warlock 1. So, when planning out your build, you don’t want to miss out these power spikes – Paladin 4/Bard X misses extra attack and suffers for it
  • No, 1 Level in every class is a bad idea: Tying into the above, delaying power spikes long after the point they are designed for is almost as bad. To use the above point, Moon Druid’s Circle Forms at 2nd level is utterly fantastic, the same feature is mediocre when picked up at 7th level. This is why alternating levels between two classes (Class A 1/Class B 1/Class A 1/Class B 1/…) is very bad, as you delay the power spikes of each class for way too late. Therefore when planning you’re build you also have to think about WHEN you are hitting your power spikes, and which ones you want to prioritise (e.g. Extra Attack is almost required to keep up early on, but Cunning Action can wait a while)
  • By our powers combined: The classes you pick for a multiclass should have features that synergise, and certainly shouldn’t clash. This is why the Wizard/Barbarian Muscle Mage doesn’t work – you can’t cast spells or concentrate on them whilst raging, so you’re either a barbarian with less hp and fewer features, or a mage with more hp and far fewer spells, inferior to an equivalent Pure Barbarian or Wizard.
  • Better SAD than MAD: You want to minimise the number of ability scores you need, as otherwise to make the build work you need to rely on a lucky stat roll (or suffer with Point Buy). This is called being SAD over MAD (single/multiple attribute dependent). This makes cleric/druid decent as you can focus on Wisdom and Constitution, with a supplement of Strength or Dex.
(A common pitfall I see is the idea that missing out of capstone abilities is a mark against multiclass builds. Sure, if the capstone is strong enough it might make the Pure class better than the multiclass at 20th level, but a whole 19 other levels of play exist! If the multiclass has been dominating the past 14 levels, you're going to be far better for far more play time)
 
The method of how you multiclass is important as well, and defines the build:
  • Minor Dip to Main Class: taking a small number of levels in a class to gain proficiencies/early features, and then sticking in the second class for the rest of the game. This stunts your growth in the second class, but the initial proficiencies can be worth it. Fighter 2/Wizard X is a classic example – your spellcasting is held back by 2 levels however Heavy Armour Proficiency, Action Surge and Constitution saving throws are enticing enough to make this viable.
  • Big Power Spike to Second Class: This involves getting to the major bump around the 5th level feature before transitioning into the second class. This is good for when you only want the first few features and find the others underwhelming/better suited by a different class. As we will see, R is a perfect example of this
  • Main Class to Alternate Capstone: This involves taking the first class to T3, then taking a few levels in another class (either for a quick dip or until 20th level). The core identity is still determined by the original class, with the multiclass just adding some extra oomph. A classic example is Barbarian X/Champion Fighter 3/Barbarian Y – you miss out on a good capstone but pick up Action Surge and Improved Critical to greatly buff your DPS earlier on.
(Multiclassing with 3+ classes doesn’t fit nicely into this structure, and are much harder to pull off as all the issues compound. The notable exception is, of course, Sorhexadin)
 
One key idea that is comes up again and again is tradeoff – you miss out on goodies to get your multiclass benefits. This helps keep multiclassing in check as you can’t go for an objectively better upgrade. This also makes the individual classes viable – even in the case of Sorcerer (as someone who thinks the class is underpowered) you would choose it over Sorhexadin if you want to be a blaster. As for R… well, I’m making this post for a reason!
 
 
Part 3: The Actual Goddamn Point of the Post
 
Using the above criteria, R seems straightforward – a dexterity-stacking build, picks up some neat Ranger features ending at 5th level extra attack, before going into Rogue to get its proficiencies and power spikes. This is offset by Pure’s better DPS… I mean utility…. I mean survivability? Wait, what? OK, by the basic principles of multiclassing, there MUST be some significant tradeoff to make Pure viable at later levels. We can test this by comparing the builds level by level from 6th to 20th.
 
And that’s what I did.
 
Below is a table showing the features of R and Pure, considering several subclasses (both Rogue and Ranger). Note that the both Pure and R pick up the 3rd level Ranger subclass features – the Ranger subclasses are listed as R misses their later features and so are of interest for this comparison (with similar ideas for the Rogue subclasses and Pure). Not all subclasses are covered here as even I have my limits, however the only notable one I missed was Arcane Trickster (it gives R more spellcasting stuff, but I couldn’t be arsed to work out the spell slots/spells known).
 
Note that R works for both Strength and Dexterity builds! You only need a ranged/finesse weapon for sneak attack, and Strength builds can easily use shortswords and dual wielding to get this done. In addition, R requires 13 dexterity and 13 wisdom for multiclassing, both of which are doable for Strength or Dexterity (as Strength normally wants 14 dex for AC anyway)
Level R Core Thief (R) Scout (R) Pure Core Hunter (Pure) Gloomstalker (Pure)
6 (r1) Expertise (x2 prof in 2 skills), Thieves tools prof, Extra rogue skill, Thieves’ Cant, Sneak Attack (SA) 1d6 +1 Favoured enemy, language, terrain
7 (r2) Cunning Action (Dash, Disengage, Hide as BA) Ranger Archetype (RA) feature, +1 2nd level spell, +1 spell known Defensive Tactics (opp attacks made with disadvantage, if hit w/attack gain +4 AC vs all attacks from that creature, adv. On saving throws vs fear) Iron Mind (prof in wisdom saving throws
8 (r3) Roguish Archetype (RA), RA Feature, SA 2d6 Fast Hands (cunning action to make Sleight of Hand check, use thieves’ tools, or Use an Object action), Second Story Work (climb speed = move speed, extra jump distance) Skirmisher (move up to half speed as reaction when enemy ends turn next to you, no AoO provoked), Survivalist (proficiency + expertise in nature, survival) Land’s stride (ignore non-magical difficult terrain (and some damage), bonuses vs magical plant spells), ASI
9 (r4) ASI +1 3rd level spell, +1 spell known
10 (r5) Uncanny Dodge (halve attack damage as reaction), SA 3d6 Hide in plain sight (1 min, with supplies, get +10 to stealth checks unless move), +1 favoured terrain
11 (r6) Expertise (in 2 more skills) RA feature, +1 3rd level spell, +1 spell known Multiattack (ranged attacks in 10ft range of point, melee attack vs creatures within 5ft) Stalker’s flurry (one per round, when you miss, make another attack)
12 (r7) Evasion (half or no damage vs dex stuff), SA 4d6 ASI
13 (r8) ASI +1 4th level spell, +1 spell known
14 (r9) RA feature, SA 5d6 Supreme Sneak (adv on stealth checks when moving half speed) Superior Mobility (+10ft walking speed) +1 favoured enemy, language, Vanish (hide as bonus action)
15 (r10) ASI RA feature, +1 4th level spell, +1 spell known Superior Hunter’s Defense (Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, when enemy misses you w/ melee attack you use reaction to repeat attack vs other creature) Shadowy Dodge (when creature attacks you w/o advantage, use reaction to force disadvantage)
16 (r11) Reliable talent (min roll 10 on skill checks prof in) SA 6d6 ASI
17 (r12) ASI +1 4th level spell, +1 5th level spell, +1 spell known
18 (r13) RA feature, SA 7d6 Use magic device (what are restrictions on magic items?) Ambush master (advantage on initiative rolls, targets hit have advantage to hit for allies) Feral Senses (ignore hidden penalty to attacks, actually useless invis thing)
19 (r14) Blindsense (aware of hidden/invis creatures within 10ft) ASI, +1 5th level spell, +1 spell known
20 (r15) Slippery mind (Prof. in wis. saving throws), SA 8d6 Foe Slayer (+ wis to one attack or damage roll vs. favoured enemy, and cry yourself to sleep WoTC pls)
 
Having done all that, let's see the advantages of the Pure build:
  • Spells: Pure gets some spells over R, a total of 1 2nd level spell, 3 3rd, 3 4th, 2 5th level spells plus 7 more known. While it is important to note that the Ranger spell list isn’t super strong or varied (it’s not like R is missing out on wizard or cleric spells), the extra utility and damage options is a real and tangible advantage. Do be wary though that, as a half-caster, you'll get the non-Ranger-exxlusive utility spells far later than your caster comrades.
  • ASI distribution: Both builds get the same number of ASIs, with Pure getting the second and third ones earlier (8th and 12th compared to 9th and 13th) and R getting fourth and fifth ones later (15th and 17th instead of 16th and 19th). However, as stated before, benefit now is better than potential later, so this is a mark in favour of Pure
  • Favoured Terrain and Enemy: The two extra options for each give some minor benefits to Pure in the given circumstances, including extra languages
  • Subclasses: Ranger subclass features are generally better than Rogue's.
  • Hit Dice: a d10 is better than a d8 for recovering HP on a short rest, and you get a marginally higher max HP (+15 at level 20)
And that's it. Really. As for R:
  • Sneak Attack! Y’know how Pure’s damage output doesn’t actually improve past level 5, outside of (mostly bad) spells and Hunter’s Multiattack in specific circumstances? Well, R gets a bunch of extra d6s every single round, for free. You even get 2 (3 with dual wielding) chances to activate this extra damage! So yeah, lots of extra damage, which stacks with the early Ranger damage subclass features (i.e. the good ones)
  • Skills: R gets an extra skill proficiency, Expertise in 4 skills, AND Reliable Talent, which not only eclipses the Favoured Terrain bonuses but also works in any terrain or against any creature
  • Actual Class Features: Cunning Action utterly clowns on Vanish (seriously, is anything vaguely dangerous tracking you non-magically at 14th goddamn level?) and comes 7 levels earlier. Also, Land’s Stride can be made up for via bonus action dash, and Hide in Plain Sight is replicated by Pass Without Trace (which R can learn!). Blindsense is comparable to Feral Senses (kinda bad but still technically usable), and free proficiency in wisdom saving throws is legit better than Foe Slayer as a capstone
  • Better Survivability: Pure gets a pittance of extra HP, however R gets both Evasion AND Uncanny Dodge for free, so in all real-world cases R has more effective health
In summary, R gets far superior single target damage, skill proficiencies, survivability, mobility, and even capstone. Pure gets some options for AoE if you choose a certain subclass or specific spells (but only in very specific situations), some minor utility in terrain and favoured enemy, slightly better subclass features and mid-level spells (and to be frank, only the last one is enticing). This paints a picture of R supremacy over Pure from 6th to 20th level, very rare for multiclassing (only matched by hexblade charisma stacking bullshit).
 
The only niche Pure has is with a Strength Ranger using feats to get Polearm master and Heavy Armour (and at that point, why not just go Fighter or Paladin?)
 
 
Part 4: The Not-very-spicy takes:
 
In general, multiclassing is about giving up power in certain areas to excel in others, providing interesting build options. In R’s case, it eclipses Pure in every area that matters unless you’re really into those exclusive spells (and the Bard stole all the good ones 7 levels ago). And here’s the kicker – UA ranger doesn’t even fix this! It makes early game Ranger significantly better sure, but there’s still very little incentive to go above level 5!
 
You may ask the question “Why does this matter anyway? You can do R if you really want to squeeze out more power, and leave everyone else to the core class.” And the problem is that the current iteration of the class lets down the idea of the Ranger. A warrior prowling on the edge of civilisation, an Elf tracking down monsters in the wilderness armed with a bow and their wits, a Half-Orc bursting out of cover to strike with dual handaxes: these are all kickass character ideas, and they deserve to be good without having to go “well let’s switch into rogue now I guess”. There should never be the case where you pick a class based on its conceptual space to later find that, if you keep going down your path, you will be significantly worse compared to your friends (an awful feeling for a team-based game)
 
If there is a 5.5e, the main takeaway for ranger shouldn’t be to re-re-refix the earlygame – lots of work has already been done on that - but instead to look at the truly abysmal lategame (the reason WHY people drop the class). Even if we go straight to 6e, a key lesson has been learned from Ranger – a class should be viable and enticing at ALL levels of play, not just to fall flat on its face and be totally eclipsed by a multiclass by 10th level.
 
 
Thank you very much for reading all this to the very end! I had toyed around with this for ages, but the 'Worst Class Features' post a few days ago spurred me on to actually finish this. Next time on my assorted series of rants, I'll do a spicy take on caster's power levels or some moaning about Aarakockra
 
(EDIT: There's some formatting issues, shall try and fix ASAP)
submitted by greydorothy to dndnext

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On changing the gamedev pipeline and how it might help you too. A primer of essential tools and must have hardware (with pics).

On changing the gamedev pipeline and how it might help you too. A primer of essential tools and must have hardware (with pics).
So far I made the bulk of my games with Phaser.js + Photoshop. Simple stuff, good enough graphics for html5 games. But as I'm considering (and working) on larger projects I feel the need for better, more advanced tools.

Oh boy, those curves. Those beautiful animation curves.
Are you in a similar position where you're unhappy with your current pipeline? Here are the changes I'm making (and I hope you'll draw some precious insights for yourself):

1)Game engine.

The most important piece of the puzzle. Bashing code in .js and having the game refresh in the browser is cool. Using console.log to debug (and visualize your game) is not.
The biggest two options for 2d games are hands down Godot and Unity. While at first I was tempted to go with the classic Unity I said to myself that I'll give Godot a quick run at least. And Godot has surprised me so pleasantly that I've decided to use IT instead of Unity.
It feels lighter, more elegant, more concise and even MORE POWERFUL. Yes, nodes and animate everything. Not to mention the easy and fast to use GDScript.
C# is a beautiful language but I feel that it makes development somewhat cumbersome with all that OOP syntax. Probably good for LARGE projects but small-medium games can do just fine without it.

Godot game engine.

2)Terrain tools.

Terrains are almost in every 2d/3d game. In my opinion terrains are a very important piece of the game environment.
Photoshop is good at many things but creating amazing 2d terrain isn't one of those things. Sure, you can paint it by hand. Sure, you can generate a black&white noise/cloud and use that as your heightmap. Decent alternatives BUT there are better tools out there.
For simple terrain generation, I've considered L3DT, World Creator and Gaea. Ended up using Gaea because you can generate good results fast AND it's incredibly powerful and versatile.
For terrain rendering Vue and Terragen where the only serious contenders. I've choose Vue because like Gaea you can get good results fast. Terragen seems to have a steep learning curve and after all I DON'T have all the time in the world to learn everything.

Experimenting with Gaea color nodes.

Vue render after couple of days of using it.

3) Fractals

What? Fractals?
Yes. I think fractals are underused in gamedev. Me, I can see fractals heavily as textures and why not, height maps.
I've sampled lots of fractal software (including the veteran Apophys which I've used in the past) and I've decided on 2 pieces of beautiful software: JWildfire and Mandelbulb 3d.
JWildfire has a SH*TLOAD of tweaking options and produces good looking results right from the start.

Fractal generated with 3 clicks and in 15 seconds.

4) 2d Animation

Ah, animation! My favouritest thing - although I'm not as good at it as I'd like.
This, this was a hard choice. Lots of good contenders: Adobe Animate, Moho, Spine, Asesprite, Toon Boom.
Moho especially was high on my list since I've used it before and recommended it to everyone.
But if I'm honest I kinda struggled with Moho. Drawing vectors is clunky. Importing complex vectors from Illustrator doesn't work. It is packed with a lot of great animation tools but the workflow doesn't feel as smooth as one would like.
So I've decided to go with Creature 2d. I still have to learn it but from what I can see it's a very interesting choice. It has even more tools than Moho and the workflow seems intuitive enough.
BONUS - (very important bonus) - it integrates with Godot (at least from what I read in the docs).
Here's some cool animations other people made with it.

creature 2d

5) 2d Particles

This is a more specialized type of tool but I like to have options when it comes to particles.
I've tried Magic Particles, Timeline Fx and Particle Illusion. They are all very powerful but Timeline Fx is the easiest to start with.

6)General 3d application

Lots of good applications, lots. Sadly time is limited so I chose the obvious candidate: Cinema4d.
Easy to learn, powerful enough for almost anything you can throw at it in terms of gamedev.
I do intend to learn Houdini, Blender and Maya in the future as they all have some unique strengths. 3ds Max is not on my list because frankly I just didn't felt at ease in it.

https://preview.redd.it/p3ggst1wkzu41.jpg?width=1800&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=525931379f83cd5dcf4990adc71cd2cebbf1726e

7) 3d Sculpting application

Drums.....Zbrush. You knew that already, didn't you? Zbrush is the daddy of all 3d sculpting software out there.
Mudbox is decent enough. 3d Paint seems powerful. But Zbrush is just...Zbrush. So that's that.

Zbrush.

8) 3d Texturing application

Painting in Zbrush can be painful.
That's why I decided to stick with Mudbox which allows for easy breazy painting. It's easy, very easy to get started with. And if Zbrush is too much for you Mudbox has decent 3d sculpting capabilities.
I've heard good things about Mari but no time for it now.
https://preview.redd.it/erahzwujqzu41.jpg?width=960&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0e40f4f173f3a6910513b935db979d0859824255

9) Video Editing.

Believe or not there's a need for video editing in gamedev.
Trailers for once. Cinematics second. And why not even in-game backgrounds (Godot has Video Player node, yay). And Photoshop even lets you apply filters on videos. OHHH, I'm tingling thinking on what I can create with this much power. :P
While I love Adobe and the kickass products they make, Premiere fell as a choice in favour of DaVinci Resolve.
Main reasons?
I'm a hipster at my core so I go against the grain by default (that's why I started using the Dvorak layout but it was a very wise decision ergonomically speaking). :)
But seriously, Resolve is fking awesome. The interface seems more intuitive to me. It's powerful. It has all the tools you need for video editing in ONE PLACE whereas with Adobe you'd need external tools (After effects, Audition, etc).
It's just a very well rounded and performant piece of video editing software. Again, I'm not an expert but I can produce decent results fast with Resolve.

DaVinci resolve

10) Video Compositing.

"REALLY? Video compositing....for games???"
Normally I'd agree. But there's a certain technique which allows for heavy customization (thus power) with animations exported from Vue which aren't possible in Vue.
Basically when you export your animation (with beautiful terrains and trees swaying in the wind) you can FURTHER make them look even better with a compositing software by using various masks.
You can check out this video to see what I'm talking about.
Two big video compositing solutions are Fusion and Nuke. Fusion is integrated with Resolve so that's a plus. Properly importing exr's doesn't WORK (or at least I couldn't make it work) so that's a HUGE minus.
That's why I decided to stick with Nuke. It seems like a beautifully powerful beast and I can't wait to get my hands dirty with it. Ahh, the passion of game development and graphics creation.

https://preview.redd.it/6fceah6qqzu41.jpg?width=1280&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=7771d5ab725964dd1b6a5de5d5a7a4bafcfcb426

11) Audio editing.

Nowadays having great audio in games is not an option, is basically a requirement.
There are a lot of costly (and powerful) DAW's out there but Reaper stole my heart. It's so pleasant to use. Feel intuitive. Powerful AF. I was up and running with Reaper in 30 minutes as a complete music NOOB. Not editing the audio for the next Gangnam Style mind you. But doing decent enough mixing and cutting.
And you can try it for free for an unlimited time if your budget is tight.
No, I didn't forget about Audacity. Although it's simpler it's also easier to get started with. Great for quick fixes, quick recording, etc.

Reaper DAW.

12) 3d Renderers.

As a noob in 3d (although I am a 3d noob , even a 4d noob if I think about it and consider time) I did't thought at first much about renderers. You just fire up the render screen and go with the native solution, right?
Well, it seems the world of 3d renderers isn't as simple as you'd like. There are lots of options and usually these options are more powerful than the "stock" renderers that come with most 3d software.
Me, I've decided to stick with Corona. I haven't spent much time with it yet but from early experiments, it seems easy enough to set up and get going. Bonus - it works from Cinema 4d.

13) 3d Material Editors

Haven't decided yet on this one. Knald, Substance Painter and Shader Map all seem powerful. I'll probably go with Substance Painter since it's the most popular choice out there.
(I'll probably also use Filter Forge in paralel as it has a beautiful library of procedurally generated textures).

Default Filter Forge Alien texture.

14) Plant Creation Software

I love, I just love beautiful environments in games. And trees and plants play a BIG ROLE in achieving a great looking environment.
While you could create your trees and plants in general 3d software there's specialized software to help you.
On the left corner you have Speed Tree. I don't much about it but it seems geared towardds procedurally generated plants/trees.
On the right corner you have Plant Factory. I'm currently learning it and it seems geared towards hand drawn plants/trees.
AND THE WINNER IS......Plant Factory. I love the artistic freedom AND the UI is very similar to Vue so I can learn it so much faster.
Speed Tree, I'm sorry for your black eye but maybe you'll have another chance in the future.

https://preview.redd.it/y2ep9xucrzu41.jpg?width=1280&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4288e7e1fec1c9846e8fa5de5148e35fa51a1cbe

15) Game writing and story.

I have one word for you - SCRIVENER. Forget about Word.
Scrivener is one of the best tools for writing. PERIOD. I use it to keep notes about a game's structure, plot, etc.
(If you're on linux you can get it for free).

16) Coding IDE

I used to love Sublime Text. Many of you still probably use it to this day. But I kept hearing good things about VsCode OVER AND OVER. At the time my rig was almost as ancient as the Antikythera so VsCode didn't run smooth. But once I got some decent equipment I gave VsCode a try. Haven't looked back since. It just works, and it works well.

VsCode

16) Extra 2d/3d tools.

There are lots of little useful utilities that'll just make your life MUCH EASIER.
Here's some that I used (or intend on using and learning):
a) SqCheck - great utility for checking your 2d animations. I almost always end up deleting the last one or two frames to make the animation snappier (but it would be hard to decide that in the animation software).
b) PixPlant - for creating tileable textures AND extracting 3d maps such as normals, bumps, etc from photos.
c) Topaz Gigapixel. This amazing software allows you to resize your photos with minimal loss of detail. Let's say you have a 512x512 pixel texture of an unicorn's skin. That's the only unicorn skin photo in existence BUT it's not big enough for your 3d objects. With Gigapixel you can resize it up to 4096x4096 (and more) and it'll still look good enough (as compared to Photoshop resize).
d) Colour Constructor. That's a new kid on the block BUT it's a smart kid. I only experimented a little with it and it seems promising. Basically it allows you to create a believable/realistic color scheme based on your ambiance and main light.
e) Color Schemer - hands down the best piece of software on Windows for scheming. Color scheming. My favourite feature is that you can open a photo and it will automatically extract a color palette for you (which you can furtherly customize).
f) Texture Packer. The texture packing solution you didn't know you needed. It'll pack those atlases so tight that not even a pixel will be wasted.

Color Schemer on windows.

17) HARDWARE

Let's be honest, hardware can help IMMENSELY with game development. While you can make games (simple 2d) on a 10-15 year old pc, having a decent rig will make the process so much easier.
a) Decent Cpu. Ryzen is the name of the game. Cheap BUT Powerful enough for 10 times your game development needs. Currently I'm sporting a Ryzen 2600x and it covers all my computing needs wonderfully well.

b)Decent GPU. For a VERY long time I used to have an ancient GeForce 8400 GPU which made gamedev HARDER and my life miserable. While I didn't want to spent lots of $$$ on a fancy GPU I still decided to get at least a good entry level one. GTX 1050 Ti was (and still is) one of the best deals you can get in terms of GPU power. Sure, I'd love an RTX 2080 or even an RTX 2060. But this will do the job just fine and it won't deplete YOUR funds.
c) Graphic tablet. If you do even the smallest amount of graphic work you NEED a graphic tablet. Even if you can't draw for sh*t (not yeat at least I can't but It's high on the list of NEXT SKILLS to learn) it's still a very important piece of the puzzle.
Post processing in Photoshop, vector art in Illustrator and 3d sculpting are HARD to do well with a mouse. After lots of research I ended up buying XP-PEN Decor Pro Small (there's a bigger medium version too). According to some people it even beats a much more expensive Wacom. I don't know about that but so far it performs BEAUTIFULLY and it's well worth the $150 I spent buying it.

XP Pen Deco Pro
d) Midi Controller. I admit that I haven't actuall purchased one but I'm looking very hard towards M-Audio Keystation 49 III. It's cheap ($100), it has lots of keys (for it price range), it has a sustain port and it just makes sense.
While I'm not a big music man I play a little guitar and I can probably throw some quick game transitions in a DAW. Sure, I could just scrounge the internet for free SFX - there's plenty of places. But making your own SFX is just so much more rewarding and makes the game more personal.
I'm not even talking about advanced stuff - just simple sounds to play when a menu pops up or an event happens. Anyone can create these type of sounds with a midi controller and a decent DAW (and don't forget about a good sound pack such as Garritan Personal Orchestra or Garritan World Sounds).

https://preview.redd.it/4zlyst9lizu41.jpg?width=840&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=d9f32302fc97c616ad98de651be4e83b15951693
e) Microphone to record SFX and for other purposes (such as vlog, game trailer, etc). I bought couple months ago a Superlux 205U and can only say good things about it. It's also very affordable.
f) A vertical mouse. If you don't have one aready, buy one now. Your hand isn't made of steel and RSI is a real danger if you're using a mouse ALL DAY, 6 days a week. At first I wanted to purchase an Assus MX but it is really pricey (~ $110). Luckily I found a Trust GXT 144 (~ $25) and the pain in my wrist IS GONE. YEAH!!! If I'll get my hands on a Kinesis I'll consider myself a very lucky basterd indeed.

g) An ergonomic chair. Sadly I can't afford a good one yet but I'm highly considering either an Ergohuman or an Embody. If you can afford one, buy now. Your back will thank you 10 years from now. (make sure to try it first).

Conclusion.

As you can see it can get hairy fast behind the scenes when making a game. Lots of skills to learn, lots of software to get familiar with. Right now I'm barely at 30% knowledge for the above pipeline. I estimate that'll take me at least 1 more week to be decently familiar with most of the tools listed above.
I'll be honest - it can be a nasty grind sometimes to FORCE all this knowledge into your brain fast. But it is worth it. And if I can do it so can you. It's an investment that's going to pay itself a HUNDRED TIMES over if you're serious about gamedev as your career.
If you're curious about HOW I'm learning these programs fast, here are the steps:
  • a )I start by watching the most basic tutorials out there and follow them. Half a day at most spent on that.
  • b) Go through every menu and click every button even if I don't understand it completely. It helps me get familiar with the interface and get comfortable using that piece of software.
  • c) Follow more advanced tutorials.
  • d) Play with it on my own and try to create real world work.
  • e) Very quick read up on the documentation to see if I missed something important.
This way I can learn decently even complex software in no more than 3-4 days. It helps if you have experience with other similar software. Also some will take more time to learn than others (mainly Cinema 4d and Godot).
I'm not becoming an expert ASAP but I'm getting plenty of foundational knowledge. As long as I have a solid basis I can learn the intricacies in time while working on lots of real projects - AND SO CAN YOU!
Don't get me wrong - it is a chunky time investment. BUT for me it's worth it because I'm serious about gamedev AND I want to be able to express myself more fully.
This is NOT the BEST gamedev (graphics) pipeline in the world. But as far as I'm concerned one can get started relatively fast with it. And it can be supplement later. What's important is to get THINGS MOVING, get something out there, FAST.

Boromir. Fun fact - in Romania there's a flour brand called Boromir.

Don't leave me yet!

If you liked this post you can follow me on Twitter for more gamedev insights. You'll also be among the first to see how a game made with the above pipeline will look.

Wanna see more content like this?

You DON'T HAVE TOO, but you can buy me a cup of coffee on Patreon if you're not tight on funds (or a bowl of tasty food for my cat Bijou. We work together on most games. :)) ). This way I'll be able to get YOU more gamedev insights.

Bijou the cat. Photo made with a potato, srry.
Am I missing something? Are there any other awesome pieces of software for gamedev I forgot to mention?
Plz let me know in the comments below and forgive the typos above.
Holy crap, I didn't intend to write this big ass post. I thought it would take me no more than 30 minutes. 4 hours have passed.
submitted by odonian_dream to gamedev