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Digging Into my Toolbox

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I've spent the better part of my professional game development career developing tools. All the same, when I'm involved in a personal project, I have 0 interest in writing a tool. I much prefer the free (or cheap) stuff off the internet. Here's what I've been using lately:

I've done a fair bit of searching for bitmap font generators, and the best one I've found - either free or paid - is BMFont. It supports every locale I've encountered and includes the option to only generate characters from a list (useful when you're making bitmap fonts for Japanese or Chinese). It gives a good bit of control over the generated textures and multiple export options. Rendering using the generated information is also pretty trivial (there's a forum post floating around that outlines pretty much the exact code).

I do a lot of iOS development, but most of the tools I love are only available on Windows. CrossOver provides a nice solution - it emulates Windows (based on wine) and allows me to run my tools on my Mac without restarting or virtualization. So far everything I've tried has worked, including tools which require DirectX support. The standard version is $40 and well worth it.

Opal is a very simple level editor. You draw polygons, setup their textures, and add extra data to entities. It supports easy addition of special border textures and layering. Quite honestly, I could sit down and write this in a couple days, but someone has already done the work for me. Right now it's doing everything I need it to do, and that makes it mighty.

Tiled Map Editor
Despite the fact that game developers have been using tile maps since before I was born, there aren't really many good options in the way of tile map editors. Tiled is one of the more competent tools I've found. Unfortunately, it only goes so far - this is one of those areas where I've found I have to roll up my sleeves and do the heavy lifting myself. Alas, my tile editor isn't really fit for show. DAME looks promising though.

Softimage XSI
XBLIG subscribers used to get this for free. I don't know that that's still the case anymore, but if it is, I suggest grabbing this. It's a decent 3D modeling package - at least decent to someone who's not a great 3D modeler. Definitely better than Blender. Maybe not as great as Max/Maya? I don't know; that's what my artist buddy tells me, but I'm not competent enough to say.

It's way past my bed time, so I'm going to cut this short. I'm sure there are some other great tools laying around. Have any of your own?
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Whoever told you XSI was 'not as great as Max/Maya' is full of B.S. There is a reason why Autodesk bought it as well ;) It's interface is a little different, but it has amazing code & visual scripting capabilities.

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