What Programs Should You Use for Game Design? / by Xiaosong Shang

Hello everyone, Sam Martino here!

Sorry for the radio silence, November was a very busy month for us, but now we’re back!

I mentioned last time I would go in depth into the programs we use. I will start off this week with the general ones and end the week with details about the more specific ones.

The full list of programs we use are as follows: Maya, Substance Painter, ZBrush, Marvelous Designer, Mixamo, Adobe (Photoshop, AfterEffects, and Premier).

Starting off with Maya, which is my personal favorite, I cannot stress how much the quality of life benefits from Maya make it worth the money over programs such as Blender. Granted, Blender can do most of things that Maya can do, but I’ve found that Maya streamlines the entire process and makes everything so much faster. For us, I only have two dedicated 3D artists, the faster they can get through all the objects on their to do list, the better. Blender just takes far too long for the number of assets we need to crank out.

Substance Painter is the main tool we use for any kind of texturing for all our models. The quality we can get from Substance is unmatched, and they have an incredible library of materials (https://source.allegorithmic.com/assets) which you have full access to with your subscription. Substance Painter also allows the ability to create cool effects without a lot of work, making scratched away paint, serial numbers, or scratch marks, are all doable with the alphas that the program comes with. You can also upload your own alphas and create really anything you want.

ZBrush is a program I wish I could personally get more involved with, but it has a very steep learning curve. However, you won’t be able to get the high quality details on objects, or create hyper realistic characters without it. ZBrush is incredibly powerful, but it requires a lot of practice to use it to its full potential. I will note, I see more 3D jobs looking for ZBrush artists than anything else, so it seems like the right way to go if you want to do artistic design in the video game industry.

These are the three main ones that we use in every single project, unfortunately they all cost money but most of them have free or discounted student licenses if you are looking to learn. Next time I’ll talk more about the other five, as they are specialized depending on what you’re doing and the kind of game you are creating.

As always, please reach out to me at smartino@dogwoodgaming.com with any comments or questions. I always love hearing from you guys!