Join our Discord server!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Helpful Resources

We tend to post a lot of resources on our Facebook group. Below is a collection of the best resources that deserve to be shared again and again. If you know of any useful resources that should be added to this list, post about it on our mailing list or on Facebook.

Recommended Software

The following software programs are all free to download and use. Each provides its own set of useful tools for aspiring game developers, as well as rapid prototyping functionality for testing games.


In recent years, Unity has emerged as the clear program of choice for independent developers looking to build a game with an existing engine. Unity's editor was built by and for game developers, and offers incredible versatility for building 2D and 3D games without having a steep learning curve. Scripting in Unity can be done using C# or UnityScript (JavaScript for Unity).


For users more familiar with Python-like languages, LÖVE is a perfect program for 2D game development, with simple, intuitive game programming in Lua. The engine is very well-documented, and offers great low-level control while still allowing for easy rapid prototyping.


Some development programs exist for more niche uses - for example, Twine is a fantastic tool for creating text-based game experiences in a simplified environment. No scripting must be used in Twine, but CSS and JavaScript code can be inserted into any project to change its aesthetics.

University Resources

Safari Books Online

The university has a subscription with Safari Books Online, which is an enormous digital library of technical e-books. This library is an absolute dream come true for any serious game developer. While the site specializes in programming and engineering, it also features books on a wide variety of other topics, such as game design, graphic design, web development, business, management, etc. The are multiple ways to access the site:
  1. By being physically on campus and connected the university's WiFi.
  2. By visiting this link, which allows you to connect to the site from almost anywhere in the world via the University Library's EZ Proxy system.
  3. By setting up a VPN with the campus, which is useful if you've bookmarked a ton of books before finding out about the EZ Proxy link.

The University Libraries

Every time you do a search on the library website, it searches through every single digital library that the library has access to, including Safari Books Online. If you're looking to see whether or not you can get free access to a specific book, it's usually best to start your search on the library website. It's also important to remember that the library has multiple locations, with each one specializing on certain fields. The Science and Engineering Library, for example, has a small game development section on its 5th floor, right next to all of their computer science books.

DreamSpark (MSDN Academic Alliance)

Microsoft gives away free software to students through the DreamSpark program (which was formerly known as the MSDN Academic Alliance program, or MSDNAA). Computer science students can get access to this software by visiting, and there are more instructions on how to set up your account on the CS website.

Which Classes?

Fellow UofA students Jesse Gunsch and Chas Leichner created in order to make sense out of the university's course evaluation data. The website is an invaluable tool for finding the best courses and the best teachers so that you can make the most of your time here at the university.

CSC 335 - Object Oriented Programming

If you're a computer science student, you should definitely plan your schedule so that you can take CSC 335: Object Oriented Programming as soon as possible. This class will teach you how to manage large projects, how to work well on a team of programmers, and how to do many advanced things using the Java programming language. In other words, this class is super useful for game developers.

Local Game Studios

Game studios located in Tucson, Arizona:

Riverman Media

Riverman Media is a small independent games studio run by two brothers, Jacob and Paul Stevens. Their company is focused on staying completely independent and self-funded, and they also insist on keeping their team size as small as possible, which means they're not interested in hiring employees or interns. Jacob Stevens has given talks at our club meetings, and he's published multiple articles, such as this one which describes the values that guide his company's structure.

Kihon Games

Kihon Games is an ambitious independent games studio started mostly by former employees of Sony Online Entertainment. They specialize in iOS games, and they're always hiring and looking for interns. Their CEO Mark Grossnickle has given talks at our club, and one of our members, Taylor Paul, has been interning with them for the past several months.

Member Blogs

Blogs started by members of the GameDev Club:

Zuoming's Quirky Cafe

At Zuoming's Quirky Cafe, Zuoming Shi writes about several topics including game design, music, animation, and more!

Dragon Wranglers Dev Blog

Dragon Wranglers Dev Blog follows the development of an ongoing student project started by Logan Stevenson. It's a mobile game about raising dragons in the Wild West, and this blog is a rare opportunity to follow one of our projects while it's being developed.

Livio's Gaming Blog

Livio's Gaming Blog is maintained by Livio De La Cruz. He tends to write long, analytical essays about game design and development, presumably because he has a lot to say about these things.


AbouT was started by Taylor Paul. At the time of this writing, the blog has fallen out of activity, but he's managed to post a nice collection of great resources and links to some really inspiring content.

Justin Van Horne's Blog

Justin Van Horne is more involved with the local ACM chapter than he is with the GameDev Club, but if you're a programmer who's considering starting a new blog, this is a good example of what a programmer's blog might look like.

Sites to Follow

Extra Credits

Extra Credits is a web show that tries to bridge the gap between game developers and game fans with respect to the kinds of conversations that they're having about games. Not only do they frequently make thought-provoking videos that encourage you to look at games from a new perspective, but they're also a great resource for students who wish to eventually work in the games industry. Below are just some of their many must-watch episodes:


Gamasutra is one of the largest games industry news sites. It's targeted towards game developers, rather than game consumers, and the site features content that applies to any profession in the industry. You can find articles, opinion pieces, and guides written by prominent members of the industry. They also post great postmortems, which are retrospective articles that talk about the successes and failures of recently shipped games.

Great Books

The Art of Game Design

The Art of Game Design, by Jesse Schell, is definitely the best book on game design that you can find. It's written in a very honest and practical style that makes it a joy to read the whole way through. The book features 100 "lenses" that represent different design perspectives and questions to ask yourself when designing. This Book of Lenses is accompanied by a Deck of Lenses, which you can get as an app for Android or iOS, or as a physical deck of cards.

Challenges for Game Designers

While reading books is great, the vast majority of your design skills will be gained through experience. Challenges for Game Designers, by Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber, tries to teach you game design by providing hands-on, non-digital exercises that will let you give you a better feel of what it means to solve design problems and how to think like a designer.

Rules of Play

Rules of Play, by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, is much a more academic and textbook-like approach to game design. Whether or not you'll find it useful or engaging really depends on your learning style. Despite that, it continues to be one of the most highly recommended and influential books on game design that you'll ever find.

A Theory of Fun

Like Rules of Play, Ralph Koster's Theory of Fun is another highly influential book in the field of game design. As the title suggests, it focuses on what exactly makes an interactive system fun, and it explores the fundamental reasons for why we like to play games.

Designing Virtual Worlds

Richard Bartle's Designing Virtual World is the definitive book on the subject of virtual world design. It's specifically about interactive virtual worlds, not fictional universes in general. This is a must read for any game designer.

Amazing Articles and Videos

Train (or How I Dumped Electricity and Learned to Love Design)

In this GDC 2010 talk, legendary game designer Brenda Brathwaite describes how she made a board game called Train and how the game was so emotionally powerful that it frequently brought players to tears. This talk also covers her personal history with game design and her desire to capture uncomfortable but powerful emotions through games. The video recording of this talk is one hour long, but it's an absolutely amazing talk.

John Cleese - A Lecture on Creativity

Monty Python comedian John Cleese gives a brilliant lecture about creativity. His main argument is that creativity is not a mysterious talent but rather a process that anyone can master. He talks about how play and persistence are crucial parts of any healthy creative process, and his advice is rooted in scientific research and practicality.

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

You've probably heard of this before, but Randy Pausch's Last Lecture is one of the most entertaining and inspirational lectures that you'll ever watch. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and he co-founded CMU's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), which is probably the best school for game designers that you can find.