Tools SIG

International Game Developers Association

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Special Interest Groups


So... who are we?

The Tools SIG covers all types of tools development, from command line tools, to UI-focused tools, all the way down to middleware applications.

Why is a tools SIG is needed?

Tools development is an important area of game development, but is often hard to rigorously define. It is a cross-disciplinary field that often requires effort from nearly everyone on a game team, including programmers, artists, and designers. All too often, tools are quickly and shoddily constructed as a single game is being developed. The SIG hopes to raise awareness about what "tools" are, how they can be developed more productively, and how teams can get more out of them over time. Effective tool design can save hundreds of hours in labor, and allow companies to focus on issues of quality.

As of right now, a unified (and well publicized) arena for tools discussion does not exist. By providing a forum for discussion, we can encourage idea sharing between companies and reduce the amount of redundant work being done.


The overall mission of the SIG is to encourage effective tools design and development, leading to more reusable tools with longer shelf lives.

Some of our goals:

  • Encourage innovative tool design/development
  • Encourage open source projects from students, hobbyists, and professionals
  • Promote good design practices, which encourage tool reusability and longer life spans
  • Provide a forum for open discussion
  • Promote collaboration between professionals and academics
  • Reduce the amount of duplicate work being done, and focus more on moving development forward into new areas
  • Identify problems/needs within the field, and address them

Sample projects/initiatives

  • Providing a list of Tools Development Resources
  • Address a need within the community: create a project to work on a tool that would solve a common issue
  • Promote and encourage talks at the industry's various conferences and gatherings
  • Eventually, possibly create an open source tools library

(Have an idea? Feel free to contact us. :)

Who might be interested in this group

Anyone who uses tools - which means artists, tech artists, programmers, designers, QA, and possibly management as well. Tools development touches almost everyone in a game company and is vital to its success.

GDC Session Notes

Each year at GDC, we encourage SIG members to contribute their notes from Tools related sessions to our wiki. For the past 3 years we've gotten some excellent response.

GDC '07

Technical Issues in Tools Development (John Walker):

GDC '08

Technical Issues in Tools Development (John Walker):

GDC '09

Technical Issues In Tools Development (John Walker)

Tools SIG (Jeff Ward)

Personal tools