There are a ton of fantastic programs one can use when writing and designing games. Below are what I used to make Liminal Horror.
- Free Graphic Design Resources & Best Practices For TTRPG Creators by Ghost Lore. This post gives a great overview of the different aspects of design (from programs you can use, to different ways of building your skils, to important things to consider when working with others’ work).
- Resources for Free Creation Tools by G. Raven Image is a collection of tools housed on itch.io that can help in various aspects of the writing, designing, and publishing process.
I’ve found myself writing my games using markdown (an easy to use computer language) that can be used with a variety of different programs, and allows you to output in multiple formats (pdf, epub, html). This increases your ability to create dynamic and accessible products down the line.
- Using Markdown and Pandoc to Make RPG Documents for Free by Luke Gearing is a fantastic step by step guide on how to write in markdown and then publish the results in multiple formats.
- Typora is a super easy to learn writing program that I use regualrly. When paired with pandoc it gives you a lot of built in output options as well. It is what I used to write and publish the Liminal Horror epub (with some minor backend editing in calibre).
- Zine Month 2022 Contribution - How to use Markdown and Pandoc to publish zines. is a fantastic guide in how to use markdown (and the pandoc extension) to publish your zines. The end result is a printable booklet ready to be made into a zine (and a format that can easily be exported to epub).
- Making an HTML Dungeon by Nate Treme is a great overview of the type of unique projects that are possible with markdown. An HTML dungeon that you can post right onto itch.io!
- Spongedown is a wraps of markdown that allows you to integrate interesting diagrams, shapes, graphs, flowcharts, comics into your work.
- Svgbob is a diagramming model that lets you create shaped in your markdown files.
- mermaid - Markdownish syntax for generating flowcharts, sequence diagrams, class diagrams, gantt charts and git graphs.
Creating your own online SRD is not only a way to present your work (creating a free web based, public facing document that allows for collaboration and growth) but can help structure the writing and end product.
- A Step-by-Step Guide to creating a TTRPG SRD by Desolate Drifter @GulluthGultch is a comprehensve guide to creating your very ownn TTRPG SRD (that is also free).
- How to Design TTRPG Sheets with Google Sheets by Momatoes is their guide on how to create a phenomenal and unique character sheet with google sheets.
- Video Stream: teaching google sheets by Momatoes takes you through the process of creating a character sheet like the one made for ARC.
- Slide Deck: Google Sheets for fun, design, and games by Momatoes is the slide deck that was used in the stream and acts as a great reference.
- Markdown based programs such as typora or ghostwriter are great options. I would highly recommend taking a little bit of time to learn about this option since it can really open up some opportunities at the end of your project.
- Google Drive for file organization & management. Jalopy Design: Itchfunding & Gdocs by David Schirduan (Technical Grimoire) goes into detail about how one can leverage google docs to create a finished ttrpg. It presents what went well using gdocs, and what the drawbacks were.
- Google Docs for writing the base text of Limnial Horror. This also allowed me to share the document and recieve notes/feedback.
- Affinity Publisher. This is an affordable, single purchase program (currently $54.99)
- Canva is a free website that really scaffolds small scale design in a way that allows anyone to create professional products. It is used a ton in teaching and other fields. A great overview by Jeeyon Shim, on how to use it in ttrpg spaces, can be found here
- Top 15 Tutorials. Affinity has a bunch of helpful tutorials to lower the learning curve and this had some good ones included.
- Tips for adding interactivity to your digital publications
Jalopy Design: Cleaning up Public Domain Art by David Schirduan (Technical Grimoire) does another fantastic entry that goes through how to edit and leverage Public Domain Art in your works.
- GIMP is a free, open source image editor. While I do own Affinity Designer and Photo, I still primarily use this to edit the images I used in Liminal Horror.
- PIXLR X Is a free browser based photo editor. Described as an easy-to-use photo editor (with help of templates)
- PIXLR E Is a free browser based, powerful photo editor. Described as an advanced editor for pros.
- Dither Me This is a tool you can use to dither images.
- Inkscape is a free vector graphic program.
- Krita is a free open source painting program.
- Artflow AI allows users to generate visual content wit hthe help of an AI. Currently it is built to generate portraits. The output is licensed under CC BY which allows commercial and noncommercial use with attribution.
Here is a list of alternatives to Adobe programs created by xdaniel Art (they require a regular subscription that is predatory and if you don’t pay you often get hit with massive hidden fees and lose access to things you have made/bought)