The hidden tools of Game Developement

Hey Fellow Unrealer’s,

I wanted to start a post where everyone can share cool little tools that they might use everyday to help them in development. It might be some cool little program that does one little thing or something bigger. I will go first to get things started.

Here is a tool that I use everyday called, Sage Thumbs. This cool little tool that adds the ability for Windows to display lots of different thumbnails like .TGA’s for example inside of Windows explorer. This makes it a great tool for having as you can now preview all the .TGA’s that you are using without having to open up Photoshop or Xnview. If you have problems displaying all thumbnails make sure that you turn up the Maximum size of the image file to something like 1000 MB.

Enjoy and please add more tools like this if you have them.

Here is the updated list. As people add more and more I will try and update. I left out the 3Ds max scripts because some times I have problems getting access to scripts spot from China.

OS Tools:
Sage Thumbs: For displaying lots of different imgae formats as thumbnails inside of Windows.
RefBoard: Little app that displays pictures above all other windows so you can use them for reference.
Irfanview: Progrma that is for viewing lots of various image types in windows. -

Texture Tools:
Substance Designer: 2D Texture Creation. -
NDO: Normal Map creation -
XNormal: Normal Map creation -
dDo: Texture creation -
FlowMapPainter: Flow textures -
Handplane: Tangent Space calculator that helps to sync normals maps so that they will match up with the game engine that will be rendering them. -
Crazy Bump: Various map creation software. -
Gimp: Free image minuplation tool like photoshop. -
Lebox Extender: FileBox enhances Windows by adding several advanced functions to the standard Open File and Save File dialog boxes. - FileBox eXtender - keep favorite folders at your fingertips
IES Profile Gen: Free and easy to use IES light texture generator -
Knald: For AO/Cavity/Heightmaps -

3D Modeling / Painting:
Blender: Free 3D Modeling and rendering software. -
MakeHuman: For creating base human meshes to refine in sculpt. -
Substance Painter: 3D painting software. -
Autodesk FBX Converter: Free tool to convert FBX, Collada, DXF, 3DS to any version of FBX -
Marvelous Designer = Program for making life like clothing. -
gwTerraNoise = Producal Map Creation - gw::TerraNoise
WorldMaschine = Producal terrain and terrain texture creation software. -

Blender - for modeling, sculpting and some light 3D painting.

MakeHuman - for creating base human meshes to refine in sculpt.

Substance Painter - 3d painting. Lots of cool features. In beta so a few kinks but mostly works fantastic.

refBoard - little app that displays pictures above all other windows so you can use them for reference.

Hourences tutorials on UE4 -because they are super helpful.

Noesis - great free tool to view and convert various 3d file formats. hightly extensible on python
Autodesk FBX Converter - free tool to convert fbx, collada, dxf, 3ds to any version of fbx
Gimp normalmap plugin and Gimp itself/ - free 2d editor (i is more human-friendly with 2.8+ release :slight_smile: )

Irfanview - - IMO the best simple image viewer and edit tool. Opens and displays images way faster than the default Windows image viewer, and opens way more different formats (PSD etc included - allowing you to easily view through all types of images). Can tie into Photoshop so you can open the current image instantly in Photoshop also. Free also. - free and easy to use IES light texture generator

Filebox Extender - FileBox eXtender - keep favorite folders at your fingertips - Allows the standard Windows Open/Save file dialog windows to be much bigger. Great for high res monitors. Allows for sticking windows on top of everything else, great for for example typing notes in notepad while the editor is maximized and in focus. Also and perhaps most importantly it allows you to make one explorer window instantly take over the location of another. So what I do, and this is what speeds up my work hugely, is I have one explorer open that displays a folder I am working in, and then any Save/Export window that comes up will automatically take over the location of the Explorer window that is open. I thus never have to go through folders and select the right place to save something. That has saved me a lot of time over the years. - I like that one as well. Cheap unwrap tool. Interface is a bit strange at times, but it supports tons of features.

Weird this website does not load for me.

Small Tools:
Toolbag = Preview Rendering
ndo = Normal Map creation
xnormal = Normal Map creation
dDo = Texture creation
FlowMapPainter = Flow textures
Handplane = ajust Normal Map
Knald = for AO/Cavity/Heightmaps
Marvelous Designer = Cloths
NVIDIA FX Composer = HLSL Shader preview
gwTerraNoise = producal map creation
WorldMaschine = Landscape creation
ReSPaM = Cubemap splitting

3ds max Scripts:

i forget 4 important max scripts :smiley:
Outliner 2.0
TexTools 4.1
Advanced Painter
Quad Chamfer

Great information Ulrich.


Maya 2015 LT is perhaps not a “hidden gem”, but I recently started to use this instead of Blender, and I’m really happy with it… It was just released on Steam for 50 Eur/month. Not very cheap, but absolutely afordable if this is you job or main hobby… All the fancy rendering capabilities is stripped out, but all the 3D sculpting tools are there…


I use a collection of simple little Mel scripts I wrote to create various primitives at UE4 scale. A Char-Ref @ 180cm tall, Long Beam, Short Beam, Pipe, Horizontal, Vertical, Ect…
I hotkey them to a Custom Marking Menu for ease of use. It increases the speed of my workflow a little, and 3/4 seconds here and there soon mounts up to more than a few minutes…


Everything in the screen-grab was modeled using my simple marking menu. It works for me, but if anyone wants it, just holler and I’ll post the script up to this thread…


Whats about “Clover”.
With that tool you got the possibility having tabs in windows explorer.

MysticThumbs does the same as Sage Thumbs i could imagine.

btw. ulrich, great post and nice thread samsterdam :slight_smile:
Samsterdam, could you update your first post with a complete list of all usefull tools.
with time its get a bit unreadable, if more people post stuff here

A little neat tool that I find useful for many cases, it basically allows you to scroll without having the windows in focus similar to Mac OS KatMouse - mouse wheel utility for Windows

I will also add some tools to the list :slight_smile:

SSbump -> creates normal and bump maps
Terresculptor -> is something like world machine Page Redirection

3d max script:
LOD generator: LOD Creator | ScriptSpot

shadermap 2 a lot like crazybump but cheaper ($40). Auto normal map generation, and lets you change values within the editor.

Also I hate to give any recognition to autodesk but using 123d design for very quick hard surface shapes plus zbrush’s divide, then the deformation palette. Is a really quick way to whip up some decent shapes for hard surface stuff. I feel like I’m the only one who uses these two together.

Anyone know of a program for cheap character animation, that imports into UE4 fine?

Bonzai3d and formZ from AutoDesSys are not very well known. They’re sort of like SketchUp but have a lot more features. The UI is very dated and makes a poor first impression but if you can get past that they’re very powerful tools. You can change the navigation in the key shortcuts window.

Company site here:
Lots of videos here:

3D Coat would probably also qualify as a less well-known tool. I prefer the overall workflow of it to Zbrush or Mudbox and it has really great retopo tools. 3D Coat is particularly good for doing hard surface things like weapons and vehicles.

Company site:

Blender works fine, although it’s a free program for character animation rather than a program for cheap character animation.

Does anyone have some favorite cheap Maya plugins that aren’t the animation and rigging tools? That was quite the list for Max.

I was going to do that when I get some time this weekend. Also mystic thumbs does not work with Windows 7 very well.

great Samsterdam! Thx for doing that.

Ah i dont have installed MysticThumbs on Win7 :D. Allright then Sage Thumbs.

I’m going to take another look at 123d today. Thanks for the tip! I might be the second person to use those two programs for hard surface modeling. :slight_smile:

Hey guys and gals. I updated my original post. If you see links left off its because I could not find it with a simple google search. If you have something you want to add please post a link along with a brief description of what it and I will keep adding as I get it. Also I left the Max Scripts off because for some reason Script Spot and China do not work well together. If someone can post links to all the scripts I will add them to the original post.


MoI for modeling: It is easy, powerful and fun. The next beta version seems to be the last before version 3 come out.