Game Development Reference
What Is a Tool?
What Is a Toolset?
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build
bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce
bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.
A tool is a software application used in either the construction or modification of
game-related content, where the content can be virtually anything that makes up
a game. Tools can be extremely simple, such as an application that removes all the
tab characters from a text file, or an application that copies files from one location
to another. Tools can also be quite complex, such as a full-featured world editing
suite. The complexity of the tool is directly proportional to the complexity of the
problem the tool is supposed to solve.
A toolset is a collection of tools that make up the content production pipeline of
a game. Any tool from a toolset can be reused in multiple projects as long as the
tool was designed with reusability in mind. Some tools are created for a single pur-
pose, in which the tool cannot be reused because a lot of the tool was hard coded
to reduce development time. A tool that is hard coded for a single purpose is often
referred to as a throw-away or skunk works tool.
As games move toward higher expectations of the quality and quantity of content
displayed, so do the tools that produce the content. Without producing exception-
al tools, you cannot produce an exceptional game.