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Tools programmer

A tools programmer is essential when creating a video game; they improve production efficiency by providing and improving creation tools, game editors, and adding new functionalities. They work on everything the studio teams will need. For this, good software engineering skills are required as well as a creative mind.

Mobile Programmer Job Description
Last update
Level of studies: master’s degree
Recommended high school specialisation: Scientific
Employability: Good
Starting salary: € 2,333
Salary after experience: € 3,660
Mobility: Good
ROME code: M1805
FAP code: M2790
"A tool programmer is a little known career in video games (at least from an outside point of view). It consists of developing all the tools used by production to produce the game (based on the engine). This can range from tools for creating / editing worlds, cutscenes, creating artistic pipelines (texture, materials), and simple engine task automation. "
Rocksteady Thibault Gallais
Thibault Gallais
Tools programmer at Rocksteady Studio

The responsibilities of the tools programmer

In their daily life, a tools programmer will have many responsibilities. They will have to:

  • Develop tools to publish content
  • Improve game editors, 3D editors, user experience and performance
  • Maintain the quality of content development tools, correct bugs
  • Develop frameworks
  • Optimise special effects editors
  • Offer new tools and features to improve team efficiency
  • Keep an eye out for new techniques and technology
"A tools programmer must master UI / UX to provide a clean, clear and understandable interface for production. They must also be versatile to work with all departments (level designers, artists, gameplay programmers, animators, etc.). You must also know how to highlight a problem or a request, find a solution and implement it. "
Rocksteady Thibault Gallais
Thibault Gallais
Tools programmer at Rocksteady Studio

The skills of a tools programmer

There are many skills that a tool programmer must have and be able to apply. They know:

  • C #, C ++ languages
  • Scripting languages ​​(Lua, Python, MaxScript)
  • Engines and tools used in game production like Unreal Engine, Unity
  • Version management tools (Perforce / Git / SVN)
  • English
  • How to keep an eye out for new techniques and technology
Illustration du langage script LUA
Lua is one of the most widely used scripting languages. A tools programmer must know how to use it.
Capture d'écran du contrôleur de version GIT
A tools programmer will also have to, based on the studios they work in, master GIT version controllers.

The qualities of a tools programmer

It is best to have certain essential qualities to evolve alongside a team and meet the specifications and objectives in this position. For this, a tools programmer must be:

  • Rigorous
  • Organised
  • Autonomous
  • Able to quickly understand issues
  • Able to listen listen

The advantages and disadvantages of the profession

Like all careers in developing a video game, a tools programmer must also deal with advantages and disadvantages. For example :

Benefits :

  • A profession based on passion
  • Good employability
  • Interesting salary
  • Many international mobility opportunities
  • Possibility of freelance work


  • You don’t count your hours
  • Be available
  • You have to keep an eye on things daily
  • Learning nonstop
"A definite advantage of this profession is that it allows us to work with all production careers. It also allows for social contact with users to collect the needs and problems to find solutions. One drawback could be that the tools programmer is a bit "remote" from production. Indeed nothing of that they produce appears in the final game. But a lot of what is produced is made from these tools."
Rocksteady Thibault Gallais
Thibault Gallais
Tools programmer at Rocksteady Studio

Studies needed to become a tool programmer

It is a video game profession, which requires a high level of technical expertise, and you need a master’s degree to become a tool programer. Firstly, you’ll need to do a general high school diploma with specialities in mathematics and digital. Or you could do a technological high school diploma in the science of technology. Then, in your higher education, you’ll need to choose a higher technical certificate in computer science or a degree in computer science.

The ideal pathway, however, is to apply for a school specialising in video games. This allows you both to be immersed in the gaming world for the duration of your education and especially to become an expert in programming, particularly in tools applied to video games.

« I did my end-of-study internship at Ubisoft Montpellier after graduating from a general engineering school specialising in IT. This allowed me to gain a foothold in the field of video games. I have always been attracted by video games’ technical aspects (game design / level design and technologies / algorithms) », says Thibault Gallais.

Capture d'écran du langage de script Python
Python scripting language is one of the skills of a tools programmer. MSc students in Video Game Programming will learn to master it, particularly on Windows.
Which course?

Recognised for the quality of education, our G. Tech school (in Lyon and Paris) allows all future programmers to train in the best conditions. Two options are possible after a high school diploma: an IT development bachelor’s degree specialising in video games (a three-year training course that allows you to learn the basics of computer programming while acquiring a culture of video games and video games).

Then you can continue onto or directly join (after a completed high school diploma +3 years in a higher education course), our MSc in video game programming. You will be able to perfect yourself in computer development applied exclusively to video games in two years. It is a high-level technological course, the last year of which takes place in a work-study program.

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Company internships

Throughout the course, a student will have to carry out several internships in a company. This allows them both to practice the knowledge seen at school and become familiar with the environment. We therefore offer, in the first two years, two internships of two months each. Then there are three months of internship for the last year of the bachelor’s degree.

And for the MSc, the internships are of longer duration with a view to employability. They last six months in the 4th year and the last year takes place exclusively via work-study courses. What better way to improve in their future profession?


The salary of a tools programmer

The salary range is variable for a tools programmer. You must consider the number of years of experience, the employer, the status (self-employed or employee), location, etc. A professional in this field can earn nearly 28,000 euros per year at the start of their career and reach nearly 45,000 euros as a senior developer.

In a country like Canada, in Montreal to be more precise, the salary will be higher, nearly $ 70,000 per year. In California, a location known for video game production, a tool programmer can earn up to $ 10,000 per month. On average, it’s more like $ 6,800.

Where can you work?

A tool programmer is relatively sought after by studios of all sizes, both for their level of technical mastery and for their know-how in the development of tools. So, it is not uncommon to see these professionals working at Ubisoft, Asobo Studio, Beenox who developed franchises like Crash Bandicoot or Guitar Hero, Epic Games. Opportunities are also sometimes possible within companies in the IT sector, such as Laou in Bordeaux.

Image du jeu vidéo d'Asobo studios, Flight Simulator
Most video game studios have a tool programmer, like the French studio Asobo who developed the Flight Simulator video game.
"I was able to work for 3 years on Ghost Recon Breakpoint (Ubisoft), for a few months on Riders Republic (Ubisoft), and I have been working for 8 months on Suicide Squad Kills the Justice League (Rocksteady). Ghost Recon was my first production, and I discovered the production of a game from its beginnings (creative phase, installation of the engine and initial tools) until its release into production and post-production (release of the game, patch management, additional content). "
Rocksteady Thibault Gallais
Thibault Gallais
Tools programmer at Rocksteady Studio

Career developments

After becoming a tools programmer and mastering the development of tools, programming and optimisation of software architectures, you can quickly become a lead tools programmer if you enjoy the management dimension. You can also become a video game project manager.

Become a freelance tools programmer

Like other programming careers, whether a developer, a mobile or an engine programmer, a tools programmer can work independently. This allows you to choose your responsibilities, manage your time, and increase projects and their variety. However, becoming a freelancer means having a level of skills sought by companies, knowing how to organise and showing motivation.

In summary

How can you become a tools programmer?

As it is necessary to know tools, programming languages ​​like C ++, and those more adapted to tools like C # or Python, you must learn to become a tools programmer by doing a course. By following our bachelor’s degree and MSc degrees in video game programming, a student will learn the basics of computer development and then improve their skills in programming tools. In addition, by being enrolled in the G. Tech school, our future professionals will acquire a video game culture, develop their interpersonal skills and above all, work on concrete projects.