I'd like to spread the word about this tool, which is currently on Kickstarter and has reached 65% of its $25,000 funding goal with 26 days to go as of this time of writing, and it sorely deserves attention, because there is simply no other game development tool of its kind, and it could be a valuable tool for 2D game developers.
Anyone who has played Vanillaware games like Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade would remember the smooth, detailed animation present in those games. Or, say, the 2D Rayman games, especially Origins. Rather than using singular images for each frame of animation, such games use multiple parts for each character, each with multiple re-usable images that can be blended together in an animation, resulting in animations that are very smooth while at the same time allowing artists to increase character detail without needing to take more time with both. It also has performance benefits as well, as this animation style heavily reduces the required amount of VRAM needed, as only the images for the parts used in animations are stored in VRAM, which is much less than if an entire animation with the same amount of frames done in singular images, allowing for much more animations and frames without increasing VRAM use.
Problem is, there isn't a dedicated piece of software specifically designed for these kinds of animations that has been released to the public - well, until now. Spriter, developed by Brashmonkey, a two-man team - one animator, Mike Parent, who has worked with companies like Gameloft, Wayforward, and GluMobile, and one programmer, Edgar Muniz, also known as "Lucid", someone I know personally on the Scirra forums, who has developed Construct plugins, and is a very awesome guy. They were originally working on two separate pieces of software with different intentions - Mike was working on Spriter, and Lucid was working on his own stuff, heavily inspired by Ubisoft's own UbiArt software, which was used to create Rayman Origins, but then they came together to work on the brand new and improved Spriter.
Not only are these guys developing an awesome piece of software to fill in an important niche in 2D game development, they're trying to make the best tool they can, and add features beyond what I described above - such as "character maps", being able to swap different kinds of parts, such as weapons, clothing/armor, and various other things, allowing for stuff like customizable characters in runtime, character skins, randomized NPCs, and so on, in ways that would be more or less infeasible with traditional 2D animation methods. And, beyond that, procedural animations, shapes and variables which can easily expand the possibilities for game animations.
It will use an XML-based format that will allow it to be used in any game engine there is, and Lucid is currently working on a Construct Classic plugin for it, with Construct 2 coming right after, and third parties working on plugins for Torque2d, Unity, Gamemaker, DarkBasic, MultimediaFusion 2, as well as a general C++ API.
And once it's released, the software would simply cost $25 bucks. No, really.
Here's the Kickstarter page, where the beta is also linked for download. If you support more games having smoother, detailed animations and graphics, please support the Kickstarter fund!