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Spriter - Vanillaware-style 2D Game Animation Tool

#1 User is offline Candescence 

Posted 02 April 2012 - 07:38 AM

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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!

#2 User is offline Aerosol 

Posted 02 April 2012 - 02:56 PM

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I'll probably never use it, but it sounds interesting.

#3 User is offline Candescence 

Posted 06 April 2012 - 11:32 AM

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Funding target reached, 114% and rising with 22 days to go.

Really, one of the main draws of this software for me, personally, is the Character Map feature, which allows for many different things, such as new characters based off an existing set of animations (which can be modified to suit the new character), character skins, and customizable characters. I like traditional animation and all, but that's something you can't do traditionally.

Plus, creating smooth animation is a time-consuming process that also requires more VRAM with each additional frame. Rotoscoping helps, I suppose, and one could use the Ghost Trick method - render 3D models as 2D animations (which makes for some fantastic animations in numerous quantities if you do it right), but it still has some of the same limitations as traditional methods.

#4 User is offline Ritz 

Posted 06 April 2012 - 12:39 PM

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Yes. Ah Yeeeeeah. This is very relevant to my interests. Fuck Lucid's ponies, though.

#5 User is offline Jay T. 

Posted 06 April 2012 - 12:52 PM

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View PostRitz, on 06 April 2012 - 12:39 PM, said:

Yes. Ah Yeeeeeah. This is very relevant to my interests. Fuck Lucid's ponies, though.


Huh? Who?

Anyway, I've been meaning to get into the whole spriting thing, so I'll more than likely give this a go once I get into drawing digitally (need a new tablet first. Getting one soon). This does look pretty sweet.

#6 User is offline Candescence 

Posted 06 April 2012 - 02:13 PM

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Just to note, it only does animations, so you can't use it as a drawing tool. Mind you, there are plenty of tools out there for making images, so drawing tools would be rather redundant.

#7 User is offline Candescence 

Posted 19 April 2012 - 11:45 AM

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Alright, a few updates:

- Demonstrations on various platforms
- A couple of upcoming features described, including "containers", and bone animation (which would basically include bone rotation, which allows automatic 'part change' based on rotation, such as, say, a character's torso facing in various directions.)
- A couple of professional game artists discussing Spriter, including an entire video by Dan Fessler describing the various advantages of the software.

Dan Fessler in particular makes some great points, mainly that Spriter can be used to not only animate characters, but also background aspects, effects, and UI components, tiles, cutscenes, etc. It's a great example on how versatile a tool like this is.

#8 User is offline W.A.C. 

Posted 19 April 2012 - 01:15 PM

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I totally forgot about this. I wonder if I should donate $25 to get it. It looks like it could be very useful for me in the future.

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