A little while back I started doing some work and collaboration with a great guy and game industry supermodel by the name of Mike Parent. I came across one of his game projects, Prophecies of Nnar, that he was developing and designing from the ground up with a custom built animation tool called Spriter. Spriter allowed him to very quickly bring together all of his game assets, like stacks of character body segments, and create powerful modular animations that could be interchanged with other characters and art on the fly with very low memory overhead. When I got a look at it, there was just an alpha build being kicked around that was in the process of being completely rebuilt, but even then it was impressive to look at.
But just this week, a Kickstarter went up to aid in getting the development of a solid and full-featured Spriter release out to the world, and the game development community showed its support in the form of pledging to meet its proposed budget of $25,000 within the first three days. Even now, at the time of this writing with 14 days left in the funding timeframe, it is sitting at $38,000. This is fantastic to see, because for every bit that goes up beyond the planned budget, they are going to add in as many features as possible with the funding allowance to cover living without having to work on other things to pay the bills. They will be able to export the animation data to a huge amount of platforms, but are shooting to make it as universally compatible as possible, while offering the support to have it ported to any engine you might want to use it in.
Other than making animation incredibly easy to do, the real benefit of this comes in the memory that will be saved. All of the animation data – the keyframes, the tweens, everything that moves – is what is brought into your engine. These animations, whether they are short and sweet motions or 4-minute long breakdancing competitions, only cost the amount of memory it takes to read the information in. So it’s the difference of an animation costing hundreds of MB of memory for something complex with frame-by-frame sprites and being barely 1.5MB with the Spriter data.
But check out their kickstarter video and view the updates on the project page for better explanations on these things. If it sounds like something you would either have fun playing around with or get great use out of in your future game projects, you should make a contribution to get your hands on it when its released, and play around with the (very limited for the time being) working Beta.
Visit the project page for Spriter on Kickstarter here.