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Awesome 2D Games Animation tool with Spine

Android, Games, iPhone, Technologies | June 6, 2013

The above title is also the topic of the speech by Stefan Nguyen, Vinova Lead Game Developer, in Casual Connect Asia 2013.

As a part of Casual Connect Asia 2013, besides the Indie Showcase, representatives from hundreds of companies had come and delivered speeches which focused on different cutting edge topics in casual game space. To be honored, Stefan had a 20-minutes presentation to introduce and shares his experiences with Spine – an awesome 2D Games Animation tool which Vinova used during the development of Ultimate Arrow. Thanks to the presentation of Stefan, Vinova had a chance to invite the audiences to our booth in the Indie showcase for further discussion about Ultimate Arrow.

As mentioned before in our previous post, at Casual Connect Asia 2013, we had won the “Best of Show” award with the game Ultimate Arrow. Ultimate Arrow is the 3rd 2D mobile game that Vinova developed. From Gasboy (our first 2D game) which only has 1 character with 1 animation in 15 frames and 90KB size on disk to our 2nd 2D game: God’s Rage which has 1 character with 17 animations in 402 frames and 1.3MB size on disk, our team could handle the character’s animation with frame-based animation using Anime Studio 9. However, after transition to Ultimate Arrow with multiple characters which are all detailed designed with much more complicated motions compared to the first 2 aforementioned games, we then encountered a serious problem. For example, the first boss’ design occupied nearly 50MB RAM and 20MB size on disk. This situation gave problem even to the high-end mobile devices.

Fortunately, our team found Spine – a 2D animation tool for skeletal animation. Instead of using a single design for a whole character, a character in Spine is composed of a number of separate, smaller parts and a skeleton for its body. These smaller parts were then attached to the skeletons and animation was done on the bones. With Spine, we decrease the size of each character while maintaining or even improved the smoothness of the animation.

However, Spine cannot replace the frame-based animation tool (eg Anime Studio 9). The frame-based animation is suitable when the animation has only several frames or the character is small. Our suggestion is to use both animation methods in game. Frame-based animation is for small characters while skeletal-based animation which is for huge characters and/or those need detailed, complex animations.

To sum up, Spine is a great 2D skeletal animation tool which smooths the animation in game. It reduces the disk and RAM size usage. Spine is also auto-generated animation transition with procedural animation. Different from frame-based animation, skeletal animation needs more computation at run-time.

Vinova had successes with Spine!! How about you. Let’s download and experience this awesome 2D skeleton animation tool.

The free trial version of Spine is now available for downloading here.