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About Animations…


Animation by coder

In today's promised world of game engines and other what-you-see-is-what-you-get -tools we are committed to doing things in an unpopular way: we code it! And that includes the animations.

The only external software we use for animations is Spine but it is only used for concepting the animations and to see if the created assets are working together as intended. Once we have roughly working assets, we place them in a folder and code them in with parameters we can alter freely.

So why not use the Spine animations directly? Spine does ship runtimes in many programming languages after all.

Animations serve many functions

Unlike many games out there, Asteroid Arena is not just a game where the images and animations made by an artist gets drawn on screen as they were authored in a tool, there are many effects. These include visibility values, bump mapping, blurring and "shine throughness". A lot of animations we create also use randomness and other game specific features. How would the animator specify these? Some tools allow some form of extension to it, thus enabling an artist to specify game specific data, and some even use an off-the-shelf game engine and force the artist to work in that environment.

10 seconds

One might think that updating the art assets takes a long time. First the artist makes an image, then the programmer finds an issue with it, then the artist updates it, then the programmer… yea, it does sound like a time consuming task, but it's not!

Asteroid Arena is not only developed by us, but also for us. We develop Asteroid Arena while sitting less than 10 cm away from each other and the codebase is optimized for this. The time it takes for an updated art piece to appear in game is less than 10 seconds after save is pressed. For code updates, it's most commonly less than 5 seconds for changes to be visible in game. And configuration updates? About 16 milliseconds. All this while seeing how it looks and feels in the game, not inside a preview window or some simulator.

This makes adding new features, including artwork, animations, audio, physical effects, rendering techniques, etc., a very fast exercise.

- Katja the Artist & Jens the Programmer, January 2022

Older blog posts:

2022

Portability and the Demo Effect

Iterative "KIS(S)" - The Sprite Atlas

About Animations…

Asteroid Arena - How It All Began