Dragonbones & Spine
Here at Studio POWWOW we have been working with various animation tools for game development. We have been using two in particular that are worth mentioning, Spine and DragonBones. Both of these animation tools use 2d skeletal animation to create texture atlases to animate 2d objects. These can help to create performance enhanced, resource friendly animations.
Spine is a 2D skeletal animation tool designed by Esoteric Software specifically for game development to help bring your games to life quickly and easily. It now works with various game engines including Unity 3d, Cocos2d, Cocos2d-x, XNA / MonoGame, Starling, libgdx, Turbulenz, SFML, Torque2D, Corona, and LÖVE.
Spine also ran a successful Kickstarter campaign raising $67,569. This money was raised to help bring spine to new platforms such as Unity 3d and Coco’s 2d with runtime libraries for each.
DragonBones is also a 2d skeleton animation solution that is integrated with Flash Pro and Starling. DragonBones is Open Source software, which makes it free and so that anyone can have access to the source code of the DragonBones software.
Both of these tools have a huge range of benefits. The way the textures are created by using texture atlases helps to reduce the file sizes of animations brought into your game. It can also help to reduce the amount of art assets needed which can lead to faster development times. These animation tools also have animation blending, smooth interpolation, dynamic texture switching and skeleton and animation reuse.
Coming from a 2d animation background, we’ve used lots of animation software, such as Flash, Toon Boom, Cel Action and After Effects but Spine and Dragon Bones stand up very favorably but have the added benefits of keeping the files size to an absolute minimum.