Today I had an interview with the co-founder of new game development tool Spriter which aims to be the best tool for creating animations, characters and assets for game developers and animators. The game tool was 200% funded on kick-starter so they got double what they set out to get! Edgar’s co-founder Mike is a vetran of the games industry with 8 years professional experience working on AAA titles. Check out the site and features here, read on to find out more about how it was made, funded and how the lead designer from Angry Birds got excited over Spriter.
Oliver: Mike has been in the games indusry for 8 years, what of yourself? Why have you both chosen to start making indie games and anm applicaiton to help in indie game development.
Edgar: ‘ve always loved games and always knew I’d be making them. I had decided to make a go at indie-game development directly. I’ve known what games I want to make and what tools I need to make them…in my case indie development is the most direct path to getting where I want to be. Mike can tell many stories of burnt out pro’s who are too exhausted physically and mentally to work on their own stuff anymore.
Oliver: How does your program help game developers?
Edgar: At first glance people might just see Spriter as another animation tool that an artist might choose to create animations for games, but there’s much more to Spriter than that. It’s not just a great and easy to learn animating tool, its specifically for game making – It will allow for visually editing gameplay related data such as spawning points, variable changes, collision boxes and sound effects on a frame by frame basis…and just as importantly, it can save the animations in a highly optimized format which can then be interpreted by game engines to recreate the animations in game. This saves massive amounts of file and memory space…allowing for many more and much smoother animations to fit in a game. There’s also the matter of professionally animated art packs which will be created by our artists as well as 3rd party developers. Spriter and it’s art packs will finally allow for a drastically higher standard of visual quality for any 2d video game, no matter how small its budget. Actual, Michael Parent recently made a quick video explaining this in more detail which you can see here:
Oliver: The lead artist for angry birds complimented your tool, that is amazing! How has that helped you, and how did you achieve such a recognition?
Edgar: Yeah, we were thrilled to hear from him, and his public appreciation for Spriter certainly helped both the Kickstarter campaign and Spriter’s visibility in general. Even in its still early stage, Spriter represents a paradigm shift to the visual aspect of 2d indie game development and is a tool that many feel is a very long time coming. Its very gratifying to us that some established players in game development feel the same as we do about Spriter.
Edgar: It meant I could stay focused on developing Spriter without the need to worry about additional sources of income, but it also meant more attention from the game making community in general, which has been growing ever since. We achieved this by posting everywhere we could think of, and the demand for such a tool got developers excited enough to pass along the word.
Oliver: What made you decide to use kickstarter? Had you considered anything else first?
Edgar: Seeing the monumental success of Double Fine Adventure pushed us over the edge. We knew how useful Spriter would be to the game community and Kickstarter was the way to be able to get them that tool sooner rather than later. We couldn’t be happier about how it worked out.
Edgar: Mike learned a lot and made many connections in the professional game industry..both of these things have been very useful for us, but in the case of making a tool like Spriter what’s really important is an obsession for highly useful and useable tools and the ability to make them work. I’d say Spriter is lucky to have the benefit of our two different backgrounds.
Edgar: Mike is a self taught artist who ended up guest teaching graphic design at a local college before pursuing his successful career as a game artist where he continues to learn and grow. I have a similar self-taught history… we both have an obsessive drive to become continually better at what we love to do.
Oliver: You mentioned that it is possible to use Spriter for PC, Mac, PS3, XBOX360, Wii, Android, iOS, and Flash, how realistic is this and is this something that you are actively targeting?
I’m hoping/expecting by the time Spriter is complete later this year, it will already be supported on all the platforms you mentioned(and possibly others, such as Vita), with integration in most major game engines. The development framework I’m using to make Spriter itself is geared towards cross-platform development so in the future, a Spriter Touch running on devices like iPad and Android devices is definitely not out of the question, but is not a priority at this time. (would definitely be cool though)
Oliver: Is this going to be your full time business now? How have you prepared for this step?
Edgar: This is our goal and things are shaping up nicely. We have several options to consider but for obvious reasons we can’t really discuss them.
Oliver: What goes into making such an application?
Edgar: A clear vision (or two), passion, and a huge amount of hard work, and the willingness to reimplement a large portion of your application if you realize there’s a better way to do something. It also helps to be very communicative with the community and appreciative of useful feedback, both positive, and criticisms and suggestions.
Oliver: Any advice for young people wanted to get started programming or animating?
Edgar: If you want anything in life, work hard and smart for it. Choose your priorities and NEVER let anyone tell you that you will or have failed..especially yourself. Pick simple, attainable goals for every day of your life that are baby steps towards your ultimate goal. Always learn from mistakes and from things that don’t work out. Also, make sure you realize that everything worth doing is hard. There WILL be discouraging days where the path to what you want to finish is filled with nothing but annoying tasks. Focus on the goal. Oh yes, and finish things. Make it a habit to finish things that you start. Also, this is the information age. If you’re not able to attend a class for it, there will be still be a way to learn new things constantly, at any moment you feel like it, on the internet, and never run out of new things you could be learning. And one thing I can’t stress enough…quality is more important that quantity. try and surround yourself with people who can help you grow in the ways you want to…people with drive and integrity who challenge you and keep you motivated…you wont find a ton of people like this but they are all you’ll ever need.
Oliver: Thanks so much for your time, good luck!! Let us know when console game developers are using your program in their animations, like the next call of duty or something.
Edgar: We sure will…even this early in Spriter’s life, some indie developers have already begun making games with it. Stay tuned to our forums for updates.
Don’t forget to check out their website over at http://www.brashmonkey.com/.