Adobe Flash has been an important tool for web development, especially in the early years of this century. But with the progressive use of new technologies such as HTML5, it has been being relegated to a ‘simple’ but effective animation tool that Adobe recently renamed Adobe Animate CC. For some time now, Game Maker Studio allows the use of SWF (Shockwave Flash) elements in our projects.
In this post we present our opinion on using Adobe Animate for creating graphics for video games and the advantages and disadvantages of using it along with Game Maker Studio.
Advantages of using Adobe Animate
As we explained in our post on Tools vs. creativity, we tend to use simple, accessible and flexible tools. Adobe Animate remains a tool for instant results, especially considering we design our graphics using vector drawing tools.
The essential basis of its animation system is extremely simple and intuitive. Perfect for swift results, just like Game Maker Studio. A lot of people use Animate to prototype all forms of audiovisual content in a fast and simple way. Creating an animation with Flash/Animate can take seconds. If we add to this the possibility of exporting the animations to all kinds of formats—SVG, PNG, MOV…—, we have an agile, versatile and very flexible tool.
Two recent examples of video games whose graphics have been created using Flash/Animate are Tiny Thief (5 Ants) and its spiritual successor, Love you to Bits (Alike Studio). His simple and colorful vector based graphics fit perfectly with the properties of the tool. The characters, items and UI elements for the fantastic Guacamelee were also created using Flash.
Disadvantages of using Adobe Animate
Flash/Animate is not the most appropriate tool for certain types of graphics. Programs like ToonBoom, Spine or After Effects feature countless brilliant resources for editing non vector graphics and highly complex animation systems with organic results. You can see excellent examples of high-resolution bitmap graphics animated with Spine in games like Rise & Shine or Darkest Dungeon, to name a few recent.
Advantages of using Adobe Animate along with Game Maker
The benefits are essentially those linked to the nature of vector graphics. Apparently few but important, because they can represent a big improvement for multiplatform projects. A clear example of this is our first project, Go Deeper. Its graphics were created using bitmap files (through PNGs sequences).
A specific resolution was used from the beginning, and when we had the need to extrapolate the development at higher resolutions, we suffered the logical loss of quality scaling the whole thing up (along with a loss of overall performance because of it). Vector graphics are compact, lightweight and not based on resolution, so they can scale freely without losing quality.
We could summarize the advantages in:
- Graphics of a much lower weight
- Scalability capacity without loss of quality
- Total control of the frame rate of the animations without further adjustments
- Possibility to use the SWF format directly, without intermediate exports
Disadvantages of using Adobe Animate along with Game Maker
The drawbacks are linked to the lack of compatibility between GMS and the SWF format. Although Flash/Animate files effectively operate on GMS, certain aspects aren’t tolerated by the tool, for now. They represent a problem only if your graphics depend mostly on them. Here are the most important ones:
- Inability to use forms with lines/contours (only fillings are tolerated)
- Inability to use shape tweenings (only classic tweenings are tolerated)
- Inability to use transparencies (they are poorly tolerated)
- Inability to use masks (they are ignored by GMS)
- Inability to use filters and other special effects
- Antialiasing can be adjusted using GML but it still is imperfect
If your sprites remain vector base, Animate is still a great option to encourage exporting PNGs sequences instead of SWF, winning in display quality, while dramatically increasing the weight of the graphics and losing the scalable capabilities.
Our own example: Adobe Animate tutorial
In this post, we want to show part of the animation process of our current projects. In the following video you can see condensed the animation process for the spirit Jorund, an Evernow character, starting from its finished vector design. A simple idle animation. We hope you like it!:
Remember that you can see another way to animate sprites for video games in our post regarding the animation system used in our first project, Go Deeper. A simpler but fully valid method for big and small projects.