One process that has survived in game development is the process of ‘blitting’. In simple game terms ‘blitting’ is where you combine two or more bitmap objects into a single object to increase performance. All those cool 2D games from the mid ’80s through to the mid ’90s (like StarCraft) used this technique. However, that is only half the story. Before you can ‘blit’ bitmap data you have to have some images to work with.
In most games you have the following: a scene (or background if you like) and numerous items (commonly referred to a sprites). In most cases sprites are animated, or at least consist of an animated sequence of images. These in turn are combined in to a ‘Sprite Sheet’ in which all of the various animations are combined in to a set of uniform entries.
Take the simple sprite sheet example below.
Here I have a basic 3D cube that I exported as a sequence of separate images and then recombined into a single sprite sheet (keeping the images in the order in which they were created).
Now the sprite sequence can be created in any graphical tool. I chose Blender3D as I’ve always fancied learning to work in 3D (and with the new Molehill features in a future version of Flash Player it made sense to get to grips). A lot of the 8bit style games are created in Photoshop by hand so you can be as creative as you want to be. One thing that is a pain is the final sprite sheet creation. Mainly because there aren’t that many decent tools available to do it automatically for you. So with that in mind I decided to create one.
This is an early build so while it does work, I’m still working on the feature set and UI / UX, but I wanted to post it up for those of you who are looking to create 2D games that leverage ‘blitting’ and sprite sheets who might find it useful.
I forgot to mention that it’s currently only been tested with PNG importing. I’ll test the rest and update the application once they have been tested.
I’d really appreciate some feedback on how I can improve it (new features etc.) as this is only a few hours work hence the ‘alpha’ release.
Below is a brief video on how to use it (although it’s not that complex :p).
Features I do have on my list are:
- The ability to import a SWF and extract the frames from it
- Preview screen – so you can review your sprite animations before exporting
- Various tweaks and minor enhancements
- Bug fixes (a mandatory entry :p)
If you want to download and try it out, the AIR installer is on the main page as well as below.