The Power of Animation

I’m currently doing a quick re-write of my old game Excit. Just wrapping it up now so I can get back on track with my other projects like Illucinated. I have already written how surprised I was about it’s success. After one year, we have over 2,5 Million players. And that’s not even unusual for a flash game. I know that much cruder games can be even more successful. I guess that’s because of the big pond we are fishing in.

Interestingly, when re-writing the code for AS3.0, I took a different approach from back when I was writing it the first time. When I did it the first time, I had cool animations even before most of the gameplay elements worked. This time, I made sure the game mechanics work and cared about the little special effects and animations later on. So now I was able to see the game in its “raw” state. The result was an eye opener. The game is severely less fun without the squishy cursor effects. It seems like they make up a very big part of the fun.

I’m currently playing the GBA Castlevania Series and noticed a similar effect. The game itself is rather repetetive and boring. The graphics aren’t even what you would consider “beautiful”. However, the animations are really smooth and extremely detailed. The result is pure, addictive fun. I can spend the whole day watching Skeletons explode into particle fountains of tiny bones, zombies melt away into smooth hand-pixeled puddles and demons turn into miniature galaxies of fireballs. Even the character animations have lots of details with a high frame count and an obsessive amount of secondary motion.

See here for more Castlevania Animated GIFs

So the lesson is that well done animations can MAKE the whole game. I guess it is a good idea to take care of the animations very early in the game design process. You might think that a game that is fun without cool animations, it will be even more fun if you add them at the end. However, you might force yourself into over-designing the game while all it needed was just a little bit of juiciness.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

3 responses to “The Power of Animation”

  1. axcho

    Hmmm. I’m intrigued by these results.

    Well, one thing I can say is that I’m glad to be on friendly terms with a very talented Flash animator. :)

    Also, I’m wondering how best to generate appropriate animations for the randomly generated invaders of Adopt an Invader. Explosions could be done with cellular automata, but procedural invader wiggling might be tough…

  2. Yu-Chung Chen

    Speaking of nice sprite animation, Street Fighter III: The Third Strike comes to mind. Check it out here at

    Any other titles you know worth mentioning? Oh, Metal Slug series is nice too. Garou as well but not quite on the level of SF3.

  3. Krystian Majewski

    The recent Lock’s Quest also has some nice Animations. At least partially because of Paul Robertson. Check it out as a Demo on Nintendo Channel!


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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