Quickly create animations from particle effects

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Fully commented source code/event sheet & sprites to create a space shooter game
  • What I need help with

    I'm trying to figure out a streamlined technique for creating animations from particle effects.

    What I need it for

    The game I am developing involves spaceships, and I have been using particle effects for thruster exhaust. The effects are gorgeous, but there are a couple problems.

    First of all, the faster the ship moves the more the particle effect spreads out and becomes jumpy. You can see gaps in the flame coming out of the thruster. Additionally, if the ship is moving quickly and makes a sharp turn, the flames come out sideways.

    What I've tried so far

    To solve this, I have been using screen capture video recordings of the particle effects playing, which I then splice into individually cropped frames that I can use to piece together animated gifs. This is a painstakingly slow process, and I don't think it will be realistic for me to continue with it due to the sheer number of special effects I use in my game.

    Other Advantages

    Although I personally have not run into performance issues resulting from high object count particle effects, I anticipate it would become an issue in multiplayer rooms of 2-12 players. If the particle effects were condensed into animations, an effect consisting of any number of objects would effectively become a single object.

    This could be especially useful to me because I love making elaborate, dynamic special effects from particle effects using multiple layers, filters and many, many objects. Many of the special effects I would really like to use for my game are too graphically intense for decent performance, but if I could condense them into animations I could use my creativity to its fullest potential.

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