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What good free and widely used tools are there for editing 2D skeletal animations? Preferably, one that allows me to write custom animation exporters.

One pretty good indie tool that I know of Demina, but it's not ideal. It doesn't allow you to export the data as you want (although, it is open source, so you can change that) and I find it clunky in how you edit individual joints.

What other tools would you recommend?

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Personally I would just use a 3D tool and ignore one of the dimensions. Something like Maya is likely going to be a lot more robust than some custom tool just to do 2D animations.

There are a handful of games that I've worked on and that I know about that have used this approach. As an example, here's an article that talks about Zombieville USA (iOS game) and how they do it. http://www.thecareergamer.com/braaaains-zombieville-usa-tech-review/ Scroll down to the first picture to see what they're doing.

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