In this newsletter, you'll find many references to debugging and beta testing. Most programmers will spend more time on these activities than actual coding. Given the freedom to code how they choose, the average developer will err towards Rapid Application Development, or R.A.D. This is the process by which a prototype evolves and develops into a fully fledged application through trial, error, and a continual cycle of coding interwoven with debugging and testing. You may find you are already doing this, and the effort put into non-coding activities is disguised in the process. The message in all of this is simple: don't be deterred by the prospect of errors and misbehaving code. It's all part of the natural cycle through which you will nurture your program to maturity.
Lee Bamber will encourage your efforts in this realm in the Tip of the Month. The huge Q&A session with the TGC team touches on the subject, and how you can help us to help you. There is news of the continuing development and refining of FPS Creator and DarkBASIC Professional, whilst a number of new media packs and applications that have made it to completion are reported on throughout the newsletter.
Until next time,
(1) iDork (2) DarkBASIC Pro (3) FPSC News (4) Character Pack (5) TGC Store (6) Q&A (7) Competitions (8) 3D Compo (9) Summer Contest (10) Textures (11) Videos (12) SFX Engine OFFER (13) Tip Of The Month (14) From the Forums (15) PlayBasic (16) Winner (17) Outro
Lost in a world of school paperwork is iDork your doodled stick man who needs help to escape the reams of homework sheets that are his prison.
iDork is very sensitive and has to avoid many dangers across 25 levels of play. You draw lines for him to walk and jump across so he can reach the rip in the paper where he can make good his escape. If iDork touches any objects like pencils, protractors, staple removers and pencil sharpener blades, his journey comes to an abrupt end and must start back at the beginning of the level.
Other dangers include doodles that have come to life, such as sketched guns that shoot scribbled bullets and UFO scrawls that fly around the page.
Game levels are a mix of single screen action and more challenging scrolling scenes. The difficulty slowly builds as you play through, and your progress is remembered between game sessions.
iDork is unique in its utilisation of the touch facility of the iPhone & iPod Touch devices to give you new and exciting game play mechanics.
For those of you currently following the U74 BETA thread you will of course be aware of the mini bonanza of bug fixes in the latest BETA 7C version, courtesy of a mystery coder who shall be known to only a few special people and a few more who probably guessed. Overall the beta has gone down quite well with the introduction of a few new key commands and the fixing of some long-term bugs from the bug forum. There has also been some work done in the background relating to a possible new official plugin for DarkBASIC Professional, and more news on that once we have completed our own tests (and stopped drooling). We have also received some virtual reality eye wear and a force feedback joystick, so in addition to playing high octane dogfight simulations, we will also be looking to burn the midnight oil adding support for them in DBP. Rest assured when we have something cool to show, you will not only get something to read; you will get something to code with too. If you want to keep pace with DBP development as it happens, join in the beta thread now via the DBP forums!
Magic Particles is a special editor that allows you to create visual effects based on particle systems quickly and visually. Ignescent text, flying comets, autumn leaves dancing in a gust of wind, snowstorms and multicolored fog, wriggly tentacles of outlandish creatures, fantastic silhouettes of plants - all these and many more are possible. The program is so simple and easy to use that anyone can create professional special effects in just a few minutes and mouse clicks.
Games developers will be interested in the API version. It allows programmers to implement special effects directly in their programs. The API includes the particle path engine and tools to import particle data. Detailed information about all functions and C++ program examples are supplied along with API.
The API program delivery also includes the advanced Magic Particles application. It supports functions oriented towards application developers such as the creation of image atlases.
Full details of the Magic Particles suite, including the various licensing options can be found on the product website.
From July 1st 2009, you can benefit from a generous 30% discount on Genetica 3.0, the powerful editor of seamless textures, animated textures, and HDRI environment maps. This offer lasts until the end of September 2009.
The Professional edition extends these features further:
HDRI and 32 bit Output. Export images from Genetica in formats supporting high dynamic ranges and ultra-high color precision.
Full details of Genetica 3.0 and ordering details - including the 30% discount - are available now on the product web page.
The deadline is now gone, but it's worth mentioning the Christian Developers Network Speedgame competition with a different angle. Their goal is to create quick, fun games focused on different aspects of Christian teaching (either moralistic, theological or both) to promote Christ, Christian Games and Fun. The competition lasts for just a few weeks through June, with judging reaching completion in early July. Amongst the prizes are 12,000 Game Creator Store Points and $260 in TGC vouchers.
You can find more details, and check out the winning games at
the Christian Developers Network.
Don't forget, you can now find The Game Creators on Twitter, and it's a great way to stay updated as things happen. Following our updates is simple, just click through and press the Follow button.
Lately, you would have been among the first to hear about iDork, the release of the newest model packs, and the great FPSC Bonanza offer.
For anyone looking to learn DarkBASIC Professional from the ground up, take a look at the DarkPRINCIPLES DVD collection. There are seven and a half hours of detailed foundation tutorials to get you up to speed on all the important aspects of DarkBASIC Professional. With a structured learning plan, DVD resolution video, and a professional menu system, you can pick whichever tutorial you need, when you need it.
Check out the community questionnaire for lots of little insights and quick peeks into the future of FPS Creator! We have been working on the latest version of FPS Creator V115 source code, making a few changes that relate to the work combining the FPS Creator interfaces (see below) and enabling a new variant of the game engine which we can reveal more when the news breaks. I can reveal now, however, that if all goes to plan and the source code passes the tests compiling against the latest DarkBASIC Professional at the time, the next version of the FPS Creator source code that will be publicly available shall include the entire source code to the FPSC-MapEditor.exe in addition to the FPSC-Game.exe binary.
What this release will mean in a nutshell, is that you can change the fundamental data structures of FPS Creator, add your own editable elements, expand on existing elements and generally take over the whole editing process when not constrained by the interface. The FPS Creator interface portion however will remain as internal code as it contains the free/full version protection binaries which would be rather silly to make open source at this time. With access to the map editor source code, modders will be able to throw away the structures we have created and develop entirely new ones to suit all manner of ideas that could otherwise not be realised, such as terrain systems, advanced entity assemblies (compound entities) and new marker types. It is fair to warn all those who enter that these opportunities are not for the faint-hearted and to interpret the map editor code and understand it will be half the battle. There is no official support for the map editor code and any progress will be through a gruelling marathon of trial and error, long nights and burning a lot of midnight oil. The good news is that the map editor code is 'part' of the game engine code so you will only have one DBA source code file to worry about. Previous versions of this code would have had you making duplicate changes in several near-identical files, so the new approach is much more modder-friendly. So good is the new approach that the main FPS Creator development will be based on this new combined code system, meaning the public version of the code you get is the exact same code that you will find in the FPS Creator updates after V115. For more news on the FPS Creator source code progress, the best place to hang out is the DarkBASIC Professional U74 BETA thread which includes a link to the latest public version of the FPS Creator source code.
If you compare FPS Creator X9 and X10 side by side, you will notice a number of differences in the interface of each. Apart from the obvious omission of the store button to access the Game Creator Store in X10, there are a number of other differences you may not have been aware of. Deep in the bowels of TGC, we have been attempting to combine the various editions of the FPS Creator interface (the main Windows application that holds the menu bar, left side icon panel, status bar, etc) partly to bring the store to X10 and partly to unify the source code. By having a single source code base for the interface, we can continue to support each variant of FPS Creator whilst slowly bring the strands together. Progress is going well, and we have a single interface up and running, albeit with a few major elements missing. The store button is in there and working too. Some key work remains such as aligning the file handling so it works for Vista if detected, and reverts to the old style of handling if XP is detected, and we have yet to decide to change this so it works as close to the way Vista wishes files to be handled. No beta schedule is planned, but as soon as we are ready to give our interface a run through those of you in the beta threads will be able to check it out. Don't expect fireworks though, our aim is to give you exactly what you already have without breaking anything, with the advantage to X10 users who will have a store and advantage to us who will have a single code base to work from. X9 users will benefit from having the first piece of the migration jigsaw in place.
We have three new Model Packs to bring to your attention this month. The hot, sun-kissed ambience of the Tropical Pack can be added to your library, the splendid architecture of the Middle Eastern Pack adds a new location to your arsenal, but first we start with a more sombre mood.
This is not the horror themed pack you might initially perceive it to be; it's a pack styled to look like a traditional British graveyard. Attention to detail has been paid to every element included to the extent that every headstone and grave has its own individual name, date of death and look, so it would be possible to create an original scene just like a real graveyard. The names on the headstones correspond to their dates - old style names for the earlier headstones and modern style names for the newer style graves.
This pack captures the low colour look of a graveyard and gives it a ‘grungy' look overall to keep it looking interesting. It also contains content which could be used in other styled scenes other than that of a graveyard. Polygon counts have been kept as low as possible in order to keep up good frame rates when building a graveyard scene.
Model Pack 26 is available to buy now from the FPS Creator website.
If you're confused as to the whereabouts of Model Packs 27 and 28, we brought these to you last month.
Create your own tropical island, full of lush foliage and sandy shores. This pack contains a huge array of foliage including ferns, flowers, palm trees, and more. The pack also contains an assortment of tropical-styled buildings and huts, plus a large collection of rocks and cave-styled pieces, for you to really enhance your level design. This pack is great for just about any beach or exotic location game you can imagine.
Model Pack 29 is available to buy now from the FPS Creator website.
The Middle Eastern Pack contains a large collection of authentic buildings inspired by this part of the world, dating from the Crusade era. Contained within this collection you will find desert town dwellings, huge minarets, ornate mosques and many other buildings. The pack also contains a collection of props and market stalls, and 70 segments to complete your scene. Whichever game style you're planning, this beautiful pack will create a believable Middle East look and feel.
Model Pack 30 is available to buy now from the FPS Creator website.
For those who haven't yet taken advantage of this incredible special offer, here is another reminder. Get FPS Creator, FPS Creator Tutorial Course and 8 Model Packs for an incredibly low price of $29.99 USD (€22.00 EUR, £19.99 GBP). This deal includes:
The full details of all the products in this deal can be found in last month's newsletter.
Click here to purchase the Bonanza pack, including FPS Creator
for just $29.99 / €22.00 / £19.99
SPaceH - Heavy Weapons = Dead Bodies, a game by Kenneth J williams, is set seventy years in the future.
The story revolves around two soldiers embroiled in an illegal weapons trade deal.
As things start to go wrong, they end up needing to gather their weapons that they were intending to sell.
Now they must use the weapons to fight and stay alive as they look for each other.
SPaceH - Heavy Weapons = Dead Bodies is available to buy from the Kunaki website.
Carefully selected for their character content, we've packaged together six of our model packs into a very affordable bundle. Priced at just $49.99 (€34.99 EUR / £29.99 GBP plus VAT), you will never be short of media for your games again. Here is a quick run down of what you get:
Model Pack 21 - Fantasy Characters
Did you know you can sell your models, segments, music and sky boxes in the Game Creator Store? We already have dozens of artists selling their media, and we welcome anyone with the talent to provide our community with quality assets to do the same. If you are interested in becoming a store seller, please contact Janet, our Store Administrator directly.
This creature is the drone caste of the Fungar species.
Its primary function is to tend the land and protect the territory they inhabit.
Although unintelligent, this creature is very aggressive and will attack all intruders on sight without pause or concern for its own welfare.
A detailed wooden cabin with open windows, broken doors hanging on their hinges, and a half-destroyed roof. The perfect shelter for any horror game!
File contains the cabin floor, wall sheathing, wall frame, trim, roof frame, roof sheathing, and two cabin doors as separate entities to maintain the highest texture quality.
Complete your Military scenes with these apache helicopters. Use them in your Military bases or for that final leap from the exploding building to safety!
The download comes with 2 Models. One is static with dipped blades and the other is animated with moving blades, comes with 1 texture and has a custom-built script for the animation model to run automatically.
This is one of many different ruins that can be found in Model Pack 15. As well as being able to purchase the full pack from the FPSC website, each individual item can be downloaded from the store. This is true for many of the Model Packs, such as the Wild-West themed Model Pack 14.
A great way to make levels more challenging or make items harder to obtain by surrounding them with these traps.
This entity comes with 1 texture, is animated and includes a Custom Script.
Trap script activates when player gets too close, inflicting damage.
All of the above models are available to purchase and download through the inbuilt Game Creator Store in FPS Creator, and also using the standalone store for other game-making tools.
We asked for your questions to the Game Creators team on the forums. They have been compiled, posed to the team members, and presented here with the answers. The questions have been categorised into the different areas the company are involved in at this point in time. Read on to find out exactly what is happening behind the scenes, and how it happens too.
1. What is going on with DBPro X10?
Lee: Currently DarkBASIC Professional X10 only exists as an internal version of DBP, used to compile the FPS Creator X10 source code. As it stands, the DirectX 10 specific commands are incomplete and undocumented, and for this reason it has not been available to the public. We had hoped to bring this internal version to a point that could be released commercially, a goal that has been pushed back given the additional community lead development in FPS Creator and the main DarkBASIC Professional language. The internal version of DBP X10 will continue to be maintained for the benefit of FPS Creator X10 as the possibility of releasing it to the public still remains an option.
2. Can we use the current plugins with DBPro X10. And when is it coming out :o We get discount for purchasing DBPro?
Lee: There are no plans to release DBP X10 at this time, and so we don't have a release schedule for the product. If a release was due, we would certainly offer an upgrade price for existing DBP users. The internal version is based on the DirectX 9 source code and so many of the non-3D plugins should work fine. The 3D plugins however will not work without further modification (and in fact the DarkLIGHTS plug-in required substantial modification before we could use it in the FPS Creator X10 game engine).
3. Will the FPSC x10 game source code be available for free to DBPro X10 users, as the FPSC v1 game source code was available to DBPro users?
Lee: There are no plans to release the FPS Creator X10 source code as it currently relies on a purely internal version of DBP X10. Should DBP X10 become available in some public form, we see no reason why the X10 source code should be withheld. However as the FPS Creator game engine code migrates, we may opt to support a single new version of the source code rather than attempt to support many different versions.
4. At the 2008 TGC Convention, a .dll was mentioned which could link to, or has some functionality related to some nVidia performance analysis software (PerfHud, I think). Are there any plans to release this .dll as some sort of plugin?
Lee: The DLL in question was a special build of DBPROSETUPDEBUG.DLL which creates a D3D Emulation Device allowing the profiling tool NVPERF to work it's magic and show you layer by layer what your 3D is doing. There are no plans to officially release this hybrid version of the DLL, but if you are interested start a thread in the DBP forum and email the link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Will you make an X-Box 360 (XNA) version of Dark Basic Pro ? Im sure that with the time and money spent on XNA by Microsoft that XNA will continue onto the next generation of games machines (console and mobile). Creating a great potential revinue for TGC.
Lee: There are no plans to create an XBOX / XNA version of DarkBASIC Professional, or indeed any console variant of the language. Although we are asked to provide support for this platform from time to time, the development of such a solution would be intense and require many months of work. We believe this time can be better spent supporting the existing DarkBASIC Professional and FPS Creator users, and also looking into game making solutions that reach beyond the current generation of gaming devices.
6. How difficult is it to maintain several different versions of your products (GDK, DB Pro, .NET)? Do you face particular problems with porting functionality from one to the other?
Lee: The process of porting the code changes over to Dark GDK and .NET is not protracted, but the logistics and testing involved can prevent us from releasing them as often as we would like. A change that fixes a bug in DarkBASIC Professional could solve a problem for many in DBP land but at the same time introduce a functional change in Dark GDK creating a dilemma. We have found the wisest course of action is to release in DarkBASIC Professional first and allow enough time for any functional abnormalities to be reported before starting a port of the latest version. Naturally this can happen the other way too, with requested changes to Dark GDK affecting previously functional DarkBASIC Professional commands.
7. Are you going to release DBProX10 before DirectX11 comes out?
Lee: It is unlikely we will release a version of DBP X10 before DirectX 11 is released. Also we have no plans to support DirectX 11 at this time so we can focus on the existing X9 and X10 technology we have, though we are not ruling out a move to DirectX 11 at some point.
8. When will DBPro support Anisotropic Filtering?
Lee: You can already create the Anisotropic filtering effect using the built-in shader system. Simply set the filtering mode inside the shader, and the engine will load it in and apply that effect to your 3D model.
9. Will there be a new DBP version featuring a faster 3D render engine?
Lee: We constantly aim to refine and improve DBP with each upgrade. There are no plans to entirely replace the engine as such a project would take the best part of a year. There have been some work to speed up the render sorting in the recent U74 BETA9 update so check out the beta thread if you are interested in this.
10. When did you get the idea to make the new editor for dbPro. (I love the new editor by the way ) >Synergy has been in development by John Y for some time--TGC didn't really play a part in it until recently. >Exactly what I am saying, the editor is the slowest thing I've encountered this month, and I've been looking at snails most of my time...(Photography work)... Probably a re-install will fix my Texture-bug(Delete all the files, I didn't do that last time).
Lee: As many users are aware, TGC are merely licensing the new interface from John Youren who has been refinding the Synergy editor for many years now. When we had an opportunity to make a variant of his editor the next official interface for DBP we jumped at the chance. For the first time TGC have first-hand access to the source code which means we can respond much better to requests for tweaks, fixes and new features such as the inclusion of the Game Creator Store, the module viewer and the automated update system.
11. Any new tools in the works for DarkBASIC Professional or DarkGDK?
Lee: Yes, there are two very cool new plug-ins on the way. One allows you to generate real-time clouds and another allows you to stream full-blown video directly into your app at game speeds. Both are extremely easy and to use and very powerful, and we can't wait to see what you guys get up to with them! There are more exciting things happening under the hood such as support for virtual reality devices but more on that when we have something cool to show you!
1. I Understand that the multiplayer aspects of FPS Creator was developed as an expansion to the single player aspect, however I believe TGC could expand upon a very addictive and satisfying part of FPS Creator with a little extra support. Many believe that this side of FPS Creator has been neglected to some extent, do you have any plans to revisit or provide additional support for these multiplayer aspects? For example:
I'm sure the FPS Creator community would appreciate any sign that this area of FPSC is still being thought about by its creators.
Rick: We don't have any plans to do this at present. What we are aiming to do is make FPS Creator open source so that other developers can help expand the tool in directions we are struggling to find time and resources for.
2. A burning question for many on the fpsc forums, how's the migration coming? Any "specific" features, changes, or well anything would be nice. Something to hold us over.
Lee: At the moment we are working to unify the source code for the various FPS Creator interfaces out there. We have one for X9, one for X10 and one for an internal version we are working on. Before we can even think about migration it makes sense to unify the interface so there is less code to maintain moving forward. The benefit of this of course is the integration of the store to X10, but more news on that when it happens. As we have continued to work with the X9 and X10 source code it is becoming clear that the migration version will not have a specific development start date but gradually transform out of the latest version of the code, and with that perspective we could say the migration started weeks ago when we began combining the interface code and adding small features to the source code in support of that. Although I cannot go into details, I can reveal that an internal version, based on the source code you currently call V115, has been augmented with the entire source code to the FPSC-MapEditor.exe binary which means that you 'could' make changes to the editing of levels as well as affecting in-game behavior. More news on this once we decide how much of it you can handle, and more importantly, when we know it's not going to break what already works for you.
3. What 'exactly' will the migration version of FPSC be (I know it's an amalgamation of FPSC X9 + X10 but will it be more than just combining the two)?
Lee: As many of you know the initial concept of the migration version was hinted at for almost a year, and the exact shape will slowly reveal itself based on daily evolutions of the FPS Creator source code(s). At the present time it looks as though the migration version will be based primarily on FPS Creator X9 source code, with compatible elements of X10 brought across. Of course as the code evolves, this approach may not be the one we finally use but there are a number of good reasons why the current V115 is a good bet to use as the base code. The most exciting one for me is that it is now fully compatible with U74 of DarkBASIC Professional which means if we wanted to open source the migration version we won't have to worry about some obscure internal version to compile it. As stated, the shape is not set in stone so we cannot provide 'exact' features and details, but we can show you the current shape and the direction we are traveling and perhaps you can gleam a future shape from our progress.
4. What is the process to get a custom .x model (with UV map and texture) into FPSC? Either I'm blind or have totally missed any 'import/load' function in the trial version of FPSC. I only saw what are called 'segments and entities' (and all of these from a preselected list). Looking around It seems that an .x file alone can't be inserted into FPSC, you need to make 'support' files, and I have no idea how to go about doing that, or what the files are.
Lee: A good question, and one that we feel the current software does not address. There is mention of the process in the FPS Creator manual, but it's hard to find and only a page at that. Anyone who has successfully created a model for FPS Creator has done it the hard way and learned by trial and error, there are no quick menu options to import your model. That said, the process is relatively simple once you have done it once. Rather than embark on a lengthy description of the process,take a look at the call-out alongside these questions, which should be enough to get you started.
5. What does the long term future hold for FPSC beyond the migration version will there ever be a version based solely on user input?
Lee: We have thought about the direction FPS Creator has taken over the last few years, and the places and people it has reached during that time. The potential for the software is huge, with its easy to use editor and feature-packed content-rich engine without the heavy price tag or intricate license limitations. We also realise the need to look ahead, beyond the current 'flavour of the moment' features and try to anticipate them when moving the development forward. Although there are no plans beyond the migration 'transition', there is a general feel that making the FPS Creator source code open to the public and to some degree controlled by that community will produce features and variants that we would otherwise not have time or resources to bring about internally. For the moment, we have a tight control on the 'main' version for various reasons but in time, we would like to create an environment which would allow third parties to bring in major features such as terrains, vehicles, third person and RPG elements in a way that integrates smoothly with the community so getting these cool new toys is as simple as installing an update. The future looks great and we're constantly excited by the promise of things to come, and we also know how to ground ourselves in the present too. FPS Creator still has a way to go, and the here and now should contain enough little delights to keep you entertained.
6. Did you start development of FPS Creator as an example of what could be done with Dark Basic, and if so, did you think it would become what it is today?
Rick: The initial idea was to make an easy to use game maker for the FPS genre. We decided to use DBPro because we felt it would be a good way to keep DBPro updated and show what was possible with it.
7. Will there be a update in the future for FPScreator to work under Windows7/8? As far as I'm concerned, it lags like a game running at 5FPS, and textures do not load up, even when re-installed after numerous times... (Win7 is also using DX11, according to DxDiag).
Lee: There are no plans to support Windows 7 at this time, although at some point it will make sense for us to ensure a level of compatibility with new operating systems (as we did for the now popular Vista OS).
1. When will we be able to dynamically link with DarkGDK, and when will DarkGDK come with debug binaries too? And when will we get a version which doesn't define the entry point itself?
Lee: There are no plans to support dynamic linking, debug library files or self-defined entry points. The static and pre-created environment of Dark GDK has been deliberately designed to make the creation of games in C++ as straight forward as possible. We agree the mentioned features would be of benefit in some situations, but for that level of control we suggest taking the next step and learning the DirectX SDK and coding your engine directly.
2. When is TGC going to focus upon or move beyond DBP/GDK? Interest for more flexible C++ engines beyond the realms of GDK is on the up (with bundled toolsets and editors like unity - and cross platform too - the iPhone being a good example of this) - does TGC have a future in this area, or is it sticking squarely with known ground? (DX + Windows + DB based).
Rick: TGC will be ten years old later this year, and internally we have been looking back at our journey to see what worked, what failed and what could be done better over the next ten years. We recognise that the world is changing, especially in the technology arena. We are building a plan for moving forward and it's looking very exciting. At this point we don't want to make this information public because we want time to ensure that the foundations we set down are the right ones. We don't want to reinvent the wheel three years down the line.
3. I'm with David--does TGC have any plans for a game engine that goes beyond the capabilities of DGDK, specifically platform-wise?
Rick: Yes we are pulling together plans. Just remember that making a game maker takes years, not months. So news of this will be kept silent for some time until we are ready to showcase it.
4. The Dark GDK 7.3 update has been out since end of April but it is not on the download page. What is the reason for this? Was it not found stable enough or good enough to become an official upgrade?
Lee: We initially wanted this update tested by a small group of people before announcing it officially. Testing Dark GDK thoroughly can take months!
5. Will there be Dark GDK x10? Also: are you doing anything with DirectX 11?
Lee: We have not looked at DirectX 11 yet. We are focusing on building up our existing FPS Creator and DBP technologies, amongst other side projects.
1. When will we receive an example of how to properly set up a boned 3D character in Dark Physics, complete with rag-doll functionality?
Mike: Due to time restrictions it hasn't been possible to create new demos such as this one. Perhaps in the future we can revisit this one or possibly work with people in the community to generate new and exciting demos that use Dark Physics.
2. Is Dark Physics getting an update and fixed anytime soon?
Mike: There are currently no plans to release an update to Dark Physics. However, if you run into problems with certain commands etc. then please either post information about it on the forums or email me using email@example.com.
3. When are we going to get an update for Dark Physics to make it, you know... work?
Mike: Again, we need to know more information. If you have encountered a problem then please try and work with us to find a solution. But also understand that it's simply not possible to spend hours and hours debugging massive programs that people send in. If you have a problem and can demonstrate it in a very small example then that is ideal and gives me a much better chance of fixing the problem. Take a look at Lee's Tip of the Month on how to report issues.4. When will you make
1. Do you have anything planned for iPhone development, in way of a game engine?
Rick: Currently it's not our focus. The main aim of dipping our feet in the iPhone water is to create new revenue streams and hopefully fund the company better by being successful on this platform. If TGC can gain significant revenue with iPhone then we can use this fund to develop more of our game making developments. We also think that some kind of system that lets you author for iPhone is in our longer term plans.
1. How much (gross+net) money have each of the products TGC have sold made?
Rick: This is information we're not prepared to release into the public domain. What we will say is that we're a small company that employs seven full time staff and hires the talents of freelancers from time to time. The business is successful and operates in a niche market area. The best sellers tend to be the main titles like DBPro, FPS Creator and The 3D Gamemaker.
2. Who does the most work?
Rick: We all work very hard at TGC. It would not be fair to single someone out as being the hardest worker. What's more important is who is the smartest worker. Just look at our recent success on iPhone with iDare. It took 3 days to make and was played by over 2 million people, that's great PR and it also made us a tidy sum in advertisting revenue.
3. A new TGC product idea. It's only an idea for you guys, think about FPSC creator, except a 2d side-scroll engine. It wouldn't be hard to make, in any language. The fact is many people don't know much about setting up WinAPI and using msdn library properly enough to make these sort of engines so hey, it's easy money.
You've all probably already looked at these ideas already though. I know there could be allot of features possible to add.
Rick: I would say that Social Arcade was a step in the right direction to making this possible but we had to shelf that development due to a lack of funding. We do have longer term plans that could see these sort of features made available in a new game maker. Watch this space...
4.What kind of hours do you work on an average day? Like, do you get up in the morning, grab a cup ah joe and sit down to work on a project for the rest of the day? Or is it here and there work?
Rick: We all work very long hours! It's the only way to get results in this industry. It's not like a 9-5 job, it's a creative job which makes it very exciting and fun. It also has a down side, bug fixing and testing can take a lot of time. We all love what we do, so I'd also say we don't really class it as a job!
5. Will you ever make a racing/driving game creator tool?
Rick: We would like to think that our new plans would make this possible within the tool. So the game maker is not genre specific and can allow you to do what you want.
6. Would you ever consider hiring outside groups to make commercial games with your products, to gain more publicity?
Rick: Probably not because it can be very costly and risky. We are developing a whole new backend to the main web site which will allow any user to sell what they make through the main TGC web site. Work on this has been going on for six months now and should be coming to completion in a couple of months time.
7. What is your drink of choice when out getting bladdered?
Rick: I try not to do this any more, I get dehydrated too easily! Lee likes Beers (don't we all).
8. Are you still partnered in any way with Nvidia?
Rick: Currently we don't have any specific partnership promotion with them. I'm sure our paths will cross again in the future.
9. What the heck is/was going on with the 'Abyssal Engine'? Why has it suddenly dropped off of the face of the planet?
Rick: We thought that this engine would be of interest to some of our customers but we found that it failed to sell. So we mutually agreed to stop selling it on the site.
10. Was the community competition a success in the eyes of TGC?
Rick: Certainly! We're always impressed by the creative talents of the community.
11. What is the staff of TGC, and where are they based?
Rick: TGC is owned by Lee Bamber & Rick Vanner. The company is based in Wigan in the North West of England (near Manchester). The programming team includes Mike, Ravey and Paul. Orders are dealt with by Christine and the TGC store is managed by Janet. We also have Daniel on Support Mail.
12. Many talented indy developers want a job in game development, but can't find any. Do you not think this is an area you could focus on, and even profit from?
Rick: It's a tough time at present with the credit crunch. I think new jobs tend to favour those with experience and completed games under their belts. If you want to get noticed, make a video of your work and make something different and unique. Innovative ideas that are fun to play will make employees take notice of you. Games are going online more and more, so now the market tends to favour the indie developer. If you've got talent and can teach yourself the skills required and you can work hard and smart then you should be able to succeed.
13. How did it all start? Did you just think: "Oh, let's star a game creation company" or was it just somthing that evolved?
Rick: Lee I worked at a company called Europress in the 90s. There we both worked on game making products for Europress, including Klik & Create. I asked Lee to make a BASIC for the PC that was focussed on game making. He said no, he was working on a game. So I thought that was that. Two years later we met up and Lee had made DarkBASIC. So we joined forces and off we ran, building the company year by year.
14. How many people actually work for The game creators company. *not including all the freelance artists on TGC store*
Rick: We have a full time staff of seven. Four programmers, two admin/order processing, one business development and then a whole range of freelancers (tech support, accounts, art, sound, voice over etc).
15. Now that you're into iPhone game development, how many of you own iPhones?
Rick: Three of us at present. Now everyone wants a new 3GS :-)
16. I notice that you sell Dark Game Studio for $89 and now you have a version of almost the same thing with only downloads for $135. (Now that I have the disk on the way here.) Aren't you competing with yourself and killing some of the sales by releasing product packages for us to buy twice?
Rick: Not every user has the same set of applications. We try to offer bundle deals as and when it makes sense to do so. The pack you are talking about will be different to Dark Game Studio. It's always best to look around the site for the best deals but we do try to highlight them when they first come out. We are also working on a new web site that will let you make your own bundles, this is a few months off yet.
17. Also, what is Ricks favorite holiday spot?
Rick: A bit off topic this one. I would say Lanzarote in the Canaries, you can be sure it will be sunny and hot and there's no grass (so no hay fever for me).
18 What about a TGC appearance schedule for game conferences over the next 6 months to a year or so. You have a number of shows you attend every year?
Rick: We don't usually attend such events. They can be costly and it can be hard to justif such costs when there's probably no direct revenue benefit to TGC. If we do attend events we will mention it in the Newsletter.
19. When can you fix all the bugs in Enhancements?
Mike: Ideally need to know specific information so we can respond. If there's a particular problem you have come across then either email or post on the forums.
Following on from the success of the last Community Competition, there will be many more to come. As you can see, this initiative has no banner, and it needs one. If you can design a cool banner for Community Competitions you could be seeing your design in the TGC newsletter and on the forums. As well as showcasing your design for the foreseeable future, you'll also be rewarded with a $20 USD voucher to spend on the TGC site.
The rules are simple:
Good luck, and have fun!
The winners of the 3D modeling competition from this past month as decided by myself and BiggAdd are here; I must say I was impressed with all of the entries. The goal of this competition was to mould objects from a 5x5x5 cube just as a potter or sculptor would. We had everything from Gameboys, trucks, swords, faces, ships, chairs, diners, and even a companion cube attempted. Here are the winners
3DMaster - Champion - Ortu
Ortu did an excellent job creating and explaining his modeling process for this lamp.
"I cut off the top and set it aside for the shade, then deleted the middle faces from the top half of each side and welded in the edges to make the prongs. For the shade I deleted the middle quad from the top previously cut off and stretched it down to meet the prongs and welded that back together; scaled in the top rim and pulled down the outer edge. This uses no subdivison, extrusion, or creation of faces/edges. "
3DMaster - Best Model - Josh Mooney
Josh Mooney created a great shape, really bending and moulding the cube object. This is inspired by the Viper MKI in Battlestar Galactica
3DMaster - Best Texture - Neodelito
Neodelito (last competition's champion) has made an excellent effort, and did the most outstanding texture job with this competition's challenge.
Next month, we will welcome David Gervais to the judging panel. Look out in the 3D forum for the next competition. I hope we have as many outstanding entries, knock on wood (hint!).
The accolades for the winners are retained until the next competition winners, and are as follows:
3DMaster - Champion awarded to the overall winner in the competition, an entry which displays both modeling and texturing excellence.
3DMaster - Best Model awarded to the runner up who demonstrates the finest modeling skills in the competition.
3DMaster - Best Texture awarded to the runner up who demonstrates texturing wizardry in the competition.
The awards will cling to your Avatar until the results of the following competition are announced. So to keep your award, you must defend your honour in battle once again!
David E. Gervais is sponsoring a summer contest to help all the talented programmers that hang out at the TGC Forums.
Regardless of your choice of programming tools - DB Classic, DB Professional, Dark GDK or even Play Basic - you are invited to enter this contest and have fun making a new and innovative game. Don't worry about it looking pretty, after all, what would be the point of winning a graphics makeover if your game already looked great?
From June 1st 2009 up to and including August 15th 2009
1) The Contest is open to all registered users of the TGC Forums.
2) Programmers can use DBC, DBPro, Dark GDK, or Play Basic to make their game entry.
3) The Game Category is 'Any'. However, the nature of the contest leads itself towards Puzzle games, Games of luck, Memory games, and 'Thinking/Logic' games.
4) Gameplay is top priority, followed by innovation. (remakes are allowed but a reworking of a game idea would be better)
5) Keep it simple, the phrase "A Minute to learn, a lifetime to master" is a good thing to keep in mind.
6) ALL Entries must use 'Placeholder' graphics. (this will allow for a much quicker upgrade if you are one of the lucky winners. Not to mention make it easier for David to make the new graphics fit.)
7) Have fun and enjoy the contest.
You will find the full details of the contest and be able to take part in the discussions on the forums.
Now that Leadwerks Engine is feature-rich with all the graphical and physics features planned at this stage, development is shifting towards game logic and structure. This video demonstrates the implementation of Lua scripting, which allows developers to program the engine on a per-object basis.
Featured last month, this is a walkthrough of the Roman Model Pack. This is now available from the FPS Creator site - Model Pack 27
After the immense success of iDare, The Game Creators released iDare Deluxe, with many added features and modes. This video highlights a few of these features.
Another iPhone game from The Game Creators, with added features over the original. As with all of the games on this platform, the touch screen is utilised to its full potential.
The sound effects creation program SFXEngine now comes with all 8 sound packs as part of the normal cost of the tool. This offer is running over the summer period and ends August 31st.
SFXEngine is sound effects creation software that uses custom programmed D.S.P. technology to create amazing new sounds quickly and easily. SFXEngine is easier and faster to use than music synthesizers, and gives you more power because any parameter can be modulated to any pattern you desire. You can use SFX Engine to quickly and easily create any sound or add new audio effects to existing sounds.
Like filters in graphics programs, the engines in SFXEngine are plug-in files that create or manipulate sound in some way. The 'Sample' engine will play a sample of your choice, and the 'Nitroverb' engine will add reverb. Up to twelve engines are placed in series to make a program.
Modulation is power. Every engine in SFXEngine has a number of parameters, the Low Pass Filter engine for example has Cutoff frequency as a parameter. What makes SFXEngine so powerful is that any parameter or any engine can be modulated, changed over time in any way that you want.
Environments give you another layer of processing. Using another set of engines, you can apply the same audio effects to all of your sounds. You might create a cavern environment, or a tunnel environment. You can add as many environments as you like to a project, and naturally you can load and save environments between projects.
Batch processing is no problem in SFXEngine. When you're ready to save out all of your sounds, the render option will save each one as a wav file. You can specify which environment to use and whether to save all of your sounds or just one. You can save stereo or mono files, in 44100, 22050 or 11025hz, and sounds are optionally trimmed to zero so there is no need for further editing.
All sample data in SFXEngine has a minimum of 24-bit sample resolution. When you load a sample, it is oversampled up to times eight (352.8khz) to attain maximum processing quality.
Visit the SFX Engine web site here for full details of the product, demo download and to purchase this fantastic software including all eight sound packs included in the bundle.
If you are more a DarkBASIC Professional tourist than a resident, you may have heard the word 'beta' used from time to time, often associated with huge headline posts such as 'greatest feature ever' and 'you broke my compiler'. These posts originate from a small guild of hard core coders who accept nothing less than a compiler that worked for them the day before, and love to share.
This month's tip is for those of you who would like to join this elite band of brothers and sisters, but need some guidance from one who thinks he knows and is going to tell you anyway.
The first word is one of warning, and that warning is that a beta version can seriously damage your health. At its worst a beta version can erase whole worlds of hard work and leave nothing behind but empty promises and nowhere to live. At its best, you get to see turning, the gears that make the whole universe work, and perhaps from time to time the opportunity to poke out a few stars of your very own. In short, a beta can eat your source code and media so back up everything and hide the disc in the loft before you start. Even better, try the beta on someone elses machine so if anything goes wrong, it can suddenly be someone else's problem. On a serious note though, it should be mutually understood that a beta is very much a work in progress capable of anything or nothing, and if you are working on something mission critical, your best path is to leave beta testing to someone else.
If you are brave, and true, and have nothing better to do, then step right in and prepare yourself for a few more nuggets. All betas are available for free, downloadable from a link that is posted at the top of an announced beta thread. Beta threads will be sticky and appear at the top of the DarkBASIC Professional forum with the version number clearly displayed.
When you download the beta, it comes in the form of a regular update. It is dentical in every way from an official update, except for the fact that the update is not set in stone and likely to change. It is prior to this point you back-up ALL your stuff and make a copy of your original DarkBASIC Professional installation prior to running the beta update.
The only indicator that the version you are running is a beta will be the version number you can view from the HELP\ABOUT menu item from the editor, often indicating a version number above the current official number. There is also a text file entitled UpgradeX_X.txt which contains a log of every change that has been implemented since the official version was released. If your project suddenly stops working with a beta version, you can often use the change log to narrow down which 'fix' broke your program and thus allowing us to find and 'fix the fix' faster.
If you have found a bug in the beta, you simply post your findings in as much detail into the thread that announced the beta version. The whole thread becomes a discussion area for whether the changes are better or worse, whether a bug report can be confirmed by another user or a call for more information. If you want to become an active member of the beta testing team, check out the posts from other successful testers for how they make a bug report and the kind of information they provide. The very best bug reports have screenshots, sample code, step by step and everything in between to make finding the bug a breeze. The quicker we find it, the quicker it gets fixed.
Once a beta starts, new versions will be released as the thread grows, usually in answer to the bug reports provided up to that point and this process continues until we have a version that starts to stabilise. That is, no new features are added and the remaining buggy or non-functional aspects of the update are resolved. When the majority of users in the forum agree, the beta process ends and that version becomes the official update.
The duration of a beta thread can be anywhere from a few days to a few months depending on the objective of the update. Some updates are merely to upgrade the compiler for a new official plugin, whilst others are major revamps of a command set or a large bug fixing session.
If you are looking for a mentor from the beta testing elite, there are a few members who have earned almost legendary status over the years, and if you spend enough time reading the threads you will learn who they are soon enough.
Following their examples for thoroughness will set you in good stead with your fellow testers, and such practise has value outside of recreational game making. The skills you develop testing, finding bugs, reporting them and discussing solutions and alternatives is exactly the kind of highly prized skills the games industry lusts over. If your ambitions stretch only to playing games for a living, then joining the beta thread and learning how to find bugs could be the golden ticket you need to make your ambition a reality. For the more altruistic among you, you will be helping make DarkBASIC Professional stronger for everyone!
Some members of our community just keep turning out quality games, media and other useful tools and utilities. One such member, noted for his FPS Creator media is Errant AI. Many will be using his contributions right now, he is the author of model pack 9 and pack 10, both loaded with weapons. If you do a little digging, you'll also find his name in the credits of games such as X-Files: Resist or Serve, and Bond: The World is not Enough.
Congratulations go to Errant AI on his new status.
When the Showcase forum board first opened its doors, many eager developers filled it with their new creations and inspired the community to be more productive. As time has passed our community has grown and is more creative than ever. The boards have changed to reflect this and a Work In Progress section was added for anything less than complete. The time has now come where we would ask any entries in the Showcase to be just that - a Showcase. It should be treated as a place to present your games in their best light, supported by quality in-game screenshots, story synopsis and additional supporting editorial. Be inspired by the Best Of The Best entries and work towards publishing your game in the same fashion.
The guidelines have been updated to reflect this request. Until you are ready to commit your game to published status, please continue to use the WIP board to discuss your games and encourage feedback and constructive criticism.
Sid Sinister has taken the time to share his experience at the Interfaces game developers conference. The thread includes overviews of many presentations including combat design, level analysis, story creation and getting noticed.
Josh Mooney has set himself the challenge of creating 100 game models in 100 days. At the time of writing he is on track to achieve exactly that. Every model is being made available to the community for free download as and when they are created.
Originally entitled 100 ideas in 100 days, this thread is now more focused on generating great ideas for games, to be evolved and utilised by anyone who is inspired. Each one contains a synopsis of the idea and mind-map of the design.
A shader that results in beautiful lava lampesque metaball patterns. The code is all provided for you to utilise, and a number of functions allow you to tailor your metaballs to your liking, or follow the examples provided for instant results.
With the cycle counting of last month well and truly behind me, June has been a bit of a mixed bag projectwise; a bit of this and bit of that. Firstly, those waiting for the next PlayBasicFX installment need wait no longer, with the release of the V1.75 beta. Beyond that, we're also building a new PlayBasic.com home page, more tutorials and have also just released a new font conversion tool creatively called PlayFont.
With the release of PlayBasic V1.64j and attention shifting to website requirements lately, it'd be easy to have missed a new PBFX beta mysteriously appearing in our forums. The objective of V1.75 is to iron out some of VM2's quirks and add the latest compiler/language changes from V1.64, prior to making the final assault. This requires ripping everything apart and making a regression of sorts. But finally we'll get modules!
For some reason the module concept seems to scare people. From a users perspective, they don't really mean much. It's more about how PBFX is being constructed that's changing, and for the better. Modules refer to construction being in smaller parts, as opposed to larger chunks. Old editions of the PB runtime have the commands hardcoded into the runtime instruction set. So the VM and graphics engine are basically one and same thing. What modules allow us to do is completely detach code execution from the graphics/sound/etc libraries, so we can link the PlayBasicFX runtime (VM2) to different engines (Graphics/Sound/Physics etc) easily.
So that's where moving to VM2 is taking PlayBasicFX. Once we get to this point a whole world of possibilities opens up. For example, since the VM2 is a 'standard' platform it's possible to make editions of VM2 for different operating systems. thus, cross-compilation becomes a real possibility. The same goes for running the engine as a browser plugin. The VM2 platform also allows better optimization possibilities and of course JIT.
This initial version of PlayFont is for the quick conversion of windows bitmap (2-bit) and Windows true type fonts into PlayBasic V1.64's CRF format. The tool simply lets you select a font and then converts that to CRF for you. You can view converted font in the main display window, as well as change the display message by entering your own in the input box at the bottom. At the moment the tool has no low level editing (ie. individual character widths ). The beauty of CRF fonts is that they can be drawn onto any image surface, support anti-aliasing (various modes) and realtime colouring even in bitmap modes. This makes them much more flexible than the native windows format.
Well that's it for this month, hopefully next month we'll have information about this year's competition and see some progress with the new site.
Each month we pluck one lucky subscriber from the newsletter mailing list and award them a free copy of DarkBASIC Professional and 1,000 Game Creator Store points. The email address of this month's winner is: mei**@s***.pt We have emailed the lucky winner, congratulations!
If you have something you'd like featured in a future issue then please get in touch and include as much information as possible (including where applicable: screen shots, URLs and zip files).
Issue 79 deadline - July 27th 2009.