In the eyes of many, making games sounds like a fun and dream job experience. The reality today doesn’t quite match up to that starry-eyed view. Making games can be difficult, frustrating and beyond your current abilities. Like most other disciplines in life you have to learn and work hard to achieve your desired game design goal.
In the early 80s when 8bit computers ruled the home, there was only block graphics to contend with and maybe a few beep sounds to play, and easy to learn BASIC programming languages. It was fairly easy to make your own game ideas come to life. Thirty years later, game development requires a whole host of technical and creative skills; and the timelines of game creation can stretch over many years with contributions from hundreds of professional game developers.
While the AAA game development world is more akin to the movie studios of Hollywood, there’s still plenty of room for the hobbyist developer, working from home (safe from COVID-19), collaborating with others via the Internet. The lone developer can still succeed; they need a clear vision, a game idea that can appeal to the world’s game players, and tons of motivation to get the job done!
The key is keeping your mind on the end result and steadily making progress with it. Aim to be the game developer who completes their project and to not be left with a project shelved.
Dig out that project that you started and put to one side! Can you ignite your passion that started you off on that journey? Finishing can be hard but the rewards great.
Good luck to all our community with their games and apps ?
In late July we rolled out a new update for AppGameKit Studio which featured additions and improvements to the main IDE, the debugger, the asset browser, exporting, sprites, 3D and other areas of the engine and editor.
Steam users received their automatic update and TheGameCreator users can download the new version from their products section of their account.
We will continue to focus on core stability and tweaks, so if you have any issues to report then please post any issues you find to the AppGameKit Studio issues GitHub page.
If you are thinking of upgrading to AppGameKit Studio then watch out for a special deal starting August 17th when it will be 50% discounted!
There will be plenty of deals to be had on AppGameKit Classic products in August including:
By now you will have had a few weeks to play with the GameGuru MAX Alpha Build 4 and are already looking forward to the next build, which aims to restore more of the core functionality so you can start loading and playing your game levels once again. Progress continues on the terrain texture painting and streaming technology, support for OpenXR and thanks to a Steam beta, early OpenXR under SteamVR too. We have recruited your favourite community coder, Preben, to help with the importer features and entity properties control and we have more cool art to reveal for our zombified Cellar Demo which will be included with the release of GameGuru MAX.
There is still plenty to do and we have a great team working on it! Keep watching the Sneak Peek videos on our GameGuru YouTube Channel and, if you can make it, check out our live broadcasts where you can ask questions about the development progress as we move ever closer to a function complete build, at which time we will enter the beta stage and the last mile. If you are still on the fence, there is no better time to get your pre-order in for GameGuru MAX before it launches in September.
If you have been keeping a close eye on the GitHub Issues Board you will have noticed some new reports have come in since we fixed every bug in the May fixes update, well we are working on tackling some of those issues for you in a forthcoming update, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, keep an eye out for some great DLC promotions we are happy to reveal in August, including deals on:
This month we meet Kevan Hampson, the CEO of Hampsons IT Solutions LTD, known on the GameGuru forums as GraPhiX
Kevan is an amateur 3D designer and it’s a hobby he enjoys and loves. Creating 3D assets for GameGuru soon became practically full time, not only was he creating assets; people were sending him things to fix. This led to Kevan having 100’s if not 1000’s of models, and it soon became apparent he had no idea of what he actually had.
Another love from his past was Software Development, he used to be on a team that created Educational software for children with special needs. Kevan’s forte was Visual Basic - he worked with version 3 and also, towards the end of that employment, Visual Basic 6. Ultimately his interest swayed more towards hardware than software so his programming days were short lived.
20 years later, bearing in mind he had little knowledge of VB, he decided to renew his Microsoft subscriptions and have a dabble with Visual Studio .NET. Although things had drastically changed he found his long lost interest in software development and thought that he could solve the issue of a large collection of assets with some kind of library manager. It wasn’t just the quantity of assets, the other hurdle was creating FPE files for them (FPE files are meta data files used by GameGuru to describe the properties of a game asset).
So Kevan started work in late 2018 on what was to become the Asset Manager; it was not his intention to release it to the masses but a couple of community members of the GameGuru forums thought it would be a good idea.
Version 1.0 was a Library Manager and FPE Creator which saved him and a few community members a lot of time and effort and creating FPE’s for the assets he had created became a breeze.
Benefits of FPE Creator include being able to add meta tags to FPE’s for indexing and searching with the Library Manager. The included help file goes into detail on how to create an FPE file and what each setting can do.
With the success of FPE Creator Kevan turned his thoughts to what else he could make easier for himself and other users, so he looked at the forums and created a list of the most requested features that he could find. The most popular was creating custom menus but back then he thought that might be too daunting to tackle so initially stuck to basic text editing and created Lua Pad.
His knowledge of LUA is limited, and like most users he struggled with it. LUA Pad actually helped him to gain more LUA knowledge, so much so that he put the ‘intelli-code’ into LUA Pad that will finish lines of code for you automatically with full colour coding.
He didn’t stop there, next came INI editor which allows you to safely change settings in your setup.ini. It only allows the correct types and values to be changed and also backs up the default setup.ini automatically with a one click restore option.
FX files are very complicated but Kevan thought they still would be useful in Asset Manager. By default they are ‘read only’ but with a simple menu selection you can edit them. He has created FX files and used them in some of his levels .
As he became more confident, he thought it was time to tackle the biggest request of all - menu screens.
Anyone that knows Visual Basic .NET will know that graphics are not easy to do; windows forms are very limiting in their capabilities and unfortunately WPF, another type of windows control in .NET, does not play nicely with windows forms.
So after spending a small fortune on books and research material he took the plunge and started work on Menu Creator, it took him about 9 months to get something working the way he wanted it to. Now please bear in mind this may sound like a simple task, and for a fully-fledged programmer it probably is, but Kevan is a hobbyist, albeit with much learning and knowledge having created his app.
Menu Creator is now on its second incarnation with the option to load previous menu projects and edit them. A full menu using the included templates can be created in less than ten minutes, a far cry from the first menu he ever created which took him close to a week.
Pleased with the outcome he decided to go one further and tackle the custom standalone icon requests (when you create a standalone game in GameGuru your standalone will inherit GameGuru’ s icon). A lot of users have asked for a way to be able to change this, so Kevan put his hat on again and looked into exe headers.
His research led him to find that icons are quite special and it’s not a simple image; it is in fact about 5 or 10 images in binary format. Once he understood this and applied the knowledge he had gained, it all came together quite well and Icon Injector was born.
While his confidence was at a high he looked into Audio Formats and how they could be applied within Asset Manager. There are plenty of free audio editors around but he wanted to create an ‘All In One’ if he could, and so Audio Tools was created with all the formats he could think of included.
The latest addition to Asset Manager is still a work in progress but it does work quite well if you select the correct fonts.
Font to Bitmap was inspired by a fellow user on the AppGameKit forums, Thomas Gortler (fliphead). Thomas had created a tool called BitmapFontCreator back in 2012, and with his help and direction Kevan created Font to Bitmap. It’s a simple three step process - you choose the current GameGuru Bitmap font, then choose the windows font you want to replace it with and then export the new font. Most True type fonts work quite well but some are not so good. It’s trial and error to find the perfect font, and work is ongoing to improve the utility.
Features are still being added to Asset Manager and the next version will have his ‘Variation Generator’, a little app to allow users to create variations in their terrains.
He is also looking into adding basic 3D tools within Asset Manager.
Kevan’s work is very much appreciated by the community and the team at TheGameCreators. You can check out his work via the GameGuru forums.