As game developers, we are always conscious of the fact that not everyone has a super powerful high-end gaming PC to run their software and games on. This results in a measured approach when deciding what minimum specification to support for newly released software. This will often come at the cost of deliberately not supporting the newest technologies that have yet to filter down to the mass market via affordable graphics cards.

One such feature from yesteryear, destined for the cutting room floor, was real-time ray tracing of game graphics, a hideously expensive performance hog just a few years ago. Arguably the first commercial attempt was back in 2018 and required some serious horsepower and, thanks to the incredible race that followed, we would be hard pressed to find a graphic card that did not support real time ray tracing in some way.

The real question for coders today is whether the time is right to add RT ray tracing to the list of mandatory features of your game. If the question is whether there are now enough end users with the capability, the answer is a definite yes. The larger question of whether the feature significantly enhances your particular game project must remain with the creator?

Like all technologies on the upward early adopter curve, when it peaks the transition will be hardly noticeable and you may find yourself sliding smoothly and effortlessly to a world in which all games are ray traced. When that day comes all coders will breathe a little easier knowing they have one less 'hack' to perform in the constant pursuit of photo realistic gaming ?

We’re very pleased to introduce two new members of our team!  Our first recruit is Zak Judges, who joined us after graduating from Abertay University with a First Class Honours in Computer Games Technology, where he was also a Dare Academy finalist. This is Zak’s first role in the games industry, but he is already making a fantastic contribution to the projects he is working on.   Zak’s passion for coding shines through his work and Physic is a great example of one his early games.

In his spare time, if he’s not playing Halo, then you’ll find him cooking up some experimental recipes or enjoying the Scottish fresh air on long walks, or runs if he’s feeling energetic!

Our second new recruit is Maciej Dowbor, who joined us this month having graduated from Birmingham City University with a BSc in Video Game Development with a First Class Honours. He impressed us with his energy, his enthusiasm for C++ and passion for game-making and we liked his style of work on his game projects.

Barven is a 2D turn-based strategy game, heavily inspired by Heroes of Might and Magic III, that lets the player become a faction leader and whose goal is to conquer the map. Galaga  is a shooter arcade game and was Maciej’s first ‘big’ project, featuring diverse enemies, pickups, shop, wave system and various weapons.

In his spare time Maciej enjoys watching while playing games like League of Legends, Team Fight Tactics and TW Warhammer. He is also a big LOTR fan, and the new Amazon show based on JRR Tolkiens universe, set in Middle-earth, reignited his interest in Tolkien's work and in his words ‘he watches far too many videos about the lore of Middle-earth’. Maciej says “however, sitting in front of the computer all day isn’t ideal for my health, so I try to make up for it by regularly exercising, mainly weight lifting and cycling, and trying to keep a healthy diet.”

The last month has perhaps been one of the busiest and most productive pushes by the TGC team to get GameGuru MAX into a position where real demo levels can be created and tested.

We’re not fully there but we are very close to function complete and we’re on the precipice of the final sprint as we transition from originating code to testing what we have, and creating games with it.

That is not to say in the months prior we were slacking ;–) far from it! But we are now seeing the fruit of last years efforts come together and converge as a single product experience.

We are very happy with how this new game-maker is shaping up and we can see, not only the finished Early Access release in sight now, but the potential of what may follow after launch.

We are now entering the final phases of development which tightens the grip on feature creep and bears down on annihilating all past and present bugs remaining in the build. The feature freeze is only a temporary phase which we inject stability and predictability into the experience and, rest assured, we have a clean roadmap for what happens after the Early Access launch in March.

For the next two months, if you are lucky enough to be the holder of a pre-order copy of GameGuru MAX, get ready for builds that put you in a position to make games, refine games you have already started, and start to see tweaks that hone what you imagine into something you can play and enjoy ?

As always, keep tuning in to our regular live broadcasts on our YouTube Channel covering the progress of GameGuru MAX as we charge towards our March Early Access release.

Back in GameGuru Classic land we continue to monitor bug reports as they come in and prepare the way for our next bug fixing session in March. Time and resource have been allocated and we encourage anyone encountering issues in their Classic game projects to report them in our GitHub issues board asap – if we don’t know about them we can’t fix them :-I  

A massive thank you to the AppGameKit MODS BlinkOk, Scraggle and Virtual Nomad for creating and running the Tower Defence competition, and an equally big thank you to all the participants (and those who wanted to participate but couldn’t and who provided such valuable prototype work and ideas).

The AppGameKit community’s support, motivation and inspiration for one another, directly or otherwise, over these past many weeks has been awesome!

The very worthy first place prize winner is Dark_geo with Conquistadors

With second place going to Janbo for Janbo's TowerDefense

Third place is awarded to Toweriors by Wizzkid

In the newcomer entries the Encouragement Award winner is Game_Code_here with Egypt vs Zombies

And.... we must make honourable mention of a non-competing entry by Scraggle – Infection!

Read all about the games submitted here 

Finally, a big thank you to all the sponsors!

The next update for AppGameKit Studio and AppGameKit Classic will be out in early March and includes bug fixes for:

  • Apps not using the full screen on Android devices with pinhole cameras
  • Audio channelling through headphones instead of speakers on iOS devices
  • Export issues such as the app icon reverting to the AppGameKit icon on iOS
  • Expanding the character limit for keystore and alias passwords in the export dialog for Android
  • Crashes relating to IsChoosingImage on iOS
  • IDE keystore generation
  • Crashes when jarsigner cannot be found when exporting an Android APK

If you have any issues that you would like us to look at for this update please post details into the AppGameKit issues board

This month we talk to Felix Kolbeck, aka Duchenkuke, who has been a member of the GameGuru community since 2016. In that year he was watching some horror games made with FPS Creator on YouTube and, fascinated by it, wanted to try it for himself. So, he researched it a bit and downloaded it - but his time with FPS Creator was short-lived because nothing worked, and it just crashed on him the whole time :–I However, literally hours later, he found out about GameGuru and bought it the same day, and has never looked back.

Felix tells us more, “I installed GameGuru on Steam, tried it out and it worked, and very soon I started to work on my first GameGuru game Hunted: One Step Too Far. The Game is heavily inspired by the Game Slender: The Arrival a horror adventure game. Six months later Hunted: One Step Too Far marked my first Steam release.”

Felix’s origins in game development were creating mods for Fallout 3, New Vegas and 4, mainly doing sound replacement mods, that were very well received. Over 80,000 people have downloaded his material over the years and making music and sounds still plays a big part in his online creations.

Felix explains, “Besides Slender and other games like Fallout and Elder Scrolls, the videogame that impressed me the most is probably S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl. The atmosphere, and feeling of the game, is truly unique and intense. So, when I was about done with Hunted: One Step Too Far, I started to work on a new project. That project had many names, including Zone Hunter and Desolated, but after four years with many attempts and fails (and a lot of GameGuru software improvements thanks to Preben Eriksen) I was able to merge all my knowledge and created Dark Skies: The Nemansk Incident. The work on Dark Skies: The Nemansk Incident started in Summer 2019 and two years later on  21st January 2021 it launched in Steam early access.

Dark Skies: The Nemansk Incident has huge, detailed levels, a lot of quests and over 60 weapons for the player to play with. It also aims to achieve a deep atmosphere, just like the stalker games. The soundtrack for the game is again handcrafted by me, but I have also another dark ambient music artist, also based in Germany, for my game. Dark Skies: The Nemansk Incident is by far the best rated GameGuru game on Steam ever (71% positive) ?

While working on Dark Skies: The Nemansk Incident I have also started a completely new game idea, which is a mix of Sci-Fi and cyberpunk. Taipeh Contract has become a nice change of style and really fuels my creative energy. It’s the perfect project to work on when I need some time off from working on Dark Skies: The Nemansk Incident.”

Felix’s games are aimed at people who enjoy an atmospheric experience, whether you roam the dark and desaturated environments in dark skies, or you get hunted by stone statues in an asylum :-I For Felix it’s all about creating a unique atmosphere – and based on the feedback he gets – we think he’s done it ?

Felix tells us what’s next for him, “So, as Dark Skies: The Nemansk Incident is  in Early Access I have still a lot to do. The game has received many updates and new content in the last year, but I want to do even more.

I really want to thank some people that have helped me creating this game and I would be nowhere without them: Smallg, T-Bone, Wolf, Lafette, GraphiX, Granada, Synchromesh, Preben, Cybernescence, Lee Bamber, Defy, BSP and Gtox. The GameGuru community is amazing and we have some real talent here.”

You can see more of Felix’s work on his website and take a look at the great trailer for Dark Skies: The Nemansk Incident