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Editorial - October 2012

Issue 116 cover

With the dawn of AGK in 2011, the number of published games created using TGC products has rocketed. So much so, we would love to feature many of them but just don't have the time to review them all.

Do you want to see your published game featured on The Game Creators News site and newsletter? As you know, we feature your games completely free of charge; the community is a great accolade to our products and we love to show off our applications through your creations. If you can spend a little extra of your time at the end of your production cycle to put together a review of your game, then we will endeavour to publish it to our 20,000+ newsletter readers, and all visitors to our news site. You can even Tweet, Google+ or Like your review on the site. We've included more details in the newsletter on what to consider when submitting your game for consideration.

This month you can check the reviews of Squashies world and F.A.R for inspiration, find out how TGC fared with their hectic IDF schedule, find out how much activity has been going on around Freedom Engine, read the final installments of the Ultrabook Challenge and more.

Until next time,

Steve Vink

contents

(1) Freedom Engine (2) Squashies World (3) DBP (4) Ultimate Coder (5) Teach Yourself (6) FPSC News (7) App Developers Group (8) IDF 2012 (9) From the Forums (10) Facebook (11) The Game Creators News (12) Game Reviews

Freedom Engine Debuts

Freedom-Engine

Freedom Engine Supercharges Game Development for PCs, Tablets and Smartphones

Game developers around the world now have their online outlet for their creativity and ingenuity regardless of their financial resources. The launch went ahead perfectly to schedule, and anyone can now use Freedom Engine which allows developers of all abilities the freedom to create virtually any game they desire and deploy their creation across a variety of platforms at no cost.

Freedom Engine

 

“There are literally millions of passionate game developers all around the world yearning for a way to bring their ideas to life,” explains Lee Bamber, CEO of Freedom Engine, LTD. “Freedom Engine offers everyone, regardless of their financial resources, an opportunity to create and deploy the fantastic concepts they’ve been dreaming up and share them across social media. In particular, we want to give indie and hobbyist developers the deployment resources they’ve always felt were out of their reach.”

Freedom Engine offers everyone, regardless of their financial resources, an opportunity to create and deploy the fantastic concepts they’ve been dreaming up and share them across social media

Lee Bamber  

With the number of application compilations fast approaching 20,000, the Freedom Engine servers are running smoothly and the surge of creativity is being well catered for. It is great to see so much activity in the first few weeks of Freedom Engine.

The forums are also becoming livelier by the day, as over 300 posts discussing the engine, the possibilities and the way our developers want to see the platform evolve have been recorded.

Freedom Engine includes all the building blocks developers need to create fully immersive games. Sprites, sound effects, music, collision detection and 3-D commands are all available in this beta release, with 3-D physics to be added at a later date. These tools are accessible via a scripting language specifically designed to give developers the power they need to create truly complex titles, and the simplicity to make coding a snap.

Developers may create and deploy titles on Freedom Engine at no cost. 10 megabytes of storage is included free of charge. 250 megabytes of storage is available for a monthly fee of $5 USD. To learn more and sign up for an account, visit: http://freedom-engine.com/

We want to know what you are creating with Freedom Engine. Email us with links to your games, apps and demos so we can take a look and feature the best ones.

 

Squashies World

Squashies World Download from iTunesSquashies World is a physics-based arcade puzzle game where you need to use skill, accuracy and speed to rescue the cute ‘n’ cuddly Squashies.

Squashies WorldTHE SQUASHIES’ STORY

A huge tornado has hit Squashies World, leaving the Squashies stranded far from home. Your mission? Help them all back to Squashies World before it’s too late!

ADDICTIVE ACTION

Squashies are very sociable creatures and they will only feel safe if they’re rescued in pairs, so you’ll need to match them up. Intuitive “Squashie Touch” controls make it easy to ping the Squashies around the screen. Be quick though, you’re up against the clock and you can’t afford to hang around!

CRAZY PUZZLES

That pesky tornado has scattered all kinds of hazards across the land. You’ll need skill and judgement to get the Squashies past these devious traps:

Windmills send Squashies spinning out of control

Moving platforms need expert timing to dodge

Doors must be unlocked to release the imprisoned Squashies

Sticky walls will freeze Squashies if touched, so aim carefully!

Electrums deliver a massive static charge

Breakable walls can be knocked down to access a new area

Portals teleport a Squashie across a level

Shooting turrets will send the Squashies off course

FEATURES

80 exciting levels across 4 zones, with free updates!
Hilarious sound effects

Specially commissioned soundtrack

Post your progress to Facebook and tell your mates which level you’ve reached!

 

CAN YOU BECOME THE UBER-SQUASHER?

Complete every level with 3 gold stars to prove yourself the Uber-Squasher!

Visit Facebook for Squashies World wallpapers, hints, tips and much more!
Follow us on Twitter for updates and new apps

 

The Technical Viewpoint

Squashies World Download from iTunesSquashies World is a physics-based arcade puzzle game where you need to use skill, accuracy and speed to rescue the cute ‘n’ cuddly Squashies. You can read all about the game here, whilst we focus in this article on it's technical development, and the challenges encountered along the way. Steven Holding takes us through the evolution of the game.

Squashies WorldThe Squashies’ Social Challenge

Squashies World has been a challenge for a number of reasons. It needs to use a number of new commands for AGK such as AdMob, Facebook, Twitter and Rating for iOS. It also uses a number of existing commands I hadn’t previously encountered such as the Inneractive ad commands. Most challenging of all has been getting the app to run smoothly on iOS and Android by release date. I started working on Squashies World a short while before I started working full time for TGC, so I was mostly working on it at night and over weekends. We tried out a number of different styles for the Squashies including some pretty complicated physics systems before deciding to simply use a circular physics object for the sweets.

The Physics of Sweets

Even sweets have to obey the laws set out by Einstein. When the sweets in the game are touched, the position of the touch event is taken relative to it. Then it is rotated and a snapshot taken of the resulting SquashiesIconobject at an angle before finally stretching the sprite at the angle the user drags to. There are a series of complex offsets and angular transformations that I had to work out to make the sweets look like they are stretching from the right point. Once I had that working correctly the basic mechanics for the engine was fairly simple as Box2d did most of the work from that point onwards.

There is a basic, built-in level editor that is used to build up the levels. It got a little more complicated as more and more hazards were added into the game, but it works very well and ensures the making of new levels is relatively easy. I try to build level editors into my games whenever possible as I find it always makes it easier to quickly test levels out.

Team Spirit

This project was a first for me in so far as it had quite a few people contributing creatively. My new boss Rick has been overseeing the design and style of the game while being influenced by the Client (Swizzels Matlow) and our publishing / marketing partners at Focus Multimedia.

Normally I’m a one man show when it comes to making games so it hasn't been easy being pulled in several directions at once. Luckily we all seemed to want the same things from the game and there haven't been many differences of opinion. Of course, any conflicting opinions you get in a team are valuable in themselves, and add to a better final product.

I have been fortunate on this project to have a great technical team behind the scenes making all the new commands and features work as expected. This ranges from the artist Peter who composed all of the artwork in the game, to Paul and Mike who put in the new commands and debugged the main issues we encountered on iOS and Android. I was really impressed with how quickly and professionally they all work and it is great to have an app that looks and feels professional too.

Quick tips from Squashies World

I have found a number of ways we can make our games run better and faster using AGK on multiple platforms; Android for example seems to struggle with lots of transparent images. I have found that by turning off transparency (even on sprites that have no transparent pixels) can massively increase performance.

If I had any advice to pass on from making Squashies World it would be this; making a game is like carving a stone statue. Get the shape roughly right to start with, keep chiselling a little bit at a time until you are ready to start adding detail and leave the polish until it’s done!

Visit Facebook for Squashies World wallpapers, hints, tips and much more!
Follow us on Twitter for updates and new apps


 

Lee Bamber on Twitter

Lee Bamber is TweetingEverything you need to know about both DarkBASIC Professional and FPS Creator development can now be found via Lee Bamber's Tweets. You'll get to hear about every bug fix and feature as it's implemented.

Start following Lee now to get the latest news about your favourite development tools as it happens.

 

Dark Game Studio Bonanza

Bonanza 

This highly popular Special offer is still available to you, proving to be the best package deal we've ever created: Dark Game Studio, Dark Physics, Dark Lights, Dark AI, Extends and a whole lot more for an incredibly low price of $49.99. Save over $170!

Creating your own PC games is now easier than ever with this special compilation of game making tools:


Order Now

Order the BonanzaSave over $170 on this special deal. Be sure to check out the screen shots and the online videos. You can of course order safely and securely online, for delivery via postal mail.

Free Products from The Game Creators
FPS Creator   -   DarkBASIC   -   2000 Store Points

The Ultimate Coder: Ultrabook™ Challenge

Intel Ultrabook Ultimate ChallengerThe Ultimate Coder: Ultrabook™ Challenge is now over, in the arena where six developers compete head to head to code apps for next generation Ultrabooks. Lee Bamber and the TGC team have been invited to take part, and have blogged their progress each week.

What happened to the development time in September? Time flies so fast when the pressure is on. We'll be reporting imminently on the final week, but let's swiftly catch up on the previous two weeks, which also included time out to attend the Intel Developers Conference on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Week 4: Giant Leaps

Progress was of gargantuan proportions in week four, and Lee's blog is laid out predominantly with video footage, to cover all of the feature-leaps. DirectX and OpenGL translation is complete, the interface is quite literally full of eye-candy, and one throwaway comment simply states "I also took the opportunity to code the Accelerometer, Multi-touch and half the NFC sensor commands as well". 

 

 

I can’t describe the buzz I got when I first got the NFC connection working; it was one of those defining moments which slowly shape the technological landscape.

Lee Bamber
The features included so far are as follows:
The shopping list now includes:
Did Lee complete the list? Read on to find out how week 5 progressed.

 Week 5 : Roaming and Coding

This is the week that saw Lee Bamber and Rick Vanner at IDF, hosting numerous events as well as attending others, whilst still finding the time to code Love Hearts. The IDF trip revealed more tricks and tips, which quickly found their way onto the nice-to-have list of features,such as sharing via Windows 8 built-in functionality.

Whilst Lee roamed, Steven Holding continued with virtual roaming of Love Heart messages to friends and family, as well as coding yet more mini games. Other features implemented this week by the intrepid duo include in-app monetisaton and Windows 8 notifications on the app icon. As always, all of these new features become the codebase for future versions of AGK and Freedom Engine.

"[Lee has] his OpenGL-to-DirectX 11 translation engine is working. He has NFC happening (after a little device foreplay - really, too much information) as well as a bunch of other Ultrabook specific support that is truly keeping with the spirit of showing off the Ultrabook hardware and Windows 8 API. Check out his videos if you like a little time-lapse craziness."

Chris Maunder

Love Hearts
  

Weeks 6: Reflecting and recuperating

We all know that the final few days of a project - affectionately known as crunch time - can be quite stressful. When the final few days are the culmination of a six week project to develop a new game engine for an as-yet unreleased platform, running on unreleased hardware with never-seen before technologies, the stress levels can reach unknown heights.

Reflecting on the journey, my decision to create an entire WinRT engine in six weeks was simply bonkers. I don’t recommend it to anyone who values their sleep!

Lee Bamber

The result is the final app submitted to the Windows store for publication, and yet more great features in store for users of AGK and Freedom engine. Reading the blog, you will find in-app purchasing implemented in just 12 lines of AGK / Freedom Engine code. There are stunning screen transitions as the ambient sensor detects and adjusts the app to light levels. Sending messages to other users, via email and to social networks (with one line of code) is now in full flow. The app even knows which direction it is facing! Of course, the camera is used to enhance messages to friends, the images being fully editable for even more fun.

Lee includes, as always, a comprehensive list of tips for fellow developers, particularly on the WinRT technicalities but also on how to successfully submit an app to the Windows Store. Hardcore developers will find many gems in amongst the blog to shortcut many hardships and produce great apps. And for the hobbyists among us, we can await the new features in upgrades to both AGK and Freedom Engine.

 

Teach Yourself Game Programming...

  Teach Yourself Game programming ...for HTML5, WebGL, Android, iPad, iPhone, Windows and Mac all in one go! is now available to Kindle readers all across the globe.

The world has so many programming languages, engines, SDKs and tools when it comes to game making. They could give university degrees to those who know the differences between them all. For any new user without years of formal training and experience it’s virtually impossible to know where to start. It's possible to spend years training in languages and technologies that are virtually obsolete by the time you get your degree!

Many are put off by the thought of having to learn different languages and tools in order to publish to different platforms and devices including iPad, Android, Windows and Mac. You might even want to host it in the cloud for Facebook players. Covering all these platforms means losing valuable time recreating your game over and over again while your rivals create new market grabbing titles around you.

There is hope! Freedom-Engine does all that and more. It gives you the freedom to learn one single easy to grasp language. It gives you the freedom to write games for PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and for the cloud all at the same time. There is no need to rewrite your work over and over again! It also gives you the freedom of the cloud, you don’t need to be tied to specific devices or hardware, and your games can run directly from your website without the need for Flash.

Daniel's eBook arms you with the knowledge you need to get started. Download the book now and you will be using the very latest revolution in game creation technology to produce your very first game today. The eBook includes three courses; two primers and one final course demonstrating a working game in action. This book is ideal for users with zero Freedom Engine knowledge and limited programming experience.

Pick up this brand new title from Daniel Foreman in the Amazon Store (also in the UK or search for B009GJRH7K on your local Amazon site),  with 50% discount until 10 October 2012.  

FPS Creator 2 - Your Opinion Matters

FPS Creator News

The Game Creators are considering launching a Kickstarter fund for FPS Creator 2 and we would like know if you would be interested in backing such a development. There is a simple form available for you to provide your feedback. Phase one has already gained enough interest for us to canvas more detailed opinions on what FPSC 2 should encompass. FPSC 2 SurveyNow we want to know what features you feel are important, what platforms you want to play on, and how you want to develop. Click here to complete our short survey and make your opinion count!

What is Kickstarter?

kickstarterKickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others. Every project creator sets their project's funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

  

The Best FPS Creator Deal - Save Over $150.00!

This offer has proved so popular amongst new users of FPS Creator and those that simply want 9 new model packs at a fanatstic price, that we just let it run and run! Get FPS Creator and 9 Model Packs for an incredibly low price of $29.99 USD (€22.00 EUR, £19.99 GBP). This deal includes:

Click here to purchase the Bonanza pack, including FPS Creator
for just $29.99 / €22.00 / £19.99

App Developers Group - F.A.R

TGC App Developers Group  

by Adam Hodgson

Jordi Ramon is one of the ADG's model developers. We have witnessed many releases from Jordi and he has recently release another stunning creation, namely Future Aero Racing. Speed around race courses in stylish hover vehicles, enduring different weather conditions all whilst enjoying your favourite music tracks played by the built-in music manager. Developed using DarkBASIC Professional, the game lets you go head-to-head against your friends in split screen action to prove who can pilot their vehicle the best.F.A.R Website We congratulate Jordi on yet another release and you can purchase the game from the Intel AppUp store or on his website here. A demo version featuring one of the circuits is also available here.

F.A.R Racing Game

Enhanced for Intel Core

This game is Enhanced for Core. It has made use of the testing programs by Intel to ensure the graphical capabilities of the game meet the standards and are enhanced by Intel® CoreTM Processors. Enhance your game experience by playing it on hardware it is designed to excel with.
Intel, the Intel logo, Intel Core, and Core Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries

 

This article was presented in Issue 11 of the ADG newsletter. We welcome all independent developers to join us, the pre-requisite is simply that you are eager to share experience and resources with your fellow developers.

 

TGC at IDF 2012

IDFThe Game Creators, as mentioned previously, have been attending the Intel developer Forum in September. Rick and Lee's presence was in many capacities, as Ultrabook Challenge contestants, Black Belt developers, hosting live coding sessions, representing the Ultrabook program in the Expo area, andLee at IDF invitees to the Intel Fellowship event. Lee even had the opportunity to deliver a speech at the Black Belt dinner.

The Ultrabook Challenge did not suffer too harshly, as the hardware travelled with our intrepid duo, and coding took place in the airport lounge! Of course IDF was also the ideal shop front for the work completed so far, especially as development for the new bleeding edge hardware is almost entirely confined to the challengers.

Bob Duffy of Intel took the opportunity to conduct a quick interview with Lee and discuss the Ultimate Coder challenge. Here is that interview, which gives you a great insight into both Love Hearts and the latest Intel technologies.

From The Forums

Cheap, Adjustable Gradients 

Here's a cheap (small graphic) way to make adjustable background gradients. By varying the size, angle, and color of the two sprites, you can make all sorts of gradients. This post also includes the tiny image required to make it work.

Doing the Data Mathematics

How much memory does your game need for the program variables? Or how about the images, sounds and other media? Is it more important to focus on code or media? Hodgey sums up all of these questions in an easy to digest answer.

Gradients

Keep up to date with TGC on Facebook

Find us on Facebook to discover more about The Game CreatorsJoin over 4,600 fans on TGC's Facebook page to keep bang upto date on news, user projects from the forums and discussions.

We're keen to hear from all our avid users and we always love to hear what you've been upto with the tools we sell. So if you have something you want to share with the wider TGC audience why not post it into the TGC Facebook page?

The Game Creators News

News, views, product launches, videos, tutorials, model packs,
community projects and competitions;
you will find all of them on The Games Creators News site.

All of the newsletter articles, tutorials and announcements are now online, and available as soon as it hits the press. 

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Submitting a Game Review

As mentioned in the editorial, we want to publish your game reviews, but simply don't have the time to work through them all. If you want to submit your own game review - or even review games that you have found and played in the forums - then there are a few simple guidelines:

How to write a review for your game: