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Editorial - January 2013

Issue 119 cover

What a year 2012 has been! Everything started well in January, when The Game Creators rushed out the Playbook interpreter for AGK, and numerous community members became proud owners of the Blackberry Tablets by submitting their games within a very tight deadline. The year ended on an even more impressive note when over $34,000 in prizes were deservedly won in the Intel AppInnovation Contest, including a grand prize of $10,000. Again this was supported by furious development behind the scenes of new functionality for AGK. In between these two milestones we saw the release of updates to all the major products, the creation of Freedom Engine as a new way to develop in the cloud, and the announcement of FPSC Reloaded which is already under way.

So what can we expect in 2013? We can anticipate one new product finding it's way out of the TGC coding factory and aside from that, we can only do what we did in the previous year; expect the unexpected, and all share in each other's successes along the way. The whole community has proved that together we can do great things, so let's keep doing it!

We start the year by reporting on the latest successes from the Intel Competition. The most successful independent DarkBASIC game of all time appears with a new shine and more interplanetary adventures. We have added 2 more model packs to the FPSC range, published more beta versions of FPSC and AGK, and much more to read in between.

Happy New Year, and until next time,

Steve Vink


(2) FPSC News (3) Freedom Engine (4) AGK (5) Intel Winner (6) Evochron (7) FPSC News (8) MP66 (9) MP68 (10) App Developers Group (11) Facebook (12) The Game Creators News

FPSC Reloaded - Locked and Loaded!

FPSC Reloaded is underway and will be with our diehard fans and newcomers in 2013. But we still want your support to reach some ambitious but incredible stretch goals to implement even more fantastic features. Pledgers have already committed £4350 to the project, almost half way to the first goal!

Already, FPSC Reloaded will incorporate new or improved:

FPSC Reloaded PledgeIn order to fulfill our stretch goals we are now offering avid FPSC users a way to get involved in FPSC Reloaded with our own internal TGC pledge system.

We have kept it simple and are offering a single pledge amount of £50. Just like Kickstarter, your pledge will be used to help pay for the development and entitles you to a few gifts.

These pledges will go towards the development of demo assets and media and also new features when we raise enough through this way. This list includes:

As further pledging milestones are reached, you can expect to see Tree Systems, Entity Reflections, Entity and Icon Makers, Water/cloth physics, road painting, vehicles, additional game modes and more.

If you choose to back us and pledge we can offer you the following:

FPSC Reloaded Pledge


Please pledge today!

* You will receive the model packs as soon as your order is processed.
* FPS Creator Reloaded is not due to be completed until October 2013.
* New stretch goals may not be available until sometime after October 2013.

The AGK and Freedom Engine Development Blog


As AGK and Freedom Engine progress side by side, we can give you a small insight into the beta updates to AGK, which will ultimately manifest themselves in Freedom Engine.

We have finally put the capping stone on the commands for V108, with the latest being a set of memblock commands which will be very useful for manipulating image data. This last set of commands really opens up the capabilities to create image data very fast using just code. This will have very specific benefits for Freedom-Engine as no media would be required to download, allowing your apps to originate artwork instantly. A full and final command set will be revealed soon when we release what is expected to be the final beta of AGK V108.

In addition to adding the last of the stability updates to the various commands, we have also overhauled the Help to include all the latest command additions so now you can find them right from the main command menu. We are now performing tests on a version which is very close to our official release. Here is a snapshot of the most recent items:

What is Freedom Engine?

Game developers around the world now have their online outlet for their creativity and ingenuity regardless of their financial resources. Freedom Engine 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 projects now over 10,000, 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 Freedom Engine.

The forums are a hive of activity, sign up to the Freedom Engine forums to join in and improve your skills through the experiences of others.

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.


AGK Developers take away a $34,000 Haul

AGK has arrived 

It's official; AGK has stormed through the Intel AppInnovation Contest to grab far more than their fair share of prizes on offer. Of the games we know of through the TGC Forums, the following prizes have been scooped:



The most significant figure is the 9 apps that were in the first 50 uploaded to the Intel AppUp Store. This is an accolade to AGK's ability to enable fast development, and swift deployment. The success in this contest can also be attributed to:

Congratulations to everyone involved, and keep checking back on the news site for reviews and links to the winning games.

Intel Developer Fellowship

Intel's Developer Community Manager Bob Duffy hosts a Google Hangout discussion on the relevance and opportunity for Indie developers,building Windows 8 applications. Bob asks developers about their experience with Windows 8 so far, where are they monetizing now, and for Windows 8 will they be developing for Win32 or WinRT or both. This hangout is obviously very significant for AGK developers who have the technology to take advantage of the new platform already.

Both Lee Bamber and Rick Vanner, founders and directors of The Game Creators, were invited to participate in this select panel of experts.


Ballastic Fantastic Intel Winner

After 2 months of intense coding, numerous beta versions of AGK and frantic submission of entries to the Intel Ultrabook Competition, we are extremely proud to report that our community hosts a $10,000 winner! Ballastic by Matthew Pilz (xCept)

Ballastic - The Game

Ballastic - Intel Competition Winner

The mechanics of Ballastic are simplistic yet addictive. Grab onto the handle that the ball is attached to and drag it around the screen using your mouse, or your finger if using a touch-enabled device. The objective is to demolish as many items as possible before the string snaps or your time runs out. A local and online high score system allows you to compete against friends and others from around the world.

As the game progresses the ball becomes increasingly heavier, making it more difficult to keep it under control. To further challenge the user, certain items will spawn additional weighted balls to the string, which multiply future points while making the game even more challenging.

While dragging the handle around the screen, the ball(s) attached to the elastic will react to your every move. If you provide too much momentum, the rope will give way and snap. To earn the greatest number of points you must try to stretch the elastic rope as far as possible without breaking it.

The game's scoring formula relies heavily on the length of the string upon impact; your score will increase greatly as you become more skilled. Rack up killer combos by collecting multiple items quickly and with high elasticity.

Ballastic Intel Brochure

Matthew Pilz - Ballastic development

The basic premise for Ballastic was hatched in October, but I wasn't able to start developing in earnest until early November. Having previously followed Lee Bamber's blog for Intel's Ultimate Coder Challenge, I knew he had put a lot of work into bringing Ultrabook sensor support to AGK.  With such a limited timeframe to develop the game, and having been using TGC products since the early beta days of DarkBASIC in 1999, I knew AGK would be the most efficient tool for the job.

After setting the app to run fullscreen, AGK automatically scales the media to adapt to the desktop resolution so it looks fine at other widescreen resolutions including 1366x768 and 1900x1080 (while also letter-boxing non-widescreen displays).

Matt Pilz


For this competition I stuck with Tier 1 which carries the benefit of easy conversion to other platforms while remaining cross-compatible with Freedom Engine.  During development, I tapped into many different facets of the AGK language. 

The game includes a locally encrypted online score system as well as a custom developed HTTP-based scoring system with multiple levels of filtering.  AGK's advanced particle engine is used to create all of the destruction effects, which include such subtle enhancements as adapting their velocity and particle count based on how they are struck.  The background effects are composed of many individual sprites that are manipulated in real-time, which AGK handles with ease. I designed all of the graphics using a 1600x900 virtual resolution (the native next-gen Ultrabook resolution).  After setting the app to run fullscreen, AGK automatically scales the media to adapt to the desktop resolution so it looks fine at other widescreen resolutions including 1366x768 and 1900x1080 (while also letter-boxing non-widescreen displays).
Ballistic brochure image
Consumer Electronic Show 2013 Booklet Insert

I was thrilled to see how easy it is to read data from the multitude of Ultrabook sensors using AGK.  Along with full touch support, I was able to add several fun enhancements for Ultrabook users.  For instance, I use the ambient light sensor to dynamically adapt the game's visuals to one of two themes depending on whether the user is in bright daylight or not.  The accelerometer is also used to add subtle momentum to the background effects depending on how it is tilted (which can create some real dizzying effects if you try to play with the device rotated 90 degrees). I am an advocate of progressive enhancement, so I worked hard to make my game feature rich on standard desktop computers while bringing an enhanced experience to those with supported devices.

One of the biggest hurdles for me was the certification and approval process required for the AppUp store. It took a couple of weeks of communication by those at Intel and Comodo to finally obtain the necessary certificate, an issue that plagued many contestants in the competition. Creating a proper installer package as required for the AppUp store submission was also a challenge to many who entered, but this problem was mitigated with AGK thanks to Mr_d's excellent MiniMSIMaker which quickly created a compatible silent installer.  Development-wise, one challenge was staying on top of the evolving beta builds of AGK, which I am grateful TGC kept releasing to address many bugs and issues relating specifically to this competition.  Finally, on the eve of the cut-off date my app was rejected for not using the trademark symbol after UltrabookTM in my meta description, a trivial issue that I wish the reviewer could have simply corrected himself. Luckily, Intel was quick to approve my app again once this matter was corrected.

Congratulations to Matt and to all of the other contestants who were rewarded with numerous prizes throughout the competition, amounting to at least $32,000 USD!

Download from AppUp    Direct Download

Evochron Mercenary Makeover

Quite possibly one of the biggest success stories in the DarkBASIC world, Evochron Mercenary has had another uplift to take advantage of better graphics and technology. Originally written in the Classic version of the programming language, the newest incarnation is now developed using DarkBASIC Professional and looking better than ever. Topping the Steam charts back in February 2012, the Star Wraith space and trading simulator is officially one of the best out there.

Evochron Mercenary



I asked Shawn about the recent updates, and discovered that there is far more to it than meets the eye...

"The expansion for Evochron Mercenary (version 2.X) was launched in early December and is a significant rewrite and retooling of much of the game's fundamental graphics and options.  The new version of the game targets a significantly higher minimum technology level to provide far more extensive use of shader techniques, higher object/texture detail, and a more diverse and interactive environment.  Beyond just technology though, a lot of new gameplay options have also been added and improved on.  Using DarkBASIC Professional helped make the process of developing the expansion much easier than it might have otherwise been.



"DarkBasic Pro's simplified instruction set was a major benefit while I was working on the new terrain walker system (a gameplay option that lets the player get out of their ship and explore/harvest on the surface of planets).  One challenge that surfaced involved developing an animation system for the walkers that didn't involve keyframe steps built into the mesh.  For various modification and functionality reasons, I needed to be able to assemble the walkers from individual components in memory and then animated them exclusively in code.  DBPro's simplicity and efficiency really shined when I had to develop this code-only animation system from scratch.  I could load the required objects, place them at the required joint positions, orient them to the central torso structure, and then animate them with original algorithms for walking and rotating.  The use of single commands to perform many of the initial setup and animation operations in conjunction with DBPro's numerical index system (which let me easily manage numerous object sets/groups at once) allowed me to prototype and implement terrain walkers much faster than I had originally anticipated.

"The planet engine also received a complete overhaul.  The new engine provides a much higher level of mesh detail along with shader based light response effects and heightmap based selective texturing.  Credit should also be given to Jim Burridge (aka Green Gandalf) who has been a huge help to me in prototyping and adapting shader techniques to the fairly unique requirements of my planetary terrain engine.  The introduction of planetary rotations and variable weather were among other complicated tasks that DBPro helped make the development process faster and more efficient.  With DBPro, I could quickly apply changes for texture scaling/scrolling along with object movement, rotation, and orientation for realistic cloud patterns, atmosphere haze, and planet rotation.  For the first time in the game series, players can watch a sunrise or sunset on their favorite planet... with the possibility on some planets that it could even rain or snow on them while they waited.  In terms of immersion and 'cool' factor, working on the improvements to planets was one of the most enjoyable phases of development and is also now one of the most fun aspects of the game to just sit back and enjoy while playing.


Evochron Mercenary


"Multiplayer also saw an extensive set of improvements, from player-to-player arranged contracts to a more efficient data exchange system to better support a higher number of players on a server at one time.  The core of the game's multiplayer mode remains based on MikeNet/DarkNet (http://www.mikenetapi.net/, an excellent plugin for DBPro developed by Michael Pryor who does a fantastic job of providing support and updates for it.  For anyone interested in implementing multiplayer support for their DBPro projects, I highly recommend it.

"Gameplay has also been expanded and improved.  The AI is smarter and behaves more like human players, including utilizing group tactics, better attack/evasion techniques, and more skill with weapon management.   Players can also now pay for information from AI ships that can lead them to hidden locations and items.  A new weapon lab lets players craft their own particle, beam, and missile weapons.  Lost cargo can now be found on the surface of planets by a scouting player in a terrain walker or spacecraft.  New equipment includes fuel packs, recharge packs, and shield packs which further diversify what can be installed on a ship's hardpoints.

"While Evochron has been a massive project for me spanning over eight years of development and close to 100,000 lines of code, DBPro has helped make the process a lot more feasible for one person to create and manage.  As a development tool, it stands apart in how it lets you design, prototype, and implement game ideas in a uniquely efficient and enjoyable way.  It's my hope that DBPro will continue to develop and improve alongside new technology as, due to those attributes, it truly holds a unique position in the realm of PC development tools."

For a detailed list of changes and improvements, visit: http://www.starwraith.com/evochronmercenary/expansion.htm

About the Game

Trading commodities while sneaking past hostile forces, racing the best pilots in the area, mining for diamonds, negotiating for survival, spying for a curious energy company, cleaning dirty solar arrays, transporting an impatient passenger... and that's just on a Monday. The life of an independent mercenary is rarely without excitement. At times, you may choose to work under contract, while at others, you may want to take matters into your own hands in a quest to build your reputation and fortune. Your spacecraft awaits. Your adventure begins in the Sapphire solar system.

In Evochron, you are free to seek your fortune as an independent mercenary in an adventure directed by your choices, abilities, and accomplishments. Each player can bring their unique skills and interests to the game, forming clans for cooperative goals or remaining solo to complete objectives on their own in true freeform space-sim gameplay.

Evochron Mercenary is available at 40% off at the Steam store until January 5th 2013.  

  DarkPRINCIPLES for DarkBASIC Professional

Daniel Foreman has put together three volumes of tutorials for DarkBASIC Professional, and they are now available on his TeachYourselfStuff channel. We present the first of the nine videos here, which helps anybody new to the language to downstall, install and get started.

The accompanying videos cover a multitude of areas for anyone new to DarkBASIC Professional and also to programming:



Lee Bamber on Twitter

Lee Bamber is Tweeting

Everything you need to know about both DarkBASIC Professional and FPS Creator Reloaded development can 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


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

FPS Creator V120 Beta 7

FPS Creator News

FPSC LogJust as we go to press with this newsletter, Beta 7 of FPS Creator V120 has been released. The latest updates, along with the full list of changes for this beta version can be found in the project log files, found here.

Download FPS Creator V120 Beta 7The download links for betas are in the official forum thread, where you can also feed back to the development team. We have also provided the direct download link here for your convenience. As always, make backups of your projects and development environment before installing and using beta versions!

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

Space Station Dereliction Extreme III

Model Pack 67 - Space Dereliction III

Model Pack 67

This pack expands upon the media available in Model Pack 61 and Model Pack 65, and provides yet more content for you to continue building your derelict space station.

Do battle through more rooms, corridors and even through a Monorail section. All segments and entities come in a clean and rusted versions to suit the style of your game. Scenic geometry is designed to give enemies in your levels access points to realistically spawn from - no more enemies appearing out of no where. Non Uniform Geometry will make the most of the light mapping capabilities of this software... a few well placed lights and your scenes will really come alive!

Multi-Level Segments and several variations of damaged corridor sections to create lots of unique scenes...from long sloping corridors to grenade blasted rooms. Plus all doors used in this model pack can be used seamlessly with all the doors from Model Pack 65 and 61, allowing massive and varied levels to be created without worrying about realistic transitions from one part to the other.

The Derelict Space Station Pack 67 is available to purchase now from the FPS Creator website, where you will find full details of this great expansion pac


World War II Characters & Weapons Pack

Model Pack 68 - World War II Characters and Weapons

A whole new pack full of new WWII characters that feature new animations.

This pack also includes 20 World War II weapons, designed by the author of the Vegetation pack 55 and the WWII weapons pack 58.

Fight all new enemies in your WWII games. The pack includes 42 ready to use enemies.



The World War II Characters & Weapons Pack is available to purchase now from the FPS Creator website, where you will find full details of this great expansion pack.

App Developers Group - Upgrading Mathematical Skills

TGC App Developers Group  

by Adam Hodgson

Last month we set a challenge for you, and it included some important concepts for anyone progressing to more advanced techniques. Here is the challenge, and one possible solution

Numbers from Zero to One

As a programmer, it is important to know how numbers are stored in memory and in files, and how computers read them.  Hence, this month's challenge is to write an 8 bit counter.  I recommend using a language in which it is easy to render graphics to the screen such as App Game Kit or DarkBASIC Pro.

// using percentage system
// an array for the 'lights' which signify which bits are on or off
Dim lights[8] as integer
// the total
total as integer = 0
for i = 1 to 8
    lights[i] = createSprite(0) // create each sprite
    setSpriteColor(lights[i],0,0,100,255) // set each sprite's colour to a dark blue
    setSpriteSize(lights[i],5,-1) // set the size of each sprite
    setSpritePositionByOffset(lights[i], i*10+5, 50 ) // position each sprite
    createText(i,str(2^(8-i))) // create text above each sprite indicating
// which power of 2 it represents
    setTextPosition(i,i*10+2.5, 40) // set the above text's position
// text for teh total
txt = CreateText("0")
setTextPosition(txt, 50, 30)
    // if the mouse has been clicked
    if getPointerPressed()
        // increase the total by one
        total = total + 1
        // roll back to 0 if the total exceeds 255
        if total >= 2^8 then total = 0
        // light up the lights according to the total
        temp = total
        for n = 1 to 8
            if temp >= 2^(8-n)
                setSpriteColor(lights[n], 0, 0, 255, 255)
                temp = temp - 2^(8-n)
                setSpriteColor(lights[n], 0, 0, 100, 255)
        next n
        // update the total string
        setTextString(txt, str(total))

Bonus Challenge

Make use of bit-shifts and/or bitwise operators when creating the 8-bit counter.

// using percentage system
// create an array of lights
Dim lights[8] as integer
total as integer = 0
for i = 1 to 8
    lights[i] = createSprite(0) // create each sprite
    setSpriteColor(lights[i],0,0,100,255) // set each sprite's colour to a dark blue
    setSpriteSize(lights[i],5,-1)  // set the size of each sprite
    setSpritePositionByOffset(lights[i], i*10+5, 50 ) // position each sprite
    createText(i,str(2^(8-i))) // create text above each sprite indicating
// which power of 2 it represents
    setTextPosition(i,i*10+2.5, 40) // set the above text's position
// text for the total
txt = CreateText("0")
setTextPosition(txt, 50, 30)
    // if the mouse has been clicked
    if getPointerPressed()
        // increase the total by one
        total = total + 1
        // if the total exceeds 255 then reset it to 0
        if total >= 2^8 then total = 0
        // turn the lights on/off according to the total
        for n = 1 to 8
            // if the corresponding bit on n (in binary) is 1 then turn the
// corresponding light on
            if ((total << 32-n) >> 31) = 1 // shifting to the left clears
// all bits in front
// of the corresponding bit, to 0
                setSpriteColor(lights[8-n+1], 0,0,255,255)
                // otherwise, turn it off
                setSpriteColor(lights[8-n+1], 0,0,100,255)
        next n
        // update the total string
        setTextString(txt, str(total))

This article was presented in Issue 14 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.


Keep up to date with TGC on Facebook

Find us on Facebook to discover more about The Game CreatorsJoin over 5,000 fans on TGC's Facebook page to keep bang up to date on news, user projects from the forums and discussions. At the time of writing we have just seen our 5,001st fan sign up to the Facebook group!

We're keen to hear from all our avid users and we always love to hear what you've been up to 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?

Don't forget you can also join our FPSC Reloaded and AGK fan pages too.

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

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