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Editorial - May 2013

Issue 123 cover

In the last few weeks I have had the need to get back into web development. Twenty or so dynamic pages later, I have regained my confidence in PHP coding. (As an aside, did you know PHP stands for PHP : Hypertext Preprocessor, which is a recursive acronym destined for a stack overflow?). This is a language I have had to dip into from time to time throughout my career, and is a useful skill to add to your toolbox. If you want to add online scoreboards or content delivered from the internet, PHP is your friend. If you need to check security keys on the fly and keep control of blacklists, PHP will do it quickly and simply. Having never used a hash code in PHP before, I managed to create a simple hash-protected form submission in under 30 minutes thanks to the vast amount of information available on the internet. And the fantastic news is that you can use this technology in both AGK and DarkBASIC Professional today with the use of HTTP commands and a basic web hosting package. The quickest way to learn is to download an opensource package such as Joomla, read the code and make your own modifications to it. That's exactly how I built my site.

If you want to try something new this month, check out the new AGK competition, which will take you into gameplay you may never have considered previously. Adam Hodgson introduces pointers and their capacity to create complex relationships. There are new model packs for FPSC users to experiment with, lessons to be learned from Lee Bamber's Coding Challenge and FPSC RELOADED development, and more.

Until next time,

Steve Vink


(1) FPSC News (2) Ultimate Coder II (3) App Game Kit (4) New Apps (5) AGK Competition (6) Sound Matter Packs (7) Model Packs (8) App Developers Group (9) From the Forums (10) Facebook (11) The Game Creators News

FPSC Reloaded and Highly Explosive

By Lee Bamber

Each month we will be bringing you updates on the progress of FPS Creator Reloaded. You will find a running commentary on the development through the FPSC-R Blog, but right here you will find some of the selected highlights that deserve your utmost attention. You can also follow us on the Facebook page.


Stop Press!

Before we take a look at the latest developments, here is a sneak peek video of the animation quality you can look forward to when FPSC-R is released. This project is reworking every facet of the product, not only the engine but all of the media and content too.


The Real and Gritty World of Development

In the last month of development, the pressing issue has been memory management. In a fleeting comment, Lee eluded to the possibility of a great user-friendly system that indicated how close you were to filling your level to capacity. The response to the idea that FPSC-R levels will have a limit hadn't been anticipated..."can't really believe I read what I did to be honest, bit of a shock to the system", "thinking about what a 1.8mb cap means again - it just is a dissapointment", "A lot of people are upset about it...and FPSC-R needs to fix it".

To The Game Creators, this feedback is a great thing to have. Putting the progress and thoughts into a blog allows us to get continual feedback and make sure that any major issues for the community are addressed before it is too late. Lee is already churning through the algorithms, and implementing monitors to deal with the challenge. The current concept to resolve this is one where "the memory is used as a workspace in which to bring things in when you are using them, and remove them when you no longer require their services. This means the limitation is no longer the memory size, but the local storage system which I think we can all agree is plentiful."

Real-time Light Maps

In previous blogs, Lee has kept us up to date with light mapping within the editor. We can now see what this might look like in an actual edited scene. I say might, because as stunning as this screenshot looks, it is created using older resources for the time being. With the new FPSC-R resources it will be better yet.

FPSC-R Shaders and light mapping in the editor


Modern Gaming Visuals

Back in the early days of 3D shooter games, lasers were stunning. It highlighted the fact that you were in an unreal world, and immersed in fantasy. This stood the test of time, and you'll still find it in many games today. In FPSC-R, we are being a little more progressive. Lasers are out, and tracers are in. A tracer allows you as the player to see where your shots have gone through innovative visuals. More importantly it will show your enemies' shot traces too. From a technical perspective, this also enables audio enhancements, including the sound of bullets flying past your head.

Speed is always of the essence

DarkBASIC Professional already has a plugin called Dark Occlusion. This is a real-time occlusion culling library which excludes objects that are not visible for the camera because they are obscured by other objects. This way, less polygons have to be rendered and your game will run at a much faster speed. There is no need to pre-calculate anything, everything is setup and calculated in real-time.

This plugin looks like a serious contender for optimising FPSC-R. Why this bold statement? The latest version has proved it's worth by rendering 10,000 complex objects at a blistering 300 frames per second!

Dark Occlusion


Lee's BlogKeep reading Lee's Blog for the very latest updates on the progress of FPSC Reloaded.

  Characters with Character

FPSC-R characterAmidst the coding frenzy of Reloaded, there are many more processes taking shape. One of those is the creation of new character models, and this month we can give you a sneak preview of one of them. Click the image on the right to see the full sized image, and the detail baked into every facet.

We also have a quick video to show you, which quite literally highlights the shader details. As you play the video, check out the smallest of details that bring the character to life, such as the twinkle in his eyes!

We promise to bring you a full catalogue of media with the final release, at the same level of detail and quality as you see here.

Make your Pledge to the Project 

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 £9220.26 to the project, closing in on the project's first stretch 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 $80. 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.

Ultimate Coder Challenge: Going Perceptual Results

The Ultimate Challenge. Seven developers compete for seven weeks to create apps that utilize the latest Ultrabook convertible hardware along with the Intel Perceptual Computing SDK and camera to build the Ultimate app prototype.

The second Ultimate Coder Challenge is over and the results are in. Lee's 3D virtual conferencing app hasn't taken the top spot in the competition, but it has received astounding feedback and accolades along the way. In an arena that essentially takes the 7 teams that Intel consider to be the best around the globe and pits them against one another, the result is 7 magnificent products. We congratulate Sixense for taking the crown this time around with their educational puppet theatre.

The Ultimate Video

Bob Duffy of Intel has this to say on the Intel challenge blog:

"We asked the developers to showcase their work in video form with at least 2 videos in the competition.  Many took this to heart and gave us some strong video reflections of their work week to week.  However,one challenger stood out, and one particular video stood out from the challenge.  We've seen this video played over and over again in Intel meetings and even heard it referenced multiple times by external developers seeking support.  That video is Lee Bamber's during week 3 of the challenge giving us a first glimpse of his 3D web conferencing application while explaining how he solved head and gaze tracking from within his sample app."

The Ultimate Blog

Again, Bob Duffy was highly impressed with the professionalism of all the contestants, and once again Lee has been recognised for his willingness to share his knowledge with the global community of developers:

"We have been impressed with code sharing and transparency of the process by all. This was an extremely tough category to judge and in the end we have a tie.  Both Lee Bamber and Infrared5 dug deep to document their process, explain the ups and downs and showcase their solutions...Lee Bamber's posts were extremely detailed, explaining his process and work week to week. While Lee mostly wrote his own algorithms he demonstrated each week his progress in capturing depth data to a point cloud, tracking the head and gaze, and challenges to compress the depth and voice data. Their posts are seen as invaluable and a great step toward helping educate a broader set of developers in Perceptual Computing overall."

Intel Ultimate Coder ChallengeCongratulations again to Lee and all of the teams in the Ultimate Coder Challenge. You can read the full report from Intel here.

Lee's BlogTo read the full articles and watch the accompanying videos, go to Lee's blog. You'll find lots of demos, code snippets and many hints and tips for budding perceptual coders.


The AGK Survey

AGK has arrived

AGK Survey


You have until the 14th of May 2013 to fill in our AGK survey, and have your say in the future development of the product. This information is important to us, and covers a whole range of topics. Whether you want to tell us what platforms you would like to work with or what new features will matter most to you, it's all in the survey.

Click here to launch the questionnaire. We look forward to your opinions and we thank you in advance for helping us to shape the future of AGK.


AGK V108 Beta 11

The latest beta is out in the public domain, and feedback has been very positive. Here is a summary of the fixes since the previous beta:

We hope to convert V108 beta to a full release shortly. One or two small bug fixes will be released in beta 12 before this stage.

AGK Gallery Update

WeAGK Gallery have made changes to the AGK Gallery, to ensure that adding your game or app is seamless. If you have your product in the market place - PC, Mac, Android, iOS, Blackberry - then claim your free promotional space in our gallery today. Include multiple screenshots, video, comprehensive details and links to where your game can be purchased.


AGK Gallery
You will find links to dozens of AGK games in the gallery, with every available platform highlighted. Take time to browse through and see what is already in there, to both entertain and inspire you.

Learn AGK with Smack It

Many of our readers will know Smack It, one of the earlier games we released to the mobile market. It's a simple game but it helped us to form some of the processes that ultimately became AGK. Now you can learn AGK through Daniel Foreman's Smack It tutorial, where you will recreate the game as you progress. It's a series of video tutorials that take you from the humble beginnings of the development process through to a fully fledged game that you can play, and share with friends and family. Since the original release, Windows 8 and touch computers have become more mainstream, and you'll be able to play your version on a full sized screen, thanks to the cross-platform nature of the language.

The first bite-sized video is the setup of your project with the existing Smack It media, available for free for you to learn.



In the second tutorial, Daniel takes us through the various files that make up the game. This is an important step, which helps to understand what is compatible with the multiple platforms.  These will form the basis for your future creations.


Even More Hands-On

Alistair Stewart has been busy on the next supplement for Hands On AGK BASIC. If you've finished reading the free 100+ page supplement to MandelbrotHands On AGK BASIC covering 3D graphics, it's time to dip into the next one. This time it's the memblock statements explained in a mere 50+ pages.
In there you'll find out how to:

And to round it all off there's a project which uses memblocks to let you discover the beauty of the Mandelbrot Set. All supplements are available free to anyone how has purchased the Hands On AGK BASIC book, so make sure you register on the Digital Skills website (http://www.digital-skills.co.uk/). 


Hide It, Find It, Pass It

The Game Creators in partnership with Focus Multimedia Ltd have released five new apps to the Google Play Store, including 2 free versions. All these apps were developed using the Tier1 BASIC App Game Kit technology. Some of the apps are already charting high in the Educational charts on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. To view the Google apps just click on the icons of the apps below and you'll be taken to the relevant app store page.

Driving Test Success (DTS) has helped over 4 MILLION learners prepare for their tests! Now you can learn on the move with Android versions of the popular software.

Driving Test Success

Theory Test UK 2013 Free

This free app will give you a taster of what you can expect to find in the full version of THEORY TEST UK from Driving Test Success. Sample a selection of the official DSA questions and answers, learn from the official explanations and try your hand at a mock Theory Test.

But remember, this app contains less than 10% of the official revision questions, so it's essential that you download the full version if you want to stand the very best chance of passing your test FIRST TIME.



Driving Test Success

Theory Test UK 2013

To celebrate the launch, download the brand new Theory Test app for just 69p, saving you 65% off the RRP (usual price £1.99).

 Download the brand new and improved 2013 Theory Test app for learner car drivers and motorcyclists and gain access to ALL the latest OFFICIAL revision questions & answers from the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), the people who set the tests. PRACTISE EVERY OFFICIAL DSA revision question and answer, covering everything that you could be asked in your test.


Hazard Perception Test

Hazard Perception Test 2013

To celebrate the launch, download the brand new Theory Test app for just 69p, saving you 65% off the RRP (usual price £1.99).

Download the brand new 2013 Hazard Perception Test app from Driving Test Success and prepare yourself for a FIRST TIME PASS! To pass the Hazard Perception Test you need to learn how to recognise and respond to developing hazards on our roads. This app contains high quality interactive video clips that accurately simulate the OFFICIAL DSA test, so you'll soon gain all the skills you need to pass your test first time and stay safe on our roads.






The Game Creators have also released their popular hidden object game on Android, in two versions.

Hide It Find It Free Hide It Find It Free

Play Hide It Find It, the addictive multiplayer app that lets you and your friends take it in turns to solve devious hidden object puzzles. Find objects hidden in a photo or picture, then send challenges to your friends. See who will be the fastest finder!

Just a few of the features:


Hide It Find ItHide It Find It

All the fun of the free version, but with premium features:


The development of these real world apps has helped the evolution of the core App Game Kit technology. In-app purchasing support for Android and many Android issues had to be solved to make these apps a reality. Check the apps out to see just what's possible!


AGK Competition - It's all about the Numbers

The Game Creators want you to create an educational maths game aimed at a specific age range / learning stage. As an example of the kind of game we are thinking of, take a look at Math Bingo. It's an immersive way to learn for younger children, and we want you to find the joy in learning too; create a fun and engaging game. Don't worry if your art skills aren't up to much, the emphasis here is totally on gameplay. The game needs to be designed to work cross-platform so try not to use too many platform specific game elements. You can create the game in either Tier 1 or Tier 2 AGK.

The Deadline for this competition is 31st May 2013

The Prize is better described as a fantastic opportunity. The winner and any other outstanding entries will be published by TGC on iOS, Android and possibly other platforms for a revenue share of 50% and artwork will be spruced up by a TGC artist for release.

We encourage you to participate in the forum thread. As you have read elsewhere in the newsletter, Lee Bamber's most outstanding accolade in the Ultimate Coder Challenge is his eagerness to share. We are looking to publish any of the games that make the grade in this contest; you will not lose anything by sharing and you have much more to gain.

Good luck, and have fun!

Four New Sound Matter Packs

Sound Matter Packs

The Game Creators have released four new sound matter packs to enhance your games. Professional sounds can make the difference between a good game and a great game.

Sound Matter Pack 17 - Creatures

Creature SoundsA range of creature sounds to help give your game a voice. The pack includes lots of real-world animal sounds like cats, dogs, cows etc. plus monster effects like zombies and vampires, and cute vocal sounds for virtual pets or furry little animals.

The sounds include groans, warbles, attacks, retreats, and many obscure animals including slugs, bats, snakes, spiders, rats, dogs and ducks amongst many others. You'll even find zombies in this pack.

Sound Matter Pack 18 - Explosions

Sound Matter Pack 18 - ExplosionsEvery game needs a good explosion, and this pack is where you'll find them. One of the most crucial sounds for games, this pack includes lots of types of blast from vast atom bombs to underwater blasts, fireworks, incendiary weapons, impacts on wood, metal, cloth and clothing, and pain sounds. A wide selection of basic explosions are included too to give an action game or shooter lots of essential variety.

Sound Matter Pack 19 - Environment loops

Sound Matter 19 - EnvironmentA set of seamless stereo environment loops to set the scene for any location. A range of rooms and environments are included, both interior like a laboratory, factory, airport, shopping mall, etc. and exterior like parks and city traffic. The loops are 8 seconds long, and there are 40 of them in total.


Sound Matter Pack 20 - Strategy

Sound Matter 20 - Strategy GamesA mix of effects for a real time strategy or turn based games. Sounds include movements of different unit and simple weapons, GUI noises, switches and sirens, clock ticks and game pieces being moved and taken. Some crowd cheers are included too and effects for miscellaneous actions useful in an R.T.S. like zoom in/out. With over 70 sound effects, you are sure to find the ones you need to complete your game.

Sound Matters PageGo to the Sound Matters page to see the full list of effects, play medleys of each of them, and to order your packs. You will also find bundles which include these new sets as well as many more, and even a bonus pack if you choose to take the whole collection!


Hellbound Demons - Bound for FPSC

Hellbound Demons for FPS Creator

If you're keen to make a Doom style FPS then this pack might just be what your game needs! This model pack developed by Rolfy from the TGC forums includes ground based and winged demons. The ground base demons come in four flavours;

Model Pack 70 DemonAnd the winged based ones do too;

In additional to these textured versions you have access to video textured character demons with fiery eyes and glowing wings.

These Demons are fast and have random fly, run, walk and melee actions. The winged characters can melee attack from both air and ground. They will randomly throw exploding fireballs at the player.

Winged Demons will drop and stay grounded, following the player into corridors and other low ceiling areas using simple trigger zone logic. The characters are fully animated (1,348 frames) with alternate idle animations including standing, squatting and eating randomly. Transitional animations mean the characters move from sitting to standing, standing to flying and so on.

The Hellbound Demons Pack 70 is available to purchase now from the FPS Creator website, where you will find full details of this great expansion pack.


Model Pack 71 - Vegetation Pack II

This pack expands on the vegetation assets seen in pack 55. In this new selection there are 50 types of trees, 50 shrubs and 5 different grass sections. Using these in your game will make outside scenes look more realistic and natural. These encompass palm trees, lush green foliage, forest trees and fauna.

The Vegetation Pack 2 (Model Pack 71) is available to purchase now from the FPS Creator website, where you will find full details of this great expansion pack.

App Developers Group - Algorithms And Efficiency

TGC App Developers Group  

The editor of The ADG Newsletter, Adam Hodgson, continues to share his knowledge of the pearls of wisdom that make good coders into brilliant coders.  


by Adam Hodgson

Pointers are a difficult concept to grasp at first; hours of googling and you're still at square one.   For those who are new to pointers, it can be hard to see how one can utilize pointers effectively and the definition of a pointer, that it holds another variable's memory address, doesn't immediately help your cause.  Here, we'll try to break it down to basics but also communicate its uses.

What is a pointer?

As briefly described above, a pointer is a variable that holds another variable's (of the same type) address. This allows the programmer to then manipulate that variable through the pointer.

Conceptually, it's easier to think of a pointer as a nickname. Imagine a person whose birth name is Robert Redson but has adopted the nickname ‘Reddy'. If you were to call out "Reddy", Robert Redson would respond. Pointers work in much the same way, if you use a pointer, the variable that it points to is called into action. The difference is, you get to choose what pointers refer to and it is here that they become powerful allies.

How do I make use of pointers?

At this point you may understand what a pointer is but still in the dark as to how to use them to your advantage. The examples you may have seen while scouring the internet probably demonstrate simple operations on a single variable. The world of pointers is far larger than that. A common use is with functions, being able to ‘pass by reference'. In English, this simply allows you to write functions which act upon objects or variables. For example, you can write a function which swaps the contents of two variables without the need to return anything!

The power of pointers comes into play when you begin to construct your own data structures. Sometimes arrays just don't cut it. A simple but fundamental data structure is the linked list. A linked list is a set of objects, linked to one another via pointers. 


The downside to a linked list is that to reach a certain object from the head requires a loop whilst elements from an array can be accessed instantly with an index. However, linked lists become advantageous when it comes to insertion. To insert a new object into the list (after searching for the point you want insert at) all it takes is to set a few pointers. In an array, you'd have to not only find the place you wish to insert at, you'd also have to move a bunch of other objects down the array to make room and consequently, the array may need expanding. These processes can add up and can be costly time-wise.    

Linked lists do not need to take the form of start and finish either. You can set the tail to point to the head, thus creating a circle. Why stop there? You can create lists to suit your needs by simply adjusting the number of objects that each object points to and how they are linked to one another, for example, a layout of rooms in a building. Trees are another example of this but instead of having a ‘head', they have a root. Pointers are a mixed blessing however. While they give the programmer tremendous power, tracking down bugs involving pointers becomes a lot harder. As you can have more than one pointer referencing a single variable, there are that many more possibilities that could account for accessing and manipulating variables. While this may have taken the subject of pointers to a new level, it demonstrates how you can link objects together by way of a few pointers to suit your circumstances. You are no longer bound by the limitations of arrays.

This article was presented in Issue 18 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.


From The Forums

Pinch Zoom - Free Code 

It’s something we all use on our smartphones and tablets, pinch zoom. This 4-part mini tutorial shows you how to achieve this control, which was developed as part of the Hide It Find It project. Steve Holding strikes again!

360 - Ludum Dare Entry

With a theme of minimalism, ShellfishGames has created a simple puzzle platform in this 48 hour competition. You can download the game and hopefully be inspired by the addictiveness of minimalism. Don't forget to vote.






Keep up to date with TGC on Facebook

Find us on Facebook to discover more about The Game CreatorsJoin over 5,200 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.

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.

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"The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they're always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back." 

Norman Rockwell