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Editorial - July 2013

Issue 125 cover

Saturday evening for me was like a scene from The Living Dead. To be truthful, it wasn't like a scene from the film, it was a complete immersion into the world of dead people taking over a village. I took the family to the picturesque and literary renowned home of the Bronte sisters in Haworth, England. It was here that several hundred people either ran for their lives and hid in parks and alleyways, or dressed as Zombies and lurked the streets looking for humans. As each competitor was caught, they returned to the face-painting tent, where they were transformed into Zombies to rejoin the streets, until the entire village was overcome by the Undead. At one point a family in a passing car stopped to ask "What on earth have we driven into!"

Zombie Run in Haworth, West YorkshireThere are a number of computer games that have either started life as an off-screen game, or have ultimately become a physical alternative to the original. Laser Quest centres, Paintballing and the legendary Dungeons and Dragons are three that come immediately to mind. Given the success of these games, perhaps a good place to start when trying to create the next big thing, is away from the monitor and back in reality. If you can capture the imaginations of those that shy away from computer and console games, then maybe you can find an untapped market and make it your own.

The biggest reality we have to report on this month is AGK 2, which has had an incredible response on Kickstarter. There is a lot of life in the AGK world at present, with video tutorials and advances on deployment of games and Apps. Lee is continuing to transform the beginnings of FPSC Reloaded into stark reality, and we have much more news from the community and beyond.

Until next time,

Steve Vink


(1) AGK2 (2) App Game Kit (3) Smack It Tutorials (4) AGK for GCSE (5) FPSC News (6) FPSC News (7) From the Forums (8) Social Feeds (9) The Game Creators News

Let's get AGK 2 Kickstarted!

We still need your pledges!

AGK 2 KickstarterHaving read the opening line you may think you missed the announcement of the AGK 2 Kickstarter in a previous issue. You haven't, the reality is that the Kickstarter target for AGK 2 was reached on day one and the first stretch goal being smashed by day 4, meaning we're now asking you to pledge to reach the stretch goals and make the product even better. Read on to learn about our vision, how it was formed and how your feedback has been pivotal in creating a very successful crowd-sourced project.

Developers are actively publishing AGK games

Last month we brought you the results of the AGK Survey. We had a fantastic response and although the needs of individual developers varied greatly, there are some underlying and consistent trends that serve the majority. Both TGC and the community have acknowledged that progress needs to be well planned and well executed, and the road map has been solidified with all of this feedback. Following the survey, we put forward the idea of accelerating progress with AGK by creating an achievable Kickstarter project, with viable foundations whilst encouraging additional funding with enticing stretch goals.

App Game Kit (AGK) 2 will be a new and enhanced version of our current App Game Kit product. AGK is already used by hundreds of developers around the world, helping them to quickly create games and utility apps that can be coded once and then deployed across popular mobile platforms.

We have an exciting vision of how we want to evolve the product and are looking for your help so we can move the development forward with confidence.

For those new to AGK, the BASIC scripting system is very easy to learn and start coding with. If you're a seasoned developer you can access the extensive AGK libraries and use these inside your C++ projects.

The BASIC language has lots of game based commands that make it a cinch to create sprites, play sounds, add physics, code multiplayer games and much, much more. Once your game is compiled  you can take the resulting project byte code and run that through special players that we have created for the support platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Blackberry). 

AGK has a very strong 2D engine on to which we will add new commands and effects so your games can look even more awesome.

Additionally, the sound library will be expanded to allow finer control of individual sounds - the volume and pitch will be controllable. Where supported, we'll add seeking control of sounds and music files and the ability to read the current volume data. The new App Window Size feature will allow you to change the size of the app window at game run-time for Windows and Mac.

What will your continued Pledges unveil?

From this point onwards, we're encouraging you to keep pledging to allow further features to be added. In fact, we've added 500 £30 GBP ($45 USD) backer awards to reward you. This level of backing gets you the final product, and access to the beta versions. You also get to sport your AGK Backer badge in the TGC forums. Grab one of these while you can (the early bird slots we created all sold out within days, so these will probably go fast too!)

Ouya Support



AGK currently has over a hundred 3D commands but it still needs some essential features. We'll expand the AGK 3D universe if we meet this stretch goal;

Should we reach this stretch goal we'll be able to implement the world class Bullet Physics system into the heart of AGK. We've chosen this engine because it's cross platform, is robust and has been used in commercial games such as Disney's Cars 2, Dreamwork's MegamindShrek 4 and How to Train Your Dragon.

Core features supported by this physics add-on will include;

The whole AGK engine will be ported to work with the Windows 8 Phone platform. This will expand the potential marketplace for any apps you create in App Game Kit. There is significant work involved in making this happen which is why this stretch goal needs more financial backing.

The core AGK engine is OpenGL based. For WM8 we will rewrite the core engine to use DirectX.

AGK 2 KickstarterSo please, pledge now! We have also added a PayPal option for anyone who is not able to use the Kickstarter system.

What is Kickstarter?

AGK 2 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.

Great things are Possible in AGK

AGK may still be a fledgling product in the larger world of programming languages, but it already packs a hefty punch. Since it's release we have been working continuously to add improvements and the Kickstarter will boost the speed and depths to which we can delve in future enhancements. Our talented community are our soap box from which to market AGK. Take a look at this video of a 3D prototype game, made possible by additional features implemented after the original release of AGK.


AGK has arrived


Although you may become obsessive about publishing your Android games after reading this development news, OCD in this context refers to One-Click Deployment of your Android Apps. Not only that, but it doesn't even require any software installation to make it happen.

One of the biggest challenges that AGK developers have with Android, is the final build of a package that can be distributed and sold in the marketplaces. It is a naturally complex process, as this is a highly technical procedure involving a number of steps, each with their own inherent quirks and foibles. Many people have contributed over the months to a finely-tuned set of instructions, with a small degree of automation, to ease the process. However, it is very delicate and the slightest mistake can bring the process to a grinding halt. Very often, it is the final step that reveals a problem much earlier in the process, and the cycle starts again from the beginning.

Android One Click Deployment

In order to overcome these issues, The Game Creators have developed an online deployment tool, which generates a project that can be deployed to any compatible device. The web-based submission page will build an APK from your media and bytecode from AGK that will run on any 2.3+ Android device. It can also be used to produce an APK suitable for the Google Play or Amazon store if you also provide a keystore file. One of the bigger challenges in the manual process, the keystore, can also be generated online, or you can use your established file from your prior Eclipse development.

APK One-Click Deployment for AGK

The tool is currently in beta, and we can confirm it has been tested with a submission to the Google Play store which was accepted. We are also getting feedback on many successful builds, and one or two developers have gone as far as publishing to the Google Play Store. Until more people have reported success we urge you to proceed with caution, test thoroughly and feed back with any successes, failures or useful tips for others. For example, this is the first time many have created an APK file and have reported missing media, images and audio. This is not the tool, and the same results are produced from the Eclipse IDE! On the Android platform, the case of filenames must be consistent between the file and the way it is declared in the source code. If you use a mix of lower and uppercase in the filename, you must do so in your code too, matching it exactly.

To generate your media zip file simply compile your project in the AGK IDE, then browse to your project folder and zip up the media folder using your favourite zip program. The media folder itself must be inside the zip file, you can't just zip up the contents of the media folder. Finally, the generated APK is not compatible with In App Purchasing or Push Notifications for Android just yet.


The AGK Beta Versions 13 and 14

Since our last newsletter update there have been two further betas. The number of issues resolved in each is now dramatically reduced as we reach a milestone in AGK functionality and stability.

Beta 13 includes the following:


Version 14 included further bug fixes:


More Helpful Help Files  

We have listened to your requests for better help files and ease of use in this area:

In response to the help files update we have so far received 95 examples from the community, which is a great contribution. In need of a special mention is Tone Dialer who has provided almost half of the examples...thank you!

To continue the improvements to the help files there is now a search feature to navigate the command list; this also displays the parameters for each command. Do you want to know which command sets performs angle-related tasks? Simply start typing "angle" into the search box and the results will filter in real-time. Offline access is built into the search; no internet connection is required.


AGK Gallery

AGK GalleryAre you submitting your games to the AGK Gallery yet? If you have your product in an app 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.


Holey Moley! 26 Video Tutorials

Daniel Foreman has created a momentous 26 video tutorials to dig through, taking you through the creation of a Lite version of TGC's original game Smack It. From project setup through game design, sprites, text, sounds, music, animation, game logic and more, you'll find everything you need to know about completing a full game in AGK.

Smack It TutorialsThe first video is presented here. You can find the full suite of tutorials on the AGK website to be watched and digested at your own pace.



GCSEs find a friend in AGK

Rick Vanner recently visited a local school to help them out with AGK, where it is being used alongside their GCSE curriculum. He found them coding a grid-based game with the addition of personal styling, AGK for Academicsand was able to help them along with some of their coding challenges.

The Game Creators are making it easier to get AGK into schools with the AGK 2 Kickstarter initiative. The Academic pledge level grants the school of the pledger a 30-seat license along with crib sheets, possibly the most affordable academic license for a programming tool available! Grab yours before they all go!

FPSC Reloaded Monthly Appraisal

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 the development on the official Facebook page. Within the R&D offices here at TGC, Reloaded is now our main focus and we aim to constantly develop it to make it into a world class game creation tool. With a refreshed passion we're excited to be bringing the technology up to date so it'll make amazing looking games.

In just the last month the following steps forward have been made;

Lead Reloaded Developer Lee summarises his achievements during June

We have a fantastic video to bring you this month, which starts to bring to the forefront the level of detail and realism we are going to achieve with FPS Creator Reloaded. This short clip presents:

You'll also witness some less developed aspects, such as some experimental grass on the outside of the compound.  Floor vegetation really brings out the terrain and we'll be finding ways to make this look great and render fast. 


Shaders, Shaders and more Shaders

Before we can produce more buildings, objects and scenery, we need to know the demands of the shader and renderer to see where our bottlenecks and limits are. Already we have discovered you cannot cast real shadows on a field of grass using a forward renderer due to the insane amount of overdraw and pixel shader meltdown.

The more we study the demands on the shader, the more deferred rendering makes sense, and is clearly indicated as something that will need prototyping to see if we can get a sizeable performance gain. Another area where we can gain processor time is in the VSYNC of the frame rate. Figures of 70, 80 and more sound fantastic, but in practise this causes a choppy image when viewed more closely. The standard 60FPS of VSYNC creates a pleasant viewing experience, and gives back more time for shaders.

Still on the list for shader effects are dust bowls, smoke and atmospheric effects to name but a few.

The Sky at Night...or whatever time you choose

FPSC Reloaded Dynamic Skies

The clouds that you see here are no longer part of a sky box but are in fact real dynamically generated clouds using our DarkCLOUDS module from Dark Basic Pro. Not only is this module capable of producing clouds, but has day/night cycles, sun simulation and a whole host of settings to affect how many clouds you have and what they do. You can even accelerate or reverse time from within the command set. Very powerful, very fast and just the job. I had to mask out the old sky box, and in doing so realized I need some really high resolution mountains for the final product but I think the effect is really cool. You get foreground terrain, then background mountains and finally a realistic sky.

Lurking in the shadows

We have implemented what is known as Percentage Closer Filtering for great soft shadows and cascade blending to remove the banding artifacts as the shadows steps into the lower quality levels in the distance; think of it as LOD for shadows. This video shows you the latest implementation:

Did you notice how the shadow goes into the brickwork? It's a small addition (graphically speaking) that has a huge impact on how you perceive the scene. By using the depth map information from the Parallax Mapping fragment shader, I was able to hijack the data and use them for my shadows.

Shadows in the Depth Map

One of the many articles I read on this subject had the idea of using the normal map (depth map) as part of the shadowing operation, so that the shadows could fall into the grooves of the normally flat surface. Although I did not read up on the correct math, my own idea seemed sensible enough, which was to shift the world position of the texel into the surface of the polygon using the tangent aligned normal. The shadow mapper would then assume that pixel was further away (deeper) and thus shade it as such, and it did. Imagine my delight when the shadow now contoured around the details in the texture depth map as well as the large blocks! 

A melee of model animation

In addition to the multitude of character animations we reported on last month, artist Bond1 has responded to feedback and included a further set of essential FPS actions. From grenade tosses to conversational directives, you can take a look at these in the video below: 



Make your Pledge to the Project 

There is good news for all pledgers, and the message in the good news is not very far away. Rick Vanner explains more...


FPSC Reloaded is well underway and will be with our diehard fans and newcomers later 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 £12,150 to the project, meeting the project's first stretch goal and on the way to the next one!

Already, FPSC Reloaded will incorporate new or improved:

The first stretch goal reached you can be sure that we'll be adding these features;

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.

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.

Kshatriya Prologue

FPS Creator News   

Although a work in progress, this game was brought to our attention recently, simply to stand in awe of the size and complexity of the level design. Bugsy has created a monster across many levels with some great detail and fantastic options for exploration.

In the dense Undercity, there is little room to manoeuvre, and sunlight barely touches the landscape. Each and every space is let as a living area to house people, to the point where rooftops are apartments, stores, and often restaurants. In the Undercity, you're always on the roof of something.

When picking up the laundry turns into an alternate route home, which leads to the discovery of a key Kshatriya artifact, a good day can quickly turn bad. Play as a faceless civilian thrust into a world of trouble for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Global : Web LinkWatch the video to be inspired, and provide your feedback in the forum thread.



Spyra by Wolfy

Another game that is causing a stir right now, even though it is still a work in progress, is Spyra. You can download an alpha version of this game directly from the forums.

SpyraA young, idealistic writer attempts various esoteric practices - including astral projection - in a journey of self discovery and as research for his novel. As he manages to leave his very body, an odd sense of displacment possesses him and he wakes up in the recently deceased shell of a young warrior on another planet within another dimension. Little did he know that this energetic rift that hijacked his astral body was a reccuring interdimensional event that transports lower astral creatures and so called "lost souls" to possess and resurrect the fallen in the otherwise utopic world of Spyra. A cataclysmic event that happens every 700 years to rinse the universe of useless energy such as lost souls. The Symarian necromancers, guardians of the dead, mistake you for the messiah sent to end this catastrophic reccurence once and for all. Will you find the means that grant you passage back to your own body? What secrets will the land of Symaria, the desert nation of Spyra, hold for you.
A small amateur game full of magic, adventure and a little romance.



The Ultimate Guide to FPS Creator Success

What does it take to be revered amongst the best FPSC developers out there? Graphical Wizardry? Scripting Mastery? Storyline Superiority? All of these skills help, but it takes more than just raw skill.

The FPSC Forums are home to the FPSC Community Rules and Information Thread. This is the most essential FPSC thread to read if you want to be successful. It's not just about the skills and knowledge you need although these are included (do you own The Official Community Guide yet?). It's also about delivering timely and valuable pre-release videos, screenshots, alpha downloads to your players. It teaches you the value of respecting and gaining respect in a vibrant community. In summary, it is your Oracle in the world of FPS Creator.

FPSC Community Rules and Information ThreadEven if you have visited the thread previously, we recommend you take another look, and make sure you get the most out of the full FPSC experience, from software to community. 


Special Offer - $29.99, Save Over $150.00!

Take advantage of this whopping special offer! 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

From The Forums


It's too late to enter, but have a look at this thread to see what was created. The idea is simple, you have 30 days to make a game in an 8 bit style, or in some way inspired by the 8 bit era of games. The winner will be determined by a vote once the deadline is over. There are some useful links to resources for 8-bit games.

Xbox One

New Generation Consoles don't come around very often, so it's time to give the Xbox one announcement a little airtime. Do you love it, hate it or do you need to see it in action before you decide? Microsoft are already changing the way they plan to let you use it based on the reaction of the masses, so have your say in this thread.






Keep up to date with TGC on Facebook & Google+

Find us on Facebook to discover more about The Game CreatorsJoin over 5,300 fans on TGC's Facebook page to keep bang up to 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 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?

FPSC Reloaded

FPS Creator Reloaded on FacebookThere are now over 730 fans discussing Reloaded on our Facebook page right now. Whether you simply want to see the update and progress news as it is released, or get involved in technical discussions about LOD, Light and lots of other topics, sign up to this page today to be part of it.


App Game Kit 

You can join in the Facebook discussions in our AGK group page and we have a new AGK Facebook page.



You can also follow our products on Google+ 

TGC on Google+

FPSC Reloaded on Google+

App Game Kit on Google+ 




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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