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Editorial - August 2013

Issue 126 cover

It's the time of year when many readers will be digesting this edition in the quiet countryside, a faraway city, or around the pool with an exotic cocktail in hand. Technology means that you can not only take your entire book collection with you, but you can also take delivery of your monthly newsletter and play your AGK games on the same device too!

In keeping with the need to take it easy and recharge before the return to school, university or work, we've kept the reading nice and relatively thought-free. You can meander through the long list of features you'll find in AGK 2 thanks to your generous pledges. FPS Creator Reloaded wanders out into new worlds for you to absorb and delight over. We have games from numerous arenas including FPSC, AGK and even OUYA. Delve into the world of perceptual computing once again with a Case Study built around Lee Bamber's contest entry. And for anyone who wants to tax their brains a little more, we have mathematics for games developers.

Until next time,

Steve Vink


(1) AGK2 (2) AGK/OUYA (3) FPSC News (4) BlitzWerks Terrain (5) FPSC News (6) TGC Channel (7) PerceptuCam (8) Maths for Games (9) From the Forums (10) Social Feeds (11) The Game Creators News

Goal 1...and 2...and 3...and 4!

AGK Kickstarter Final Week 

There is just one week left and we still need your pledges! Read on to discover what is already funded, and how much potential can still be reached.

If the newsletter had sound effects, this article would be accompanied by 4 sonic booms as the AGK Kickstarter rocketed through the numerous stretch goals, all thanks to your pledges.

AGK 2 KickstarterThe AGK 2 Kickstarter funding has reached heights we could have only dreamed of just a few weeks ago. The Kickstarter target for AGK 2 was reached on day one and the first stretch goal was reached by day 4. Not content with all of the additional capability, you continued to pledge all the way to the second, third and fourth milestones. So what does this mean for our developers who advance to AGK version 2? 

Pledge to the AGK2 Kickstarter


This stretch goal focuses on the development environment, and core system functions to complement your creative coding.


This is Goal Three-D. AGK currently has over a hundred 3D commands but we'll be adding more essential features. We'll expand the AGK 3D universe not that we've reached this stretch goal;


Thanks to your pledges and funding, it's bullet time. We'll be implementing the world class Bullet Physics system into the heart of AGK. We've chosen this engine because it's cross platform, it's robust and has been used in many 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:

Developers are actively publishing AGK games

More about App Game Kit 2

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 your help is already moving 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). 

So far we have outlined the new capabilities that have become a tangible path to AGK 2. Don't forget that prior to July, we already had our initial Kickstarter funded and Goal One reached. Here is a reminder of the features that are included with those levels:

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.

Ouya Support



One more Goal remains

The final goal is a major step into the world of Windows 8 Mobile. 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.


AGK has arrived

One of the stretch goals for AGK2 is OUYA support. The Game Creators have never been known for procrastinating, and OUYA has already been added to the in-house version of AGK. This marks the start of the new version, which is still not out of the pledging phase!

Here, Rick Vanner proves the concept by porting and playing the game Snake Snacker on the OUYA.


2013 Theory Test App



http://www.theorytestapp.co.ukWith our AGK developed apps, you can prepare for your UK Theory Test anytime, anywhere. Available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android, Kindle, Mac, BlackBerry. The power of cross platform development thanks to the App Game Kit engine! See more here; www.theorytestapp.co.uk

The AGK Beta Versions 15 and 16

For anyone following the closing stages of the AGK 1.08 beta program, here is a list of the latest changes.

Beta 15 includes the following:

Version 16 includes:


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.


FPSC Reloaded takes a walk on the Wild Side

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.

Lead Reloaded Developer Lee summarises his achievements during July, starting with...

Terrain Triumphs

Floating Point: In computing, floating point describes a method of representing an approximation of a real number in a way that can support a wide range of values. The numbers are, in general, represented approximately to a fixed number of significant digits


Terrains need to appear random and irregular, but you also need to ensure your terrain is consistently irregular. The beauty of erosion taking thousands of years is that we can build houses today, and most of them are in the same place and orientation 50 years later. Reloaded needs the same consistency, and this is what has been fulfilled in the latest updates. Computers have a tendency to round decimal numbers due to floating point inaccuracies and other factors, and we cannot afford this in our tools. Height map images have this inconsistency, and so FPSC:R will be using bespoke data files to ensure what you design today is what you see tomorrow and the day after.

A Random Starting Point

When creating terrain, a starting point is essential; users do not want to define every hill, dip, lake, bump, slope and mountain over a 50,000 x 50,000 area.  They want a single button to make one up, and then allow some editing in the part of interest. The editor now uses a Diamond-Square algorithm to generate pure height data and applies it to the terrain constructor. Textures are then painted based on distance from the water level, and smoothing creates the transition. Grass is painted at the point it would ideally grow (not too high in the mountains, not underwater or on the shore). You can still paint all of this manually, but the terrain generator starts off as an automated process. Finally I played with the grass sizes to create a more dynamic and rich veg experience, and concluded that a few more grass and vegetation models and textures would really lift my terrain visual. Something to add to Mark's list when he's not looking!

What this bleak terrain level needs to complete it is rocks, and lots of them. Not the little pebbles that can be baked into the floor texture but large ugly rocks left after the last glacier strolled through the land. From my extensive terrain editing I knew how to create a rock by making a sharp raised land, then squashing the top bit, then adding a rock texture and surrounding it with grass. Given that knowledge, I proceeded to add a system which would strategically add a rock, and not just a single rock but what I term a rock clump. These clumps comprise of about 15 rocks in close proximity and they really do look natural when sprawled over the floor. The system then moves somewhere else in the land and makes another clump, and so on until there are enough.

FPSC Reloaded Terrain

Vegetation equations

LOD: In computer graphics, accounting for level of detail involves decreasing the complexity of a 3D object representation as it moves away from the viewer or according other metrics such as object importance, viewpoint-relative speed or position


When dealing with a scene as expansive as FPSC Reloaded (50,000 x 50,000 units), it's simply impossible to plant your grass, trees and vegetation across the entire landscape. As most of you will already know, games use LOD (Level of Detail) to make vast expanses of scenery efficient, and we have introduced a smart way of rendering rolling vegetation. This is created by allocating 500x500 grid squares a single batch of veg polygons, calculated in real-time to be placed on the terrain. By spacing out when these objects are created, I can keep performance even. By fading them out at the far distance, I can introduce them slowly into the scene to make some great veg LOD.  I then had the neat idea of creating a new texture 4096x4096 (the biggest I dare support for Reloaded) which stores what I call a 'veg shadow map' which uses the separate R,G,B channels for information to both the terrain and the veg shader.

fpscr_terrain_vegRight now I have RED control the paint which is placed on the terrain where any veg is to be located. This is cool in that when the veg fades out, this colour remains to fool the user that distant patches of grass colour is grass, when in fact it's just painted to the terrain. The GREEN is being used as a shadow mask, which allows me to darken any area of the terrain as a separate process. My hope is that I can coax the cascade shadow map to draw into this channel and provide a 'sort of baked' full universe shadow to apply to the terrain. I can also use the exact same texture and channel to shadow the grass in the exact same way and position, creating unity between the two shaders.

Blitzwerks in Action

FPS Creator Reloaded is employing Blitzwerks Terrain, a plugin available for DarkBASIC Professional developers. Not only can you create extremely large terrain in memory, the automated LOD system works seamlessly, the whole system runs very fast and as a massive bonus it also contains a huge array of real-time terrain modifier commands; the same commands I was going to write myself until I found them in the documentation, which again was top draw and a hidden gem of this module.

This is a short demo video of the terrain system to highlight the detail that is possible.



Character meets Code

In the video below, you are witnessing the first melding of FPS Creator characters with the game engine. It performed really great in code and each time I wanted an animation it was documented and ready to call up. I added some nice touches to the prototype while I was in there such as automatic smoothing from different animation loops, two modes so I could switch seamlessly between patrol and combat stance, eight directional walking in both modes and a few other subtle tricks to make it all feel natural.

I also had a quick play with transitioning the background music sound based on the character mode, so when patrolling the sound is calm and when the character is in combat mode, the sound gets more racy.  Proper sounds will be sourced and used for the final product, but the video should give you an idea what it might feel like.  I especially like now the combat sound fades out slowly as the heart rate falls after the high octane adrenaline rush.


Whilst we are focused on the character, let's take a look at some additional animations, in the guise of death sequences.



Inspiration from the Forums

One of The Game Creators' greatest assets is its community. To that end I borrowed inspiration from our friendly Dark Basic Pro forum when creating the random terrains described earlier. It was inspired by an entry into our 20 line challenge which is a bit of fun which tasks any programmer to write something useful in under 20 lines of code. It's great to see the amazing things coders can do in such a small space and in this case, someone produced a terrain generator in 20 lines! The name of this DBP star is Lewis999 who adapted a Diamond-Square algorithm to populate a matrix with realistic height data.

What is a square-diamond algorithm?

Square Diamond FractalThe aim of terrain generation is to create realistic scenery, with hills and valleys. This algorithm achieves this by taking a flat, tilted landscape, and continually subdividing it into smaller and smaller rectangles. Each time the new rectangle corner heights take the mean value of the parent rectangle corner heights. But most importantly, each new height is given a random error, to introduce the randomness in the terrain. The size of this error dictates the roughness of the terrain.

The diamond element is introduced by repeating the calculations at 45 degrees to the first square calculations. This is essential, because otherwise a regular pattern can be seen overlaying the randomness you have just worked so hard to create, thus destroying the illusion.

If you want to see the 20-liner then you can visit the forums, where the code evolved into a more sophisticated solution. You can also read more about the algorithm on this page here.

Make your Pledge to the Project 

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.

FPSC Reloaded Terrains for DarkBASIC Professional

BlitzWerks Terrain for DarkBASIC Professional 

The terrains being implemented in FPSC Reloaded are already available
to DarkBASIC Professional developers.

Blitzwerks Terrain is a plugin for Dark Basic Professional which allows you to load and render high detail terrains at very high speed. Blitzwerks Terrain features level of detail terrain rendering along with its own rendering engine to provide super fast terrain rendering. Blitzwerks Terrain also offers the ability to modify terrains in real time which is useful when you want to create your own editor or make craters appear on your terrain where an explosion has just happened.

Realtime Panoramic Views with Blitzwerks

Buy Blitzwerks TerrainBlitzwerks Terrain is available to purchase from The Game Creators, delivered electronically to your desktop.

An FPSC adventure with a difference

FPS Creator News   

Once in a while, a work-in-progress comes along that needs a little airtime before it is completed. FPSC moderator KeithC has discovered and pointed me to e.L.e amongst the many games being developed, a game that has broken away from the standard format. The author of e.L.e is dimoxinil and I am privileged to be able to report on the development.

In e.L.e, you must survive in a post apocalyptic world. You play in an open world, complete with day/night cycles to mark the passage of time. For every ten days that you survive inside the game, you will be rewarded with a degree of experience. But be warned, each time you die you will lose a level. Along with the usual dangers in a game of this genre, you will need food and water to survive. The game is capable of being saved, but only when you sleep and you can only sleep in your safe home.


Along with your success being the ability to survive, you need to gather the objects that will ensure that you do. This involves the Crafting Tables, where you must combine your level of experience, the correct raw materials and the right amount of material to construct objects crucial to your survival, such as a gas mask.


ele Crafting Table

dimoxinil has posted a new gameplay video in the last few days to the delight of the many people following the project. The feedback can be summarised as this game being the most anticipated release from the FPC stables this year.


e.L.eCheck out the progress and help make this game even better by providing your feedback in the forum thread.


The TGC YouTube Channel

Youtube ChannelHave you visited the TGC YouTube Channel yet? You may be surprised:

Youtube ChannelTake a look at our channel now, and make sure you hit the subscribe button to stay up to date with new video uploads. Very often you'll get advanced previews of upcoming news.

PerceptuCam Case Study

Perceptucam studyThe webcam conferencing of the 1990s was, from a functional perspective, little evolved beyond AT&T's Picturephone of the 1960s. But what if video could be just as much about metadata as it is about pictures and sound? What if this metadata could help computers to interact with humans in more natural ways? This is the promise of perceptual computing, and it may be what "video" in the twenty-first century is truly about.

Perceptucam Case StudyIntel's case study around perceptual computing - and the latest camera technology which facilitates this - has been documented around Lee Bamber's entry into the Ultimate Coder Challenge. You can read or download the study on the Intel website.

Mathematics for Games Developers

All game developers need it, and most game developers detest it. We are talking about mathematics. I admit to being one of the millions of students who sat through their lessons at school thinking: when will I ever need this stuff?.

Jorge Rodriguez has a YouTube channel dedicated to getting game makers back up to speed with the fundamentals. From character movement to rotation, collision and culling, there are videos covering all of the basics. You can view the first in the series below, and check out the rest of the series on the YouTube Channel. Many thanks to Craig Bryan for finding this invaluable resource.




From The Forums

Forum ThreadAGK in Sublime

Hodgey has been tinkering with Sublime as an alternative - or complementary - IDE for App Game Kit:
For a bit of fun and to expand my skill set a bit, I had a go at writing a syntax definition for AGK for Sublime. A few features about sublime which may encourage you to at least give it a try:

We can now compile in Sublime!
In summary, to do this, install the sublime package downloaded from the forum thread (simply copy/paste into <your sublime installation folder>/Pristine Packages). Then add the agkcompiler to your PATH. There are more detailed instructions in this post.


AGK in Sublime

Want to compile your own games outside of the IDE?

This is how you do it, thank you to Lee Bamber for sharing this with the community:


Forum ThreadFlow Motion by Shellfish Games

Flow Motion is a fast-paced 2D action platformer developed in DBPro. Almost 8 months after the project was initially started it's finally reached a state where a release seems reasonable, so here we go!

To those of you who haven't heard of the game yet (there was a WIP thread), it could be compared to games like N+. You have to reach the end of each level in as little time as possible, while avoiding certain hazards that would otherwise kill you.

Furthermore there's the Survival mode where your goal is - obviously - to survive as long as possible, while being chased by homing missiles.



Forum Thread48 Hour AGK Game Jam

The goal of the Jam was to create a game using AGK within 48 hours during the weekend 20-21 July 2013. In order to not harm creativity, the game could be any kind of game you can think of and there was no specific theme.

One of the main purposes of this game jam is to help promote the ongoing AGK kickstarter campaign by showing what can be done with AGK in 48 hours. Other than that it's mainly for fun and the experience of creating a game in a short time.

You can vote on the 4 completed games in the post here. One of the games - Earth Jam by JammySoft - is also already available on the Google Play store.


Earth Defence

Hello, I'm Bill Gates

Can you imagine this understated message to the world becoming what Microsoft is today? Remember, Mr Gates is presenting a version of Windows that didn't even allow networking between 2 computers...and the world wide web wasn't even one year old!




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 800 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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"Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labour by taking up another. " 

Anatole France