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Editorial - October 2013

Issue 128 cover

I've been one of the fortunate winners this month of a new 27" Lenovo, All-in-One PC. Essentially, it's a computer with a huge screen, that also doubles up as a tablet PC...with a huge screen. It's a nice addition to the family, and I will enjoy playing with it when I am able to fend off everybody else. One thing struck me however as soon as I switched it on. I've never considered this format of screen before in any of my programming ventures.

The first thing I realised was that my graphic entities in previous games that could be scaled up and still look presentable, no longer looked presentable. Secondly, full-screen action is much harder to follow when you have to move your head to scan the entire playing field. Now I understand the new challenges, I am still asking a serious question: What don't I know about the next wave of technology that will introduce more challenges? It's akin to the original game-publishing days of making your program run as fast as possible. There was little consideration for timer-based movement, and this is now the reason why you can't simply start up an emulator and expect games to be playable without some serious CPU throttling. The only thing we can do is live by one simple rule. Don't cut corners because you can get away with it on today's technology. The next generation of electronic wizardry will almost definitely be less forgiving.

Reading Lee's FPSC Reloaded diaries, you'll see the huge efforts being made to create a future-proof product. You can also read about the numerous entries that have been awarded the All-in-One PC in the Intel competition, alongside the AGK 2 development that is bringing a fresh wave of cutting edge technologies to your programming language.

Until next time,

Steve Vink


(1) FPSCR on the Web (2) FPSC News (3) MP72 (4) AGK2 (5) AGK Winners (6) TGC Channel (7) From the Forums (8) Social Feeds (9) The Game Creators News

FPS Creator Reloaded gets a new Web Presence

FPSC Reloaded website

FPSCR WebsiteThe new FPS Creator Reloaded website has arrived! Everything you need to know about the upcoming release is in one place:

The Forums

FPSCR Forums

You can sign in to the FPSC Reloaded forums straight away, using your TGC account credentials. We encourage you to use the same forum name so that your acquaintances can immediately recognise you and get involved with the discussions.

FPSCR WebsiteSo what are you waiting for! If you need one more reason to take a look, you'll find an exclusive video showcasing the terrain-creating abilities of FPS Creator Reloaded. Head over to the new website now, we'd love to hear your feedback.


FPSC Reloaded

FPS Creator Reloaded by The Game Creators


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.

Lee Bamber, FPS Creator Reloaded Developer summarises his September achievements.


Goodbye Segments, Hello Blobs

The segments that all FPS Creator developers have come to know and love as the basic building block for game environments will not find their way into the new game editor. The reason is that the idea has evolved into a more versatile concept which we have termed the Blob. Each room blob is capable of interchanging the key elements required for unique creations such as doors, windows and walls. The placement, number and size of these elements are also dynamic, selected by the user through an easy to use GUI system. In a rare insight into the design phase of such a system, here are the initial sketches!

FPSC:R BlobsThe second feature of a room Blob is that it can connect to another room blob and seamlessly and intelligently merge with it, creating common doors, windows and other features as part of the process of clicking them together. You can use simple arrows to drag the rooms wider and longer, and even higher! Gone are the days of painting two layers to create a realistically sized large room. You can also detach and drag the room blob to a new location, preserving any entities you may have placed inside the room.

Unlike traditional segments, room Blobs can specify how many 'floors' you want them to have with a single property, specify what kind of roof it has and perhaps most importantly what textures should be used for each of the many materials that make up the room Blobs. If you are happy with the style of a room, you can of course duplicate it and make modifications on top of your original design.

Instead of placing doors and windows at exactly 100 unit intervals, which creates a uniform sense to your levels, room blobs allow doors and windows to slide along the primary axis for pixel perfect positioning.  Stairs and ladders are accommodated by the room Blob as walls and floors cut holes where required completely automatically and efficiently.

As a nice bonus, because the room Blobs are mostly generated in real-time and constructed in code, the geometry placement is efficient which means less memory used per-square-meter, the performance improves and my personal favorite, every element and facet of the construct can be 'disassembled' in code for some awesome effects. An obvious one will be converting an entire building into brick blocks, tiles, wooden struts and girders, then blowing it up using Bullet physics!

The Advantages of Blobs

The Blob Conclusion

We will be using the genre and style from the Reloaded beta to influence the capabilities of our first 'room blob' buildings, but will be able to expand them with more sophisticated elements as we move on.  With a clear template and modular system in place, artists will be able to add 'wall element' meshes and new textures to the system that builds the blobs allowing for a greater variety of structures, from angular offices to blobby caves. 

Keeping an Eye on Performance  

Performance tuning generally takes place later in the project once you have the full spread of requirements in front of you, knowing the combinations that are likely to arise. But from time to time,NVIDIA Nsight it's necessary to check the gauge and ensure the final target is achievable. To that end I have ordered a mid-range GTX 650 Ti graphics card to compliment the NVIDIA NSsight tool, which will give me unparalleled access into the innards of what my graphics engine is doing. That said, I am still running 45 frames per second with everything switched on and unoptimised, which means it is certainly fast enough to continue developing, testing, adding different content and generally allowing a few screenshots and videos to be had. With this in mind, read on to discover what is already available in the FPS Creator Reloaded engine.

New Shadows and Normals

As the community has pushed for them, I thought it thoughtful to give you a screenshot showing the new features. Here is the new ground shadow system which provides real time dynamic shadows for the terrain and the grass coverage (click for larger image).

Real-time Shadows in FPSC Reloaded


And here is a rather uncomplicated but extremely effective normal mapping technique for our watery landscapes. I have toned down the water reflectivity, adjusted the fresnel term and muddied the water tint some more.

FPS Creator Reloaded Water


I also checked out some of the competition by viewing all the best of the best E3 game releases for 2013, and tried to mine more ideas for shaders I could throw into this engine. Alas most of what I saw was either scripted sequences or mountains of content, nothing technical I could pull out quickly and convert into an new engine feature that could improve the shots and vids. If you find inspirational material that contradicts my findings, please do let me know so I can check it out. I am not in the least bit phased by the lofty heights established by 20 million dollar projects, and I don't mind having a go.

Eye Candy

Creating FPSC Reloaded comes down to two things; a lot of coding and a lot of visuals. After a lot of coding, September saw a significant amount of time set aside to bringing the visuals to life. As you watch the following clip, keep an eye out for a number of effects:



A lot of development work revolves around researching the latest techniques, assessing their suitability and finally implementing them into the engine. Take a look at this article for an interesting insight into occlusion in games.

Bring out the Big Guns

The project is starting to glow with the promise of what can be achieved, and it's an exciting time for me at the moment. I just can't put it down!

The work spent this month on the guns is indicative of how classic FPSC is being upgraded to Reloaded. I had to strip out the gun code from FPSC Classic including all the AIRMOD and other modifications and integrate it into a new weapons prototype. The idea is that rather than write the gun system from scratch, I could incorporate all of AIRMOD into the new engine and then augment it with some ideas for improved motion and visuals. After taking the basic system and proving that it works, the hard part starts.

The next step was to add the new Reloaded weapons and configure the gunspec on each one to perform all the functionality you might expect of them. The downside was that some animations were missing, some gunspec files don't seem to want to cooperate and the animation.txt file needed was missing on some. The good part about this is that it gave me the opportunity to explore the new AIRMOD settings and create a neat and tidy template for the new weapons gunspec file, and get to grips with exactly what is missing.

In an effort to ensure backward-compatibility with all legacy weapons and also the AIRMOD enhanced guns I brought in a few favourites from Errant AI's collection. In the process I learned that the functionality now includes ammunition pools across multiple types of weapon; special animation reserves for zooming, empty weapon state and alternative weapon animations and so on; and the beginnings of melee and dual wielding. Guns in FPSC ReloadedHolding two weapons will require additional thought to do it the justice it deserves.
In terms of the current arsenal, we now have:

Shortly, the weapons will have extra features such as animations for walking, running and pressing against walls, accurate fire spot and smoke emissions, and the very latest sound effects to lift the version up another notch in quality and game immersion.

FPSCR CharactersCharacters in the Reloaded Library

When FPSC Reloaded launches, the entity library will already be well stocked with everything you need to get started. Here is a preview of one of the characters you can expect to find.

If you ever wondered why enemies in games sometimes have masks, scarfs and other facial obstruction's it's that if you removed it all the faces would be exactly the same. The problem with creating a game engine is that unique faces are a drain or artist time and GPU rendering. By hiding the face, you can confidently send hundreds of them into the battle without the player knowing any better.

Fortunately we DO have more characters with different faces, but we also want you to be able to drop in a handful of soldiers without changing your entity brush each time. 


Help with AI

As you can see in the demonstration below, this is a typical snipe position with a few victims in the distance, but the thing I want to point out are the green boxes placed around the base of the protruding hills in the terrain. This is my very quick stop-gap solution to define obstacles that the enemy characters have to navigate around to chase the player.

AI Assistance

I am looking for someone with some experience of DarkAI to write a new very small prototype which will take 1024x1024 height data and create a series of DarkAI polygon obstacles that contour around the raised parts of the terrain. My current technique is to detect a height difference of 50 units, and if detected, place a box there.  It's crude and effective, but is a performance drain.  I need a system that can do this in real-time (as the terrain height data is being modified). I'm looking for something that can be generated and the DarkAI obstacle map adjusted in less than a second, ready for real-time game play. You can discuss this request here on the forums

Make your Pledge to the Project 

FPSC Reloaded is deep into development and the first Beta will be with our diehard fans and newcomers soon. We continue to take pledges so we can continue to develop the product and add more features. If you want to be one of the key supporters of this amazing new game maker then click HERE to make your pledge.

 Thanks to everyone who has helped so far. 

FPS Creator Desert Storm

Model Pack - Desert Storm for FPS Creator

This pack contains a large quantity of high quality 3D models allowing you to create open levels of a Middle Eastern style, typical of todays modern battlefields. With the pack you can easily make a whole town and even a desert level. It also features two special sky boxes and scripts that give you the possibility to create interesting sandstorm effects. Using your FPS Creator level building skills you will soon be building an Iraqi style town engulfed in a huge sandstorm.



The pack includes:

Check out the full details and purchase this model pack on the FPS Creator website.


 Night City Docks

Night City Docks 3D Game Model Pack

Night City Docks is a collection of buildings, and entities from the wrong side of the tracks. The buildings represent the seedier side of town where sailors and roughnecks frequent. These buildings could exist in many genres from; horror, steam punk, post-apocalypse, modern warfare, private detective story or any story you can dream up.

Lots of nautical entities give you a chance to build a gritty underbelly to your prosperous town. 99 assets in total!


FPSC Creator Model PacksCheck out the full details and purchase this model pack on the FPS Creator website.


The Mystic's Lair

Mystic Lair Model Pack

This pack includes entities that will allow you to create an old interior library scene, rich with decorations, furniture, statuettes, candles, books, paintings and many other items. There are 59 entities in total.


FPSC Creator Model PacksCheck out the full details and purchase this model pack on the FPS Creator website.


AGK2 - Sneak Peeks of the Development

As development gets underway with the next version of AGK, we have put together a couple of videos for you. We hope they will whet your appetite and get you thinking about the great things you will be able to add to your creations.

Rendering to an Image

AGK2 will allow you to redirect and render your output to an image. The opportunities that this opens up are countless. There are some direct uses of this and some even better indirect uses:

Direct use of Render to Image



The indirect use of this functionality leads us to the second sneak peek video.

Full Screen Shaders

The possibilities opened up by full screen shaders are once again countless. This is achievable once you have the ability to render your scene to an image as previously highlighted. The following video shows just a couple of the shaders you might consider employing in your games and apps.


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. 

AGK 2 KickstarterYou can still pledge! We have a PayPal option now that the Kickstarter Project has completed.


AGK 108 Beta 19

Back with the current version of AGK, a small number of additional changes have been made and released as beta 19:


AGK - The Prizes Keep on Coming

At the end of 2012, AGK developers took a haul of over $34,000 USD in prizes from the Intel Contest. This was followed by Matthew Hoban taking the $20,000 prize pot from the Perceptual computing contest. The winning streak continues, with 5 more winners in round one of the current Intel AppInnovation contest. Between them, these prizes add another $8,750 to the ever-growing haul! Here is a rundown of the applications that are in the running for even bigger prizes in the coming rounds.


The Mother Node

by Christopher Chetwood


The Mothernode is a new game where up to four players compete against each other, racing through a maze of random storage boxes to reach the safety node in the centre of the room.  As they make their way towards the centre the players receive bonuses that they can use to help themselves and to hinder the progress of others.  

There are five variations of the game planned for the final version, although only "Last Man Standing" will be available in the demo:

Mothernode, a game for the Lenovo All-In-One

Why did I enter the Intel App Competition? Obviously I love competitions anyway, but this time I had a more practical reason. My main developing machine suffered a CPU/Motherboard failure in August, just after I had started work on my entry for the competition. This upped the stakes somewhat for me as I now had a real need for the shiny new AIO. This just made me work harder to produce something to be proud of.

I always prefer developing in a competitive environment. I love the pressure it puts on you and it always makes me push myself that little bit further to try and create the best thing I have ever done. I prefer the stuff I create in these competitions compared to the stuff I create at my own pace. I also love the fact there are also a handful of developers racing towards the same deadline and on the TGC forums there's always a sense of camaraderie between us all. It's great to know that help and advice is always given to those struggling with bugs, compilation errors or whatever is blocking you from that final submission.

I've entered quite a few competitions over the years winning TGC vouchers, a BlackBerry PlayBook and an Intel Ultrabook, so all the stress and deadline panic has been quite rewarding to me.

My ideas for games come as random times, sometimes as I'm drifting off to sleep, sometimes in the middle of the day as I'm walking into town.  I think most people have more ideas for games than they have time to develop, so I just jot all my ideas into a scrapbook. Then when a juicy competition pops up I pull out the scrapbook and see if there is anything I can use.

When I thought up Mothernode, my mind was already thinking of minesweeper and I was remembering the stories I used to dream up of a soldier trapped in room of boxes and they had to find their way out by figuring out which boxes were bombs or not. From this I just extrapolated the idea of players breaking their way into the room of boxes to try and find the MotherNode.

Early Demo of The MotherNode

I have a couple of tips for anyone wanting to take up the competition gauntlet. Firstly, plan for the worst! My PC died part way through Round 1, but because I was developing from DropBox, I just picked up my wife's PC, synced our DropBox and away I went.

Another point to remember is to really listen to what the judges are looking for. You may have an amazing idea, but if your idea doesn't tick the right boxes, you're already losing marks. So what I do is jot down all the criteria they want and then make sure I clearly make a statement about how my idea meets each criteria, it sounds obvious, but it's amazing how many entries didn't do this.

You can read the full contest entry details here.


ScribblifyArt Life

by Matthew Hoban

Art applications really came into their own with the event of touch screen devices, it now seems illogical to try to draw to screen with a mouse, how did we ever do it? We have since been flooded with art applications, and rightly so.

My aim is to create an art application which does something unique, with 'Art Life'(name subject to change) the user will draw not with pencils or paint tools, but with elements. The user will then be able to add to these elements, each element has different capabilities and the user can have fun discovering the possibilities and creating something unique on the canvas.

Due to the large touchscreens on the AIO platform I plan to have two identical option palettes which can be dragged into view from the left and the right of the screen. This will allow two people to draw at once with their own selections taking effect on the canvas. The app will start by assigning one side of the screen to each player, each player will be able to wander into the other half if they keep their finger pressed down. This will lead to the possibility of co-operative creations and an end to the kids fighting over who's turn it is!

Watch out for Matty's entry in the WIP section of the forums soon.


Space ExplorerSpace Explorer: "All-In-One" Collection 

by Sean Regan

Space Explorer: "All-In-One" Collection is a Party Game App for the All-In-One computer that will include four original space-themed mini-games, playable by up to 4 players through the All-In-One's multitouch / multiuser capabilities or connect your smart phone or tablet. 

The aim of this project is to encourage use of the All-In-One as a local gaming platform at home for parties, weekend events or "family fun nights"; where up to four friends can sit around a table and All-In-One device to enjoy a night of gaming together and in-person (an alternative to online gaming).

To deliver a more dynamic and interactive gameplay experience, I've integrated the Box2D physics engine to all of the mini-games in this app. The game featured in this article is the third mini-game of the Space Explorer collection. It will be a fast-paced, wave-based asteroids game for up to 4 players, where players must work together to survive as long as they can while being bombarded by debris in an asteroid field.

Players earn points for clearing asteroids, surviving consecutive waves and collecting power ups. Players can use these points any time during or between waves to purchase upgrades to their ship's armour, energy efficiency and weapons. If the All-In-One is connected to the internet, at the end of a game, every player that participated can submit their score to a global leaderboard that assigns player rank based on the number of waves the player survived and how long the player survived his final wave.

You can read the full contest entry details here


by Matthew Pilz

Let your creativity run wild with Scribblify, a one-of-a-kind drawing and painting tool for children and adults of all ages and skill levels. From natural to abstract and everything in between, Scribblify allows anyone to create spectacular artwork with ease, limited only by one's imagination. This app entry is a desktop port of the existing mobile application, and is being developed specifically for the All-in-One PC, as promoted through the App Innovation contest. The desktop version will include a more diverse user interface and other unique features to accommodate the features available on Lenovo's All-in-One, including up to 10 simultaneous touches and widescreen HD display.

Matt has used AGK to create the prototype for this application. The next stage will not unfortunately involve AGK as there are some features that require additional functionality. Version 2 will bring these features to the table, but for now AGK has provided the perfect environment for prototyping and presenting a viable contest entry.

This desktop app, for the All-in-One, will include dozens of hand crafted brushes, each with its own unique appearance and behaviour. Most of the brushes are unlike anything seen elsewhere and range from organic to surreal. In addition, many exciting colour effects will be provided to support creative blending, plasma colours and more.  The wide variety of exclusive brushes, preset backgrounds, advanced colour effects and mirror drawing capabilities ensures endless entertainment to all.

Specific to Scribblify, multitouch is the most significant sensor required by the app.  AGK provides integrated support for more than a dozen simplistic touch commands, making it easy to quickly capture touch data and process it as needed.  It includes built-in support to distinguish between taps, holds and drags, as well as the previous and current coordinates of each touch.

You can read the full contest entry details here.


The Quiz Machine

by Steve Vink

It's time to get social in the real sense of the word. Turn a mediocre quiz night into your own TV-standard quiz show and dazzle the competitors with professional presentation and stunning graphics. Take the already popular quiz night to a new level and immerse your audience in a far more engaging event. Elevate your fundraising capabilities by generating cash beforehand, leaving you to simply enjoy your social event. 

Quiz Machine by Steve Vink


Multiple Formats: 

Select your questions: 

Have fun! 

Present the quiz in the format to suit your audience:

Competition tips from Steve Vink


Like Christopher Chetwood, I cannot stress how important it is to read the details of the competition. I use the criteria as headings for my entry, guaranteeing that I respond to each one in turn. Once you get coding, it's also very important to have a Version 2 list of features. You will have many more great ideas that you must add to the V2 list, or you will not finish your game by the deadline. Once the original concept is completed, you can start to prioritise and pick from your additional features to go the extra mile.


For me, coding competitions started back in 2003 when I won a couple of applications in a TGC competition with my Alienware entry. In all honesty, it was mediocre at best but a fantastic starting point  that has now lead me to winning graphics cards, a Playbook, Ultrabook, a marketing campaign, cash and the All-In-One PC to name but a few prizes. If you haven't started putting yourself under the pressures and stress of competitions that force you into making better games, I recommend you get going as soon as possible.


You can read the full contest entry details here


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.

From The Forums

The Off-Topic Threads

Geek culture is home to some of your non-coding discussions. Here are some of the more interesting ones from the past few weeks.

Lucasfilm shows off the future of film-making

We've all seen The Making Of... documentaries for epic blockbuster movies. Forum threadA few actors run around in front of a blue screen, and the post-production team spend weeks inserting the CGI characters. But what if they were added in real time? Discuss your thoughts in this thread. 

Star Wars on YouTube

Programming Ethics

Programming Etjics"I'm currently learning C/C++, and for some motivation I thought I'd have a look at some freelance programming sites and see what sort of things people need doing and work my way towards solving those problems. I was quite surprised by the sheer volume of what I would deem unethical requests; things like spam bots and email scoops.

Does anyone have any stories about projects you were involved in that you now regret, or that you refused to be part of, for ethical reasons?"


Steam Operating System Announced

In a continuation of Valve's steady waltz into the Living Room, they've announced the SteamOS that's been long teased to be the core of their "Steam Box" demographic.



Keep up to date with TGC on Facebook & Google+

Find us on Facebook to discover more about The Game CreatorsJoin over 5,800 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 almost 900 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 with over 550 members and we have a new AGK Facebook page.



You can also follow our products on Google+ 

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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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