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Editorial - September 2014

Issue 139 cover

This month has been about just one thing - the Ice Bucket Challenge. If for any reason it has passed you by, it's simply a viral charity stunt, whereby you pour (or have poured on you) an icy cold bucket of water, you donate to charity for the privelege, and then you get to nominate three more victims. In honour of all of the people who have humbled themsleves under the bucket, and donated so much to charity, this month's editorial is dedicated to Rick Vanner who - through bad timing - posted his challenge just before the newsletter went to press.
For anyone else who hasn't yet been challenged, we encourage you to play your part, pick a charity of your choice and of course post the videos on the forums! 
I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have helped Declan and Siobhan Vink succeed with their Kickstarter bid. Your support both financially and morally has helped them to record and ultimately release their first EP.
In the meantime, check out the latest updates to FPS Creator Reloaded in Lee's Blog, the vast array of enhancements to AGK including the new IDE, another great AGK tutorial, game releases and more.
Until next time,
Steve Vink


(1) FPSCR (2) FPSC News (3) FPSCR Competition (4) FPSCR Videos (5) AGK Development (6) Kayak Escape (7) Asynchronous Animations (8) TGC Channel (9) Social Feeds

FPS Creator Reloaded - V1.0085 Hot Fix

By now our beta users will be working with Hot Fix 1.0085. If not, you should download from your account now. This is what has been delivered with this package:


Assets Round-up

We have a selection of screenshots for you, previewing some of the upcoming media currently in development:

 Crates and Boxes

 Crates and Boxes

Pallets of Crates/Boxes 

 Pallets of Crates/Boxes

Army Props 

 Army Props

Generators and Floodlights 

 Generators and Floodlights

Concrete Scenery 

 Concrete Scenery


FPSC Reloaded Blog

FPS Creator Reloaded by The Game Creators


By Lee Bamber

Each month we'll update you 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 our main focus and we aim to constantly develop it to make it into a world class game creation tool. With great support from people who have made pledges to the project we are able to evolve and build our best game maker ever!

Lee Bamber, FPS Creator Reloaded Developer summarises the August achievements for himself and the FPSCR development team. 

Baking Hot Development

One way to guarantee performance boost is to carry out some of the operations before the game even loads or starts. A big player in this field is pre-baked textures. That is, taking the visuals that won't change in game and bake them into the level itself. For example, mountains don't move so the shadow they cast on themsleves and the landscape can be pre-baked and thousands of processing cycles can be saved at run-time; you really don't need to recalculate a mountain's shadow 60 times a second. The area of the engine that focuses on this process is the Pre-Bake Ambient Occlusion code.

Here is the present HIGHEST shader with everything ramped up high and no real-time shadows present, to give you an idea of the raw clay our current pre-bake is working with:

Scene Baking



After applying our  new lightmapping process, we get this:

Scene Baking


Once the pre-baker is integrated within Standalone Export (and perhaps even Test Game) and seamlessly working, we will switch our focus over to some serious performance work and see if we can reduce the overdraw currently hammering graphics rendering performance. This technique above should allow us to make some savings inside the shader, and other rendering processes overall, and get your FPS back to a high level.

TriPlanar Texturing.

One of the blights of many games over the past decade - including AAA titles - is stretched texturing of hills and cliff faces of the landscape. This occurs in standard UV mapping where the texture is placed from above, and on steep surfaces a small number of pixels must be stretched to cover a large (inclined) surface. Rick sent me a useful email showing a great tutorial on Triplanar terrain texturing. So well described was the technique, that it formed quite quickly in my head and I was able to see how it could be grafted to the current terrain shader. In simple terms, the texture is not UV mapped but instead it is applied 3 times on 3 axes, blending them proportionally according to the incline. You can see how effective it is in this screen shot;

Triplanar Texturing


As you can see, the rock texture is not stretched any more and uses it's own XY and YZ texture UV look-ups to create a perfect vertical mapping. It cost me a little performance (from 205fps down to 187fps) but will measure less than 1-2 fps when down in the 60 fps range.  For this trade-up in visual quality I plan some more aggressive performance work to get that back with interest.

Jet Pack Bonus

it added a new LUA command allowing the player to achieve flight, created a new HUD Layer system which can be re-used in future for more cool things like helmets, exo-skeletons and even first person vehicles

Lee Bamber


Jet Packs

We're not referring to the Invite a Friend Bonus here, you can read about that later on in the newsletter. We recently released the Jet Pack entity as an incentive to pledge, and it caused a little concern that the mainline development was being compromised. This is one of many decisions we make every week, weighing up priorities, pros and cons of every element of development. The Jet Pack took three hours of coding, with the remainder contributed by a third party artist and did NOT distract the core development of Reloaded in any shape or form. Indeed it added a new LUA command allowing the player to achieve flight, created a new HUD Layer system which can be re-used in future for more cool things like helmets, exo-skeletons and even first person vehicles (with more art and code). It also allowed us to trial a new incentive scheme which might increase pledge levels and allow even more core engine development. So rest assured, we took advantage of an opportunity to improve the product for very little effort.

Reloaded Discount Deal 

Pledge Now to support FPSC Reloaded development 

gold pledge

Crowd funding provides a way for Indie Developers like The Games Creators to pre-fund their projects. It's also a thumbs up from customers to show the developers the market wants and needs their new idea.

By pledging you are helping The Games Creators to build the most exciting and revolutionary game creator. With your pledging support you can strengthen our team as we build this amazing technology. You are essentially becoming part of our family as you share in it's development and ultimate production.

All pledge levels grant the backer access to all betas, with other bonuses, including free model packs valued at between $18 and $39 for Gold and Silver pledge levels.


So, if you'd like to help fund Reloaded development and join us on our journey, please support us with a pledge. The most popular and best value deal is the Gold level pledge, but you can find details of all pledge levels here.


Refer a Friend, Own a Jet Pack!

As previously mentioned, FPS Creator Reloaded is now airborne! You can own the Jet Pack that inspired this additional capability simply by referring a friend to pledge to the project. They'll also get the Jet Pack, along with 4 additional textures worth a total of $30USD.

Jet Pack BonusClick here to go to the invitation page, and play the video below to see the first flight of the Jet Pack. 

FPSC Reloaded - Competition Results

FPSCR Competition 
The Reloaded level design competition has come to an amazing finish, with some excellent final entries. We have to admit, that it was a very difficult one to judge, and would like to thank everyone who entered for making this a challenging and fun competition.

The final results (click titles to download and play) are:
Morning Mountain Stroll by Wizard of Id

Morning Mountain Stroll

by Wizard of Id




2nd Past Life Regression by Morphtactic

Past Life Regression

by Morphtactic





The Asylum by Unfamilla

The Asylum


by Unfamilla



Follow the Line by Sparrowhawk

Follow the Line

by Sparrowhawk



Rescue the Princess by Tomjscott

Rescue the Princess


by Tomjscott




Book of Souls by Rolfy

Book of Souls


by Rolfy







FPSCR Videos

We've been busy again this month uploading vidoes to our YouTube channel. You can of course subscribe to our channel and get immediate updates; the details are towards the end of the newsletter. Here is a selection of what's new this month.

FPS Creator Reloaded Waypoints

How do I use waypoints in FPSC Reloaded

A video guide to adding and using waypoints to create patrol routes in FPSC Reloaded




FPS Creator Reloaded Cover Zones  

How to create custom cover zone and dynamic objects as cover

Another video tutorial showing basic user defined cover zones and character interaction with dynamic objects.




FPS Creator Reloaded customising collectables

How to use and customise collectables in Reloaded

A tutorial for FPSC Reloaded to use and customise collectables in Reloaded.




AGK V2 Developments

AGK has arrived

A Productive Month

The downside of development can be long periods of time with nothing to show. Within the inner workings there is a hive of activity but it doesn't surface until much later. This month, much of this activity made it's way to the surface, and our AGK V2 pledgers saw several deliveries of updates, along with the publication of various fixes and enhancements to V108.

Late in August we released the Mac version of the AGKV2 IDE. So users can now code and compile on Mac devices! 

Here they are, all in one long list:

Version 108.23


Version 108.23b

Fixed shader error message caused by a debug file being left in the build

Version 108.24 

Fixed an error when trying to compile the VS2008 template in debug mode

AGK V2 Alpha 4 


AGK V2 Alpha 5

AGK V2 Alpha 5.1


AGK V2 Alpha 5.2


IDE Progress

You may have noticed many references to the IDE in the listed updates. The new Geany-based IDE is now in the hands of our AGK V2 pledgers and testers. With it, there have been many challenges and changes.


Compiling and Building

We have tailored the build menu to work specifically for AGK, which was one of the biggest challenges. The build menu calls the AGK compiler, and errors are displayed in the IDE output window. You can click on the error and jump to the offending line. The compiler now also outputs multiple error messages instead of just displaying one at a time using message boxes. This, we're sure you will appreciate, is a significant step forward.


The broadcaster has been separated from the compiler into its own program and redesigned with debugging in mind. Rather than doing everything in one go (connect to device, upload, and run) it now accepts commands to connect to devices, upload projects, and start and stop the app running on a device. It is a console application that can be run completely separately from the IDE, or controlled with an IDE interface allowing the option for other IDEs to debug AGK apps. The networking has also been simplified so everything on a device happens through a single connection which should make it more reliable. We have broadcast apps working on Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac. Again, we're sure you can see the potential this has going forwards, especially in reducing the time taken to test games and apps.

Example Projects

All the tier 1 projects have been upgraded to the new IDE project format (.agk), and they are now installed in your user folder (e.g. C:\Users\Me\AGK Projects) so it is UAC friendly. The IDE includes an import option in the project menu to convert your existing projects to the new format; it will automatically save the new .agk file in the same place as the old project file. Right click on files in the project side bar to add and remove them from projects.

Android AGK V2 Player

Android AGK Player

The Android interpreter is on the Google Play store here or you can side load the version in the installer folder Players/Android. The online APK builder now works with this version. iOS users will have to compile the intepreter_ios project in XCode as usual.



What is Geany?

Geany is a small and lightweight Integrated Development Environment. It was developed to provide a small and fast IDE, which has only a few dependencies from other packages. Another goal was to be as independent as possible from a special Desktop Environment like KDE or GNOME - Geany only requires the GTK2 runtime libraries.

Some basic features of Geany:


Coding Kayak Escape

Kayak Escape
Are you bored?
Do you need to kill some time?
Are you OCD when it comes to having the highest score!!??
Then play Kayak Escape!!
Kayak Escape is a fast paced game of reflexes! Don't blink as you try to navigate a raging river filled with floating obstacles.
Battle in three difficulty modes!
Earn medals and the highest score, to become the greatest kayak'er in the world!
Download Kayak Escape
This game by Josh Mooney has been publishd to the Google Play Store and is ready to download now. Having played it for longer than I anticipated, I can certainly report that it is very simple yet addictive! Here's the development experience in Josh's own words: 
Kayak Escape
I've been coding in DarkBASIC, DarkBASIC Professional and AGK for well over a decade now. It's always been a hobby up until recently where I've started to view it as a possible career path as an indie game developer. With no formal training or schooling in programing, it's been a hard but very fun road.
Kayak Escape is my second app published to Google Play and first actual complete game. It presented a lot of challenges like learning how to use HTTP commands, as I've never even touched them before, and balancing the game-play so it was simple to learn but hard to master. It has gone through a lot of variations and was originally being developed for the TGC Endless Level "flappy" clone game competition. I was unable to complete the game in-time and since have improved on the design and game play. I'm glad I took a little longer to complete, in my opinion it's a much better game than it's original design.
Kayak Escape has been a great learning experience and I'm already using it to help develop future games.

Asynchronous Animations

agk mastery

by Sean Mann, Napland Games

The more animation and movement you have in your games, the more flashy and appealing they can be to players. In this tutorial I'll be showing you how to build animations that run in their own self-contained functions. 

Sudoku in Space

This allows them to be interrupted at any time, allows for simultaneous user input and anything else you wish to occur in your game loop without having to wait for the animation script to finish. In our most recent game, Sudoku In Space, we make extensive use of this for background animations, main menu animations, and particle animations when you make a completion move. Since we use a timer in Sudoku In Space, it is important to not prevent the user from interacting with the game while an animation is happening for a row, column, or block completion.

To keep things simple this tutorial will only show the background animations for the larger stars that wink in and out. If you're interested in seeing how I did the particle animations just let me know and I'll do it in a future continuation of this article.

First, we'll need a user defined type and a variable of that type. In Sudoku In Space I actually made this variable global so that all of our screens could have the background animation, however, it is not necessary if you are using the animation in only one area of your game since the function to handle the animation has a feedback loop. A feedback loop is when a function accepts input of a specific variable and then outputs to that same variable. 

The following setup will make a star appear in a random location on the screen, color it one of three different colors at random, and make it grow and then shrink.

Our type:

type star_type 
    max_W# as float
    dir as integer
    spriteID as integer
    abs_max_W# as float
    abs_min_W# as float
    time as integer


Now let's look at the self-contained feedback loop function:

function HandleStar(star as star_type , fFT# , tT#)
    // fFT# is frame time as obtained from GetFrameTime()
// in the main loop
    // tT# is the total time we want the growing or shrinking to take
    //the depth of the sprite
    depth = 2000 
    // If the direction is 0 then this is the first time we're 
    // running the function so we need to set direction to 1 (grow).
    if star.dir = 0
        star.dir = 1
    //Instantiate the sprite if it doesn't already exist.
    if GetSpriteExists(star.spriteID) = 0
        img = LoadImage(“star.png”)
        star.spriteID = CreateSprite(img) 
        // We'll allow the star to grow up to 5%
// of the screen width.
        star.abs_max_W# = 5.0
        // The star image was designed for an 800px wide screen
        // We want to prevent it from being smaller
// than 10px at 800px resolution
        star.abs_min_W# = 100.0 * 10.0 / 800.0
        // Initialize the size at the minimum size
// so that it will grow
        SetSpriteSize(star.spriteID , star.abs_min_W# , -1)
        // Initialize the max_W# variable to a negative so that
        // we can set it to a random value
        star.max_W# = -1.0
    // Initialize the animation variables – this happens every time the 
    // star is shrunk to its minimum size as well
// as the first run of the function
    // If the max_W# variable is negative then we need to
    // determine a random size we'll allow the star to grow to
    // as well set it's initial position, color, and angle
    if star.max_W# < 0.001
        // Determine a random value for the max width to grow to.
        // Here I multiply the maximum and minimum by 100 so that I can 
        // make use of the random() function which only works on integers
        // and then divide by 100. This way the star can have a max width
        // with fractional percentages.
        r_low = floor(100.0 * (star.abs_max_W# - 0.4 * star.abs_max_W#))
        r_high = floor(100.0 * (star.abs_max_W#))
        star.max_W# = random(r_low , r_high) / 100.0
        // Similar is done to find the initial position
        r_x_low = 100
        r_x_high = floor(100.0 * (100.0 - star.max_W#))
        x# = random(r_x_low , r_x_high) / 100.0
        r_y_low = 100
        maxY# = 100.0 – GetSpriteHeight(star.spriteID)
        r_y_high = floor(100.0 * maxY#)
        y# = random(r_y_low , r_y_high) / 100.0
        // Now we can position the star
        SetSpritePosition(star.spriteID , x# , y#)
        // Give it a random angle for more randomness
        r_angle = random(1,360)
        SetSpriteAngle(star.spriteID , r_angle)
        // Set the time at which we initialized the star and make it visible.
        star.time = GetMilliseconds()
        SetSpriteVisible(star.spriteID , 1)
        // Set random color
        r_color_num = random(1,4)
        if r_color_num = 1
            color$ = "200,255,255" //blue-ish
        elseif r_color_num = 2
            color$ = "255,255,200" //purple-ish
            color$ = “255,255,255” //white
        // This is a home brewed function I use that makes it a
        // Little easier to set sprite colors –
// included after this function
        _SetSpriteColor(star.spriteID , color$)
    // Now we can actually animate the growth and shrinking of the star.
    // Determine the distance between the random width we grow to
    // and the minimum allowable width.
    dist# = star.max_W# - star.abs_min_W#
    // Get the current widht of the star so we can see if it should still 
    // grow or shrink
    current_W# = GetSpriteWidth(star.spriteID)
    // Initialize this to a negative so that we can skip the sizing of 
    // the star when we're pausing between appearances.
    new_W# = -1.0
    // If the direction is 1 then we are growing the star
    if star.dir = 1 
        // If the current width is less than the maximum 
        // width we want the star to grow to then grow it!
        // Otherwise stop growing and negate the direction
        // So that it will start shrinking.
        if current_W# < star.max_W#
            // Here we use a linear equation based on frame time (fFT#)
            // to increase the size of the sprite over time tT#
            new_W# = current_W# + dist# * fFT# / tT#
            // We're done growing, so negate the direction
            new_W# = star.max_W#
            star.dir = star.dir * -1 
    elseif star.dir = -1  //Otherwise we're shrinking the star
        // If the current width of the star is still greater
        // than the allowable minimum width then grow it.
        // Otherwise stop.
        if current_W# > star.abs_min_W#
            // Use the same linear equation for growth based on frame time,
            // but negate the distance variable
// so we're making the width smaller.
            new_W# = current_W# - dist# * fFT# / tT#
            // We're done growing so set the new width to the minimum width
            // Doing this helps if a large number of frames were skipped.
            new_W# = star.abs_min_W#
            // Hide the star for now because we're going to wait to make
            // it reappear
            SetSpriteVisible(star.spriteID , 0)
            // Now when it is time, set max_W# to a negative to 
            // reinitialize the star's animation (random max w, color, position)
            // The calculation here is tT# in seconds which needed to be 
            // converted to milliseconds – so basically we're adding 3 seconds
            // before the star will restart the animation.
            if GetMilliseconds() > star.time + 3000.0 * tT#
                star.max_W# = -1.0
                star.dir = star.dir * -1
    // Only grow and reposition the star if new_W# if positive.
    // This allows us to skip over the sizing when the star is waiting 
    // to be reinitialized
    if new_W# > 0.0
        x# = GetSpriteXByOffset(star.spriteID)
        y# = GetSpriteYByOffset(star.spriteID)
        SetSpriteSize(star.spriteID , new_W# , -1)
        SetSpritePositionByOffset(star.spriteID , x# , y#)
endfunction star


This is used to color sprites with only acomma separated string for the R, G, and B values.

function _SetSpriteColor(iID , sColor$)
if GetSpriteExists(iID) = 1
r = val(GetStringToken(sColor$ , "," , 1))
g = val(GetStringToken(sColor$ , "," , 2))
b = val(GetStringToken(sColor$ , "," , 3))
SetSpriteColor(iID , r , g , b , 255)


Now all that needs to be done is run this function in a loop like so:

myStar as star_type
shrink_grow_time# = 0.50
    ft# = GetFrameTime()
    myStar = HandleStar(myStar , ft# , shrink_grow_time#)

Hopefully you can also see how this can be extended for more complex animations where there are various states for the animation. One example you can see is in Sudoku In Space on the home screen. Our game character, Allen the Alien, flies onto the screen, appears to hover with some up and down tweening, and continues to do so until the player presses the play button, at which time he flies away. I also built that animation so it can be interrupted and the player does not need to wait for Allen to be in the center of the screen before they can tap a button. Tapping a button will simply allow Allen to keep moving across the screen until he's gone. 

In Sudoku In Space we take advantage of this method for many of the animations so that user input is not hampered. Please take a look at the game to see these animations in action. The most complex of them are the particle animations for when you complete a puzzle. If you'd like to see an example of that in a future tutorial, just let me know (naplandgames@gmail.com)! Sudoku In Space is free on Google Play and the App Store.

Get it on Google Play 


You can get this and other articles by Sean Mann in previous newsletters, or on Sean's Blog at http://blog.naplandgames.com

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.

Keep up to date with TGC on Facebook & Google+

Find us on Facebook to discover more about The Game CreatorsJoin over 6,300 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 2,700 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 600 members 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+ 




“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

Anne Frank