Issue 14 - February 2004 The Game Creators Newsletter Issue 14 - click for a larger cover image
Click for larger cover image


02DBPro Upgrade 6 News
03Mikes Book Review
04FPS Creator is coming
05DBPro Expansion Pack
06Mini Format DB
07Snowball Fight
08Tokamak Physics DLL
09Geoscape3D 1.1
10Tito in Asia
11Twilight IDE
12Party Player Jukebox
13Spanish DB Site
14Unlock Roswell Racer
15ExGen Competition
17Gigahertz Race
18This Months Winner

Having returned from my honeymoon in Northern Sweden driving snowmobiles around the place, I was slightly apprehensive that there might not be enough news to make Issue 14 all that interesting, especially after the bumper Alienware Results in Issue 13. How wrong could I be?! This issue we have a whole host of exclusive news including the first public shots of FPS Creator, details about Upgrade 6 and new official plugins for DarkBASIC Professional. There are also two game reviews, a new release of Geoscape3D, a competition to win ExGen and plenty more. The community is thriving as ever with more and more people coming on-board every day. If you are new to the fold then welcome, if you've been here for years, then welcome back - things are certainly kicking along at a frantic pace - which is just how we like it.

DarkBASIC Professional Upgrade 6 News

As well as developing FPS Creator, Lee will also turn his attentions towards Upgrade 6 for DarkBASIC Professional. At the moment the following are definite additions to the DBPro Core:

  • A basic set of vertex level manipulation commands to give much better low-level control of object construction and modification. Some of the commands may include: lock/unlock vertexdata for limb/mesh, set vertexdata uv/normals/position/diffuse, add/delete mesh to/from vertexdata, get vertexdata vertex/index count, get vertex data position x/y/z, get vertexdata normals x/y/z and more
  • A host of supporting 3D commands to empower the visual side of programming.
  • Collision System enhancements to improve both predictability and speed with support for making the actual collision area visible. Focus will be given to the BSP collision issues to bring BSP worlds back into mainstream use.
  • Additional Text Commands such as: append, reverse, find first char, find last char, find sub string, compare case, first token and next token.
  • Additional Commands including: read/write filemap string/value, window to front/back, window exist, make memblock from array, make array from memblock and more.

As well as enhancements there will be many bug fixes including most of the confirmed bugs on the current bug forum. Lee has been and will continue to go through them one by one - so if anyone has a bug that is nagging them and they can get it confirmed in the bugbase, it will very likely be fixed in Upgrade 6.

There is no confirmed release date for Upgrade 6 at this moment in time, but you will read about it here first when ready.

Game Programming All in One

Book Overview by Mike Johnson / TGC

Game Programming All in One

This book serves a useful purpose as an introduction to C++ and basic game programming and as the title suggests it contains everything you need to know to get started.

The book is laid out in several sections - C++ Programming, Windows Programming and Games Programming.

The first section of the book covers C++ programming. It's aimed at the complete beginner and no previous knowledge is required. While the book doesn't cover every aspect of C++ there's enough in there to get going. Topics such as basic program flow, statements and functions are covered.

In the second part of the book a brief introduction to the basics of Windows programming is provided. The coverage then moves onto DirectX. At this stage you'll learn how to set up DirectX and start to get some results on screen. There's also information on sound and input programming.

The last section of the book covers topics such as mathematics, data structures, algorithms, particle systems, artifical intelligence and physics.

You can buy the book from Amazon by clicking here.

FPS Creator is coming

Here at The Game Creators we're hard at work on our new product FPS Creator.

This small but exclusive insight into the program will show you what you can dare to expect when it hits retail later on this year. The following information is hot off the press and is announced here for the first time ever outside of TGC.

What is it?
Think of FPS Creator as a generic first-person action/shooter game engine that has been optimised in every area possible to provide the best performance on both low-end and cutting edge hardware. You will be given the tools to map, sculpt, texture and create your own game environment and then click a single button to dive right in and test the game.

In The 3D Gamemaker you were stuck with the levels and game styles provided and deviating from that was difficult, if not impossible. With FPS Creator those restrictions and linear paths that were forced upon you are gone. Variation is the order of the day and nothing is hard-coded into the application. Every single aspect of your game, from the AI used by the monsters to the meshes used to blow holes in walls, can be controlled and modified by external files. You can change everything: AI, models, segments, maps, FX, sounds, music, scripts, cut-scenes, etc.

Custom FX
FPS Creator will come with a large and diverse library of FX files. Just as DarkBASIC Professional was the first basic language to truly encapsulate the use of pixel and vertex shaders, FPS Creator will take this to the next level. You can take an object or piece of scenery in your game and apply an FX file to it, infact you can apply them to any piece of geometry at all. How about a game set in an under-water base where blowing out one of the windows causes the corridor to flood with water? You can script this event easily with some basic AI and apply a water FX to the whole corridor. It will all wobble and swim about accordingly.

Scaleable Quality
We are well aware that not everyone has access to the latest hardware so all aspects of your games can be scaled back as you need. You can turn on limb animation instead of bone animation, you can set camera clipping and FOV as well as controlling texture sizes. These and other options will let you tailor the game to your own needs or the needs of the end user.

What FPS game would be complete without good collision detection? FPS Creator has had collision detection written from scratch for it. It uses proper scene based polygon collision. For example you can create a ramp and apply ice to it. The player will slide down the ramp based on the grip level of their boots! Proper true sliding collision with jumping, falling, inertia and momentum is included. But it's not only the player that will collide smoothly - your bullets also have accurate trajectories and if set to do so, can bounce off walls and other environmental objects. This means bullets or grenades that can rebound around corners or down stairwells.

Map Building Made Easy
The sole aim of the map building tool was not to confuse people and to let them create a structure as quickly as possible without needing a degree in architecture. The map building tool is highly intuitive to use and lets you literally paint map - click a button to test the game - return and paint the map some more - test the game again, etc. You paint with room brushes and as you place one block next to the other, the partition between the two will be intelligently removed. You will be able to paint in lifts, stairs, walls, grass and other items. We aim to provide over 500 brushes on release but a segment editor is also included so you can create your own.

Artificial Intelligence
Shooting baddies is no fun unless they pose some kind of challenge. With an easy to use scripting language you will be able to construct AI files for every single element in your game. The files can be easily editted via Notepad and any object can have as many AI files attached to it as you like. An example might be: A door object checks to see if you are with 40 units of it, if so it opens and disables collision at that moment. An enemy AI script could set a character to follow waypoints in the game and to not detract from that unless you are spotted in their line of sight. AI scripts can be applied to all dynamic entities: pipes could billow smoke when shot, vending machines could have a conversation with you, cable sparks could electrify water. Whatever you can think of you can script.

Character Animation
There will be at least 6 different gun types. These include pistols, shotguns, mini guns and rocket launchers. The characters in the game will animate according to the weapon type they are carrying. Someone running around holding two pistols John Woo style will change to an entirely different animation set if they switch to or pick up a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher for example.

Ragdoll Physics
Shoot someone with a blow dart and they'll fall down to the floor in a fainting motion. Take them out with a shotgun at close range and they'll fly back, hitting the wall behind them and crash down to the floor. Your shots can kill or perhaps just stun a character: they fall down stunned, get up a few seconds later, collect their dropped weapon and chase after you.

As well as being a stand-alone application, the Map Editor in FPS Creator will also be able to export .map files which can then be used in other FPS games such as the Quake series. For DarkBASIC Professional developers the Map Editor will also export a .dbpro project file with all required code and includes.

Multi-player / Co-op
When you save your game you will be able to create a stand-alone EXE file that you can distribute to anyone. You will also have the option to create a multi-player deathmatch EXE which will start with a "Join Server, Create Host" style dialogue box (which can be fully skinned) and a simple chat area. You will also be able to create a co-op EXE where the players all start together and work through the game. The reason for splitting them out is that you will need to design totally different levels/power-ups/monsters depending on the type of game you are creating.

More to come...
FPS Creator is an exciting product and we're all getting very geared up for its entry to alpha in early April. Because of the massive amount of work that has gone into FPS Creator we will also start seeing some of this fall into DarkBASIC Professional. New features, enhancements and bug fixes will work their way into the freely available Upgrades. Stay tuned to this newsletter for more FPS Creator news soon.

DarkBASIC Professional Expansion Pack

Here at TGC we are busy putting the final touches to a new Expansion Pack specifically for DarkBASIC Professional. This Expansion Pack will drop into your installation and give you access to hundreds of new commands broken down into 4 categories: Ogg Vorbis, EAX (Environmental Audio), File Blocks and Operating System calls.

The Ogg Vorbis command set provides commands that allow you to load and play Ogg Vorbis music files in Dark Basic Professional. You can also convert standard wave files into the Ogg Vorbis file format. There are no licence issues with Ogg Vorbis, compression levels are good and they are less intensive on the processor than alternatives like MP3.

Environmental Audio is supported by commands that utilise EAX 2.0. Preset effects can be applied to your audio and you can also create your own. Every aspect of the effects can be fully controlled by the commands.

The File Block commands offer a convenient way to pack your files into one secure, compressed file in a similar way to WinZip. Features include control of compression levels, encryption, add and extract files, loading media direct e.g. loading a 3D model straight from the file block, no need to extract the file.

The Operating System contains many information related commands. You'll be able to find out detailed information about the CPU e.g. vendor, brand, frequency. Full information on the hard drive such as free space and the serial number. Other commands allow you to access memory details e.g. memory in use. Speech commands are also provided.

We have prepared three exclusive demonstrations of the Expansion Pack commands. You can download small demos showcasing some of the commands of operations that will be available. Please note these demos do not include trial versions of the DLLs.

Operating System demoOgg Vorbis demoFile Blocks demo

Download: Operating System Demo (2.46 MB)
Download: Ogg Vorbis Demo (2.96 MB)
Download: File Blocks Demo (2.30 MB)

The DarkBASIC Professional Expansion Pack will be available shortly - full details published here and on the DarkBASIC Professional web site.

Mini Format DB

The largest part of a DarkBASIC Classic program is the runtime interpreter. The Russian team ATG have released a new package called Mini Format which allows you to create a single runtime file which can sit in your Windows\System directory. Your actual program can then be compiled without the runtimes which means a drop in size by around 1.5 to 2 MB. Providing the runtime is installed your programs can be as little as 15 KB in size making it much easier to distribute them via the Internet. A new version of the dbaminifw file convertor is available for download which makes it all very easy to use - just drag your EXE onto the window and it'll create the files you need for you.

Full details and downloads (in English) here:

Snowball Fight
Click for larger screen shot

Tim FitzRandolph recently sent us details about his new DarkBASIC Professional game Snowball Fight. People on the TGC Work in Progress Forums have seen this game evolve very rapidly and professionally over the past few months and Tim keeps an extensive work log on his web site. The game features 2-player snowballing action and will come with a whole host of editors to create new maps and props. All of the editors were written in DarkBASIC Professional (using the BLUE Plugin), the 3D characters created in Milkshape and the beautifully rendered levels were lightmapped in Giles. So it just goes to show that you can get professional looking results without having to spend massive amounts of money. You do of course need the same kind of talent as Tim :)

You can view screen shots, a video and download a demo of Snowball Fight from the web page here: We will review and feature this game in our Showcase when finished.

Tokamak Physics Plugin

The DarkBASIC Professional/Tokamak wrapper DLL brings a free powerful physics system to the DarkBasic Professional programming language. The wrapper provides an interface for your DarkBasic Professional games to work with the Tokamak physics system. This is an on-going project that does not yet include all of the features of Tokamak. So far there are approximately 130 commands available to use directly from within DarkBASIC Professional.

For more information and to download the wrapper DLL go to:

Geoscape3D 1.1 Released

A brand new version of the landscape modelling and texturing package Geoscape3D has been released. This new update (version 1.1) is free to all registered users. The trial version of Geoscape3D has also been updated to incorporate all of the new changes, which include:

  • Terrain editing directly in the 3d view window.
  • Paint Texture Tool - allows users to paint directly on to the terrain in the 2d or the 3d views with configurable brushes and textures.
  • Select Tool - a selection limits other tools to the selected areas. Drag and drop selected areas within the heightmap.
  • Road Tool - create roads and paths through the landscape.
  • Saved Point Groups - save a selections of points for re-use. The user can "play" tools on these points to edit terrain or alter masks. These combined with the road tool allows for excellent texturing of roads.
  • Project Tree - shows the hierarchical structure of a project and allows quick navigation and editing of the various elements that make up the project.
  • Windowed Mode - allows users to focus their editing on a sub-area of a very large heightmaps to increase editing speed.
  • Multiple Heightmaps - edit multiple heightmaps in the same project with the main editor. Alter the mask layers quickly and easily. View mask textures.
  • Heightmap Combination operations - combine two heightmaps together with a choice of operations, including add and subtract, average and replace.
  • New Export options - export to 3DS mesh files and DirectX .X files.
  • Mesh Optimisation - reduce the vertex count of the mesh before export, but maintain boundaries so the joins of meshes are seamless even when reduced.
  • Single Point Edit - fine control allows access to individual height values in the heightmap.
  • Improved texturing - increased speed and increased control over the lighting and shadowing effects. Output larger resolution textures.
  • Improved Bitmap Creation - lighting option added to the create bitmap feature to allow even more textures to be created.
  • Seamless Bitmap Creation - simple, easy and quick method to make textures seamless. Perfect for using digital photographs and other images in the Geoscape3d terrain texturing.

To coincide with the new release we have also updated the Geoscape3D Showcase with 12 brand new screen shots. They were all taken from a DarkBASIC Professional program running with a Geoscape3D level and no additional visual effects at all.

Visit the Geoscape3D home page at: //

Tito bounces into Asia

The frantic platform action game Tito the Bouncing Alien is well known in the DarkBASIC community, but it is now expanding into new terrortries. Author Ross McRae sent us an email with a copy of the new advertisement that is set to his Asian gaming magazines in the next month or two. We have shown it here for you to see, click on the smaller picture for a large version. Congratulations to Ross and his publisher for entering the competitive Asian market - who will be next?!

Download a trial of Tito from: //

Twilight IDE

In the past few months a number of alternative IDEs for DarkBASIC Professional have arrived on the scene all offering enhanced functions over the original. The latest is from Glenn Carter of Eclipse Development and is called Twilight. The feature list is impressive and as well as the expected code editing and compiling options, Twilight also includes:

  • RGB Picker - just type RGB in the code and it comes up with a colour box
  • Multiwindow code editing
  • DLL Manager - Lets you specify which DLLs you wish included in the project. If you don't need a DLL you can leave it out for smaller EXEs
  • Syntax Highlighting
  • Argument listing
  • Media Browser accepts mp3, wav, wma, jpg, bmp, gif, avi and mpg
  • Arrange your windows how you want them
  • Function and Label listing in seperate windows and also local ones within the code editors. Jump to functions just by clicking on them etc.
  • Context sensitive help
  • Code injector - just select the command you wish to put in, type in the arguments and bang. There it is in your code.
  • Control over code editing colors and fonts.
  • Stores recent files for quicker opening.
  • Split window editing.

Future versions will include other enhanced features such as Icon and Cursor lists, X and 3DS model browsers and plugin support via a DLL which will allow you to make your own plugins in DBPro (instead of C++) if you wish.

Download Twilight from: (3.86 MB)

Party Player Jukebox

You don't have to create something "game" related with DarkBASIC Professional as this program by Conrad Brown demonstrates. Party Player Jukebox is a fully functional Jukebox application that allows you or anyone using the software to play any number of MP3 tunes or MPG/AVI videos from an incredibly easy to use interface. It has the benefit of being designed specifically for use at a Party or Celebration of any kind, and is easy to customize to suit the occasion. When hosting a party, why not WOW your friends and family with a cool jukebox system? Simply link your PC to the stereo, and TV (or even a big-screen projector! - Works a treat!), and let them choose their own tunes!!!

Features MP3, MPg and AVI support with a cool "flip" to full-screen mode when left alone. Party Player Jukebox will not let you select a tune if it is already playing, or if it is in the queue. It will only allow up to 5 songs to be queued at any one time to stop people hogging the system. The interface is very easy to use, just scroll the tunes and left click to select. It's also easy to design your own backgrounds and special messages for use at any party. Future versions will support more file formats and include CD to OGG conversion.

More details can be found here:

Spanish DarkBASIC Resource

We have received details about a new Spanish web site dedicated to DarkBASIC. It is full of DarkBASIC tutorials, command explanations, a chat room, a forum and free textures and sounds to download. Well worth checking out for Spanish reading DarkBASIC programmers.

Visit the VideoMaster web site here:

Unlock Roswell Racer

Alec Moody of Shellshocked Entertainment sent us a small file that will unlock all of the levels in their award winning Alienware game Roswell Racer. Simply unzip the file and copy unlocked.dat into the root Roswell Racer directory. You can now play all of the levels in the game. Many thanks to Alec for allowing us to share this with you.

Download the file: (1 KB)

ExGen Released

Ben Gillbanks from BinaryMoon, the author of the great DarkBASIC Limit Rush tutorials on our web site, wrote to us recently with details of his new application: ExGen.

ExGen is a special effects creator/ editor. Use a series of particle systems to create highly detailed animations. Originally intended to be used to create explosions, it can be used to create a wide variety of different effects.

  • Easily create single or sequentially numbered animation images
  • Create and position multiple particle systems
  • Use your own images to colour and shape the particles
  • Use a timeline to change the start time of the particle animations
  • Add Attractors and Deflectors to manipulate the positions of the individual particles
  • Adjust over 30 different parameters to make literally thousands of different combinations of particle animations

The download has two modes. A Demo mode and a Lite mode. The demo mode has all features active except for Exporting of completed animations. The Lite mode is limited in features but lets you export the finished article.

ExGen Competition
The competition is simple - create the best ExGen image you can using the demo. Creativity is the name of the game - make something beautiful and win a prize. There will be two competitions, one for the best effect using demo mode, and one for the best effect using Lite mode. Anyone can enter including those who have already bought ExGen.

Each competition has the same prizes - they are: 1st place - Registered copy of ExGen and copy of Rocket Boards - 3d racing game. 2nd place - Registered copy of ExGen

Any questions about the competition and the full rules list can be found on the ExGen message board

You can download ExGen from:

Showcase Game: Ascender

It would appear that aliens come in a variety of colours! and Ascender is no exception. The naughty green aliens have sabotaged various nuclear reactors on your planet (you're a red alien, ok?) and you need to shut them down before the time runs out. Doing this involves scaling the outside of each reactor and finding the cardlets that have been scattered about at random. Match the cardlets together to form keycards, one for every 4 cardlets you find. But wait, it doesn't end there! The cardlets actually have little slots on them and only fit together in a special way (i.e. if the slots all, well.. slot together) which all sort of hinges on the base cards (the green ones). You with me so far? Good, I'll continue...

So how do you go about collecting these cards? Basically you use elevators to move up and down the reactor and climb along various pegs stuck into the walls. You can drop from higher up pegs to lower ones and you have a momentum based "swinging" action which can fling you from lower pegs to higher pegs and ladders. It's all quite hard to comprehend until you actually try it out for yourself. What's more, there is a fantastic interactive tutorial that takes you through every aspect of the game so you're not just dumped into it and expected to know what to do. Everything is based against the clock and that really is your only enemy in this game, although the nasty green aliens that pull you from the pegs and kick you don't help much either. Infact that was the one element of the game we didn't really understand - some parts you have to progress through two or three aliens who can attack you, but you appear to have no means to retaliate meaning you have to wait until they boot your from the reactor (or drag you with them in a suicide drop) before they'll go. This is a puzzle game above and beyond anything else and well worth playing. If the Alienware competition had been based on originality alone, make no mistake about it, Ascender would most probably have won.

Download from: //

Showcase Game: Gigahertz Race

The quite strange opening plot sees you sucked into the super computer Big Red in a bid to close it down. The amusing intro sequence, complete with dancing alien and cheery music sets you up for what is essentially a 3D platformer that involves collecting all the objects to proceed to the next level. What sets this game apart though is the excellent puzzle element introduced by the rotation switches. You move the alien around with the arrow keys, jump with space bar and smack down enemies with the Alt key. But if you stand on a rotation switch (you won't see one until level 3) and press the shift key then the entire game rotates 90 degrees! You use this to access areas otherwise out of the reach of your usual jumps.

Everything is against the clock and things start getting very hairy as time runs out. There are stacks of wonderful effects in the game, from the "nothing to see, move on" Alienware intro to the swinging in "game over" message. This game shines so brightly. However there are a few problems with it, most notable with the alien jumping - the movement is very jarred and detracts from the otherwise smooth operation of the game. You do get used to the "pause" but it would be better without it. Also it is entirely possible to rotate yourself into a hole and get stuck! So an "abort/retry level" option would have been useful. But those niggling points aside you must give this wonderful game a try for yourself.

Download from: //

This Months Winners

We've plucked one lucky subscriber to our newsletter and for you a completely free copy of DarkBASIC Professional is yours for the asking. The winner is susmind@???????.com - just email us and a free copy of DarkBASIC Professional is yours.

Also we forgot to announce the winner of the Bjorn Lynne CD competition last issue! The answer to the question was of course: "The Good, The Bad and the Squidgy". Those who answered correctly were put into a digital hat and the person drawn was: Stu Collier scollier@????? Just drop us an email Stu and the prizes are yours.


With regard to those who've been asking about the 20-Line Challenge appearing in the newsletter, all I will say for now is that it will be back when we re-launch DBDN, but not before. The 20-Liner forum has been updated to reflect this. Next month we will bring you more of the same from the DarkBASIC world including a great new game: Firewall, more Alienware games and maybe details of our new competition? :) Got something you want thousands of people to read about in the next issue? Then get in touch! Email me: or use our Feedback form.

Famous Last Words: "There's no such thing as a bottomless pit. Everybody knows that."
(C) Copyright The Game Creators Limited 2004