Editorial - April 2009

Issue 75 cover

In the last month, the Bafta Game Awards were handed out amongst glitz and glamour not far from what we expect from the Film Baftas. The results generated much discussion and debate, particularly over two titles that surprised the industry and players alike. Grand Theft Auto, an impressively polished game from one of the most respected teams in the industry left with nothing. Meanwhile, Super Mario Galaxy walked away with the Best Game award.

For me, this gives new hope to the indie game developer. Granted, Super Mario Galaxy is not from an industry minor, and has all of the financial might behind it as the other contenders. However, it does indicate that the market place is open to alternative gameplay, and graphical realism doesn't have to be part of the package. Too often the big names have to stick to tried and tested formulas to guarantee a return on their huge investments. Meanwhile, it leaves the rest of the field to innovate.

This month we report on this innovation. Read about the release of Touch & Go on the iPhone, which is derived from Kyobi by Richard Davey. We also have new plugins for multiplayer networking and an alternative game engine in the form of Abyssal. As well as the usual news and forum roundup, Andrew Vanbeck continues his platformer tutorial and we catch up on a couple of community competitions.

Until next time,

Steve Vink


(1) Abyssal (2) Touch & Go (3) DarkNet (4) Competition (5) DarkBASIC Pro (6) FPSC News (7) TGC Store (8) Tip Of The Month (9) Videos (10) DBP Tutorial (11) From the Forums (12) PlayBasic (13) Winner (14) Outro

Into The Abyssal

Abyssal Game Engine

The Abyssal Engine is a powerful professional game creation tool kit and rendering system for creating quality games. All aspects of the technology are designed to reduce development time while empowering developers with a strong suite of tools they need to produce great visual effects and immersive worlds.

The platform tools allow you to quickly create and test all game assets while the runtime system is carefully optimized for the rendering of large real-world environments, massive numbers of playable and artificial intelligent characters and large dataset loading. The technology allows the developer to quickly and efficiently create everything from complex RPG titles to real time strategy games as well as powerful simulation applications for mainstream use.

Abyssal Engine Screenshot Abyssal Engine Screenshot


Global : Download LinkThe 10 day Tools Trial includes everything your team needs to develop using Abyssal, with the exception of source code. It includes full documentation, samples and information you'll need to determine whether or not Abyssal is right for your projects. For more details on the trial go to //www.thegamecreators.com 

Tech Demo

Global : Download LinkDownload the Fantasy World Tech Demo designed to demonstrate Abyssal world rendering capabilities which was produced using the Abyssal Tools chain. For more details on the tech demo go to //www.thegamecreators.com

Abyssal Movie PageThere are also two high definition videos, which highlight many aspects of the engine. You can download these from the Movie page of the Abyssal site area.

Abyssal Engine Screenshot Abyssal Engine Screenshot

The Touch & Go iPhone Experience

Touch & Go for the iPhoneTouch & Go for the iPhoneTouch & Go takes a familiar game format and adds a new level of interactivity,  in which the gameplay is entirely based on the touch and motion features of the iPhone. Block-based games have never been this immersive!

The concept is a familiar one and very easy to pick up; match 3 blocks of the same colour to score points and remove them from the playing area. However in Touch & Go you take control, dragging the blocks into position and clearing the levels in an explosive fashion. Based on real-world physics, players will find it easy and great fun to throw the blocks around and amass mayhem in a bid to better previous achievements. Building on the great features of the iPhone, it's even possible to tilt the game and shake up the chances of making it to the next level.

Touch & Go in the iTunes Store

Of course any game of this genre needs power-ups and rewards for skillful play; Touch & Go is no exception. Players will find themselves drawn to the multi-block special power-ups that introduce quick, explosive and visually stunning ways to clear the levels. Rewards for maintaining the pace will ensure there is no time to step back from the action, for those looking to perfect their skills and impress their friends and family. It stands to reason that this is an application to be shared, competing for the top spot on the leader board. "Having been part of the casual games industry long before the term was coined, we strive to include elements that keep games simple yet addictive" says Rick Vanner, Financial Director of The Game Creators.

Touch & Go is available to purchase now in the Apple App Store.

Casting Out into the World of Multiplayer

DarkNET - multiplayer for DarkBASIC Professional

DarkNet is a multiplayer plugin specifically designed for use in game development. It uses both UDP and TCP protocol making it suitable for virtually any type of online game ranging from fast paced first person shooters to large scale massively multiplayer online games. It is very easy to use and well documented with several code examples. DarkNet is compatible with Dark Basic Professional, C++ and .NET compatible languages (e.g. C#, VB.NET).

High performance

Throughout development one of the key focuses has been on performance:

Ease of use

DarkNet has been designed so that it is easy to use. Take a look at a basic example application created in Dark Basic Professional that sets up a server and accepts new connections. Without DarkNet this would take hundreds of lines of complex code to create a basic server:

` Start DarkNet
mn Start 1,0

` Start server
mn Start Server 0,50,5,1

` Display information about server
print "Local TCP IP: " + mn Get Local IP TCP(0)
print "Local UDP IP: " + mn Get Local IP UDP(0)
print "Local TCP Port: " + str$(mn Get Local Port TCP(0))
print "Local UDP Port: " + str$(mn Get Local Port UDP(0))

   ` Check for new clients
   iJoined = mn Client Joined(0)
   if iJoined > 0
      print "A new client joined the server"

   ` Check for leaving clients
   iLeft = mn Client Left(0)
   if iLeft > 0
      print "A client left the server"


DarkNet is extremely secure and designed with an intuitive error reporting system.

By default error message boxes are enabled which means that whenever an error occurs, a message is displayed which explains the error in full. Optionally you can disable error message boxes and use dedicated commands to get error details and handle the scenario accordingly.

Multiple Instances

DarkNet's instance system allows you to create and control multiple connections. This means that a single application can host and connect to multiple servers at the same time. This dramatically increases the options available to you. For example, Client and Server is possible on one computer. Peer-to-Peer ensures independence from players leaving the game. For more advanced scenarios, administration of several servers can be handled from a central server.


DarkNet's broadcasting feature allows applications to transmit data to all devices on a LAN without directly connecting to the devices. An example use of this is clients generating a list of available local servers. The server broadcasts its availability including its IP and port to all devices on the network. Using the client application, devices can listen for the broadcast and use the information in the broadcast packet to connect to the server.

DNS, NAT, UPnP and Blocking

Dark Net home pageDarkNet is available to order now from The Game Creators website. Full details of the product and how to order can be found here. As always, you can visit the forums for help and to show us what you have achieved with DarkNet.

Community Competition

With the dealine of April 10 looming, all we can do at this stage is inspire you to keep working hard at those competition entries. The bulk of your game should now be complete and hopefully you are thriving to squash those last few bugs, and work on the final presentation.

Mini Game Competition (image - sanja gjenero)If you haven't reached this stage, don't panic; now is the time to focus on what is important to ensure you have a working version with all of the essential features in place. If you don't think you can finish on time, spend a few minutes breaking the project into mandatory components, and the nice-to-haves. Once the former list is complete, you can cherry-pick from the latter. When the competition is over, you'll still be able to turn your entry into version 2 and show us what you have achieved after the deadline, in the Program Announcements section of the forums. The great thing about competitions is that they drive many coders into a position where  they are able to continue afterwards and achieve greater things.

Prizes for all

The final inspiration we can give you is to remember that every entrant submitting a completed game that fits the criteria will win something!

What can the finalists expect to win, over and above the store points already collected along the way? 

Competition forum threadThe final step you need to take is to head to the forum thread with the full details of the competition, including rules and instructions for entering and uploading your game. Make sure you have adhered to the criteria, and meet the deadline.

Competition DiscussionTo discuss the competition, ask questions and share ideas, progress and experiences, there is a further forum thread to do just this.

Game Based Learning 2009

DarkBASIC Professional

Game Based LearningThe Game Creators attended this year's Game Based Learning Conference in mid-March. Spanning two days The Game Based Learning Conference is the only event of its kind currently in existence that deals with all aspects of games in learning.


Game Based LearningBoth Rick and Lee found the exhibition informative and useful, linking the company with educators and exploring the world of education through game creation, and learning aided by games. Over the coming months, TGC aim to serve this market effectively and promote the positive aspects of the industry.

Game Based LearningYou can still visit the conference website to find out more about this event.


Twitter with TGC

The Game Creators on TwitterYou can now find The Game Creators on Twitter, and it's a great way to stay updated as things happen. Following our updates is simple, just click through and press the Follow button.





KISTech Systems 3D Modeling Contest

Pirate ShipKevin Summers of KISTech reached out to the community for spacecraft models for his project, Worlds Apart Online. Using a competition with cash prizes, he has found some great talent and a way forward for the artistic needs of the project. Here are the winners of the competition:

First - Pirate Ship

The $100 first prize goes to Neodelito for his small pirate ship. The main reason for the award was the overall skills displayed in both modelling and texturing.


Battle CruiserSecond - Solan Battlecruiser

Acid created this nicely stylised cruiser ship for the competition, receiving $50 for all of the effort put into the entry. It would be great to see this final model fully textured.

ShuttleThird - Space Cruiser

This is a small but heavily armed shuttle, complete with docking station. This entry earns SamHH the $25 prize.

Congratulations to all of the winners, and we look forward to seeing more of Worlds Apart Online in the future.


Although not affiliated with The Game Creators, permission was sought and granted by the company to promote this competition on the forums. Please ensure that you fully understand the terms and conditions of any competitions you enter, and abide by any contracts you enter into as a result.

Pure GDK Update

PureGDK for DarkBASIC Professional 

A new version of PureGDK is available. This is designed for compatibility with U72 of DarkBASIC Professional. Changes also include various bug fixes and updates.

Bug fixes


PureGDK HomepageThe PureGDK is available to download now. Existing owners can obtain this new version directly from their order history. If you do not yet own PureGDK, you can find out about all of its features and purchase the product from the website.

News from the World of FPS Creator

FPS Creator News

There is no significant FPS Creator news to report this month, but for good reason. Even development systems need a Spring clean, and thanks to last month's bumper edition of updates, we afforded the time to conduct a much Egyptian Themed Model Packneeded overhaul of our internal development and back-up systems. It's always a good idea to reformat your operating systems and start from scratch every year but when you develop non-stop you seldom get the opportunity. Thankfully the overhaul went without a hitch and we are running at full speed again.

Prior to the overhaul, we did manage to finish compatibility with all Model Packs up to 23 in FPS Creator X10 so keep your eye on the forum thread for more BETA updates as they happen. There are a few glitches left to deal with and X10 remains our top priority to ensure the models that work in X9 have the best chance to work in X10. Hopefully we are close to making the V109 BETA update official and we will let you know in a future edition of the newsletter when this happens.

As part of the X10 model pack work, we realised that some of the packs needed asset adjustments and so we took the opportunity to update all 23 model pack installers to offer X9, X10 and CUSTOM install paths so you can place your model pack content anywhere you want. Once the V209 update has been completed for X10, we will Model Pack Beta Installerannounce the release of these new model pack installers. In the meantime if you are curious there are BETA versions currently available in your Order History if you are an existing model pack customer.

During the overhaul we also decided to update our main development system to Windows Vista x64. This means that regular users of Vista and 64-bit editions will benefit as we ensure future updates work well on these systems. It has been commonly understood that Dark Basic Professional and FPS Creator X9 are NOT Vista or 64-bit supported, and we hope to change this as we work on further updates.

The Game Creator Store - New Additions

The Game Creator Store 

Free Upload Service for Game Creator Store

The Game Creator Store is now built into FPS Creator, Dark Basic Pro U73 and as a standalone application, and offers game assets for immediate download directly into your game project. The Store recently hit the 2000 item mark which was a great milestone, and a great testimony to all the artists who have contributed to this valuable source of media over the last few months.

We are delighted to help artists upload content to the store, and we want to do even more if we can. From now until the 31st May 2009 we are offering a free upload service to all artists and musicians who are signed up or wish to sign up now. This is an ideal opportunity if you have content you would like to sell but want to simplify the preparation and uploading of items. We will take your music, sky boxes and entity models (excluding segments at this stage) and upload them to the store for you - at no charge. This is a trial offer to gauge the demand for such a service and ensure that your media finds its way into the store with a minimum of fuss. This offer is also open to new store sellers once you have completed the sign-up process. If you are interested in becoming a store seller, please contact Janet, our Store Administrator directly.

New Store Additions

3D Game Props - RubbishRubbish

Breaking up open spaces or repetitive terrain is essential, easily done but often overlooked. The simplest technique is to scatter some rubbish around, and this photo-realistic and very low-priced entity is just what you need. There are other pieces of litter and papers in this range.


Wrench from The Game Creator StoreWrench Weapon

A common tool for fitting pipes and makes for a handy improvised weapon. This one is industrial sized and has seen better days. Includes VWEAP and pickup weapon entitity.

Compatible with hand skins from FPSC model packs 9-10. Includes multiple attack animations, simple and compound block animations. Simple blocking available in gunspec.txt. 

Phone Box, free 3D Game ModelPhone Box

This is one of the range of free models available in the store, and ready to download as soon as you have the Store installed, either standalone or through FPS Creator.

This model was created by X Games for one of the regular modelling competitions on the forums., and is now available for all to include in their games.

Stun Gun, FPS Weapon for FPS CreatorStun Gun

A less-lethal weapon which attempts to neutralize an opponent by temporarily disrupting the central nervous system with electric current. Includes VWEAP, pickup weapon and ammo entitities. 

Compatible with hand skins from FPSC model packs 9-10.


SCUD LauncherSCUD Launcher

This model is from the DarkMATTER collection and uses a low polygon and low resolution texture to represent a static model that does not animate. This vehicle cannot be driven or controlled but can be used as great scenery, and is one of a range of very affordable props.

All of the above models are available to purchase and download through the inbuilt Game Creator Store in FPS Creator, and also using the standalone store for other game-making tools.

Lee's Tip of the Month - Adding Skies To FPS Creator

More tips from Lee Bamber

Continuing on from last month's tip, we will take a closer look at how to take your sky box and integrate it into FPS Creator. The ability to do this has been part of FPS Creator from the very first version but has been something of a dark art known by only a few secretive users. Allow me to enlighten you on exactly what you need to do.

The media 

If you recall we had a set of six texture files which look something like this:

However in FPS Creator the file naming is a little different, and you must follow the naming conventions to the letter. We are going to rename each of these sky box texture files to look like this:

As you might be able to guess, B+F are back and front, L+R are left and right and U+D are up and down. From these descriptions we now know which files are renamed to the new format, so left and right are negative and positive X, back and front are negative and positive Z and down and up are neg and pos Y. The XYZ is the name of the sky box, which you must ensure is three letters as FPS Creator only allows three characters for the sky box name.

You will now need to convert the files to DDS format so that these skies will work not only for FPS Creator X9 but also for X10. The simplest way is to install the DirectX SDK which will add a 'convert to file format' item in the Windows Explorer popup context menu. You can simply highlight all six texture files, then right click on the highlighted area and select 'convert to file format' and click OK twice.

The next step is to obtain the model file that will be used to load the geometry for the sky box. You can simply select any of the model files from the default installation of the FPS Creator package, I suggest this one at FPS Creator\Files\skybank\natural\sns\sns.x and copy it into your own sky box folder alongside your six new sky box texture files. Now rename that file to match the format of your sky box, in our case this is xyz.x

Finally we must change the contents of the xyz.x file slightly, so right-click it and open with WordPad. You will notice the old texture files are referencing the original sky box textures which is not what we want. To make this task easier for us, we can mass rename SNS to XYZ as everything else in the model file is okay.

If you did install DirectX SDK you also have the benefit of double clicking on the model X file and having it load up in a DirectX File Viewer. If you do this now you will notice an error I have deliberately left in to show you the most common problem you will encounter when dealing with sky boxes. You will notice the different sides of the sky box do not match up.

FPSC Sky BoxesLike a rubix cube, some people can see how to fix it and some cannot. Trial and error is also a good way of solving the problem too. Fortunately I have some experience with sky boxes and know what the problem is through my trials converting SkyMATTER skies to FPS Creator skies. Use the original BMP files and load them into an art package of your choice, then 'mirror' the side textures, that is left, right, front and back sides. This will ensure the sides join up. The up and down textures are a little more tricky, but not impossible. For the SkyMATTER textures, you need to rotate the up texture by 90 degrees to the right and then mirror it, then save the new orientation. The bottom texture at the down position can simply be flipped to correct. If you use a graphics application with Macro functionality, it would be a wise idea to save these transformations under suitably named scripts.

Once all the BMP textures have been modified and saved, re-convert them to DDS and rerun the DirectX Viewer to see what should be a complete seamless sky box.

Importing into FPSC 

Now you have seven files, one model and six texture files. These can then be placed in a folder with the same name as the sky, which in our case is XYZ. Now place this as a subfolder in:

FPS Creator\Files\skybank\user

If the User folder does not exist, you can simply create a new folder called User alongside the SciFi and WW2 folders that already exist there. Now launch FPS Creator and we'll import the skybox.

Now click OK twice and then click TEST GAME to construct your level and all being well, you will see your sky surround the level.

Download mediaYou can have a different sky for each level of your FPS Creator game, adding the kind of atmosphere you want to evoke. Adding new skies gives you one more way to customise your game and in terms of screen-space represents a very big visual change to the feel and style of your levels. The media for the examples here can be downloaded to get you started.

Video Gallery

TGC Video Gallery


This is a fantastic demonstration of DarkBASIC Professional being used outside of the games arena, but still within the realms of entertainment. It uses the Bass functionality from the FFT library to analyse the music, and generate the scenery and effects in real time. Colour, object displacement and camera are all affected by the incoming stream. There are also particle effects driven by the music.

TravelHertz uses various shaders, including Cubic lighting, HDR and Parallax mapping.

DarkBASIC Professional Tutorial - Building a Platform Game Part IX

DarkBASIC Platform game tutorial 

by Andrew Vanbeck

Last Time...

Ninja Attack!Code was put to the side somewhat, and the feature concentrated on the process of animating one of the characters. It's been a couple of months and as is usually the case, there's a lot to cover this month as several lines of code have been hammered in.

This month we cover...

The game is in a much more playable state now, and barriers and portals have been added. Download and see what's been happening the last couple of months. I've also added a static 2D lightmap system, which will be explained in full next time.

Download the tutorial

Download Tutorial ProjectFrom now on the feature will be a downloadable PDF, which gives me a lot of room to play with. You can download the tutorial for this month here. If there's something you'd like me to elaborate on, or have any ideas you'd like to see in Bruce, then drop me an email: vanbsoftware@hotmail.com

Download the project

Download Tutorial ProjectAfter downloading the PDF tutorial, you will want to grab the code and media. You can download it here, and it is ready to run and work through alongside the detail on how it is achieved.

Catch up on the Progress 

Here is a reminder of the installments to date:

Part 1, Issue 62

Part 2, Issue 63 //www.thegamecreators.com/pages/newsletters/newsletter_issue_63.html

Part 3, Issue 64 //www.thegamecreators.com/pages/newsletters/newsletter_issue_64.html

Part 4, Issue 65 //www.thegamecreators.com/pages/newsletters/newsletter_issue_65.html

Part 5, Issue 67 //www.thegamecreators.com/pages/newsletters/newsletter_issue_67.html

Part 6, Issue 68 //www.thegamecreators.com/pages/newsletters/newsletter_issue_68.html

Part 7, Issue 70 //www.thegamecreators.com/pages/newsletters/newsletter_issue_70.html

Part 8, Issue 71 //www.thegamecreators.com/pages/newsletters/newsletter_issue_71.html

From the Forums

DarkGDK.net Forum Board

DarkGDK.net forumIn order to ease the search for solutions in DarkGDK and DarkGDK.net, there is now a new, separate board for the latter. There is already a chatter of activity, with solutions to common problems, consolidated FAQs and discussion about future releases.

Cosmic Prophet, Valued Member

Valued MemberThis month saw the promotion of Cosmic Prophet to Valued Member status. This is mainly due to the vast amount of free, high quality media given to the community over the months. This includes the landscaping, Hell House, and Sci-Fi packs as well as other resources including Photoshop templates.


LightPlugins for DarkGDK.net

This thread is dedicated to the Plugins of kBessa. These include LightInput, support for the X-Box 360 controller; LightPackage for packing media and resources; and LightText for advanced text features.

DarkGDK.net FAQ

A thread consolidating many of the useful hints and tips to make your coding life easier. It currently includes keyboard input techniques, pointer tips and advice on extending DarkGDK.net


Midi composing software

You can edit up to 12 tracks of midi music and Record to the wav file format and export to mp3 files later. Also supports an external midi keyboard so you can play and record music straight to the editor. Make music loops, save and use later to create songs even quicker.

Bloodshed Tournament v3.20

Public Beta. This one is not for the faint-hearted, although the level of gore can now be toned down. This looks like a promising title, with plenty of good feedback. This is one of the rare online games around, and author DL187 is providing a playing ground for the beta testing.


PlayBasic Monthly News Round-up

Playbasic News  

by Kevin Picone

Over the summer we've been feverishly working away pushing the core PlayBasic technologies further and further. Most recently this has manifested itself in new upgrades to PlayBasic, such as the V1.64I release. This incorporates greater rendering flexibility from font rendering, to maps, through the regular stream of optimizations that sneak in virtually anonymously. These changes bring the API-independent graphics engine into line with our next milestone. This is to give the 'base' engine a set of uniform abilities, regardless of the platform.

Since the release of the V1.64i, it's been a pretty light coding month with a lot focus being put various research projects. During development of PlayBasic, new technologies appear constantly. While PB was originally designed to be an inclusive language with low hardware requirements, this often means sacrificing some new bits and bobs, in order to make it available to the wider audience. However as PlayBasic evolves into PlayBasicFX we need to look at more present & future technologies. In terms of the runtime technology (VM2) we've done a lot of testing in the area previously. Our core goals here are to enable users to embrace threading (multicore) better, support modularization and dynamic native code generation. These changes would allow PB programmers to build programs that can leverage the parallel revolution seamlessly. Throughout April we'll be getting stuck back into Vm2 development more seriously. So you can look forward to more techno babble next month :)

From The PlayBasic Forums

It's been a while since we've taken a look see at what some of the PB users have been tinkering away with. One user in particular has knocked out five or so games in as many months, which is quite an achievement for somebody new to programming.

Over And Out.

Well that's it for this month, catch ya next time.

This month's Winner

Each month we pluck one lucky subscriber from the newsletter mailing list and award them a free copy of DarkBASIC Professional. The email address of this month's winner is: e*joh19@w***stream.net We have emailed the lucky winner, congratulations!


Share your news with over 20,000 active games developers!

If you have something you'd like featured in a future issue then please get in touch and include as much information as possible (including where applicable: screen shots, URLs and zip files).
Issue 76 deadline - April 27th 2009.

"My iPhone has been unable to play sound since I dropped it in a cup of coffee. After installing and playing Touch & Go it's playing sound again!"

Anonymous iPhone user
(Disclaimer: Touch & Go will not repair broken iPhones!)