Editorial - March 2010

Issue 86 cover

I added a great new word to my vocabulary this month: retrogression. It is defined as a return to a former and less complex level of development or organization. On the face of it, this may seem like a negative term, and it is in fact the antonym of progression. However, in terms of planning and designing a good game, this can be very positive. Many of the old classics - the Retro games - keep on coming back in various forms, and are still as addictive and popular today as they were all those years ago.

Whether you are desiging a retro game or not, the principles will stand you in good stead in the early stages of development. Think simple, both in terms of game structure and playability. You can add all of the things that make it really shine once you have a proven, working concept.

This month Lee shows you how to think retrogressive and code your games and applications for netbooks, whilst FPSC takes the opposite direction as we reveal some of the new upcoming features in the next release. In amongst there are reviews, tips and all of the regular features from The Game Creators newsletter.

Until next time,

Steve Vink


(1) DarkBASIC Pro (2) Intel on DBP (3) FPSC News (4) TGC Store (5) BOTB (6) Leadwerks (7) Tip Of The Month (8) From the Forums (9) FPSC Competition (10) 3D Compo (11) Winner (12) Outro

DarkBASIC Professional News - Upgrade 7.5 Update

DarkBASIC Professional

More fixes and a strategic shift in the DBP camp means U75 is looking better than ever. Thanks to the invaluable help of two top coders, those last remaining editor bugs are being squashed and the engine is being overhauled via the new SVN inspired code base system. The code base is currently being used and tested internally, but the system is set up to expose the command modules of the Google Codelanguage on GoogleCODE and we will be able to announce that soon. As part of the overhaul, we are rebuilding all the modules in DBP, which means we must rebuild and test the FPS Creator source that accompanies the U75 Extras zip as well. The upshot is that U75 will be a fresh set of binaries built on a newer version of the Windows SDK. We have also developed a module which allows you to sell your DBP applications on the Intel AppUp store, so checkout the tip of the month on how to do that. The U75 beta is still available from the DBP forum, so if you want to check out the latest version, make a prudent back-up and go download the beta.

Countdown Timer Plugin

ShaunRW has created a DarkBASIC Professional plugin that provides two simple timing systems. These are:

Timer Commands for DarkBASIC ProfessionalTwo commands are also provided to get the Performance counter and Performance frequency, which can be used to make your own high resolution timing functions. The download includes help files that explain how each command works.

Stereoscopic Alliances


The Stereoscopic 3D Gaming Alliance announced two new members in February, the first of these being The Game Creators. "Stereoscopic 3D gaming is the most exciting and engaging way to deliver an immersive game experience, and only recently have we gained the technology and momentum to do this properly" says Lee Bamber. "S3DGA has been instrumental in driving this by creating the needed alliances between hardware manufacturer, software developer and the games playing public. s3dgaTGC recognizes the importance of S3DGA, and are proud to have been accepted as a member."

To put it in perspective, the second new member of S3DGA is HDMI Licensing. They are responsible for the HDMI connector on the back of most HDTVs. Their new HDMI 1.4 connector features official stereoscopic 3D support, and is expected to be the back-end of the majority of peripherals including 3D Blu-Ray players, Sony PlayStations, and more. It would be fair to say that with the support of HDMI, the technology is truly mainstream.

For those unfamiliar with S3DGA, the S-3D Gaming Alliance is considered the official voice and standards body for stereoscopic 3D gaming. Some of its leading members include LG Electronics, RealD, iZ3D and more. S3DGA is both non-profit and non-proprietary. Similar to the way the industry rallied around 3D Blu-Ray, S3DGA is a successful movement that is focused on making stereoscopic 3D gaming successful.

Dark Game Studio Bonanza


Special offer while stocks last: Dark Game Studio, Dark Physics, Dark Lights, Dark AI and Extends for an incredibly low price of $49.99. Save over $170!

Creating your own PC games is now easier than ever with this special compilation of game making tools:

Order Now

Order the BonanzaSave over $170 on this special deal. Be sure to check out the screen shots and the online videos. You can of course order safely and securely online, for delivery via postal mail.

iRepton - Retro is the new Black

iReptonAnyone who grew up in the eighties will remember the BBC B and Repton, one of the most popular games of the era. Superior Interactive iReptonhave breathed life into this classic, porting it firstly to the PC and now to the iPhone. It's not a TGC creation (unfortunately!), but it's a great example of how Retro is both alive and also the ideal genre for mobile games. The simple approach that was once forced upon makes a perfect framework within which to create compact yet addictive titles.

The eponymous protagonist, Repton, is a lizard that crawls around in an underground maze in a quest to collect diamonds by moving earth, pushing rocks and avoiding monsters! If you're a fan of logic puzzles, or just fancy a break from aimlessly wandering around shooting things then iRepton is for you!

With enhanced graphics and sound, iRepton introduces this classic game to a new generation on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Ideal for all players, from children to seasoned puzzlers.

iRepton is available to buy now for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the Apple App Store

Free Products from The Game Creators
FPS Creator   -   DarkBASIC   -   2000 Store Points

Intel Demo AppUp using DBP

Bob Duffy is the Intel Community Manager. Here, he launches DarkBasic Professional from Intel's AppUp Center on his Netbook (Dell Mini 10). Bob shows off some of the prebuilt projects loaded with this version of DarkBASIC, including first person shooter and texture effects. Of all the applications available through AppUp, it's fantastic to see DBP highlighted as the one application that shows off the store and the technology together.

FPS Creator Updates

FPS Creator News

FPS Creator MigrationFPSC X9

With the SVN code base established, and our first modder participant selected, the open source project is underway internally. The latest version of the code requires a new build of the commands, currently undergoing a beta test in the DarkBASIC Pro forum. Once Update 7.5 of DBPro is finally released, it will be 100% compatible with the code available through GoogleCODE. This means you can compile the exact same version as the official FPSC V117 but also make your own additions, and even submit them to TGC via GoogleCODE for consideration. We also recognise that contributions alone will not deliver all the features you are looking forward to, and development of FPSC will still continue by the original team!

ODE PhysicsIn the forum we also had a few pages of unrest with concern over the final shape of the migration version, specifically relating to key features that have yet to appear. Based on this feedback, we have added two key features of the migration version into the current internal build of V117. We have improved the physics with the latest version of the ODE module and added in the ability for characters to be given a rag doll script. As the software must maintain the age rating, this script will not be made available in the official update but will be made available through the forum to anyone who wants it. The rag doll system allows characters to fall over and follow the contours of the surface they fall onto, and the system accounts for scale too. With the completion of DBP U7.5, the V117 source code will be publicly available through GoogleCODE so you will not only be able to check out the cool new rag doll feature, but every other feature we check in. For a list of these features, you will find a thread in the FPSC Chat called '-*FPSC Migration Discussion Thread*-'. A definitive list of the likely order of these features can be found here.

V117 Video Preview

As previously mentioned, we work closely with some of our more experienced contributors to make FPS Creator an even better experience for both the users and also their game players. Mark Blosser has been working away on some feature enhancements for the next release of the engine, including:

You can preview these effects now in this video, a walkthrough of a level with these features enabled. The demo here shows the "Elite Room" segment from X10 running in X9.

FPSC X10FPS Creator X10

As some of you may have read in the X10 forum, shortly after we release V110 officially we will be preparing a special kit which will allow you to compile your own version of the X10 game engine. This means you will be able to enjoy the same ability to mod X10 as the X9 users have enjoyed for over a year now. As a bonus, you will also get your hands on a legacy copy of Dark Basic Pro that has the ability to compile DirectX 10 applications. Although the X10 source code and special build of DBP are unsupported, it should not prevent you from stepping through the code and making changes and additions to suit your project. Look out for an announcement in the X10 forum, shortly after the official release of V110.

Interactive Art Show

Interactive Art Show

Interactive Art Show is a site dedicated to the talents of a number of artists, including Kelly (aka Dark Vomit). What sets this apart from other similar sites is that the pictures adorn an FPSC gallery in amongst an FPS game. You may recall a similar application was featured in issue 84, showing that a little imagination can find many ways to use your game engine. You can download and view the full gallery in a game at the Interactive Art Show website.


Interactive Art Show


Let there be Light

Sunlight, to be more specific. Søren Buus Andersen has a number of tutorials for hobbyist game makers on his site, YourGameDesign.com. One that is of particular interest, and provides stunning results, is his short but comprehensive guide to creating convincing sunlight in your outdoor scenes. From a simple approach to quick results, through to more detailed parameter settings for the best output, this tutorial will dramatically change your FPSC games.


Special Offer while Stocks Last - $22.99, Save Over $150.00!

Take advantage of this whopping special offer! Get FPS Creator and 9 Model Packs for an incredibly low price of $29.99 USD (€22.00 EUR, £19.99 GBP). This deal includes:

Click here to purchase the Bonanza pack, including FPS Creator
for just $29.99 / €22.00 / £19.99


The Game Creator Store - New Additions

The Game Creator Store 

Free Points for Simple Tasks

The Game Creators have teamed up with the leading providers of virtual currency; perform a few simple tasks and top up your Store points. As well as being able to take up exciting offers and receiving potentially thousands of points, there are a host of other tasks to earn rewards. Watch a movie trailer, rate search results, answer questions, tag photos or choose from a host of activities that will ultimately earn you any of the high quality models and resources to make your game shine.

How do I Earn my Free points?

It's extremely easy to start earning. Open the Store, through FPS Creator , DBPro or the standalone version. Log in to your account and select the Buy Points option. Below the regular payment options you'll find links to gWallet, Offerpal, DoubleDing and TrialPay. You'll immediately find yourself in amongst the tasks and offers available, and can start earning immediately by watching a movie trailer or two!

Right now, you can enter two competitions to win a laptop and £1,000, fill in a quick survey and earn enough points to help yourself to any of Bond's highly professional Egyptian characters. You won't have spent anything other than a few minutes of your time, and may even bag yourself a top prize too; what are you waiting for!

Top up your Points by Mobile  

Pay by MobileYou can also purchase 500 Store Points directly with your mobile phone. You don't need a credit card or payment details, simply enter your request on the Store payment page along with your mobile number. This service is available in the UK, United States and the following European countries - Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Other countries may become available at a future date.

Upload Your Assets to The Game Creator Store

Did you know you can sell your models, segments, music and sky boxes in the Game Creator Store? We already have dozens of artists selling their media, and we welcome anyone with the talent to provide our community with quality assets to do the same. If you are interested in becoming a store seller, please contact Janet, our Store Administrator directly.

New Store Additions

American Football HelmetHelmet

This is one model of many that have been uploaded to the store in the last month from Model Pack 33. Now you can buy the full pack from fpscreator.com, or download the individual items through your store account. Other items from this pack include boxing gloves, basketball and baseball bat.




Anvil Low Poly Model


This seemingly sedate anvil is a great centrepiece for a medieval or industrial scene. With a 1024x1024 texture including normal and specular maps it can add a high level of realism and detail at very little cost to your poly count.



Galvanised ShedOutdoor Shed Game Model

A nicely modeled rusty old farm shed. This would make good temporary cover for players without providing too much protection. The other items you see in this scene, including the tractor, are also available to download from the store from seller X Games.



Cityscape SkyboxCityscape

The finishing touches to any game can make a big impact, never underestimate the importance of a good skybox. This one features a cityscape in daylight and is absoluteley free. From forests to space, there are a number of free skyboxes to download and use now.

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

Best Of The Best - Alpha Project

Best of the Best

Developed by Lewis

The Story: BioTech Industries. An organization known worldwide for their research into curing diseases no one thought was possible. Backed by the United Kingdom and the United States, they use government funding to extend their research in extending the capabilities of the human immune system.

You play the role of James Hunt, an ex army British security officer who migrated to the United States branch of BioTech, switching jobs to BioTech as a member of security. The job vacancy didn't specify what exactly he would be doing, although the promise of a high salary was enough to attract him in. It was the first day you started work when everything went wrong. 

This BOTB entry found itself installed on the desktop of Lee Bamber, who has this to say:

Alpha Project - Best of the Best"Normally, I don't have time to play games, but through a series of emails and links, I found myself playing a few levels of Alpha Project and I was gob-smacked. It feels slick and professional, and really pulls you into the plight of the character. The 'look behind you' trick was classic, had my heart thumping, so thanks for that! Reminded me of those System Shock II moments where you hear them scraping about, and you know they're going to eat you, and all you have is a stick, but you have to keep moving forward. Personally, it has inspired me to put some of those nice features into the official version of FPSC such as fast 60fps which gives you that slick control over the mouselook and movement. The scripting took me by surprise. I knew it was possible in theory to do nice things with the FPI system, but to see it blended with great graphics and practical game requirements gave me a real buzz. Amazing talent, very inspiring. Lee wants more!"

Download Alpha Project, an FPSC gameDownload and play Alpha Project now, be aware that it's 192 MB in total!


Best Of The Best Entries

BOTB CriteriaThe criteria for gaining entry into the BOTB has increased. The media, skills and abilities in the community is reaching new levels. You can read the full criteria in the new thread on the forums.

Best of The Best Archives

ArchivesThe BOTB:Archives is where you'll find all of the award recipients that either predate the Very Best of the Best, or no longer have a valid link to their demo. Feel free to peruse the numerous entries and give kudos to the Developers who helped start FPSCreator's Best of the Best

Leadwerks Engine 2.3

leadwerks Engine 

By Josh Klint

Upgrade to 2.3 before March 31st 2010

Owners of prior versions of LeadWerks Engine can upgrade to 2.3 until the end of March 2010. After this date, only the full version can be purchased. If you want to upgrade and take advantage of all of the new features for just $50 USD, then act now! Here's a reminder of the new features:

Features Summary

Leadwerks EngineExisiting users can upgrade to Leadwerks Engine 2.3 for just $50 until the end of March 2010, adding the wealth of new features to the programming toolbox. If you are interested in purchasing the product for the first time, check out the dedicated web page with the full details and ordering options.

Cartography Shop is now free

Cartography Shop is freeCartography Shop was designed with the philosophy that ease-of-use and power are not antagonistic. No other modeler automates processes like UV mapping and light calculation, yet still allows low-level access to all elements of a scene. This is a tool designed for the mass production of media, using the fewest number of mouse clicks possible to generate the high-quality results you need.

Download your copy now for free - http://cartographyshop.thegamecreators.com/


Lee's Tip of the Month - Stepping Up With AppUp

More tips from Lee BamberUnless you have been living in a deep dark cave, you will have noticed the recent surge in the number of app stores gracing the digital highway. You can't turn a virtual page without learning of another application outlet popping into existence. Most of these stores are mobile based, so why mention them in my PC centric tip this month? Well it just so happens the PC has just got its own app store, thanks to those clever boffins at Intel.

A great many coders set out with the intention of someday selling their creations and striking gold, and some of those have discovered the road to riches was getting longer, narrower and steeper. Publishers intent on making projects larger and more expensive moved the goal posts into orbit for the indie and hobby developer, but no longer. With the success of self-publishing and now through application stores, bedroom and basement programmers once again have a genuine commercial opportunity to create and sell games in a relatively new and unexplored market.

For applications and games that currently run on Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, you can get your title into one of the bigger app stores right now! Before I rant on too much, why not check out the store called AppUp:


From this humble portal, your application will be AppUp Centeradvertised to millions of netbook users around the world from which you will receive a very generous royalty for every copy sold. The store is being pre-installed onto millions of netbooks, which means your game will reach a LOT of people in a very short time. So how do you get your app into the store?

Fortunately this question is answered in detail when you register to get the AppUp SDK, together with a huge collection of support material and an active and helpful forum. The SDK was designed for C and C++ programmers, which made the implementation of the AppUp authorization code a little tricky for DBP coders. For that reason, I have prepared a simple tutorial and module to help you get your application ready for a netbook and the AppUp store. If you are still asking yourself why you should bother, consider that this store is brand new and the first applications and games on there should do amazingly well. To put my money where my mouth is, I made sure that DBP and FPSC were available through the AppUp store as soon as I could get my hands on the SDK, it's a great opportunity!

Getting your Application on AppUp 

Briefly, there are three stages to getting your application on AppUp:

The danger here is that I could easily launch into a catch-all article how these three stages break-down but my aim is not to bore you but to get you excited and tooled up to get your software selling. To that end, I will give you my own experiences on these stages so you get an idea how smoothly it can go.

Stage 1 - Ensure the app runs on the lowest specification netbook

Application performance is crucial on all platforms. For netbooks it is critical. Remember that all of your comforts are scaled down, you can't expect your users to be running the latest power hungry dual graphics card over copious amounts of RAM. Netbooks are compact, and that's how you need to think.

Primarily, we need to focus on desktop resolution and processor-hungry features. To ensure your application works on all netbooks, the initial issue I found that warranted new code was not to assume a fixed or minimum desktop resolution. Instead, use GET DESKTOP WIDTH and GET DESKTOP HEIGHT right at the start of your application, and then SET DISPLAY MODE to that resolution at 32 bit. This will ensure you get a full screen experience, and you can use the width and height to proportionally space your on-screen assets accordingly.

Also be aware that netbooks are not desktops, so scale any performance hungry features right back and add them back in as optional extras in a menu or setup file. From my experience, those are the only two issues I had to think about and solving them completes stage one.

Stage 2 - Implement and test the authorization system

As with all application delivery systems, there is an authorizations system.  In stage 2, we discuss the detail, but ultimately you can follow a very simple stepped procedure to implement the system. You can read the technicalities in detail should you choose, but as this is a once-only process and distracts you from your actual application, it is wise to simply follow the process.

After going through various iterations of implementing the AppUp SDK, I realised it would be a nightmare for a DBP coder to go through the same process as me. So instead of leaving you to the mercy of the SDK, I wrote a module and example project for all DBP users called APPUPPLUGIN.DLL which made the process a whole lot simpler.

Stage 3 - Create an MSI installer

Once you have finished your application and the release version of your AppUp authentication code has been integrated, you are ready to create your installer. As the application will be served through the AppUp client, it needs to be packaged as an MSI installer. You need to wrap your application and media in this MSI installer ready for the Atom Developer website. Below are some tips to creating a good MSI installer for AppUp:

1. Use an off-the-shelf MSI installer maker such as Wise. These kind of products are reliable and sturdy, and will allow you to focus on application development instead of installer creation and tweaking.

2. Remember that the AppUp authentication code is dependent on some external system files, and the best way to assure that the target system has these files is to use Merge Modules inside your MSI installer. For example you will need to include merge modules for:

3. As DBP applications are DirectX based (October 2006) you will also require your MSI Installer to silently install the above version of DirectX system files to the target PC. To do this, you can obtain the October 2006 REDIST files direct from the Microsoft website and copy the REDIST folder into your final installation files. From within your MSI installer, you can provide a command after the files have been installed to the target system to launch the "DXSETUP.EXE /silent" which will install DirectX silently.

4. Finally, it is highly recommended that you test your final MSI installer on a NetBook before submitting to the AppUp store for approval. Issues of resolution, performance, missing system files and other issues may arise and finding them early will save you weeks within the approval process.

Each stage might look a little overwhelming at first, but these are the simple steps to getting your application selling on the store. For help with the details of these steps, and specifically about registering, obtaining a GUID, submitting your application and observing the guidelines the Atom Developer site has all the information you need plus a great forum. There has never been a better time to be an indie or hobby developer, with so many technologies to hand and a myriad of distribution points, we're small enough to take big risks and agile enough to change direction without losing momentum. Now go forth and create wonderful things!

If you do manage to publish a game on the AppUp store using DBPro then please write to us and we'll mention it in a future newsletter.

From the Forums


BlitzTerrain V2.00

Exactly one year since the release of the first beta, BlitzTerrain version 2 is now in beta. The forum thread is fast approaching one thousand posts and this latest release will surely push it past the 1K mark. The latest version includes a number of improvements, particularly in performance.

Odd Blox

The game has two main parts to it, the first is a set of mini-games of varying degrees of difficulty and the second is a "Free-Build/Destroy" Mode where you can construct or destroy whatever you want. There are a number of tools which can be used to build connections between blocks.


Boredom Shooters

Boredom Shooters is a third person shooter arcade game. Its a very simple game where the main objective is to simply survive. Fight off the zombies alone or with friends. Not your friends!? Destroy them in 3 different multiplayer game types.

Darkvee's 2D Shooter

This is a simple but addictive 2D arcade shooter. There are multiple stages, with 4 levels per stage. Fighting the increasing onslaught of UFOs with firepower and the three power bombs you get to make your way through each level.


The Big FPSC Christmas Competition II

FPS Creator Christmas Competition II

by Nickydude 

Due to a lack of entries this year, the competition has had to be cancelled. We hope to bring you other competitions at a later date, if we find there is demand for such a competition. In the meantime, we apologise to those of you that made the effort and wish you luck with your games.


3D Modeling Competition

By BiggAdd, MikeS and David Gervais

3D Master on The Game Creator ForumsOut Of This World proved to be a popular theme for the modeling competition, with plenty of high quality entries. In fact, the judging was extremely difficult, with the judges and other moderators having divided opinions over which were the ultimate three winners.

3D Master Champion - Greenlig

A bug by any other name could very well be an alien in disguise. But seriously, this is a great entry from concept to execution. The render brings this bug to life, it looks slimy, yuk! Greenlig managed a vote in each category from the judges, that places him up as 3D Master, excellent work!

 Lazerus - best 3D Model3D Master - Best Model - Lazerus

The things our alien friends have to watch, a space battle in plain sight, someone pass the popcorn. Nice after effects on this render; Lazerus receives the award for Best Model, since we got a bit more of a look at it as he progressed through the WIP for this compo.



 3D Best Texture3D Master - Best Texture - The Crazy

Are you a Star Wars fan? David Gervais is , and can comment on the great scene render, excellent x-wing models and the environment is well built. Great job, and congratulations on the award for Best Texture.

As mentioned, the standard was very high in this competition, and we would like to mention a couple of close contenders. Zaphos created a great render of his Rankor model. The detail on this model is amazing, we'd love to see it rigged and in motion. As it wasn't created specifically for the competition, it was deemed only fair to exclude it from the awards, but could not be left without an honourable mention. Dr Parsnip created an interesting scene that is out of this world to say the least. Lots of detail and imagination went into this one; we like the overall feel of the scene composition. If there was an award for Best Scene, then this would have claimed the prize.

Rankor by Zaphos Dr Parsnip - Out of this World


March Modeling Competition 

 Full details will be posted in the 3D Chat forum.


How the 3D Modeling Competitions Work 

Competition EntryThe accolades for the winners are retained until the next competition winners, and are as follows:

3D Champion3DMaster - Champion awarded to the overall winner in the competition, an entry which displays both modeling and texturing excellence.

3D Best Model3DMaster - Best Model awarded to the runner up who demonstrates the finest modeling skills in the competition.

3D Best Texture3DMaster - Best Texture awarded to the runner up who demonstrates texturing wizardry in the competition.

The awards will cling to your Avatar until the results of the following competition are announced. So to keep your award, you must defend your honour in battle once again!

This month's Winner

Each month we pluck one lucky subscriber from the newsletter mailing list and award them 2,000 Game Creator Store points. The email address of this month's winner is: ilari.*e*a*en@hotmail.com We have emailed the lucky winner, congratulations!


Share your news with over 22,000 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 87 deadline - March 26th 2010.

"We must remember that one determined person (Lee) can make a significance, and that a small group of determined people (the TGC Community) can change the course of history."

Sonia Johnson