Editorial - May 2010

Issue 88 cover

I'm a software developer's worst nightmare. As a technical analyst, it's my job to work out why programs misbehave, how to work around the issues and ultimately what needs to be done to make it behave. When it comes to using new tools, you can guarantee I'll have a substantial list of issues for what was thought to be the perfect deployment.

One of the most important stages of development is testing. Unfortunately we don't all have the luxury of having an army of testers for our creations. What is generally available, however, is friends and family who will be more than happy to be the privileged first players of your game. Along with the game, you'll need to provide them with their mission as testers.

The obvious thing to do is hand over the software and say "tell me what you think". The response will most likely be that it looks goods and plays well, and can you add a few more features please. As flattering as it might be, this is not what you want. Make sure you instruct your testers to break your game. You've spent so long focusing on what makes it work that you will have overlooked what makes it fail. Your team of fresh eyes must find the flaws, essentially by doing anything that they shouldn't. Then - and only then - will you have a stable program ready for deployment.

This month Lee focuses on an important feature of any game to make it work every time in his Tip of the Month. Anyone wanting to dig deeper can check out the Google Code repositories. We have news and results from various competitions, and highlights of games and applications from the community.

Until next time,

Steve Vink

Take Control


(1) Site News (2) iPad Apps (3) DarkBASIC Pro (4) QMidi (5) FPSC News (6) TGC Store (7) FPSC Competition (8) DarkGDK (9) Tip Of The Month (10) 3D Compo (11) Lightning Limbs (12) From the Forums (13) Winner (14) Outro

New Look Website

Easier Site MenusAs announced last month, we now have a new look website. Navigation is simpler, the best deals can be found wherever they are relevant and your personal account details are reorganised for ease of use.

Over a year's worth of work has gone into this ground up redesign. While it will look very similar to what you are used to, you will find it a much more simplified and pleasurable experience. We'd love to hear what you think of the revamp in the forums.




Goals! Ultra on the iPad

Goals! Ultra on iPadThe success of Goals! on the iPhone made the decision on whether to port it to the iPad a very simple one to make. In fact, it was such an obvious transition that it was completed before the iPad became available to the public.

Dave Milton has pushed the boundaries of the game yet again by taking advantage of the significantly larger playing area, allowing the full pitch to be viewed. This is scroll-free arcade football at it's very best. Add the enhanced element of two player action on the same iPad and this becomes a new era in gameplay.

You can read an independent review on the Pocket Gamer website, and download from the App Store now.

Download Goals! Ultra
Stop Press! iDork XL and Smack It XL are also now available in the App Store for iPad users. Both games are high res versions and have their own unique iPad designs.
There's one other Apple related news item to mention. In the UK we're having a general election with the main parties fighting it out to take control of the country. All we see on the news are the politicians. So TGC decided to make an iPhone game where you could really make your vote count. The result is Smack It! Election. It's a free game and adds some light hearted fun during election week.

DarkBASIC Professional News - Upgrade 7.5 Update

DarkBASIC Professional

Perhaps the longest beta since DBP was launched many years ago, U75 continues to refine its interface to meet the high demands of exacting DBP users who want the best editor for their coding endeavours. A number of fixes have been released as part of BETA11, both in the main interface and the command modules as well. Initially we had planned only to focus on the interface, and members of the community indicated that tackling Google Codesome of the more prevalent issues in the commands as well would be a prudent step. For the very latest information on what has been fixed, changed and added you can visit the main source code sharing site at http://code.google.com/p/darkbasicpro/ where you will get to read the logs we post each time we make a change to the source. Currently we have about 3-4 outstanding interface issues being looked at, and intend to keep the beta open for as long as there are good reports coming in regarding the interface. U74 is the last update using the legacy interface and it serves many users well, so there is no dire rush to get U75 released to official status, which means we have the time to get it right. To all those who have helped with the beta test so far we extend our gratitude, and if you have not yet checked out the beta, you are welcome to download it and give the new interface a spin. Just remember to back-up your files before getting involved in the underbelly of beta version!


Soup, a DarkBASIC Professional gameA small game created by Cowbox. It's a puzzle game where you are left to work out how to make your way through the maze of challenges on your own. It's a nice challenge, frustrating at times, but a good example of how you can quickly create something original in DarkBASIC Professional. The foSoup Forum Threadrum thread provides details of some of the technicalities behind the game, along with the latest download.

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.

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

Qmidi 3 Music Composer

Qmidi 3SMD_3D Interactive has released the latest beta of Qmidi 3 Music Composer, soon to be followed by the full version. Written in DarkBASIC Professional, this application lets you load and save Midi files, and edit them in a host of different ways. It is adequately featured to create game music Qmidi 3 on the forumsloops using pasting and dragging of notes around the canvas, along with full track editing and more. The video demonstrates the creation of a music loop using the application, which is fully detailed in the forums, where you will also find download links.



FPS Creator Updates

FPS Creator News

FPS CreatorFPSC X9 X9

You may remember that last month we revealed the V117 internal version of FPSC has BLOOM and DEPTH OF FIELD. Shortly after that article, we deleted the depth of field due to the fact we would have had to rewrite all our shaders and impose complicated rules on any shaders written by third parties. Then - seeing that we missed depth of field so much - we put it back. The second time around however, we had the rather cunning idea of using the fixed function pipeline fog feature to artificially create a way to detect the distance of a pixel from the camera. To cut a long and highly technical story short, we have created a depth of field post-process effect which allows all the shaders to remain unchanged, just like bloom. However, it will not only blur parts of the scene that are outside of the focal position of the camera, but provide a second unexpected feature as a by-product of having only used a quarter of the available bandwidth at our disposal. We found that our depth of field effect could also act as a distortion effect by passing in displacement offset data in the form of rendered textures into the depth frame that held our distance information.

Shader EffectsThis sounds extremely complex and quite frankly bewildering. What exactly does this array of technical terms mean to you as an FPSC game designer? We are not yet at the stage where we can create media or workable in-game features, but the technology now exists to pass in custom distortion patterns that affect the final scene rendering. In real terms this could mean:

and anything else that would cause the final output pixel to be deliberately shifted. We already have one very excited artist thinking about the media for this, and although we are some way from something we can demonstrate, you are welcome to take sneak peaks in the V117 Google code site as we continue to work with what is turning out to be the biggest update we have ever produced.  In other migration news, you will be pleased to learn we have dropped the less than perfect debug screen you see when you hit TAB in test game and replaced it with the nice snazzy resource meter from X10, meaning you can see FPS, physics, entity and other metrics via a cool looking status bar instead of tiny yellow text. Perhaps the biggest change has been the continued work on the DarkAI elements of the update, bringing over more goodies from X10 combined with the fresh take on scripting AI behaviour thanks to Hockeykid. The engine does a pretty good job of creating optimised obstacles for the AI to work around, and the next task on our considerable plate is to implement cross-container gateways. In short, this means that characters will soon have the ability to use the AI to navigate up stairs, through complex multi-level layouts and even target and shoot from multiple layers as well.  When we're done, you'll find the AI well worth the wait.  

FPSC X10FPS Creator X10

For those of you who missed the details in the last newsletter, we launched V110 and soon after V111 into the world along with a special kit which allows modders to take the X10 source code and change it with their own ideas. Well no sooner had the X10 modders kit been released to the Google Code Site than modders appeared to fill the void, and post their experiences on the forum. The first of the mods include updating the timer system to remove the FPS cap and allow your game to run as fast as the host machine will allow. Another new improvement introduced by Daniel Wright and Budokaiman is the double-sized development grid, allowing for much larger levels.

If you are interested in learning what else the modding community have planned, you can visit the forum now and check out the X10 threads. We're going to let V111 settle now and collect feedback on the successes and failures of the new built-in store. Currently you have to select the X9 filter in the store to view all the items available for download. We plan to activate the items for X10 in the coming months, but with over 3000 game assets to test you can imagine it's a lot of work.  If you do experience a problem with an item, you can email the store administrator directly at janet@thegamecreators.com who will set the compatibility flag accordingly.

FPSC - No need to be Square

We're featuring this image for no other reason than it found it's way into the TGC mailbox, and is simply beautiful. We look forward to seeing the project come to fruition and revealing the full depths of the levels and gameplay.


FPSC showcase


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 - Updates and New Additions

The Game Creator Store 

Game Creator Store Update

Store UpdateA minor update to the store has been released. This corrects an issue that has arisen as a result of there now being over 100 artists contributing to the store. You can download the update here, you simply need to replace the executable file with the one you'll find in the zip file. Users of the Game Creator Store via FPS Creator and the DarkBASIC Professional editor can expect the update shortly.

Pick up free Store Points

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.

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!

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


It breathes fire, attacks and flies. Hear the beat of its wings overhead. When it lands on the player, it will burn fiercely and becomes a firebird. You have to shoot this creature from a long distance to kill it, eventually falling from the sky screaming. 



Heavy Load

Heavy Load Action

High-quality, seamlessly loopable track full of guitar-shredding goodness! This is for all developers who think their games should have more than just real guitars - they need awesome guitars, great riffs, and killer leads! Perfect for any production focused on action.



This is a sci-fi variation of the Armored Personal Carrier (APC) by Insomnia. It includes a 1024x1024 texture, normal and specular maps. Very useful battlefield element!





These underwater enemies will follow and attack when close enough. The download includes underwater sounds.

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.

The FPSC Photographer

FPSC Photographer Competition 

Photo CompoGunn3r, one of our FPSC Best Of The Best Developers, has created a mini competition in the forums. Here are the details, as outlined in the forum thread:

Photo Competition in FPSCCreate a map in FPS Creator based on the theme of this competition. Then, walk around in your environment and take several screenshots; capturing the atmosphere of your scene. Out of those pictures, pick your best 5, crop them to 800x600, and then upload them to this thread to show off your photography talent! The most professionally captured scene and presented album will win!

This Month's Theme

May 14th, 2010



The Best Photo Album (The Winner)

Please note that this competition is being run by Gunn3r, who is providing all of the prizes and administration of the competition. Good luck, and we hope to see this competition continue into the future.

DarkGDK in Education


Did you know that DarkGDK is used by over 90 Campuses in the US from Miami to Florida, to teach C++ and games programming? It's taught in conjunction with a book entitled Starting Out with Games & Graphics in C++, authored by Tony Gaddis. Here are just two of the comments from the teaching staff in these institutions.

Starting Out With Games & Graphics in C++
Buy the book at Amazon

"I have taught C++ programming for several years at a community college, and we have tried several textbooks and programming environments. Tony Gaddis' "Starting Out with Games & Graphics in C++" has been by far our best experience, and we plan to keep using it indefinitely. Students really enjoy programming graphics and audio. It is so easy and educational with the Dark GDK and Tony's book. They learn not only C++ basics, but also the fundamentals of pixel-pushing and wav/mp3/midi. We keep more students interested and excelling through this graphics approach. And the book is written so clearly, in a step-by-step tutorial fashion, that individuals could use it standalone to teach themselves C++ and the Dark GDK."
Mark Atkins, Assistant Professor, Ivy Tech

"I wanted a simple way to bring game programming into my entry level course, Computer Science 1. Tony Gaddis' book "Starting Out with Games and Graphics in C++" and the Dark GDK, are the ideal solutions. The up-to-date and engaging applications can be written on a level even beginning programmers can grasp. The students have responded favorably and we're having a lot of fun with this new approach."
Anastasia Tircuit, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Seton Hill University

Tony Gaddis is the author of many technical titles, spanning various languages including Visual Basic, Java and C++. Alongside the array of languages are a wealth of topics from the languages themselves to their implementation, application design and programming techniques. This title takes an innovative approach to learning C++, by using the DarkGDK library from the outset.

There are many ways to learn new skills, and the approach taken here is to start small and build up the full skillset over the course of the book. As the author puts it, start by getting your feet wet rather than diving straight in and hoping you swim rather than sink. It is this approach which makes it easy to pick up the book and start at your current level of experience.

With so many books on the market teaching the language, a unique approach is required to stand out from the rest. In this case, it is the ability to learn C++, Dark GDK, programming techniques and design approaches all side-by-side. Being game and graphics oriented, it's a more informal and fun way to get started with what can be an otherwise arduous task.

What is DarkGDK?

For those of you unfamiliar with DarkGDK, it is a free professional game development environment. The Game Creators' flagship C++ game development package is now included free of charge with Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Express, part of the Microsoft Visual Studio Express range.

The download provides beginner and advanced tutorials including:

DarkGDKCheck out the full details of DarkGDK on the website, including everything you need to know to download, install and get started with your first game.

Face Tracking Technology

This video on YouTube illustrates fantastic use of camera tracking technology using a full head and the position in 3D space. The prototype application is created using Visual C++ and DarkGDK.



Lee's Tip of the Month - The Power of Appname$()

More tips from Lee Bamber

In the fast paced cut and thrust world of application development, it is often the case that you are so focused on the code you are writing that you fail to appreciate the bigger picture. You would think then that as soon as the parts are assembled, you would dedicate a huge proportion of catch-up time to testing your application for the widest compatibility. My recent experiences demonstrated that even the most seasoned developers (me) can still make classic mistakes, and so my tip this month is to share the problem and the solution.

The Problem: Launch Failure

When a number of applications failed to Program Problemslaunch under the new AppUp store - run by Intel - confusion arose as all local tests were fine. It transpires that AppUp, alongside many other methods of execution, does not change the working folder (current directory) to the same place as all the application media. It had been assumed that the application could function irrespective of where the current directory is situated. Normally this is true for a simple program, but when you are loading media you need to know where you are before you know what you can load. Get it wrong and your end user is left with a runtime error message that you never saw during your tests.

The Solution: Simple Checking

As simple as this solution is, it is worth sharing the full details and describe what the code does:

for n=len(app$) to 1 step -1
  if mid$(app$,n)="\" or mid$(app$,n)="/"
next n
set dir apppath$

As you can see, the first line holds the magic, discovering the full absolute path of the application that is running. So if you run it from your program files folder, you might see something like this returned:

app$="C:\Program Files\My Program\MyApp.exe"

The rest of the code is a reversed loop which detects the last occurrence of the \ or / symbol. This determines where the absolute path ends and the filename begins. You then separate the path from the filename, and use the path to set the new current directory. The LEFT$() and RIGHT$() commands are perfect for this task and although we do not use the filename part of the extraction, it can be useful to know what the application you are running is called.

If you are looking to publish in the AppUp store, you will need to add this code to the very top of your program as all applications are launched remotely. Similarly if the existing working folder is important to you, simply include the APPPATH$ string to your media calls (i.e. LOAD BITMAP APPPATH$+"\title.jpg") which loads the media without changing the working folder. Using either of these techniques will ensure your application will run from anywhere, and when you send your application into the world it's that kind of functionality you want to have on your side.

May 3D Modeling Competition

By BiggAdd, MikeS and David Gervais

April Winners

The Back To Basics competition brought a lot of talent to the forefront yet again. Here are the winners and other worthy entrants.

3D Champion   Best Texture
Best Model
Bullets & Clip   Visitors


May Competition

Stone Mason's Apprentice

No more Poly counts, no more primitive restrictions, we're letting you loose again to be as creative as you can possibly be. The rules are simple..

Chisel, Carve, Scratch, Grind and Build something out of Stone!

Contest runs up to and including May 26 2010
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!

Lightning Limbs, a DarkBASIC Classic Application

Lightning LimbsA recent thread in the DarkBASIC Classic board has brought this little gem of a program up to the surface. It allows you to load models, create and save animation sequences. Robert the Robot released the original version over two years ago, and is now revisiting it to make and hopefully release improvements. The original release went through various stages of improvement after user feedback, including the ability to load a background video as a reference for your animations.

Here are the features you can find in the original version:

Lightning LimbsYou can download Lightning Limbs from the Mythrada Software website, this is a freeware product. You can also keep up with discussions on the updated version on the forums.

From the Forums


DB Classic Challenges

This long running thread is still alive and attracting some interesting challenges and entries. One of the latest is to make a scary journey, which has attracted ideas such as a giant swing in first person perspective.

Wanted:Your GDK Bugs

IanM is cataloguing a list of bugs for DBPro that need to be looked into and fixed. He needs a zip file for each bug with full C++ solution that shows the problem concisely. See the thread for full reporting details.


FPSC Light Codes

There are many of us underestimating the importance of lighting in a game. Film productions have teams of people dedicated to nothing but lighting. This thread holds some great examples of producing the perfect exposures for your games.

Old Mansion Pack

Doomster has put together a free download of Mansion based textures, segments and entities. There are 123 segments, 117 entities and 45 textures in the first pack, and an additional 27 segments, 27 entities and 9 textures in the second Manor pack.


Monthly Newsletter Winner - $100 voucher up for grabs every month!

Find us on Facebook to discover more about The Game CreatorsJoin us on Facebook for the chance to win a $100 gift voucher each month. Simply add yourself as a TGC Fan and you will be automatically entered into the draw each month. The voucher can be spent on any of the products on our site. Sign up now, and good luck!

Last months winner of the $100 TGC voucher is Patrick Valdez.


Take Control



Share your news with over 23,500 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 89 deadline - May 27th 2010.

"I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong."

Benjamin Franklin