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FPSC Classic Product Chat / FPSC Preview (as seen at UK convention 2004)

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DeepBlue
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Joined: 17th May 2003
Location: A little box in the UK
Posted: 26th Oct 2004 14:50 Edited at: 26th Oct 2004 18:06
After seeing a very full demonstration of FPSC creator in its current state at the UK convention, I thought it may be helpful to others to write a short review. Please note that this is my personal opinion of what I saw and that FPSC is still in development.

Overview

It appears that a lot of time and effort has been made in creating a product that will allow complete novices and experienced programmers alike, the ability create good quality and playable games that can utilise the hardware available.

While being able to create games quickly from the standard objects available there also seems quite extensive support for being able to futher customise games by being able to add to the various room elements, objects, enemies & weapons etc. This also includes the ability to write your own enemy AI scripts. Although this customisation will take varying levels of skill to achieve, I can see a large community following for this product making such elements for others to use (And hopefully commercially available add-on packs ).

Starting Out - The Level Editor

After having spent many years using various custom, modelling & BSP tools for level editing I was very surprised and delighted to see the level editor in FPSC. It uses a top down grid view for editing where walls & game elements can be easily placed/painted onto the map from an object library that is easily accessible. The floors, walls & doors etc are already textured & animated so once you have the desired element you can simply place one or more onto the map. You can also place object entities such as barrels, weapons, ammo, switches and enemies in the same way.

As the level editor is actually 3D you get a fairly good idea of what a particluar floor level will look like while editing. As it is top down it handles height by moving the entire level up & down so you can edit a set height level at a time. This still allows the ability to have rooms of varying height within a level as well making elements such as stairs, ladders and lifts (yes it has lifts..and teleporters for that matter) easy to place.

The level editor is also semi intuitive in that if you have two rooms and wish to connect them by drawing a corridor between them it will remove the walls at either end leaving a corridor as you would expect. If for some reason you would not want the walls removed you can always draw them back in so its a kind of win-win situation.

One of the nicest features is the ability to drop into your level while designing it and walk around to get a feel for any changes prior to having to make the final program.

I found it very easy to understand the top down system and much simpler and clearer to use than the 4 pane system used in many BSP & model editors where you spend most of the time looking at a mass of of wireframes and trying to work out where your 3D camera view is. I use a very similar system in several games I've made as I find it far simpler to work with.

So the level editor seems fast, simple, uncluttered and provides almost everything I think I could need ( some work to be carried out with regards to faster object selection ).

Tweaking - Objects,Actions & AI

This is a little bit of a free for all section as a lot of nice features have been added into FPSC but I'll try to cover what I feel are the most interesting ones.

As mentioned above you can place weapons & ammo on the map (you can also start with a weapon). You can obviously pick these weapons/ammo up and use them. A nice feature is that you can set the maximum magazine size so you have to reload after it runs out. Currently there appears to be the ability for projectile weapons with bullets and thrown weapons such as grenades. I believe there will also be beam based weapons such as lasers etc.

You can also put keys & various other elements on the map. You can tie a key to a door so it will remain locked unless you have a key. On the same note you can have manual door swithces to open doors rather than having them open within a certain vicinity of the player or enemy. You could script other items so that they could be used to complete missions etc.

One of the most powerful elements of FPSC has to be the AI scripting ability. Although there are defualt AI scripts that can be used for enemies these really open up a whole host of possibilites. The enemies can see, hear, walk, run, shoot, follow, follow waypoints & probably a lot more that I can't remember. Most of these attributes also seem to settable.

The scripting system is very simple but can build up very complex actions and behaviours. The system works on simple states, events and actions i.e. Enemy is at state 0 (idle) and hears something then change to state 2. If state 2 then move towards sound.

So you could for example have an enemy that patrols a set route but if he hears something will move towards it. If he can't see anything then he goes back on his patrol or alternately spots the player and shoots, his comrades hear the shot and run to his assistance. The possibilities really do go on and on.

My main concern is with weapons/effects. Although You could make your own weapons and put them in, I am not aware that you will be able to change what the bullet/laser/tracer looks like. So without seeing all of what will be available on the above it is hard to judge. For example what if you want a lightning gun that you want to appear to arc lightning to the enemy. I'm sure more of this will become apparent as time goes on.

Bang Bang - Gameplay

This part is somewhat limited due to what I saw that was knocked up by Lee in about 10 minutes.

It appears to run very nicely but don't expect mega frame rates although the framerates should be consistant and exceptable depending on the level of detail and effects you opt for. Yet again a lot of effort has gone into allowing the end game to be played on varying specifications of hardware.

Although the appearnce is highly dependant on the media as always, overall it has a professional feel, gameplay seems fluid and the doors, switches and other elements seem to work very well. There are very nice little touches like bullet holes left in walls after you shoot & breakable glass.

The enemy AI seems to work well in practice although there is still some work to do on some of the collision detection/pathing. The only thing I felt missing with the currently supplied media was a firing animation. Although the other animations are very good ( oh yes and there's blood ) I really like a little bit of effort on the part of my enemy if he's going to pump shotgun shells into me.

Crunch Time - Verdict

As I said above this was still work in progress and this was not even a beta. That aside I was impressed, very impressed.

I would say even the most complete novice should be able to make a relatively simple level with various rooms, weapons and enemy within a couple of hours of first learning the basic interface and game elements.

At the other end of the scale there seems a lot that can be played with & tweaked as far as more experienced users & programers are concerned. Although it may be relatively complex to model, texture & import your own room elements into FPSC the feature appears to be there along with that to do the same for enemies/characters & weapons.

I can see myself sitting for many hours tweaking my AI scripts and many frustrating hours with my 3D modeler trying to create new elements.

Would I buy it - YES, although I have to say I'm not sure about parting with my hard earned (OK the hard earned bit was a lie ) cash [cough] for a beta/pre-beta [cough] to do free bug testing [cough] unless there was some kind of discount/incentive.

As a final point I would like to thank Lee, Mike & Dave for turning up to show the above and more at the UK convention and the way in which all the suggestions where listened to with regards to FPSC (And I promise not to mention flamethrowers ).

DeepBlue

The coder formerly known as Twynklet.
Torrey
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Posted: 26th Oct 2004 16:04
That was a really good review of the product. They should put that out to the subscribers on the fpsc site. I'm planning on buying this as a xmas present to myself. I'd also like to see how it can intergrate with dbpro, because I read you could use the editor to create maps that work in dbpro.

I also have a lot of nice realistic textures just waiting to be applied to the maps I create. Once the time comes, I may share these with others, but I'll finally get to see what interesting and fun things I could create.
DeepBlue
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Posted: 26th Oct 2004 17:45
Yes Lee did mention it 'could' be possible to export the maps and is something he would like to do. As it wasn't included in preview and that I can't speak on behalf of Lee I thought it was better to leave it out, although I know Lee is very keen on doing it.

DeepBlue

The coder formerly known as Twynklet.
Jess T
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Posted: 26th Oct 2004 20:33
Great review man

Nice work

Jess.


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David T
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Posted: 28th Oct 2004 23:03
Cheers for this - very imformative.

My only reservation is that it'll end up wih a few TGC hallmarks:

- dodgy music

- some dodgy media (ie no firing anim, no hands etc although I think that's being rectified)

- cheesy in places (the radar with alien heads - may appeal to Lee but not to me )

Although with the level of customisability here hopefully none of the above will arise.

Get 15 new commands, all the date / time commands left out of DBPro for free!
DOWNLOAD PLUGINS HERE: http://www.davidtattersall.me.uk/ and select "DarkBasic"
Rob K
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Posted: 29th Oct 2004 04:29
The "No Hands" thing is quite funny. Apparently it is because their artist doesn't like modelling hands.

Lee was seriously thinking about not having any hands (with guns moved back to hide this fact). When we saw the grenade magically removing its own pin and ejecting itself from the player completely unaided I think we decided that hands WOULD be a good idea.


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PowerSoft
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Posted: 29th Oct 2004 04:37
lol. Thats a good point


Create? Play? YOU Decide
David T
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Posted: 29th Oct 2004 04:48
Hands just give the game a new dimension. Literally.

Get 15 new commands, all the date / time commands left out of DBPro for free!
DOWNLOAD PLUGINS HERE: http://www.davidtattersall.me.uk/ and select "DarkBasic"
Philip
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Posted: 29th Oct 2004 07:53
I say we model David T's hands and put them in.

Philip

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David T
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Posted: 29th Oct 2004 08:32
I will get some source material.

Get 15 new commands, all the date / time commands left out of DBPro for free!
DOWNLOAD PLUGINS HERE: http://www.davidtattersall.me.uk/ and select "DarkBasic"
Philip
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Posted: 30th Oct 2004 07:43
I see nobody has mentioned the infamous health banana. I think it needs mentioning.

Philip

What do you mean, bears aren't supposed to wear hats and a tie? P3.2ghz / 1 gig / GeForce FX 5900 128meg / WinXP home
Mnemonix
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Posted: 30th Oct 2004 07:45
I thought that was a weapon. A boomerbanana.

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Philip
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Posted: 30th Oct 2004 07:59
It could be a weapon. In the wrong hands, i.e. mine.

Not DavidT's. His are the right hands.

Philip

What do you mean, bears aren't supposed to wear hats and a tie? P3.2ghz / 1 gig / GeForce FX 5900 128meg / WinXP home
David T
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Posted: 30th Oct 2004 08:08
Quote: "Not DavidT's. His are the right hands."


Indeed. The power, I have got (yoda style)

Get 15 new commands, all the date / time commands left out of DBPro for free!
DOWNLOAD PLUGINS HERE: http://www.davidtattersall.me.uk/ and select "DarkBasic"
Philip
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Posted: 30th Oct 2004 08:10
Right. And damned generous of you to agree to a decapitation to give your hands to Lee. I wouldn't have gone that far myself but I appreciate the gesture.

Philip

What do you mean, bears aren't supposed to wear hats and a tie? P3.2ghz / 1 gig / GeForce FX 5900 128meg / WinXP home
David T
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Posted: 30th Oct 2004 08:13
Oooh, Jedi mind games now is it. Hmm.



Get 15 new commands, all the date / time commands left out of DBPro for free!
DOWNLOAD PLUGINS HERE: http://www.davidtattersall.me.uk/ and select "DarkBasic"
Philip
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Posted: 30th Oct 2004 08:28
These are NOT the FPSC script files you are looking for.

Philip

What do you mean, bears aren't supposed to wear hats and a tie? P3.2ghz / 1 gig / GeForce FX 5900 128meg / WinXP home
PowerSoft
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Posted: 30th Oct 2004 18:13
they arent?

DAMN


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