'Now you can create your own animated computer graphics
and games just like the best professional designers
with Game Maker by Garry Kitchen,' boasts the
opening paragraph of the manual supplied with the program.
Really? Gary Penn puts the package through its paces
and comes to a conclusion . . .
you want to write a game and don't know where to start?
Why not try programming your fast action shoot em up
in BASIC? No? A compiler would speed things up wouldn't
it? Not much. Oh well, looks like you'll have to learn
machine code . . .
Editor: GAME MAKER's assembly line,
where all the various elements come together.
again if you find the thought or programming totally
repulsive, you could always use one of those games designer
thingies -- Mirrorsoft's Game Creator for example?
Hmm. Written by David and Richard Darling (authors of
many early Mastertronic classics), Games Creator
was a program that enabled the user to 'build' games
by means of simple 'building blocks'. In other words,
the essential elements of a game, such as graphics,
sound and in fact the basics of the program itself,
could all be defined separately with individual utilities
and brought together to give the finished product. Unfortunately
while the idea was, and indeed is, quite strong, the
results were on the whole, rather weak and it wasn't
really possible to produce a game of any substance due
to little flexibility within the system. Still it was
in on section of tree in Scene Maker.
now where does that leave you? What about Activision's
Game Maker? Although it's very much in the same
vein as Mirrorsoft's Games Creator, it adopts
a different, less restrictive approach. More importantly
you can create standalone programs, that is programs
which run independently of Game Maker. Programming
knowledge isn't required, but you do have to program
as such. Don't be put off though -- not a single command
or listing needs to be typed in. No. Game Maker has
its own 'programming' language and makes full use of
an unusual 'icon' system. Those of you familiar with
Garry Kitchen's previous offering, The Designer's
Pencil, will recognise this system and know how
easy it is to use and how well it works.
Maker: the makings of a masterpiece
-- my first ever composition in progress.
the right side of the screen there is a list of master
commands and any one can be executed by simply selecting
it with the joystick and pressing the fire button. Copious
programming commands are stored behind the command window
in the centre of the screen grid are accessed in a similar
manner. Despite the unusual nature of a majority of
these commands, the language is, as a whole, relatively
easy to use -- mainly due to the friendly approach of
the comprehensive manual, although the fact that a majority
of the commands are sufficiently self-explanatory does
Maker: a dubbing mixer's dream,
faders and buttons galore to play with.
enable you to create graphics and sound for use within
your Game Maker game there are four, easy to
use programs provided. The first is Scene Maker,
which is used to produce detailed background Scenery.
This drawing utility is one of the best I have seen
and contains some superbly implemented features, such
as an excellent zoom facility and the undo
command. The former gives a magnified view of what you're
drawing and is handy for applying fine detail, while
the latter proves very useful should you make any errors.
For instance, if you find you've unintentionally drawn
a line straight through your otherwise perfect picture,
you can rectify the situation by selecting the undo
command which promptly erases the mistake, leaving your
picture intact. The circle, box and line
commands draw their respective shapes on screen, but
if you feel confident enough you can always draw free-hand.
Any outstanding artistic endeavours can be saved out
to disk for recall at a later date.
Crane's classic PITFALL, adapted to the
GAME MAKER by Dan Kitchen, Garry's brother.
Maker is a highly competent program that lets you
design any sprites you might need for your game. They
can be single or multi-coloured, expanded in either
or both directions, overlayed or 'stuck' together and
so on. There is also the facility to animate the sprite
through a series of frames.
example game -- MEGA MANIA.
sprite is actually drawn with a joystick on the sprite
drawing board, which dominates the left hand side of
the screen and shows each dot close up as you draw it.
To the right of this there is the sprite positioning
window, which is where the sprite you are working on
is displayed along with any others you wish to attach
to it. Sprite Maker has many useful editing commands
and is simple to use -- results can be obtained quickly
with minimal fuss and saved to disk for future use.
phone calls I knocked up
this piccie of Squiffy the Bear.
in a Game Maker program can take two forms --
sound effects or music. Sound Maker is used to
create any necessary noises, while Music Maker is
for those with a musical bent. The former is a wonderful
piece of software which takes the form of a sort of
sound effects 'mixing desk'. There are lots of sliders
and knobs to fiddle with and after a little experimentation
some interesting results can be achieved. All the various
aspects of a sound effect can be adjusted or affected,
such as the waveform and its properties, and filters
can he used if so desired. The great thing about Sound
Maker is that you don't need to know what you're doing,
so long as the end results sound good. And thankfully
most of the time they do.
graphic example -- the Christmas Card.
there's Music Maker which is used to create background
or title screen music for a game. All three voices are
at your disposal, along with a number of different instruments.
Notes are input on a music sheet which takes up most
of the screen. As the notes are entered, they are played
on a representation of a keyboard at the top of the
screen so you know roughly how your tune is sounding.
When you're happy with your composition it can be played
back in full and saved to disk if you so desire. Even
those lacking in musical talent, such as myself, can
achieve reasonable results with relative ease and speed.
demo game -- DRAW POKER.
all the necessary decorative elements of a game have
been finalised, they can be brought together and used
with your program. Supplied with the package there are
some excellent examples of what can be achieved with
Game Maker and a little thought. For example
the Activision classics Pitfall! and Mega
Mania have been faithfully reproduced, especially
the former. Other demonstrations include an animated
birthday greeting card, a draw poker game, a couple
of animated Christmas cards and some nifty graphics
displays with balls and lines.
graphic example -- Happy Birthday Billy!
CONCLUSIONS . . .
a programming tool, Game Maker isn't overly impressive
and if you want to write best selling blockbusters then
definitely steer well clear, since the facilities just
don't exist. However, if you are after a piece of software
to entertain, then Game Maker is certainly worthy
of consideration. It isn't too hard to use and some
pleasing and often surprising results can be obtained
quite quickly. I found it more useful for drawing pictures
with Scene Maker and writing demonstration programs
rather than games, and would recommend it purely on
that basis. The fact that simple games can also be written
is an added bonus. The title Game Maker is perhaps
a bit misleading, but nevertheless this is an excellent
package and an enjoyable way of messing around with
your Commodore's capabilities without the hassle.