Bring me to the main page   Bring me to the reviews index

3D construction kit 1 logo  Amiga Format Gold

3D object designer/game creator * £50.99 * Domark 081 780 2222

If you have always wanted to create your own 3D games but do not know how, now is your chance! Freescape is put at your fingertips by MAFF EVANS.

3D construction kit 1 W ith the arrival of Virtual Reality systems somewhat of a revival of interest in 3D programs has taken place. But what about the enthusiastic novice who does not want to wade through stacks of books on coding and has not the time to start learning complex geometry theories? Well now anyone with a bit of imagination and the advanced technical knowledge of either Lego or Stickle Bricks can produce their own 3D adventures.

Incentive have produced an easy-to-use design package based around their Freescape system. Freescape first found fame with its appearance in games such as Driller, Dark Side, Total Eclipse and more recently Castle Master, but now anyone can utilise the system to develop new 3D games to their own specifications.

3D Construction Kit provides the novice with a series of easy to use building blocks and controls to build and animate entire three-dimensional Freescape environments.

Building Rome in a day
The package comes with a single disk containing the editing program, an example game – produced with the it – and a detailed and an extensive manual. The manual starts by explaining just the thing people starting 3D need – how to make a cube and colour it in! For all those bibliophobes that do not fancy ploughing through the manual to start producing 3D works of art, do not worry! The package also contains a short tutorial video to help lead you through the basics of the system: just so you do not get a sudden bout of technofear when the control screen appears!

To speed up the process of producing objects, the commonly used options are also found on the control panel at the bottom of the screen. This is where the majority of the work is carried out. From here you can move around the area, construct objects and put them into place.

Building an object could not be easier. Just select ‘create’ from the panel to call up a menu of shapes, then click on the one you want. Next go to the ‘edit’ panel and you can change the size of the object, move it anywhere in the area, shift the corners to produce a new shape and finally colour it how you want. Pull up more shapes and you can stick them together to build anything you want! It is much the same as using a pliable set of kiddies’ building blocks – you grab your block, push and pull it into shape and plonk it where you want it.

So what happens if...
Once you have built and coloured your object, you can assign attributes and conditions to it to bring it to life. This is where the Freescape Command Language (FCL) comes in. No, do not panic! You do not have to write a full-blown program to create your game. FCL is only used to tell the program what you want to happen when certain conditions occur.
For example, say you have built yourself a nice house in your environment. You can then select the door and by using FCL, it is possible to tell the program to jump to another area if the player collides with it. By moving to another area in the designer, you can construct the interior of the house, ready for when you start walking around your new environment. The program even contains a standard room consisting of, naturally, four walls, a ceiling and a floor. By calling up this set of ‘globals’, you do not even have to mess around building the boundaries of your interior scene – they are there already, waiting to be furnished.

When you start getting more adventurous, you can use FCL to detect whether you shoot or manipulate objects, make shapes move or disappear, add to your inventory or even swing doors open.
If this still sounds too complex for you, do not worry. Once you start doodling it becomes very easy to look up the required method in the manual and incorporate it into your 3D scene. To give you and idea of just how easy the system is to use, within half-an-hour of loading the program we had constructed a rather pretty little church, made the door open when it was shot at and created the interior of the church, complete with altar and glowing crucifix!

Move it, boy!
You can also use FCL to set up simple animation sequences to bring your shapes to life. All you need to do is set the object’s attributes so that it is moveable then edit the conditions. Now by using the ‘loop’ and ‘move’ commands you can send it whizzing around the scenery. With a little practice you can soon produce seemingly complex animated scenes with ease.

Once you have built your 3D world and put together your game conditions, all that is needed for the final touch is a pretty control panel. These can be any 320x200, 16-colour IFF screen, so you can create a panel in your favourite art package and sling it straight into your game. Just select ‘load border’ from the ‘file’ menu to load it up, select ‘set view’ from the general’ menu and drag a box out to set the size of the view window. That is it! A finished game screen. By accessing the ‘controls’ option you can assign keys for all the controls and use the pointer to mark out the active area on the panel for each control, so you can put the controls just about wherever you want.

Easy as one, two, three
3D Construction Kit is without doubt a powerful and flexible system. But unlike many other construction systems, building 3D objects with 3D Construction Kit really is as easy as plonking shapes together and pulling them about to produce a finished scene. It will take a little time and some experimenting to produce a full game, but the system’s ease-of-use means that the learning curve is shorter than virtually all other game-construction systems.

The manual, coupled with the tutorial video, explains every option and command in surprising detail. A few more examples would have been helpful, but the lack of them is not much of a hindrance, since an insight into the more advanced features can be gleaned by loading up the Kit Game and pulling the various sections apart to see how they work. This provides you with both a live set of examples on various techniques and a set of ‘library’ routines to use in your very own environments.
A weekend spent investigating the Kit Game and following the video should put you along the right track. After that a little more dabbling could be all that it takes before you are well into producing a 3D adventure of your own!

The 3D Construction Kit is probably the most user-friendly game design ever produced on the Amiga. Anyone interested in 3D adventure games and a spark of imagination should check it out immediately, since it is just the thing to allow them to put everything they ever wanted from the genre into their own game.
One point, though, now that the Kit is available programmers are going to have to work that little bit harder to some pretty nifty coding and designing to come up with new and challenging games. Otherwise people will start to say, “Oh yeah, but I could have done that with 3D Construction Kit!”

3D construction kit 1

Amiga Format, Issue 24, July 1991, p.p.129-131



"Now anyone with a bit of imagination and the advanced technical knowledge of either Lego or Stickle Bricks can produce their own 3D adventures"


VERDICT
SPEED * * * *
Speedily accessed functions and pretty good 3D-update rate.
DOCUMENTATION * * * *
The highly-detailed manual is backed up with a friendly tutorial video, but a few more examples would have been nice.
ACCESSIBILITY * * * * *
Stunningly easy to use. Takes very little time and effort to produce seemingly complex objects and scenery.
FEATURES * * * * *
Contains absolutely everything you will need to produce your own Freescape adventure games.
VALUE * * *
A touch expensive, but for those people that are interested in 3D games it is not too extravagant.
OVERALL: 91%
The highly powerful set of tools, combined with amazing ease-of-use, make this an unrivalled creation system.