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3D construction kit 2 logo

All right, so it is not a game, we admit it. But you can use it to create 3D games.

Game: 3D Construction Kit II
Publisher: Domark
Author: Incentive
Price: £49.99
Release: Out now

Q 3D construction kit 2 uite who this review is addressed to, I am not sure. If you are interested in writing 3D games without actually writing them, the chances are you will already have found out about 3D Construction Kit and tracked down a copy. And, if that is the case, you will have been informed about this new version through the user club, perused its list of improvements, and quite possibly sent off for an upgrade. So, er… hello? Is anyone listening?

3D Construction Kit II is more of a utility than a game. (But what the heck, eh?). With it you can build a 3D world by sticking together lots of cubes and pyramids and colouring them in, and then wander around the results to your heart’s content. Those of sufficiently robust constitution can go a step further, using the terrifying Freescape Programming Language to add animation, room-to-room movement and puzzles, to turn their 3D world into a 3D game.
But you could do all that with 3D Construction Kit, the program’s forerunner, which was reviewed in issue 2 of AMIGA POWER. (By me, funnily enough). How does the sequel improve on it?

Well, basically by tacking on lots of new features. There is now a comprehensive and very serviceable sample editor for adding sound effects to your games. There is a facility for moving around your game on autopilot, a bit like playing a video. The horribly complicated programming side of things has been made even more horrible and complicated, which will come as good news to people who know what parameter types, objects manipulation and structured programming are. You can now put spheres into your games, as well as cubes and pyramids. And you also get a disk full of clip art – ready-made objects like pianos and buses for you to play around with. There are countless minor additions too, but you will forgive me if I do not list them all. (They are, after all, countless).
My review of the original 3D Construction Kit was pretty favourable. I gave the package 80%, on the grounds that it achieved exactly what it set out to do, and that I had lots of fun playing around with it. I did have three main reservations, however: the sluggishness of the graphics, which made the process of creating a game more and more painful as you add more bits to it; the price; and the useless manual.

Unfortunately, only the last of these problems seems to have been rectified in the new version: the manual is now all rightish, with some good jokes (although the early copy I saw did not have an index – tch). That means the package still costs £50, which is enough to deter everyone but the most serious McAlpine wannabe. And the graphics are still horribly slow. I realise there are limits to what the Amiga can do, but I do not think two or three frames per second (at best) and two or three seconds per frame (at worst) even begins to approach them. If I was working on a sequel to 3D Construction Kit I would have streamlined the guts of the thing first, and left the extra bits and pieces till later.

And now for the tricky bit. Coming up with a mark to stick at the end of a game review is a rpetty arbitrary process, mostly based on gut feeling, a comparison with existing rivals, and a quick poll of the rest of the team. But 3D Construction Kit II is a lot more serious (and expensive) than your average game, it has no rivals, and the AMIGA POWER team have made it quite clear that I am on my own with this one. So I will try to be scientific about it. I will start with the 80% I gave the original. I will add on 8% for the extra stuff that has been included, and the improved manual. I will knock off 5% to allow for the ravages of time, bearing in mind that what is underneath is basically the same thing I was looking at eighteen months ago. And a nominal 3% can go as a protest for the refinements that could have been made, but weren’t. Does that sound fair?

Amiga Power, Issue 21, January 1993, p.86

"it is a lot more serious than your average game"

Compared with the original product, this is an improvement in many respects, but a sideways step in others. And viewed in isolation, it is a neat – but expensive – way to create 3D games.