3D Construction Kit 1 logo

Phil South opens up a new construction kit and forms an opinion.

The 3D Construction Kit is a new interactive version of the famous Freescape 3D modelling system from Domark/Incentive. Freescape was Incentive's contribution to the 3D game era, with famous games like Driller and Castle Master. Now Domark/Incentive have put Freescape II at your disposal so you can create 3D games for yourself.

But the 3D Construciton Kit is being sold as more a virtual reality system than merely a game creator. And to be fair it is more than this. The system allows you to make not only games but other more useful things - which is not to say that games aren't worthwhile, just that there are other uses for a 3D system.

Virtual reality has become something of a buzzword over the past year, and it has long been clear that for any product to be hot in '91 it would have to feature this concept. So the 3D Construction Kit, or 3D Kit as it is know, is heavily flagged as a virtual reality system.

This is stretching the truth a bit, as there is no provision yet for a pair of 3D goggles to make the view of your world truly "virtual". But having said that, it's a very fast, flexible and highly usable 3D system.

3D Kit in use
Creating your own shapes and putting them together is simplicity itself, and the process is made vastly easier by virtue of the fact that shapes cannot pass through each other at any point. So fitting the pieces of an object together is easy - you just slide the bits together until the stop.

Object creation is done with primitives, like cubes, pyramids and rectangles. A group of buttons on the mains screen is used to select the most frequently used options: Select, Copy, Create, Edit, Test, Reset, Condition, Delete, Attribute and colour.

Select lets you select an object you've created, either by choosing it from the menu or clicking on an icon. Reset clears everything, leaving you with a blank sheet of paper, as it were. Create allows you to choose from a variety of primitives, and the Edit function lets you alter the primitive objects and move them around.

Colour lets you select the colour of all the faces of an object. Each colour you select from the men can be attached to a face, so you have to choose the right shades to complement the shading on the object or it looks funny. There's no light source shading here, - you have to do it all yourself.

Condition and Attribute are game-related functions, and using these you can set what happens when you manipulate an object in a game. Copy is a powerful feature. If you've created a perfect shape, you can dupe it for moving around. Walls, for example, are easy to create but hard to repeat, so copying them is the only way to get them all the same.

All the tools are easy to use and very little space has been wasted on the buttons. There are more complex choices on the menu bar, but most of the frequently used features of the program are on these buttons, meaning that they are always to hand.

3D Kit is an excellent piece of programming and is very easy to use. The objects are created quickly and even a complete beginner can be up and running in moments

Uses for the system
One of the first uses for the 3D Kit is the creation of environments which you can walk around. This is the virtual reality side of the system and enables you to make rooms and buildings. As with the games you create with the program, you can create a stand-alone version of your objects for other people to walk around.

3D games are also easy to do, although you'll need to have a scenario worked out before you can create a game. It doesn't pay to try to bolt a game together from scratch with the program in front of you.

Different rooms can be made and the whole thing customised by creating a control screen using Dpaint or other graphics package and passing them into the program. Having done that you can tell the program where to find the control buttons and which part of the screen is the view window, and then you're away.

The final use for the program is object rendering. You create a complex object and rotate it to see how it shapes up to your idea. The example given is that of the space shuttle, and this is an easy example. You can't get much detail into the thing, but rough shapes are easy. As far as the creation of complex objects go, you may be better off with a full-blown rendering program like Real 3D v1.3.

Summing up
On the pro side you have to admit that 3D kit is an excellent piece of programming and is very easy to use. The objects are created quickly, and even a complete beginner can be up and running in a matter of moments. You can make shapes, whiz them around the screen and bolt them together with ease.

The manual is a thickish wad of tightly printed instructions for the various controls, and hints and tips for the creation of objects.

But there are a few drawbacks to all this wonderment. All things considered, 3D Kit makes a fair attempt at being all things to all men. But as a 3D design tool it is coarse and not very colourful, and you can't transport the 3D figures you make into any other format.

It is, however, very fast and allows you maximum freedom in the creation and placement of your obejcts. But where it really excels is in the creation of 3D Freescape-type games. Actually there's no "type" about it, they are real Freescape games! And using the DIY borders you can create exotic variations of this very popular theme in a standalone form.

So is it virtual reality? Well, yes and no. You never really feel like you are there in the flesh, and the 3D effect is a trifle wide-angled in most cases, giving you the impression that you have the angle of view of a fish.

But despite these technical reservations, 3D Kit is very enjoyable to use, and one of the most absorbing programs just to goof around with that I've seen for a long time. Now all it needs is an interface to X-Specs or a pair of eye-phones and then you'd really be talking!

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.

With 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!

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

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!"

Building By Numbers
Here is a quick illustration on building a simple 3D environment featuring a well-known artifact...
3D Construction Kit 1: Doctor Who's Tardis
1 First of all the main body of the object was made by placing a flattened cube on top of a taller block. A pyramid was then dropped on top and the colours were set to get the right feel.
3D Construction Kit 1: Doctor Who's Tardis
2 Next up the doors were put on the front of the main body and polished up with windows and a keyhole, to add a finishing touch a white block was plonked on top of the object as a light.
3D Construction Kit 1: Doctor Who's Tardis
3 One of the doors when then removed, so that a black rectangle could be placed behind it as a doorway, and a new door standing open was added ready for our condition testing.
3D Construction Kit 1: Doctor Who's Tardis
4 The key of the closed door was brought into the action next. By editing its conditions we can make it remove the closed door and display the open door when activated.
3D Construction Kit 1: Doctor Who's Tardis
5 Next, a jump to a new area. By accessing the Global room, we can use the walls to create an interior. By sticking two cubes and eight pyramids together, we came up with the control panel.
3D Construction Kit 1: Doctor Who's Tardis
6 Next it's time to create an animation. We can also bring the central column to life by including it in the animation and setting up a couple of loops. The column will now move up and down.
3D Construction Kit 1: Doctor Who's Tardis
7 Now it's time to put the conditions in for the doorways. This will allow access to the second area, the inside of the object and the whole scene can be brought to life.
3D Construction Kit 1: Doctor Who's Tardis
8 Switch into test mode and you can use a set of user-definable controls to walk around your 3D environment and manipulate objects. It won't be long before you're producing a fully-fledged adventure.
Building 3D objects is simply a matter of selecting a series of options from the easy-to-use control panel.
3D Construction Kit 1: Explanation user interface
    Contains the control options for setting up conditions and accessing data on disk.
    Sets the direction of view and the mode of movement around the 3D world.
    These are used for creating, colouring and editing objects, as well as setting their attributes and conditions.
    Gives you a view onto your 3D environment.
    Displays information on the current area and object along with your view position.
    These are your controls for moving and looking around the environment.

3D Construction Kit 1 logo

Was haben "Driller", "Dark Side" und "Castle Master" gemeinsam? Erstens: Die Games stammen allesamt aus der Hand der Vektorgrafik-Spezialisten von Incentive. Zweitens: Zu ihrer Erstellung wurde ein System verwendet, das man als "Freescape" kennt. Drittens: Solche Spiele könnt Ihr jetzt selber basteln!

Wolltet Ihr schon immer mal selber eine richtige 3D-Landschaft stricken und anschließend hindurchspazieren? Vielleicht ein nettes, kleines Dorf mit vollständig eingerichteten und begehbaren Häusern? Überhaupt kein Problem, aber das Construction Kit kann noch viel mehr!

Wer sich mal das mitgelieferte 3D-Adventure anschaut, hat nicht nur eine Menge Spaß, sondern kann auch gleich feststellen, was für tolle Möglichkeiten in diesem Programm stecken.

Und das Beste: Den Traum vom eigenen Freescape-Game können sich auch jene Leute erfüllen, denen bisher alle Programmiersprachen gleichermaßen chinesisch vorkamen!

Wunder kann zwar auch Domarks digitaler Legokasten nicht bewirken, aber mit Phantasie und Geduld ist hier praktisch alles möglich - sofern man bereit ist, sich gründlich in die komplexe (aber leicht-verständlich aufgemachte) Materie einzuarbeiten.

Wie funktioniert nun die Sache? Der Meister werkelt an einem horizontal geteilten Screen: Die untere Hälfte zieren Unmengen von Icons (die teilweise zu weiteren Untermenus führen), die obere stellt das eigentliche Arbeitsfenster dar - eine zunächst konturlose Grünfläche mit blauem Himmel (die Farben sind variabel).

Nun wird per Mausklick ein vorgefertigtes Bauteil ausgewählt, beispielsweise ein Würfel, der daraufhin in der "Spielwiese" erscheint. Im nächsten Arbeitsgang verändert man das digitale Bauklötzchen auf verschiedenste Art und Weise. Es kann in jede beliebige Richtung gedehnt oder gestaucht werden, die Flächen lassen sich gesondert kolorieren, wobei 256 Farben zur Wahl stehen (bis zu 32 auf einem Screen), und natürlich ist das gute Stück unter jedem gewünschten Blickwinkel zu betrachten.

Zum Schluß wird das Objekt in der Landschaft des Arbeitsfensters einfach da abgestellt, wo man es haben möchte.

Soll nun eine etwas komplexere Sache, wie z.B. ein Haus, gebaut werden, so gibt es zwei Möglichkeiten: Man kann aus vier Würfeln vier Wände erstellen, oder nur eine Mauer bauen und dann beliebig oft duplizieren. Natürlich braucht das Haus ein Dach, also greift man auf die Grundtyp der Pyramide zurück, zieht das Gebilde in die Länge, flacht es ab und setzt es auf die vier Wände.

Mit Hilfe von farblich abgesetzten Rechtecken lassen sich Türen und Fenster symbolisieren. Auch "echte" Türen sind machbar: Man baut einen zweiten Screen auf, der die Innenansicht des Hauses zeigt. Danach beauftragt man das Programm in einer BASIC-ähnlichen Sprache, den Betrachter ins zweite Bild zu versetzen, sobald er sich dem Durchgang bis auf eine bestimmte Distanz nähert.

Oh Gott, stand da gerade etwas von BASIC? Keine Panik, die erwähnte Sprache ist leicht zu erlernen und wird im Handbuch ausführlich erläutert. Übrigens: Wer noch "wirklicher" eintreten möchte, kann eine Wand aus mehreren Einzelteilen zusammensetzen und dabei die Tür aussparen - in diesem Fall wird auch kein zweites Bild gebraucht.

Natürlich will man seine Objekte auch animieren: Permanente Bewegungen (z.B. ein sich drehender Leuchtturm) sind ebenso möglich wie exakte zielgerichtete Movements. Auch den gewünschten Zeitpunkt einer solchen Aktion und deren Ablaufgeschwindigkeit darf man festlegen.

Ja, sogar von bestimmten Bedingungen können Geschehnisse abhängig gemachte werden: Wird das Objekt XY berührt, passiert dies und jenes (beispielsweise wenn beim Öffnen einer Kisten eine Falle ausgelöst werden soll).

Dazu bietet 3D Construction Kit noch eine Unzahl weiterer Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten, so kann auch die Reichweite des vom Spieler gesteuerten Charakters variabel sein. Selbst der Schaden, den er nimmt, wenn er etwa in einen Abgrund fällt, darf reguliert werden - bis hin zum unwiderruflichen Exitus.

Selbstverständlich braucht ein echtes Designerspiel auch eine passende grafische Umrahmung. Zwei Varianten sind im Programm bereits integriert: einmal die Armaturen eines Fortbewegungsmittels (komplett mit den notwendigen Steuer-icons), außerdem ein Icon-feld für Rollenspiele bzw. Adventures.

Die vorhandenen "Instrumente" werden nach Wunsch mit Funktionen belegt (Energieanzeige, etc.); wem das nicht reicht, der kann mit D-Paint weitere Icons erstellen und anschließend einladen oder gar ein komplett neues Rahmenbild malen.

Für die notwendige Action ist ein vorsorglich einprogrammierter Laserstrahler zuständig, der dann Freund und Feind gleichermaßen zur Verfügung gestellt werden kann.
Es läßt sich natürlich auch einrichten, daß solcherart beschossene Objekte vom Screen verschwinden. Und für die passende Sound-untermalung sorgen sechs vorgefertigte Samples, weitere können jederzeit (als IFF-File) eingebaut werden.

Alles in allem hat Incentive wirklich ganze Arbeit geleistet: Mit 3D Construction Kit können höchst komplexe Welten auf den Screen gezaubert werden, die den Vergleich mit keinem professionellen Produkt zu scheuen brauchen - und das mit bisher unvorstellbar geringem Aufwand!

Die integrierten 3D-Routinen für Scrolling und Animation leisten hervorragende Arbeit, und dennoch ist das Programm bereits auf einem gewöhnlichen 500er lauffähig. Wer über ein Megabyte verfügt, kann natürlich noch wesentlich aufwendigere Sachen anstellen.

Der geforderte Preis von ca. 170 DM ist mehr als gerechtfertigt, und erhältlich ist das Programm auch überall da, wo es Software gibt. Aber irgendeinen Haken muß die Sache doch haben? Tja, die Zeiten, als Freescape-Spiele noch etwas besonders waren, sind nun wohl offiziell vorbei. Aber, das soll nicht unser Problem sein - ab jetzt ist jeder seine eigener Castle Master!

3D Construction Kit 1 logo

Yes, we know it's not really a game. But it's got a game in it, and it can be used to create games without any programming knowledge. So we've reviewed it anyway.

If you're acquainted with Incentive's series of 3D games, which started with Driller, Total Eclipse and Castle Master and shows no sign of coming to an end, you'll be familiar with their Freescape graphics system. Good, isn't it? And wouldn't it be nice if you could have a crack at designing your own Freescape games, but without having to worry about all the mechanics behind 3D filled polygons? Well now you can!

3D Construction Kit is basically the package Incentive used to churn out ( if that's the right word) all the games listed above, with a few bells and whistles tacked on to turn it into a commercial product. (There's even a 'free' sample game in here so you can see roughly the sort of thing that you're aiming at).

It contains everything you'll need to design 3D objects, colour them in, move them around a bit and eventually turn them into a fully playable game which can be severed from the main package and given/sold to whoever you like (as long as you give the Kit a mention in it somewhere). The only limit, as the free tutorial video stresses, is your imagination. (It also keeps going on about 'a world inside your computer', and is best taped over as soon as possible).

After loading the software you're presented with a huge, empty box called an 'area'. By clicking on the appropriate icons you'll be able to slowly fill it with buildings, furniture, baddies or whatever you fancy to create your 'world'.

This is actually quite a laborious process - don't let any tutorial video tell you otherwise - but pretty soon you'll have quite a convincing landscape which you can explore to your heart's content. But that isn't the end of the story. You'll probably want to bung in a few more 'areas', eh?

Well, let's pretend that your first area (Area 1) contains a building. It's probably got a door on the front, hasn't it? The trouble is, when you walk into the door it makes a sort of 'clunk' sound and you bounce off. You could always pretend that the door's locked or something, but your audience will expect more. So instead create a new, empty, area (Area 2) and then attach a command to the door in Area 1 so that when you walk into it it'll whisk you to Area 2.

You can then bung lots of furniture and stuff into Area 2 and turn it into a room - a hallway, say. And you can then have lots more areas leading off from it. You could also have spooky doors that take you into one room when you go through them in one direction, and a completely different room when you go back in the other direction. Or you could have a weird 'Tardis' effect where you go into a tiny building and inside are lots of huge rooms. We're getting back onto this 'only limit is your imagination' sort of business again.

Once you've set up your world you'll probably want to turn it into a game. Facilities are included to enable objects to be shot or collected. You can animate things so they move around. You can even add sound effects, timers, energy levels and scoring systems. The trouble is that to achieve all this you'll have to delve into the Freescape Command Language, which is a far cry from the cushy icons and things you'll have used up to now. A lot of work will have to be put in on this, and a bit of programming experience would help a great deal. It's very flexible, though, so once you've worked out what's going on it should theoretically be possible to program just about anything.

3D Construction Kit isn't perfect. The 3D graphics engine used to display everything isn't the most sophisticated system in the world - Cybercon 3 would dip it in Flash and wipe the floor with it - so things can slow down a fair amount if there's a lot on-screen. We're talking about one frame per second for the 'house' detailed below. And the manual doesn't attempt to explain any of the terms it uses, so once again your imagination is called upon to do much of the work.

Finally, and perhaps most ominously, there's the price. It's a lot to pay for anything, even something as complex as this, so you'll have to think pretty hard before reaching into your pocket.

These reservations aside, 3D Construction Kit is a pretty potent piece of software. Anyone with a reasonably large brain should be able to construct a marketable game without too much trouble at all. People with slightly smaller brains will have plenty of fun constructing things and then exploring them. And people with really tiny brains could just sit and watch the video. There's something for everyone, really. If you're into it, it's an investment that'll really pay off in terms of enjoyment per pound, and which may even make you a bit of cash on the side.

If the whole Construction Kit caboodle is just a little too daunting for you, you'd be best off starting out by playing the game included in the package. Created with the Construction Kit, it's surprisingly similar to the 'real' Freescape games released by Incentive, such as Driller, Castle Master and Total Eclipse. Here's what you can expect to see in this minor Freescape adventure...
3D Construction Kit 1
1. If you climb the stairs of the house in the first location and then use those arrow icons to take a look downwards, here's what you'll see. Don't get vertigo now, will you?
3D Construction Kit 1
2. There wasn't an entrance in the building's roof (well, that's a surprise), so you'll hve to come back down and open the front door. Now isn't that much more sensible?
3D Construction Kit 1
3. And here we are inside the shop. What a strange-looking shopkeeper he (or she) is. And I don't seem to have any money to pay him with. There's only one thing for it. I'd better shoot him instead.
3D Construction Kit 1
4. Aaaaaargh! This is a retailer with a bad attitude. So much for customer service. I think the best course of action at this stage would probably be to beat an extremely hasty retreat.
3D Construction Kit 1
5. A-ha. Now this is a promising looking tunnel. I think I'll try exploring it. But wait! It seems I'm too big to fit in it. (Blimey). Time for another rummage around for an exit. It's got to be somewhere.
3D Construction Kit 1
6. Perhaps this could be something interesting. In the absence of any clever text parser, there's only one obvious course of action. Let's shoot it up a bit and see if we can't find out.
3D Construction Kit 1
7. I thought as much! Blasting away all the coloured blocks reveals this door here, which is your gateway to... Ah, but that would be telling. Play on and find out.
So, um, there's a big empty space in front of you and a limitless supply of cubes and pyramids. But what are you going to construct? How about designing a house? Okay, let's take this one step at a time shall we? (It can't be too hard, after all).
3D Construction Kit 1
Having acquired planning permission you'll need to concerete over a suitable area of turf to provide some sort of foundations. A large, grey two-dimensional rectangle should do the trick. It's been placed on the ground in the centre of the huge empty 'room' that you start off with.
3D Construction Kit 1
Next the walls go up. They're actually made up of two cubes, but the top and bottom halve are 'invisible' to save the program from re-drawing them (once the roof's GONE on you won't be able to see them). The exterior has been rendered in various shades to give an impression of light and shade.
3D Construction Kit 1
The roof is created and lowered into place. Well, actually that's a bit of a lie. It's easier to place a pyramid on top of the walls and then stretch into shape. The top's been painted red (as you can see) and the underneath's black so it looks like it's in shadow.
3D Construction Kit 1
A door might be handy. Red, I think. What do you think of the little roofy bit just above it? It's a pyramid again, coloured to match the roof. I've also put a prop to hold up the corner of the roof (it was looking a bit precarious) made out of a long, thin cube.
3D Construction Kit 1
With the basic structure in place we can start on the luxury extras. A swimming pool is a bit of a 'must', so we'll have one of those. It's a big, blue rectangle witha diving board made out of a couple of long, flat cubes.
3D Construction Kit 1
Windows - one, two, three, four. And a few more. They're rectangles, of course, black on one side and 'invisible' on the other. You could put in some sort of frame if you want, using lines, but I couldn't be bothered. The trick here is to do one window and then duplicate it lots of times.
3D Construction Kit 1
The garden looked a bit bare, so I've planted a few trees. They've got long, thin, brown cubes as trunks with big green pyramids on top. Pretty convincing, eh? And, rather cunningly, I did one tree, created a 'group' containing its two components and then duplicated that a few times instead of shifting bits around separately.
3D Construction Kit 1
Time to add the finishing touches. A home's not a home without those little extra things. That's better. Having placed a gorgeous babe by the side of the pool the scene's complete. Better give Pickfords a ring. See - using 3D Construction Kit is dead easy.

Everything in 3D Construction Kit is knocked up from a collection of basic building blocks. There are two 3D ones - the cube and the pyramid - and a selection of 2D ones which are mainly used for decoration (doors, windows and so on). Oh, and a 1D one - the line. The other two are group, which is a method for selecting more than one object at a time and sensor, which can be used as a gun, or a, um, sensor.

3D Construction Kit 1

While icons and coloured blocks are all very well, there's a darker side to the Kit - The Freescape Command Language, which is going to for your into doing some real programming.

This is what lets you add animation, sound, shooting, game beginnings and ends, entrances and exits and all manner of other bits and pieces to your creation, turning it from a mere 3D thingy into a complete game. It's a complete programming language, and that means dirtying your hands with a hideous array of technical, erm, technicalities. All very well of you've dabbled with Basic a bit before, but a whole new world for your average punter.

Each area (or room) and object in the game can have a 'program' assigned to it, and you can write a general program which is then executed each frame. These programs can contain assignments, conditionals and loops. There are 256 variables available. 30 of which are used to hold things like the player's position, the area he's in and so on, and the rest are free to be mucked about with.

For example, you might attach the following program to an object so it disappears if it gets shot:
Or this would move object number two across the screen a little bit:
  LOOP (20)
  MOVE (40,0,0)

As you may have gathered, getting a decent game on the road is going to be a nightmare.

3D Construction Kit 1: Explanation user interface
  1. These arrows move your viewpoint to above the current object behind it, in front of it etc. Useful for moving around in a hurry. MODE decides whether you're walking or flying, and STEP chooses between fine movement and jerky movement.
  2. And these ones are for moving around with, much as the player will in your completed game.
  3. Here's the viewing window which displays the world as seen from your current position. You can then select objects for editing by clicking on them.
  4. These roll you from side to side.
  5. These are the Short Cut icons which save you rummaging about in the menus above. SELECT picks an object, CREATE makes a new object, TEST jumps to a simulation of a complete game, with a control panel and everything, RESET sort of 'resets' everything to its position at the start of your game, CONDITION lets you attach a program to an object, ATTRIBUTES makes a list of numbers appear, allto do with an objects position and stuff, and COLOUR takes you to the painting bit.
  6. Here are the Look Up and Look Down icons. Oh, and the Centre one.
  7. The EXCl and HIGHL icons are used when editing to highlight the current object and make all others disappear to clarify things.
  8. These are a few numbers and things, showing which area we're in and our position (or that of the currently selected object).
  9. The menu bar at the top is how you access all Construction Kit's main functions. There are loads of them.

3D Construction Kit 1 logo

3D is both a programmer's friend and enemy. There's no doubting the popularity of 3D games, but until now there has been no simple way of programming this style of game.

From their Aldermaston base, Incentive have pooled their extra-dimensional talents to create a games designer the likes of which has never been seen before.

For your fifty quid you get an impressively proportioned box containing a weighty and detailed manual, the program disk along with a specially written game and an extremely useful tutorial video which guides you through your first steps with the kit.

On loading you're greeted with an intro screen followed by the main menu. The most striking feature is the amount of arrow icons - there are dozens of them. After a brief journey through the manual the relevant features become apparent and the controls become less daunting.

Creating shapes is easy. Clicking on the create icon calls up a menu of available shapes, bot two and three dimensional. At first the choice seems limited: a square, a pentagon, a hexagon and a pyramid on the 3D palette, with similar shapes on the 2D one - but these can be stretched, compressed or have their angles altered in the case of a pyramid or triangle.

Objects can't move through each other. This allows you to butt shapes up against each other so you don't get any gaps, but it also causes a few problems. Dropping a rectangle through the roof of a house is the logical way to make a chimney but you can't do that; use a triangle with a square on top instead.

Colouring objects is almost as simple as creating them. The game works in sixteen colour mode, and each colour comes with half-a-dozen shades. A diagram at the side of the screen shows the 'unseen' sides of the polygons.

Creating static objects is easy, making them do something is a completely different ball game. The kit contains its own programming language which is used to control individual objects. The commands are designed to be simple enough that people with no programming experience can understand them, and the manual contains comprehensive instructions dealing with all of the games commands.

Animating objects is the most complicated part. The commands are straightforward, but a pen and paper still come in handy for planning out more complicated designs.

Custom control panels can be designed, using almost any art package the ported in as IFF files. By selecting the appropriate command you can then trace round areas of the panel and turn them into icons. Sampled sounds can also be imported, although this soaks up memo.

Linking everything together is easy. An exit has to be designated along with instructions telling the computer where to dump the player should he reach this point. Alternatively you could have one huge room containing the whole game environment.

There's hardly any limit to what you can create. Each screen can hold up to 256 shapes, and the kit can accommodate a total of 256 screens. This might not seem too many, but when you think the previous Freescape games only had a hundred screens you soon realise the size of the the area you have to work in. This means you can create anything from a virtual reality game of naughts and crosses to Cybercon III's sequel.

Once your creation is finished you can turn it into a self running auto-boot program by selecting the make-command. This eliminates all the messy fussy around trying to create an automatically running program.

3D Construction Kit is amazing. It's easy to use and the results are stunning, this ranks alongside Amos as a landmark product in home computing.

3D Construction Kit 1 logo

Build your own horse, gallows, multi-dimensional ark... and much more!

We at ZERO were so taken by Domark's 3D Construction Kit advert, that we decided to present our review in the same style. (Although it's not really a game, but more like a utility package combining 3D graphics with a bit of animation).
As anyone who's read the advert will tell you, it's also possible to create your 'very own complete Freescape Adventures'- so there's 'more besides'. It's a very expensive 'more besides' though, as the Amiga version weighs in at a hefty 50 quid. Take it away Jean Claude...

JEAN CLAUDE SMITH (33) - Factory Proprietor and horse fancier
I own a plastic bone company, supplying university biology departments with spares for their skeletons, but my first love has always been horse racing. I've often thought about designing my very own thoroughbred two year-old to enter her in my own imaginary Derby, cheering as she gallops past the winning post. Now, thanks to this incredible package, my dreams have come true. It was all so simple, even though I've never used a computer before in my life!

First of all, I put together the main body of my steed, made from two blocks joined together, one placed above the other.

Next I stretched a pyramid, I want my thoroughbred to look beautifully stream lined, so now I'm ready to give my horse a lovely slender neck...

...Complete with a flowing golden mane (which will billow in the wind like a satin veil as she sails past the winning post).

Adding the head was easy. I even made some little eyes and nostrils for her - they only took nine hours to complete.

Then onto the really important parts. The legs and tail. Having stretched four blocks I was there. Yup, this is my race-winning dream thoroughbred alright..

NORRIS McWHIRTER (62) - Co-presenter of BBC's Record Breakers and Chairman of The Conservative Family Association
I'm very interested in 'amazing' facts. Indeed, I'm so fascinated by them that as well as my television appearances with Roy Castle, I'm in charge of a yearly publication called The Guinness Book Of Records. I'm also a firm believer in the re-instatement of capital punishment, so you can imagine my delight when I was able to design my very own gallows - and view them from any angle. 3D Construction Kit has to be a record breaker in my book

First of all I created the main platform, made up of eight flattened blocks - with a hole in the middle just about large enough to drop a dining-table through.

Next I worked on the upright bar. This had to be strong. (I didn't want any criminals to get away with their lives simple because they were grossly obese.

Then it was time for the all important cross-bar, which, like the upright bar, had to be able to take a lot of weight - not just once, but several times a day.

A gallows wouldn't be a gallows without four sturdy supports at the base. The handy pull-down menus helped me make short work of these.

And finally... the rope. Now I can string 'emup in style. And it's all thanks to Incentive. I wouldn't have believed it possible. But it is!

DAVID ICKE (36) - Former Coventry Goalkeeper, Snooker Commentator, Green Party Chairman and Son Of God
After being visited by God, I became mildly interested in Domark's 3D Construction Kit, as I thought it would give me an ideal chance to show you earthlings a pseudo-3D representation of dimensions beyond your own. Dimensions you can all witness if you allow ourselves the freedom of will to do so. If everybody in the world could stand in a giant circle, wearing purple trousers, holding hands and... (Cont. In the 12th Dimension. Ed.)

Via the user-friendly interface, I first created a vehicle to carry us on our journey. A New-Age Ark. A purple Love ship. Join me. Kiss my legs (Uh-oh. Ed).

Here we are in the world of the Godhead, where big is small and small is big. Where Yin is Yang and Yang is Yin. Where everything is purple.

Wait... Wait.. I'm getting a message from the Godhead. Oh. Apparently I'm showing you too much and we must return to earth immediately.

There are flashing lights inside my head. I must kill a virgin at dawn and pour her blood onto a tree-stump! (That's enough of that. Ed).

So there you have it. You can recreate any Freescape game with this package, create one of your own, or simply doodle about - using it as a 3D art program. You'll know immediately, if this is your cup of tea and you'll know immediately if it's not, so we're not even going to give it a score at all. Maybe David Icke should have the last word instead: "The cyclic nature of the universe demands that we should all don purple trousers and..." (Oh shut up. Ed.) Stop