The 3D Construction Kit is a new interactive version of the famous Freescape 3D modelling system from Domark/
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-
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-
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-
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-
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!