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SharewareJunkies.com The Shareware Review People

3D GameStudio

Type of Program: 3D Game Editor
Supported Platforms: Windows 95/98/2000/ME/XP
Company or Authors Name: Conitec
Version: Commercial 6.00.6
Price: Depends on which Edition is purchased (Standard-$49; Extra-$89; Commercial-$199; Professional-$899)
Installed Size: 69MB

Download/Homepage

I could easily sum this Review up by saying that if you are serious about creating 3D games than you should unquestionably have 3D GameStudio! In the ever known world of 3D game programming wars of words, this is the most complete all-in-one programming package I have seen (and I have had the pleasure and opportunity to look at a varied number of programming applications in this genre), yet 3D GameStudio rises above them all! Whether you are a Beginner, in the Advanced stages of programming, or an Expert, 3D GameStudio offers the best of all worlds. You can "click together" 3D games or learn its scripting language for even more powerful applications! If there were a better 3D game engine one out there then I would like to see it and have the honor of reviewing it myself.

I have been looking at 3D GameStudio for several months now so don't take it that this review was made after only a few hours of looking at this program. In fact, while I have been testing this program out it went from version 5.xx to the current one I now am looking at, and reviewing! I have tried in every way to get to know this program (as I do most of my reviews), but every time I started to test 3D GameStudio I ended up having more fun with it and therefore have spent countless hours using it.

3D GameStudio is so impressive that every time I launch it to begin a new level I feel like I'm tearing open a new gift! I never know for sure what I'm about to learn or create so each time I open it, it is unlike any previous time in that I finally have something to really be excited about in creating truly unique awe inspiring 3D games. 3D GameStudio is fairly easy to use and you should be programming fairly proficient in about three months, depending of course on your skill level and the amount of time you can put into it (this also assumes you have no prior programming experience what so ever). 3D GameStudio has its own style of programming language called "C-Script" which is the heart of the application and this is where you will spend most of your time in this learning curve. The other parts of the program you will learn can be grasped most likely in a day, and this is where the fun begins! Besides being about to edit your C-Script in NotePad or the now included SED (Script Editor) you have the Model Editor (MED), and the actual editor itself (WED). In the MED and WED is where the real fun begins so let's get started looking at 3D GameStudio.

When you first open WED and begin a level you have your normal four views (1 is your 3D view) in which to begin building your levels (you can enlarge any one of these four views for better manipulation of objects and entities). Each level will consist of an environment that you create. Each level can include static models, moving models, landscapes, buildings that you build or cities that you create. You can also include many different light sources that throw their own shadows, background music or 3D sound sources to name a few. Here's the WED's layout with the beginning of a simple level:

On the left you have a Project Window with four Tabs:

From these four Tabs you can view all of the current Objects, Views, Textures and your Resources. The Objects Tab is your tree list all of your current entities and objects that are in the level. The Views Tab allows you to set individual window positions. The Textures Tab shows all currently used textures in the level. In order to create any level you will of course want to give your walls a texture. All textures are created and saved in the .WAD format (a collection of image files). Here you can also create, add and modify textures to just about any degree you wish. You can also Bookmark many of your favorite textures for later use during your level building. And finally, we have our Resources Tab. Under this tab is a listing of all your level files and scripts. Here you can see at a glance how many files you have and how many images there are and so on. You also will see exactly what C-Scripts are being used as well as being able to edit any C-Script by double clicking. By the way, when you do double-click on any C-Script it will automatically open the SED for easy Editing (unless you prefer to use NotePad and have it configured for it). Here's a look at a section of the Resources Tab that shows a section of included C-Scripts:

As you can see, all of my C-Scripts that are to be included are inside the level will be listed here. The more complex your level, the more items will be displayed. One note I'm sure you may already be aware of or thinking of is; "How many levels can I build, or, what consists of a level?" In the WED a good rule of thumb is to build your level(s) with as many geometry objects as you want but don't try to build a complete game with all the levels at once. Break each level down and build from there. In this way it is much easier to know which level does what, which C-Script goes with what level, etc. You can "Call" individual levels from your scripting. Now, while we are on the subject of C-Scripts, you may notice that I have several listed here (and a few I really don't even need but which are Default Scripts). What I have done in this example level was to create a very simple level. My level consists of only a skydome, some terrain and a person to move around within it. Each of my C-Scripts will in turn tell my person to "move" "turn," etc. As with separate levels, C-Scripts can be broken down into separate segments as well. One C-Script might tell my level how I can "Move" while another gives my level any "Camera Actions" and yet another may tell my level how "doors" are to behave or how I can incorporate a Lens Flare or how enemies will fight."

As you build your level, 3D GameStudio keeps track of every item that is to be included within the final published game or application. At a glance you can easily see the sound files, the Script files, the Level files, the Model files, and so on. As mentioned earlier, if you are a Beginner you can soon be "clicking" together a 3D game or application. If you have more experience particularly with Java or especially the C Language then you should find C-Scripting very easy since it is a mixture of between the Java and C++ Language, though much easier. Let's take a quick look at a C-Script.

AN EXAMPLE OF C-SCRIPT:

action entity_rotate_left

{

my.pan +=3 *time;

}

To many of you this may look familiar, as it very well could. This is a section of how to define an "Action." When Actions are created in this manner, you can then "Attach" them to other entities inside your level. For example, if I had a door that I had already made in the MED and I now wanted that door to swing left then I would include my door somewhere in the level and simply attach my Action to my door. You can continue to create your own Actions in this manner or use many of the Default ones included with the full installation of the program. 3D GameStudio comes complete with an Online Glossary of Commands, an easy to follow Tutorial, and a well documented Help file. Look at my simple example level below and you will see that with little work I have the starting of what could become an outdoor level.

In this is simple level I created it using 3D GameStudio entirely with only a paint program to help me paint my sky and terrain! Using any other 3D programming application as I had been doing in the past would have required me to use several programs and many, many lines of code to produce this very same thing in much less time! In my example here I simply used the Default scripts as they were! So I could in this level example keep on adding more features such as lighting, bridges, ladders, towers, roads, animated sprites, static sprites, a moving sky, or many of the 100's of included prefabricated models and then use any of the predefined scripts for physics or Actions for Artificial Intelligence to compile and Run the level.

Since we know that in creating any type of game or application you will need some type of model (such as in my level above I have a few rolling hills), so let's take a quick look at the MED feature of 3D GameStudio. Again, you have your normal four views, including the 3D View:

Using MED (the Model Editor) allows you to create without other 3rd party programs your own models, including animations (as well as Bone Animation depending on your Edition). Here you have the ability once you have your model created to skin it, resize it (or your skin) and give it a look you can truly call your own. This is where I created my rolling hills in my level above. With MED you can create a terrain very easily. By using the Magnet Tool you can make your terrain rise into hills or mountains or create valleys and holes. Once ready simply go to the skinning section of MED and either Import your own painted textures (as I did), or paint it using the simple style editor included. Once you have your entire models and terrain put together you are ready to begin assembling them together within the WED. If MED is not enough or if you want a few more options in designing models than try your hand at creating some great looking entities by creating them in WED. Using WED you can create static entities and build them as such that can later be used and imported in any of your levels.

Ready to start adding the finishing touches to your level? When ready you can Publish (depending on your Edition of 3D GameStudio) all your game files. 3D GameStudio will assemble them together into a Directory ready to burn onto a CD.

Using 3D GameStudio you really do have all-in-one application to design and create 3D applications. You have your Model Editor to create many of the models and entities you will need (MED or WED), and of course you can use your own 3rd party programs if needed. 3D GameStudio Imports many of the popular formats. You also have an application to skin your models, create animations, as well as Bone Animation. You have a well-designed Script Editor (SED) where you can easily see all your variables, Functions and Actions and go to any of them with one click of the button. Plus of course you have your World Editor (WED) where you plan, layout, review and program your 3D game or application.

You never need to feel alone when and if you require some extra little help now and then. The online Forums on the 3D GameStudio site is not only staffed with courteous expert help but you can stop in to look at what many of the possibilities are with 3D GameStudio by looking at what others have created by using 3D GameStudio. The Forums are also stocked with many examples and downloads for you to choose from and user help is generally answered rather quickly.

Now that we've seen how great 3D GameStudio works, let me list just a few of it's features so you can see too how exciting 3D programming can be:

1. Multiple cameras
2. Supports DirectX 8.1 and above
3. 3D sound sources (WAV and OGG) with Doppler effect
4. BSP tree
5. Physics subsystem
6. Static and dynamic shadows
7. Coloured fog areas
8. Camera portals and mirrors
9. Static and dynamic directional light sources
10. Animated 3D sprites and decals
11. Polygon level collision detection
12. Path tracking for camera, actors or vehicles
13. Huge outdoor levels
14. Mesh deformation
15. Programmable particle and beam generators
16. Client-server mode for LAN and Internet (TCP/IP,UDP)
17. Multizone support for massive online multiplayer games
18. Sky system
19. 2D engine for background pictures
20. 2D sprites
21. Expandable through DLL plugin interface
22. Save and Load feature for resuming games
23. Panels
24. Programmable effects like lens flares, bullet holes etc
25. And so much more!

The publishers of 3D GameStudio are continually keeping it updated with the latest techniques such as how shadows react to the surrounding environment, the latest in DirectX technology and keeping the engine as fast as possible to name a few.

Bottomline: In reviewing 3D GameStudio (Commercial Edition) I found it to be the most complete 3D game programming application I have seen to date. Of course this also depends on which Edition is used. Every Edition may or may not have all the features listed above so please check their Web site for the Edition that you may or may not need. But overall you don't need lines and lines of code to do the simplest thing. You don't need several different applications to create models, scripts, or model animations. You won't be spending most of your time mauling over the Help files or Commands instead of actually coding. Using the engine's C-Script and physic's engine you can be assured that your game or application will run fast. Last but not least, each and every time you launch 3D GameStudio you may find yourself becoming excited about 3D programming, not knowing for sure what lies just behind your next polygon or model. Perhaps there should be a warning label attached that reads in part; "3D GameStudio may become addictive."

Performance
User Friendly
Cost
Ease of Installation
Support
Reviewed by Robert Hall

Purchases can be made online from their Web site.


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