PC Gamer - June,
1995 - Vol.2 No. 6
- Reviews -
Pages 93 & 94
shooter tool kit
in the Sky Software
Pie in the Sky Software
1596 Ayrault Road
Fair Port, NY 14450
386; 4 MB Ram
486; Sound Blaster
GCS isn't as much fun or as easy
as you might
think, but a little patience will be rewarded with a game of your own making.
Once you've built your level,
you can set the guard parameters
to a com-
fortably easy setting,
or one that could pass as your
| I doubt
there's a single computer gamer who hasn't wondered at least once what
it would be like to design a game. After all, who knows more about gaming
than a gamer?
For most of us, though, there's been
one little obstacle -- we have enough trouble programming a VCR,
and writing miles and miles of computer code seems completely out of the
That's where Pie In the Sky Software's
Game Creation System comes in. The GCS
is a complete game authoring program that lets non programmers create
their own 3D shoot-'em-ups with a series of point-and-click tools.
The games you create are stand
alone programs that can run on just about any PC, which means once
you've tried your hand at design, you can try your hand at marketing --
if you think your game is good enough, you can sell it without worrying
about any licensing fees or legal entanglements. But before you get
too deep into a dream of writing the next Doom and driving a Ferrari just
like John Romero's, let's just say you're not likely to find fame and fortune
with the sort of games the GCS lets you produce. It's not a high-end
development tool - not by today's standards, anyway.
The basic game engine -- the program
that displays and animates the 3D mazes you design and plays back the sounds
and music you create -- is a pretty good one, but when compared to current
games like Doom or Dark Forces, its limitations become obvious. Its
graphics fall somewhere between the classic 3D shooter Wolfenstein 3D and
the slightly more advanced Operation Body Count. It does, however,
feature support for a variety of controllers and sound cards, and its graphics
move very smoothly even on the minimum recommended system. And the
GCS gives you a library of ready-made objects, wall textures, and enemies
to work with, so you won't have to worry about creating or importing your
own graphics until you're ready to.
The World Editor, the program where
you'll do most of your work, has a pretty intuitive, mouse-based interface;
you just select a wall texture, then click and drag on a grid to create
a top-down view of your maze. There's no online help or tutorial
to guide you through the trickier aspects of the process, so you'll want
to keep the manual handy and pay close attention to the tips and instructions
There are a few demo levels you can
jump in and tinker with right off the bat, but with all the tools the GCS
gives you, you'll want to start building bigger and better games before
Of course, there are some elements
of game design the GCS can't handle for you. The best set of tools in the
world can't keep you from making a bad game. After hurriedly slapping together
my first few levels, I took a test run through them and realized they were
not only terribly short and poorly organized, they were something much
worse -- boring.
|With a library
full of strange objects, you'll be able to add a lot of variety to your
|| The second time around,
I put a little more thought into the process, and I actually came up with
something playable. With a few final touches, like ominous lighting
and some choice sound effects and music (GCS has support for MIDI music
and .WAV files for digitized sound), the levels I designed didn't look
| I still haven't created
my dream game of a demon-infested elementary school (or would
that be redundant?) - but the ability to create and import brand new textures,
characters, and weapons will go a long way toward achieving
that goal. Using the GCS paint program, you can take scanned images of
your friends and
Starting with the existing
items from the basic library you can begin building your perfect level
with a whole host of walls, doors, etc., to suit your own personalized
| family and convert them for
use as animated characters in the game, or create new and exciting weapons.
The process of animating these characters is pretty involved and time-consuming,
but well worth the effort if you want your vision to be complete.
While animation, music, and sound files
go a long way towards making your game a unique and personalized experience,
not everybody wants to just run around and shoot stuff. So if you're interested
in creating something with a bit more depth than your average shooter,
you can import text strings to turn your virtual world into a mini adventure
game. You could create hostage situations, bank robberies or perhaps even
a nice Sunday school sermon that's interrupted by a group of leather-clad
bunnies spouting their radical propaganda.
While this feature opens up a lot of creative
ideas, there is a limit to the number of text files you can display in
a given game, but unless you're planning a first-person version of 'War
and Peace', this probably won't be a problem.
Pie in the Sky is also offering additional
libraries of ready-made wall textures, enemies, etc., but since the option
to modify the basic library of textures or design your own from scratch
is already built into the system, it's doubtful many users will need them.
Still, as customizable as the GCS is, there
are a few elements you won't be able to change. Unlike 'Doom' or 'Wolfenstein',
the game screen isn't resizable, and the status bar (where your health
and ammo stats appear) takes up a significant portion of the screen. These
things detract from the game, and they instantly label every game that's
created with this system. Also, the basic game engine doesn't include
the popular modem or network options that seems to be a near requirement
for any first-person shooter released today.
While there's little chance of seeing any
retail games created with the GCS, it'll probably inspire more than a few
ambitious gamers to release their creations online as share- ware or free
ware. It'll be interesting to see how far these would-be designers
can go with the tools GCS provides.
level for the first time is
exciting, especially when you've
it full of bad guys. Say, didn't I
guard around here somewhere?
he is, just waiting to be
down. He looks so lonely, I
I'd better head back and make
simple interface, plenty of tools, and a library of objects to get
basic engine you're building on doesn't really stand a chance against the
current crop of 3D games.
|BOTTOM LINE: A
reasonably priced construction kit that lets you show your
friends how games should be made.
This review was taken from
PC Gamer. PC Gamer, and it's entire contents,
Copyright 1998 Imagine Media. All