It had to happen! No less than (in fact slightly more than) a year after the Future Shocks preview, 3D Game Maker is here! Now you too (What? Both of us? Schizo Ed) can make adventure games in the grand old Alien 8/Fairlight tradition.
There are two cassettes in the box you get with Game Maker, a sprite editor, a room designer and a game which you can play your designs on. Unfortunately you can't play your game on its own, or give copies to your friends, as the designs won't play unless they've been loaded into the game. But you can have several different maps, sprites and puzzles to amuse yourself with, although why you should want to, when you already know the answer is anybody's guess.
The editor programs are a little bit flakey. With a bit of a problem reading the joysticks and crashing at the least provocation on the +3. But when it was running on a Speccy+, not so much trouble. Your own sprite designs have to fit onto the designs already in the machine. For example, sprites 8a-8f are part of the disintegration sequence, sprite 16 is a fixed block, sprite 17 is a poisonous block and sprite 18 is a pushable block. Sprite 15 is the finish block, which you have to place in the finish square of the map. Shooting this sprite finishes the game, so I'm afraid the scenario that you had in mind for fighting a 3-sprite dragon just went up in smoke!
The room editor is fairly comprehensive, but relies on a pretty strict format. The doors must all be in the same place, and the wall sections are placed for you. I can imagine the average games designer tearing his hair out with boredom and frustration after a few minutes of this. The program can't really be used just to try something out quickly either, 'cos you have to design your sprites, all of them, then save them to tape. THEN you've got to load up the game tape, and load your sprites in. (That's three loads so far!) Then you can try out your sprites, and you won't be able to see if they work when animated until then.
As a bit of fun, 3D Game Maker fulfills most of its promise, constructing 3D type games and effortlessly whiling away hours. But if you've got anything remotely serious in mind, you might be better off using a simple graphics package and learning Z80 machine code.
A basic 3D game designer, with no stand-alone capability. A nice idea, but really just for fun.