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Domark Ltd
1991
Utility: Game Editor
£24.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

14,15
James Leach
Chris Bourne

Before I go any further, let's make one thing clear. 3D Construction Kit isn't actually a game. It's a way of creating games. So don't expect me to go on about horizontal scrolling and the number of levels and whatever else, okay? Right.

3DCK (as I'll call it, even though it sounds a bit rude) uses a system called Freescape, which anyone who's ever played Castle Master or Driller (or any of those other Incentive games) will know all about already. Quite simply, it's a way of creating a 3D world by building objects, then positioning them accordingly. For example, a house can be made up of a cube with a pyramid-shaped roof bunged on top. Chuck in a door (and windows if you want) and, voila, your very own bungalow! (Rather crap, I admit, but let's not run before we can walk, eh?)

In fact, it's all a bit like Lego. You start off with an area to build on, like those big Lego base-plates. This can be the inside of a building, a street, a universe - anything you want. Then you select a shape (a pyramid, say), and enlarge it in any direction, spin it round, stretch it or squash it. From the moment it (or any other object) is created it's given a number, so you can easily go back and change it later.

You can also inspect your work from any angle, at any time, by simply walking or flying around the area it's in. You can add tiny bits of detail or get rid of things you don't want. In fact you can do pretty much anything at all, including SAVEing and LOADing your areas (which is seriously useful). And you can have as many of these areas as you want, so it wouldn't be hard to invent an entire town, complete with the insides of every building. (It'd take an unfeasibly long time to do of course, but the option's there if you want to take it up).

FUNNY LANGUAGE THINGIES

Right, so it's all jolly good fun - but what exactly can you do with it? And this is where it gets seriously funky, Spec-chums - because you can actually write games with it! Blimey You see, as well as the 3D designing bits there's something called the Conditions Menu. This lets you access a special language in which you can control things, enter doors, pick up objects, display messages and so on, using a sort of customised BASIC. Take a simple routine like

INVIS 005
IFHIT OBJECT 005 THEN VIS 005

for example. Here there's an invisible object (called 005 - could be big rectangle), which only becomes visible if it's walked into (giving the player a secret codeword or a key or something). It might sound a bit complicated, but there's a full list of commands in the manual and they all make some sort of sense. (It's certainly easy once you've got the idea.)

So, out of this simple language comes your 'gameplay'. Ideally you've worked out what you want everything to do beforehand, so it should all be dear, neat and logical. This is also the time to add any sounds (which you can choose from a special menu and fit in anywhere).

Right, once you've written your masterpiece. It's time to playtest it. Check out everything you can think of, and then make sure you haven't made any monumental cock-ups. If it all works okay, you can then save your game with the compiler provided. This allows the game to function separately from the program (which it obviously doesn't save) so you can give copies to your friends. And it'll be just like a real Freescape game, with a plot, goals and missions, whatever you want - they won't be able to edit or alter anything. (Actually, 3DCK comes with a of game itself, showing all the aspects of the program and it can do.)

What's more, if you've got a Speccy art package you can even design the info display screens with it, and then import them to make the whole thing look even more professional!

I'D NEVER HAVE BELIEVED IT!

So what do I reckon? Well take a guess. 3D Construction Kit is, quite simply, an absolutely incredible piece of software. It's not something you can dive into at first sitting (so shoot-'em-up fans beware), but, then again, it's not at all complicated once you've sussed it out. And, as the ads say, the only limit really is your imagination (and, ahem, the memory of our humble little chum! But even that's not a real problem because it's available, quite unbelievably, on 48K mode).

Of course, it's not technically a game, but since you can use it to create them I'm call it a Megagame anyway. It's £25, but it's worth every penny. So go out and but it, persevere until you've created something really amazing, and then send a copy into us and we might just bung it on the covertape. (And then again we might not.) Hurrah! Either way, you'll feel as though you've really accomplished something and praise the day you read this review and decided to go out and buy it.

Amazing. Would-be architects, city planners, and everybody else should start saving their dosh now!

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HOW TO BE A TALENTED ARCHITECT IN 9 LESSONS

Right. Pay attention. Step by step, we're goping to design a house using 3D Construction Kit. And it's going to be great. Just follow the simple step-by-step guide.

1. First, set up a cube.

2. Stretch it to make it the size and shape you want.

3. Position a pyramid for a roof. You'll need to elongate it to fit.

4. That's it. And now for a door.

5. You can even change the colour.

6. And the shading.

7. Now we're inside the house, so let's set up a table.

8. The viewer has grown in size to see the table clearly from above.

9. And set the conditions so that if you hit the door (004) you go to the entrance in area 002 (inside the house, in other words).

Screenshot Text

And here's one I did earlier. (Well, okay, so the very nice man at Incentive did it instead, okay? You think I'm some sort of genius or something?)

The famous Space Shuttle, star of all those Domark ads. It was created using 2D triangles for the wings and booster rockets, then duplicating them to produce identical features on the other side.

As well as just doing buildings, you can get quite arty. Here's a rather sweet desert island...

You can shoot at anything in the game (and what happens when you do is up to you and how you want to program the conditions).

Sensors are pretty handy in a game - they shoot at you if you wander into their line of sight.