Sam Coupe Scrapbook

The Utilities
- Review of GamesMASTER

Information provided by: Tim Paveley

Okay, this is a package to help you construct your own games. Basically, you plan the game out, and let GamesMASTER write the code for you. To try and explain.

The game is made up of a whole load of modules. The game is run by the first module, which sets things up. The rest of the modules are run on reaching certain conditions, such as you pressing the fire button. You can also have a module to run every frame (1/50th of a sec) to handle things such as a timer, or the release of nasties.

A key point of the game revolves around the sprites themselves. As well as being able to define sprites with several different frames (ie for animation), each sprite carrys with it some general information, about it's movement, how it is affected by gravity, and should it run any modules on a certain keypress, etc.

Next, there are lots of tables which you can alter. These are used to control things such as what happens when 2 objects collide, To mark blocks over the screen, change colours, create sound effects. You can have 8 different keys defined for controls, which each key (ie Left, Fire) being a choice of 2 keys from the keyboard, or a combination of 2. You can alter the strength of 'gravity', and many other things.

A very basic game then, would start of by placing your spaceship on the screen, this is set up to be user controlled, and on pressing '0' or space, then it calls a module that fires your lazer. This module simply places the 'lazer' on screen under the space ship. The lazer is set up to move upwards, kill itself on leaving the top of the screen, and on colliding with an alien, it runs the kill alien module. The kill alien module kills the alien and the lazer, and increases your score. There is a module set to run every frame, that once a second places an alien at the top of the screen. The alien moves down the screen, following a defined path at random, if it goes of the bottom of the screen then it is killed. If it touches you then it runs the 'game over' module.

A somewhat badly written example, but it should give some idea of how things work. It is possible with experience, to write some very good games, one of which was actually comercially released by FRED, and another has been planned, although you will need time, skill and patience to write something of this quality. However various sorts of games have appeared on FRED written using GamesMASTER, including some by myself (Starshot FRED 24b - cheap plug I know!)

To summarise, you can easily create fairly pleasing games, with little previous knowledge, and given time, some very good games. It's worth getting to play around with.


The bulk of the program is menu driven, using the cursor keys. You need to write the modules yourself, but the language is fairly simple and consise, yet allows maximum amount of control if you wish by allowing you to edit sprite data directly. The actual programs you write can use any keys you want (I think), upto 2 different combinations of 8 keys. You can also use the mouse by reading the System VARiables. The programs produced can call BASIC, and the variables can be easily passed between them, so ie, menus and highscore tables can be written in BASIC, which is probably easier.

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