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Tutorial - 'The Ultimate Guide To Sphere' by Zennith

An item about Sphere posted on


Here it is, a super long, well done guide to Sphere! :D Yay!



for Sphere.97
by Zennith

Chapter 1: OverviewGaming and Computer Terms File TypesSphere Folders and DocumentsExecutables

Chapter 2: Sphere Development EnvironmentSection 1:The Basics
SDE Image Tools Map Tools Swatch Tiles Spriteset Images Editing Images

Chapter 2: SDE
Section 2: Project and Resource Files

Chapter 3: Odds and EndsGraphicsScriptingShortcut KeysAudiere and CoronaCommunity


Chapter 1: Overview

Gaming and Computer Terms

RPG: role-playing game
GCE: game creation engine
IDE: integrated development environment

Index: a list of items that are numbered, starting with 0. One example is the tiles of a tileset. The first tile is tile #0, the second is tile #1, etc.

Coordinate System: an imaginary grid. Each square is represented by an x and a y value (x,y). X refers to the horizontal aspect of the grid, and y refers to the vertical; (0,0) is the upper-left corner. X increases in value for a square that is further right, and y increases for a square that is further down.

File Types

File types are denoted by the extension after the file name (filename.extension). An extension is typically
3 letters and is not always shown after a file. Usually, different file types have different icons. Here are some
common extensions.

txt : a text file
jpeg, jpg, jpe, png, pcx, bmp : these are image formats.
mng, flic, flc, fli: these are animation formats.
mp3, wav, it, xm, s3m, mod: sound file formats.
exe : these are executables. Exe files are programs that may be executed, or run.

Sphere File Types:rmp : Map file, including a tileset.rts : Tilesetrss : Spritesetrws: WindowStylejs : Scriptrfn : Fontsswatch: palettespk: a packaged Sphere game.sgm: each Project has a file called game.sgm. This file contains the game information that you may determin in Game Settings (explained later).


Get the latest version of Sphere from ,
in the downloads section. It will be under "official releases". After you have unzipped it, take a look. Youll notice 6 folders and 3 executables. Well talk about the folders first.

Bin: This contains dlls and texts of Engine and Editor configuration settings. Also contains copies of the three executables.

CVS: Im not really sure what this is, but I think it is for programmers who are using the Sphere source code. You can access it by going to, and clicking on the CVS link in the upper right hand corner. Here you may browse the CVS Repository to find stuff about Sphere. You may view these topics by selecting them and downloading them.

Docs: contains all of the documents that come with Sphere.

build.txt: information to help programmers who are using Spheres source code.

doc_functions.txt: contains a list of all of Spheres functions, with explanations.

GPL.txt: Sphere is licensed under the General Public License (GPL).

irc.txt: this explains how to reach #sphere.

keys.txt: this is a list of the names of keys that you may use in your scripts.

lack_of_documentation.txt: addresses the lack of documentation in the Sphere community. Both addresses listed are unavailable.

legal.txt: this states that Sphere must always be free, among other things.

links.txt: a list of useful websites.

network.txt: the copy of an on-line conversation about networking in Sphere. Contains one swear word.

readme.txt: contains technical information concerning Sphere.

Sphere Tutorial: a tutorial to help you get started.

sphere_cvs.txt: this tells you how to log on to CVS.

unix.txt: information on the project to port Sphere to UNIX.

Below is an overview of four folders included in the Docs folder.

Sphere Help: this contains Spheres help file.

Old: contains two text files. Spphere_todo.txt has a list of priorities, and spritesets.txt mentions plans to improve Spheres spritesets.

System Scripts: contains completed scripts for you to use with Sphere.

Technical: contains docs referring to the technical aspects of Sphere.

StartUp: When you run Engine.exe, Sphere automatically reads the files in StartUp, You may place the files for your game in the StartUp folder and its subdirectories (subfolders) to have Engine.exe run it automatically.

System: Contains system images, sounds, and scripts.

Games: This is where your Project Folder belongs. Also, any games that you wish to play should be placed in here, except for one that can be in the Startup folder.

Project Folder: Each game, or Project, has its own Project Folder, labeled by the game maker(s). Each one contains eight subdirectories, labeled "Animations", "Fonts", "Images", "Maps", "Scripts", "Sounds", "Spritesets", and "WindowStyles". These eight folders hold the Resource Files for your game.

The Executables.

Config: This allows you to select a driver (dll) for running games on your computer. If you are having trouble playing a game, try selecting a different driver or not running it in full-screen mode. The video drivers are explained in the Help File under About Sphere. The file is found in docssphere_help.

For more options, click on the Configure Driver button. The options that you will see will depend on the dll you have selected.

Editor: Just what it says. Click on this to start making a game in SDE, the Sphere Development Environment.

Engine: Use this to play or test a game.

Chapter 2: Sphere Development Environment (SDE)
Section 1: The Basics

To get to SDE, run Edit.exe.

SDE has bars, windows, dialogs and menus that will help you make a game.

Bars: SDE has a Menu Bar, a Tool Bar, and a Status Bar, each indicated in the image above.

The Menu Bar has four menus when you first open SDE. They are File, View, Window and Help. When you open or create a new Project, Map, Spriteset, Script, Font, WindowStyle or Image, a menu that corresponds to your present task will appear on the Menu Bar. These menus will be explained later.

The Task Bar has four icons for quicktasks. The New icon creates a new Project. The Open icon opens an existing file. The Save icon saves the active window. The Run icon runs the current Project from the saved file. This means that any changes you made after the last save will not be reflected when you test the game.

The Status Bar displays information relevant your tasks.

Menus help you use Sphere. The main menus are found on the Menu Bar, and pop-up menus are accessed by right-clicking in a certain field.

On the left is the File Menu, from the Menu Bar. The right menu is a Pop-up menu.

The Menu Bar menus:

File Menu
NewCreates a new Project or new resources for a Project
OpenOpens existing Project or existing Resource Files
ImportConverts files from third-party formats to Sphere formats
Open Last ProjectOpens the last Project that was run in SDE
Close ProjectCloses the active Project
SaveSaves the active Resource File
Save AsSaves the active Resource File under a new name and closes the old file
Save As CopySaves the active Resource File as a copy of the original. You will still be editing the file you saved it from, not the copy
Save All WindowsSaves all opened Resource Files
Options Opens the Options dialog. Here you may register file types, so that clicking on a Map file, Spriteset file, Font file or WindowStyle file will open the file inSDE
Exit Exits Sphere Development Environment

View Menu
Tool BarShow or hide the Tool Bar
Status BarShow or hide the Status Bar
PalettesShow or hide any active secondary windows

Window Menu
Tile HorizontallyTiles all active windows horizontally. This will arrange the windows one above the other. The window that was first opened will be topmost and the last one will be on the bottom. Secondary windows are not affected by this. If you have more than three windows open, they will be in rows and columns
Tile VerticallyTiles all active windows vertically. Arranges windows one beside the other. The first opened window will be on the left and the last will be on the right. Secondary windows are not affected by this. If you have more than three windows open, they will be in rows and columns
CascadeCascades all active windows. This arranges the windows in overlapping order with one below and to the right of the other. The first opened window will be foremost. Secondary windows are not affected by this
Close All WindowsCloses all active windows
Below the commands there is a numbered list of your current Projects. Select one and that window, with its secondary windows, will become visible.

Help Menu
ContentsNot yet implemented
TutorialNot yet implemented
AboutInformation on Sphere. Specifies the version that you have

When a Resource File is opened, a new menu will appear on the Menu Bar. These menus are explained later.

Windows are the boxes that display a file or tools. Some of them have tabs that allow you to choose one setting or another. The nine main windows are the Project window, Map window, Spriteset window, Script window, Font window, WindowStyle window, and Image window, as well as the Animation and Sound windows. (The Animation and Sound windows are very simple, because you can only look at animtions and listen to sound files in SDE.) Sphere also has secondary windows that will assist you in editing a file. I will explain these windows in more depth later.

Below are three examples of windows. The first is the Map window, the second is the Script Window, and the third is the Swatch Window.

Dialogs are boxes that appear when you use certain commands. They allow you to choose options that go with your task.

Below are two examples of Dialogs. Note that one is more elaborate than the other. Some dialogs only have one option, while others will even open more dialog boxes.

Projects: A Sphere game is created and edited in a Project. Games may consist of Animations, Images, Fonts, Maps, Scripts, Sounds, Spritesets and WindowStyles. Each of these has its own folder to hold its files. In naming a file, the extensions are optional. You may also delete a file even if it is open.

Sounds and Animations must be made outside of Sphere.

Before we begin making any of these files, youll need to know about windows.

There are main windows, secondary windows, and tool windows.

Main Window: Project Window or a window where you edit a file for your project. Example: Map Window, Script Window, Font Window, etc.

The titlebars of the main windows display on icon that identifies the file type, as well the name that the file is saved under. An asterisk (*) next to the name of the file means that said file has been edited since the last save.

Secondary Window: A window with something that relates to a main window. Examples: Spriteset Images window, Tiles window, Swatch window.

Tool Windows: really just a floating tool bar. The only ones are Image Tools and Map Tools.

Here is a list of the tool windows you may encounter.

Image Tools:
Draw: Draw free-hand
Line: Draw a straight line.
Box: Create a box that is filled with the current color.
Ellipsoid: Create a hollow ellipsoid.
Fill: Fill an area of the image with the selected color.

Map Tools:
1x1: Place tiles on the map one at a time.
3x3: Place nine tiles on the map with one click.
5x5: Place fifteen tiles on the map with one click.
Select: Selects a tile on the map.
Fill: Fills the entire layer with the selected tile.
Copy: Copy a tile onto the clipboard.
Paste: Paste a tile from the clipboard.
Trigger Copy: Copy a Trigger to the clipboard.
Trigger Paste: Paste a Trigger from the clipboard.
Obstruction: Allows you to draw an obstruction line on your map.
Remove Obstruction: Removes the obstruction nearest to where you click on the map.

Swatch: You may open, create, and/or edit a palette in this window, with the Swatch menu.

Swatch Menu: access by right-clicking the Swatch Window
FileLoad or Save a palette. Sphere saves palettes as .sswatch files
DefaultOpens the Dos or Verge palettes
Insert Color Before Inserts the selected color before the cursor
Insert Color After Inserts the selected color after the cursor
ReplaceReplaces the color below the cursor with the selected color
DeleteDeletes the specified color from the palette

This is a picture of the Swatch window with an opened palette.

Tiles: The Tiles window shows the tiles in the active tileset. File Type: Tiles are saved as rts files, if saved separately from a map. Status Bar: Tells you what the tile is that is under the mouse cursor, with this format; Tile(index# / number of tiles). Example; Tile(0/1).

Note: The selected tile is denoted by a pink box around it.

Tiles Menu: access by right-clicking on the Tiles window
Insert Tile Insert a blank tile before the selected tile
Append Tile Append a tile to the end of the tileset
Delete TileDelete the tile
Insert Tiles... Inserts specified number of tiles
Append Tiles... Appends specified number of tiles
Delete Tiles... Deletes specified number of tiles, from the lower index to the higher. Example; if you are on tile #2 and delete 3 tiles then tiles #2, #3, and #4 will be deleted
Insert Tileset... Insert an existing rts file
Append Tileset... Append an existing rts file
ZoomView the tiles at 1x, 2x, 4x or 8x
PropertiesOpens the Tile Properties dialog box

Tile Properties Dialog
AnimatedCheck this box to animate the tile
Next Tile The next tile in an animation sequence
DelayThe time, in milliseconds, that the tile is visible in an animated sequence
NextEdit the properties of the next tile
>PrevEdit the properties of the previous tile
Edit Obstructions You may obstruct a tile completely or partially, or not have it obstructed at all. You may use presets or draw them mannually.
"Obstructed" simply means that the base of any Person will not be able to cross the tile. Note: When editing obstructions, right click to remove
the last-placed obstruction line

Spriteset Images: This window shows the images that you may use as frames for the Spriteset. You may change the order of these images without affecting frames that have already been placed. When you first create a new Spriteset, the Spriteset Images window has only one image. This is used as the default frame for the existing directions.

Spriteset Images Menu: access by right-cliking on the Spriteset Images window
Move Back Moves the frame back (left) by one space
Move Forward Moves the frame forward (right) by one space
Insert Image Inserts a blank frame before the selected frame
Remove Image Removes a frame

Editing Images: Images may be edited in SDE. Because so many of SDEs applications use the same menus and tools for images, I will explain them here.

Color Bar: Choose a color by clicking somewhere on this bar.
Selected Color: The color that you apply to the image. Click on this for more color options.
Translucensy Meter: Allows you to set the alpha level that you apply to the image.

Below are samples of three different tranlucensy levels, used with the color green. Left: 255, opaque. Middle: 127, semi-transparent. Right: 0, transparent.

Image Editing Menu: access by right-clicking on the image
Color Picker Sets the selected color to the color and alpha from the current pixel
UndoUndoes the last thing you did. May be used repeatedly
CopyCopies the entire image to the clip board
PastePastes the image from the clip board
Blend Mode Blend Mode specifies the way that the selected color is applied to the image BlendThe original color will show through. Apply the selected color more than once to increase the intensity of that color, and gradually replace the original colorReplaceThe selected color, when applied to the image, replaces the originalRGB OnlyOnly the color is applied. The selected alpha is ignoredAlpha OnlyOnly the alpha is applied. Selected color is ignored
RotateClockwiseRotates the image clockwise by 45 degreesCounterclockwiseRotates the image counterclockwise by 45 degrees
SlideUpSlides the image up by 1 pixel. The top layer will appear on the bottomRightSlides the image right by 1 pixel. The rightmost layer will appear on the leftDownSlides the image down by 1 pixel. The bottom layer will appear on the topLeftSlides the image left by 1 pixel. The leftmost layer will appear on the right
FlipHorizontallyReverses the image so that the right side appears on the left and the left appears on the rightVerticallyReverses the image so that the top appears on the bottom and the bottom appears on the top
FillRGB Fills the entire image with the selected colorAlphaFills the entire image with the specified alphaBothFills the entire image with both the color and the alpha
FilterBlurBlurs the color and the alpha of each pixelNoiseSets pixels to colors that are similar to the colors already on the image

ReplaceRGBAReplaces all pixels matching the current color and alpha with the color and alpha of the selected color.RGBReplaces any pixels matching the current color with the selected color. The alpha of the pixels remains unchanged.

AlphaReplaces any pixels matching the current alpha with the alpha specified by the translucency meter. Color is ignored.

Set Color Alpha Sets the alpha of the current color to the alpha specified by the tranlucensy meter
Scale Alpha Gradually decreases the alpha of the image, depending on where your tranlucensy meter is set. The higher the alpha of the pixel, and the higher the alpha on the translucensy meter, the more drastic the increase. You may use Scale Alpha repeatedly to lighten the image further

Image Tools:
Draw: Draw free-hand
Line: Draw a straight line.
Box: Create a box that is filled with the current color.
Ellipsoid: Create a hollow ellipsoid.
Fill: Fill an area of the image with the selected color.

Chapter 2: Sphere Development Environment (SDE)
Section 2: Projects and Resource Files

File Types: spk: a packaged game. sgm: game.sgm contains the game data.

A Project consists of all of the resources for your game. Each Project has its own Project Folder, to hold Spritesets, Animations, etc.

To start a new Project, go to File8 New8 Project. A dialog will appear, with Project Name and Game Title options. The Project Name will be the name of your Project Folder. Game Title, of course, is the title of your game. Only one Project may be open at a time in SDE.

Project Menu: appears on the Menu Bar when a Project is active
InsertCopies an existing Resource File and places it in the proper directory
RefreshIf you have altered any files from outside of SDE, Refresh will cause SDE to reflect the changes
Run Game Use this command to test/play your game
Configure Sphere...Same as Config.exe. Allows you to choose a video driver
Package Game!Compresses the game for distribution. Also prevents the average person from taking your resources

Project Window

Click on "Game Settings" to open the Game Settings dialog. Here you may choose the Main Script for your game. The script must already be in the scripts directory. Screen Width and Screen Height are simply the width and height of the screen that displays your game when it is executed.

Below "Game Settings" are eight folders. They hold the Resource Files of your game. To show or hide the contents of a folder click on the plus or minus side to the left of it. If there isnt one, then the folder is empty. You may double-click on any files to open them. You could also right-click on a file to open it or delete it. Right-click on the folder icon or name to copy a file from a different Project into that folder with the "Insert" command.

Next is an explanation of the files that go into a Project Folder, as well as information to help you make them.

File Types: Maps: .rms Tilesets: .rts

Map Setting: Click on the Map tab to edit your map.
Tileset Setting: Click on the Tileset tab to edit a tile. Select a tile from the Tiles window or directly from the map to edit it. You may use the scrollbar to select a different tile, or use the tiles window. Refer to the Editing Images section of this document for tips.

Maps are the places of your game. This is where your characters (sprites) will walk around and do things. A map may have multiple layers. It may also have "Triggers" that run scripts, and "Persons" that can be controlled by separate scripts run their own scripts. Entities (Persons and Triggers) as well as the Starting Point are layer-specific.

The graphics of a map are made up of tiles. A tile is a single picture that you may place anywhere on your map as often as you like. It can be blocked and/or animated. A tile is selected from the Tilesets Window and edited with the Tileset setting. In order to block a tile so that Persons cant walk on it, see the Tile Properties Dialog in Chapter 2, Section 1. To animate a tile, go to Tile Properties Dialog.

Every tile and every pixel has an x and a y value that corresponds to its position on the map. The tile in the very upper-left corner is tile (0,0). The pixel in the very upper-left corner is called pixel (0,0).

The Tiles window is explained previously in this document.

Tilesets: Each map has its own tileset. These tiles make up the graphics of your map. Each one is indexed, beginning at 0. Any change to a tile will alter all instances of said tile that appear on the map. A tileset may be exported as an rts file, and used in a different map.

When the mouse is over the Tiles window, the Status Bar will identify the current tile and the total number of tiles, like so; current tile/total tiles. Example: say you have a total of 8 tiles and the mouse cursor is over the second tile. The status bar will show this; Tile(1,8). The first number goes by indexing (in an index, the numbering starts at 0, not 1) while the total number of tiles is the actual numerical value; in this case, 8.

Now that you have the general concepts of maps, lets move on to the grunt work.

To create a new Map go to File8 New8 Map, and a dialog will appear. Width and Height refer to the number of tiles on the map. There is no limit. Tileset refers to the rts file that the Map will use. You may use a blank one or browse your computer for an existing file.

Importing Tiles: By using Export, you may save a tileset as a tileset file (rts file), separately from the map file. Then you can add it to other maps by importing it. Use the import command from the Map Menu, or use the pop-up menu from the Tiles window, which has Append Tileset and Insert Tileset. The Import Tileset command erases the existing tileset, but the Append and Insert Tileset commands do not.

Map Menu: appears on the Menu Bar when a map is active
Map Properties Opens the map properties dialog
Change Tile Size Set the number of pixels in the tiles. Does not change the size of the image on the tile
Rescale TilesetSet the number of pixels in the tiles. The image will fit the new tile size
Resize All Layers Change the number of tiles in the width and height of all layers
Export Tileset Save a tileset as an rts file to use with other maps
Import Tileset Open an outside rts file. This will replace the existing tileset
Prune Tileset Deletes any tiles that are not used on your map

Map Properties Dialog
Background Music A sound file that plays continuously while your map is running
Special ScriptsScripts that are run when the map is opened [Entry], closed [Exit], or when the input character crosses the North, East, South or West border of the map. The Entry script will run just before the map is opened, and the Exit script will run just after it is closed.

Layers: Maps may have one or more layer(s) - there is no limit. In order for one layer to be at least partially visible below another, the above layers must have some pixels with an alpha below 255. Those pixels will be somewhat transparent (or completely transparent if the alpha is 0) so the lower layer will show through.

Remember which layer you are editing. When you place a tile or select one from the map, it is done to/from the current layer. Same goes for any entities and the Entry Point.

The bottom layer cannot have any parallax or automatic scrolling.

You may rearrange the layers by clicking and dragging their bars on the left-hand side of the map window. Click to the left of the name to show or hide the layer (if the eye is visible, then the layer is visible.)

Status Bar: Shows the name of the layer bar that is under the mouse. Layer 0 is the bottom layer. Higher layers are labeled with higher numbers.

To edit a layer on the map screen, click on the layer bar. The layer bar that is depressed is the one you are editing.

Layer Menu: access by right-clicking on a layer name
Insert Layer Inserts a new layer above the one you clicked on
Insert Layer From Image Creates a layer from an image and inserts it
DeleteDeletes the layer. A prompt will appear, asking if you want to delete associated tiles. If you say yes, then the map will be "pruned" after the layer is deleted.
DuplicateCopies a layer, including obstructions, entities, and parallax data
ExportCreates an image file from the layer
PropertiesOpens the Layer Properties Dialog

Layer Properties Dialog
NameThe name of the layer, which appears on the bar
WidthWidth of the layer, in tiles
HeightHeight, in tiles
ReflectiveIf this box is checked then there will be a reverse image of any entity reflected on any areas with an alpha below 255. The lower the alpha, the clearer the image.
ParralaxRefers to speed at which the layer scrolls. Different layers can have different speeds to create the illusion that the map is 3-dimensional
Automatic Scrolling Use this to make layer scroll on its own, even if the camera is not moving

Map Screen: The screen that displays your map.
Status Bar: identifies the tile and pixel below the mouse cursor, in this format; Map tile:(x,y) pixel:(x,y)

Map Screen Menu: access by right-clicking on the map screen
Select Tile Selects the current tile from the layer that you are editing
Set Entry Point The default point for any Persons that appear on the map. Marked in SDE by "ST"
FillFills the entire layer with the current tile
Insert Entity Insert Person or Trigger
Edit Entity Edit Person or Trigger
Delete Entity Delete Person or Trigger
ZoomView the map screen at 1x, 2x, 4x, or 8x normal

Trigger: an invisible point on your map that causes something to happen when the input character steps on it.

Person: usually a character, hence the name. An entity represented by a spriteset that may have scripts assigned to it and may be destroyed when the map is exited. It may also be influenced by separate scripts.

Each Person has 5 scripts: On Create, On Destroy, On Activate (Touch), On Activate (Talk) and On Generate Commands. To edit any particular script, simply select the one you want.
On Create: This script is run when the Person is created.
On Destroy: This script is run when the Person is destroyed.
On Activate (Touch): This script is run when the base of the input character touches the base of the Person.
On Activate (Talk): This script is run when the input character is near the Person and the designated "talk" button is pressed.
On Generate Commands: I think that this script is run when the command queue of the Person ends.

Entities are set to tiles. This means that if you place a Trigger on a tile, stepping anywhere on the tile will activate it. When you resize the map in editing, however, Entities are relocated by the pixel. Example: suppose there is a Trigger on Tile(9, 6), Pixel(152, 104). You change the tile-size from 16 to 32. The Trigger is now on Tile(4,3) Pixel(144, 112). If you had changed the tile-size to 8, that same Trigger would have been set to Tile(19, 13) and Pixel(146, 106). Notice that it is not set to exactly the same pixel as before. This is because the Entity is centered on the tile that the pixel is in.

File Type: rss

Note: the selected frame has a pink box around it.

Frames Setting: click on the Frames tab to modify the directions and the frames.
Edit Setting: click on the Edit tab to edit the images of the Spriteset Images window.
Base Setting: click on the Base tab to set the base for the spriteset.

Sprites are images of the entities (Persons in this case) that move around on your maps. It does not necessarily have to be a human - it could be a boat or an animal.

A spriteset is a collection of the frames that make up a sprite. The frames appear one after another, to animate the sprite. "Delay" is the time that a frame is visible before it is replaced by the next. To set a frame, first select the frame then click on an image from the Spriteset Images window.

Spriteset Menu: appears on the Menu Bar when a spriteset is active
ZoomView the sprite at 1x, 2x, 4x or 8x normal. Set to 2x by default
ResizeSpriteset: adjust the size of the sprite in pixels. Pixels will be the same size as the pixels of map tiles
Fill Delay Set the delay of every existing frame
Frame Properties Set the delay of the selected frame

Directions: The default directions are "north," "northeast," "east," "southeast," "south," "southwest," "west," "northwest." Other directions may be added. The extra directions could be used to store extra frames (like a "crying frame" for a crying scene). You could also use one direction to store multiple frames for different scenarios, because you can call each frame individually in your scripts.

Direction Menu: access by right-clicking on a direction name
InsertInsert a new direction
DeleteDelete the direction
AppendAppend a direction to the end
PropertiesName a direction with the Direction Name dialog

Edit: refer to the Editing Images section of this document.

Base: Simply click anywhere on the image display and drag the mouse. The pink rectangle is the base. This box is the area where the Person is obstructed and the area that activates "Triggers" and "Persons." If another person has a script under "On Activate (Touch)" the script will be activated when the base of the player character touches the base of the person. A Trigger will be activated when the base of the Person touches the tile that the Trigger is on. When you use the x or y coordinates of a Person, the center of the Base is returned. If the width is even, the middle-left pixel will be returned for x. If the height is even, y will return the upper-middle pixel.

File Type: js

Scripts cause things to happen in your game. With scripting, you could create a textbox, make a Person move on a map, and much more. Sphere supports SpiderMonkeys version of JavaScript as well as the Sphere functions and objects found in doc_functions.txt.

The engine reads from the main script only. This script may be specified in "Game Settings". You may organize your coding by seperating it into different scripts, and using the EvaluateScript function to include the other script files in the main script. For example you could have a Battle.js, a script that is dedicated to the battle system and nothing else. This way it would not be cluttered with other coding that does not apply to battles, so it will be more organized. Then, you simply put "EvaluateScript(Battle.js)" in the main script, and all of the coding in Battle.js is included in the main script. "EvaluateSystemScript" also works, but it has to be a script that came in the system/scripts folder.

Notice the different text colors in a script. Statements and declarations are blue. Most operators are pink. Numbers and underscore ( _ ), and any words that start with a number or underscore, are terracotta. Strings and comments are green. Boolean, export, import, char and goto are red.

Script Menu: found on the Menu Bar when a Script window is active
Check Syntax Searches the code for syntax errors
FindFind a specific set of characters in your code
ReplaceFind and replace a specific set of characters in your code

Script pop-up menu: access by right-clicking on the screen of the Script window
UndoUndoes your most recent typing
RedoReplaces the typing after an "Undo" command
CutRemoves the selected text and places it on the clipboard
CopyCopies selected text to the clipboard
PastePastes text from clipboard to the screen
DeleteDeletes the selected text
Select All Selects all of the text in the script

File Types: rfn

A font file is a collection of characters. Each character corresponds to a key on the keyboard (lower case/ordinary and upper/special). Each font may have up to 94 characters. The title bar of the font window will show you the key that corresponds to the current character. Example; if you see - 2 - on the title bar, then the picture on the image display will appear on the game screen when you press the 2 key (if you have a function for displaying text).

Use the scroll bar on the bottom of the Font window to select either the next or the previous font character.

Note: According to the titlebar, the first font character is indexed at 32, and the last at 126. The "total" is labeled as 256. This may be a bug, and it should not affect your use of the font.

Font Menu: found on the Menu Bar when a font file is open
Export To Image This feature is currently unavailable
Resize Character Alter the number of pixels of the current character
Resize All Characters Alter the number of pixels of every character
SimplifyConvert the alpha of each pixel to 255 or 0. If a pixels alpha is higher than 128, it will be converted to an alpha of 255 (opaque). If it is 127 or lower it will be converted to an alpha of 0 (transparent)
Generate Gradient Set the color and alpha for the top part of the characters and for the bottom. The characters will fade from the top color and alpha to that of the bottom, for a gradient effect. To select a new color, click on the box. To set the alpha, use the translucensy meter to the right of the box

File Type: rws

A WindowStyle may be used as the background for a menu, or as a textbox. To edit a WindowStyle, select a section by clicking on it or by using the WindowStyle menu.

WindowStyle Menu: found on Menu Bar when a WindowStyle is open
EditSelect a side or corner of the windowstyle, or the background. Background may only be selected with the WindowStyle Menu
ZoomThe lower the number, the bigger the editing section and the smaller the view of the windowstyle. Vice versa for a larger zoom number
Resize Section Section: set the number of pixels for the width and the height of the current section
PropertiesClick here to open the dialog for WindowStyle properties

WindowStyle Properties Dialog
Tile Background Image If this box is checked, the background will be a repeating pattern of the image you edited for Background
Gradient Background If checked, the background will fade in a gradient style, based on the four colors and translucensy meters below. The section called Background that you edited apparently will have no bearing

The default for each section is 16x16 pixels. Each corner is an exact copy of the picture that you edited for said corners. The sides, top and bottom may have a repeating pattern of the image that was made for said sections- it depends on the number of pixels of each section and the size you set with the drawWindow function. The background will repeat a certain number of times, depending on the number of pixels of the background and the size that you set with drawWindow function.


SDE may open jpeg, jpg, jpe, png, pcx and bmp files. However, it may only save images as png files. For information on editing an image, refer to the Editing Images section of this document.


You may open midi, mid, mp3, mp2, ogg, mod, s3m, xm, it, and wav sound files. You may play them, stop them, and adjust the volume. You may not edit or save. When a sound file is played in the game, you may set the volume using scripting. The volume ranges from 0-255.


You may open mng, flic, flc, and fli animations. You may view them, but cannot edit or save them.

Chapter 3: Odds and Ends


Configure Driver: use this to choose the video driver that Sphere will use to run games on your computer. With each one, you may play your game in fullscreen mode or non-fullscreen mode.

Pixels: When you increase or decrease the number of pixels in an image, you do not affect the resolution. You merely change the size of the image. For information on resolutions, read the paragraphs below.

Screen Width and Screen Height: go to the Game Settings dialog to adjust these. If a game is run in full screen, then increasing Screen Width and Height will increase the resolution of your game. If it is not in full screen, then this will simply increase the size of the screen. If the map is smaller than the screen is, then the map will repeat.

I think that non-full screen mode is always set to a resolution of 320/240. If you use non-full screen mode, your Screen Width and Height could exceed the monitors width and height.


You need scripts if you want anything to happen in your game. With scripting, you could create a menu, a battlesystem, or make it look like a gate is closing. The possibilities are practically endless.

Sphere supports Mozillas JavaScript (SpiderMonkey), as well as its own functions and objects. Documentation for spheres functions and objects should have come with your download of this game engine. For JavaScript tutorials, try or . If these web sights do not have what you are looking for, you could ask about tutorials on one of Spheres message boards, or check the tutorials on Sphere also has an FAQ.

Main Script: the script that is automatically executed when your game is run. Your game function should go here.

Game Function: a function called game that is automatically executed as soon as the game is run.
function game()
//place scripting here

Shortcut Keys

Project Window

Up and Down Arrows: scroll through the items on the Project Window, including Game Settings, folders, and visible files.

Right Arrow: Show the contents of a folder. If contents are already visible, go from folder icon to first file of folder.

Left Arrow: If a folder is selected and its contents shown, this will hide the contents of a folder. If any file is selected, its parent folder will be selected.

Letter Keys: Go to an item beginning with said letter. Press it again to go to a different item beginning with same letter.

Enter: If Game Settings is selected, opens Game Settings dialog. If a file is selected, opens said file.

Menus: To select an item from a menu, press the first letter of said item or the underlined letter.

Up or Down Arrow: scroll through the items.

Right Arrow: if selected item leads to more items, will display those items.

Left Arrow: if selected item comes from item to the left of it, will close the extra selection and return to the item on the left

Escape: exits the menu


Tab Key: go from one field to another.

Spacebar: If there is one checkable box on the dialog, spacebar will check or uncheck it. If there is more than one box, the field has to be selected.

+ (plus): This key will only check a box.

- (minus): This will only uncheck a box.

Enter: opens/activates the selected field. The same as clicking on it.

If a letter in a word is underlined, pressing that letter will select the corresponding field.

Audiere: a sound program developed by Chad Austin and used in Sphere. For more information go to

Corona: an image program developed by Chad Austin that will be used in Sphere. For more information go to

Community Spheres SourceForge site. This is the homepage for Sphere. The homepage of Chad Austin, the creator of Sphere. This webpage has a Sphere forum and other gaming resources.

Fliks Site: This site contains plenty of good scripting tutorials.

SphereSuite: an alternate editor to SDE. Still in development.

For more websites, go to the links section of


#sphere: Spheres channel on EsperNet.

Active Window: the window that you are currently using. Denoted by a blue titlebar as opposed to a gray titlebar.

Alpha: Translucensy level.

Animation: Displaying one image after another to create the illusion of motion. Spritesets are animated when they move, and tiles may be animated.

Automatic Scrolling: Unless this is set to zero, the map layer will scroll independently of the camera movement.

Base: The area of a sprite that is blocked by obstructions and that activates Triggers.

bmp: an image file format.

Config: Use this to determine how Sphere on your computer.

Current whatnot: The "where" that something is applied. Example: when editing an image, the current pixel is the one below the mouse cursor.

Dialog: a box on the computer screen with options for the user to choose or settings to set.

Directions: Each Spriteset has 8 default directions, each with its own array of frames. (north, northeast, east, southeast, etc.)

Display Area: the part of a window that displays the file.

Editor: Use this to make a game.

Engine: Use this to play a game.

Entity: In Sphere, a Person or a Trigger.

Entry Point: The point where the person who the player controls will appear when the map is opened. Each map must have an Entry Point. Denoted in SDE with "ST"

exe : An executable. Exe files are programs that may be executed, or run.

Executable: A program that may be run, or executed.

Extension: the abbreviation for a file type that is placed after the name of a file and preceded by a period.

Field: an item on a dialog.

File Format: see file type

File Type: The type of data stored in a file. Example: a sound file stores sounds, an exe file stores a file that may be executed, etc.

flc: an animation file format.

fli: an animation file format.

flic: an animation file format.

Font: a set of characters (letters, numbers and/or symbols).

FPS: see Frames Per Second.

Frame: An individual picture that is part of an animated sequence.

Frames Per Second: A measure of animation display rate.

Function: a set of scripting that can be called upon elsewhere. You may call a function in the same script file or a different one, or with any Person or Trigger on a map.

Game Creation Engine: a program that is used to make games

Game Function: the main function of your game. This is the very first function to be called whenever the game is run. It is found in the Main Script.

GCE: see Game Creation Engine

IDE: see Integrated Development Environment.

Index: a list of items that are numbered, starting with 0. One example is the tiles of a tileset. The first tile is tile #0, the second is tile #1, etc.

Input Person: The person that the player directly controls.

Integrated Development Environment: Contains the basic tools a game developer needs to make a game. Spheres IDE is called SDE (Sphere Development Environment.)

it: a sound file format.

jpe: an image file format.

jpeg: an image file format.

jpg: an image file format.

js : Spheres script file format.

Layer Bar: A bar with a layer name on it. Click to the left of the name to show or hide the layer on the Map Screen. Click on the layer bar to edit the corresponding layer.

Layer: Maps may have multiple layers, each with its own parallax and scrolling properties.

Main Script: The script that is automatically executed when the game is run.

Main Window: A window that displays a resource file.

Map: Consists of the graphical background of your game, including the Starting Point, and possibly entities as well.

Menu: A list of commands that you may choose.

mng: an animation file format.

mod: a sound file format.

mp3: a sound file format.

Obstruction: stops a Person from stepping over the obstructed area. You may draw obstructions directly on the map with the Place Obstructions button on Map Tools. Or you may obstruct individual tiles.

Packaged Game: a game that is ready for distribution.

Palette: a collection of colors. In Sphere, they are saved as .sswatch files.

Parent Folder: the folder that contains a specified file.

Parallax: controls the speed at which a layer scrolls while the camera moves across the map.

pcx: an image file format.

Person: A person that may walk (or stand) on a map. Visibly represented by a Spriteset and it may have its own scripts.

Pixel: A single unit with its own color and alpha. A pixel is the smallest element of the computer graphics world.

png: an image file format.

Project: A game, completed or not, with all of its existing files.

Pruned: When a tileset is "pruned," any tiles that are not used on the map are deleted.

Resolution: The number of pixels visible on the screen. The format for writing or talking about it is Width/Height. A standard resolution is 320/240.

Resource File: my term for any Animation, Font, Image, Map, Script, Sound, Spriteset, or WindowStyle.

rfn : A font file for Sphere.

RGB, RGB[A] : color. Red (R), Green (G), Blue (B) and Alpha (A). If "A" is in brackets, like so; [A], then alpha is optional. Default for alpha is usually 255.

rmp : a map file for Sphere.

RPG: Role Playing Game

rss : spriteset file for Sphere.

rts : Tileset file for Sphere.

rws: WindowStyle file for Sphere.

s3m: a sound file format.

Script: A collection of variables, functions, arrays and objects (and other scripting things) saved as a .js file. Scripts control the events in your game.

Scripting: The process of using an interpreted language.

SDE: see Sphere Development Environment.

Secondary Window: a window that is a supplement for a main window.

Selected whatnot: The "what" that is applied. Example: if the selected color is green, then you will draw on the image you are editing with green. If frame or tile is selected, it has a pink box around it.

sgm: each Project has a file called game.sgm. This file contains the game information.

Sphere Development Environment: Spheres editing program.

spk: a packaged Sphere game.

Sprite: the image of an entity as shown on a map.

Spriteset Images Window: A collection of the images you may use for your Spriteset frames.

Spriteset: A collection of images and information that create the graphics for a Person.

sswatch: palette for Sphere.

ST: Starting Point. see Entry Point

Swatch: Literally means to cut samples from something and paste them, like a patchwork quilt. Use the Swatch Window to make your own palette.

Tab: Windows with more than one setting have tabs that allow you to switch between settings.

Tile: An image that can be used as part of the background or foreground of a map.

Tiles Window: The window that displays the tiles for your map.

Tileset: A collection of tiles saved as an .rts file.

Titlebar: the bar at the top of a window, with the window name on the left side.

Tool Window: a window that displays a toolbar.

Translucensy Meter: A meter that you may use to set the Alpha. It ranges from 0 (transparent) to 255 (opaque)

Trigger: A point on a map that runs a script. Denoted with a " T " in SDE, but invisible when the game is run.

txt : a text file

wav: a sound file format.

Window: a rectangular area of the screen that displays its own file or message.

WindowStyle: Typically used as the background for menus. A rectangular picture that can be displayed during a game at any size.

xm: a sound file format.