January 14, 2017

Happy new year and some news

Hi everyone!

A few months ago we released the lastest version of SuperTuxKart and while we haven't been active on the blog, we are working hard behind the scenes.

Networked multiplayer is our top priority and we split the team into two groups. Joerg Henrichs is currently working on the networking code while Marianne Gagnon, Jean-Manuel Clémençon and Benau are in charge of the other tasks related to the upcoming release.

Better performance

We have significantly improved the VRAM and RAM usage of the game engine. Previously, the game loaded all shared textures in the VRAM, even if they weren't displayed. Back in the day, when only a few tracks used shared textures, this wasn't really an issue, but now almost all tracks use them so a more clever system had to be designed. Now, the engine will load them only when needed, which reduces wasted VRAM. This means the game should be able to run more easily on low-end hardware.

There is also a new option that allows you to aggressively cut down non-essential high-poly details, like grass, which reduces both the VRAM usage and the general polycount.

Benau created a system to randomize colors for similar objects to create more interesting tracks with color variations. Previously, artists had to create different versions for each object which was not only time consuming but also bad for performance.

Only one texture and one model of car was used
Animations now use hardware skinning, which allows the same object to have different animations. This also means they will be computed by the GPU instead of the CPU, which should be faster.

Elderme, a new developer who joined the team last year, started to refactor the engine, which should make things easier for newcomers to understand the inner working of the game.

If you have experience in OpenGL/Vulkan and PBR (Physically Based Rendering) and want to be part of SuperTuxKart Team, please contact us.

Two new maps for SuperTuxKart

Those two tracks were, for a few years, in development hell, but finally we are ready to show you some screenshots.

Cornfield Crossing

First, Cornfield Crossing (codenamed Harvest during the development). The main inspiration behind the track was this amazing concept art done by Ozone.

The map is set in the fictional country of United Counties of Amerigo, during harvest season. Like all new tracks made since Cocoa Temple, the track is dedicated to one of our beloved characters:
Xue, The harvest mouse will be driving a giant combine, and her friends will be around the map encouraging the player.

You will be able to explore a region inspired by the great plains of the United States and Canada, with grain elevators, ranches, barns and much more.

Ravenbridge Mansion

The other track is called Ravenbridge Mansion. This Halloween-themed map will replace the old Blackhill Mansion.

The map is set in a spooky and dark swamp, home to the BSD beastie deamon, with his friend Gaveoche.

The future of SuperTuxKart

The upcoming release will feature two new new tracks "Ravenbridge Mansion" and "Cornfield Crossing". These new tracks are the latest two tracks of the current generation, a generation started two years ago with the release of Cocoa Temple, the first map that took advantage of Antarctica, our rendering engine.

The next generation will bring exciting things like Network Multiplayer, improved tracks and all cut scenes will be redone. Here is a sneak peak into the future

  • New modelling techniques will be introduced into the track modelling process : they now will be done by sculpting them. It allows artists a more creative and organic process.
  • The fabulous world of SuperTuxKart will be more detailed, but no worries for older platforms, since it's now possible to disable details.
  • Depending of changes in the engine, we might merge PBR rendering.
  • Smoother transition between textures and improved materials.

One of the next gen arena made with sculpting

We are also preparing two surprises with epic proportions. We will be revealing more information in the upcoming months ;).

The SuperTuxKart Team

July 1, 2016

SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 is out and say hello to our new website

After several months of hard work we are happy to finally release SuperTuxKart 0.9.2.

This release includes a lot of work from Benau, a new developer. Thanks to him, we are now supporting TTF fonts, which is a lot easier for us to maintain and should ensure that all characters from all main languages are now available. He also finished recording races and ghost replays (where you can try to beat a recorded race), which were started as Google Summer of Code projects, but never completely integrated. Additionally he finished and significantly improved work on computer opponents in battle mode, and even added the ability to play in teams with and against the computer in soccer mode. Binaries and source code can as always be found on our download page.

Copa Antarctica
SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Poster
To celebrate the new AI support for soccer mode, we created a poster for "Copa Antarctica" Antarctica Cup, a set of 3 arenas. The first one made by Benau and Samuncle is a new soccer field called "Icy Soccer Field", which is included in the release:

Similar to what we have done in the past, we are offering the remaining others as gift package for people donating to SuperTuxKart. This package includes a new arena and soccer stadium "Las Dunas", in a daytime version and a separate nighttime version for soccer competition.

Additionally the gift package will also include the latest version of "Candela City", which was previously included in the gift package. The gift package can be downloaded after donating to SuperTuxKart. We use this money to pay for addon and web server for now, and will be using more for network development.

But we have even more new tracks. Included is now also "Antediluvian Abyss" track by Samuncle, which replaces the old subsea track. An early-access version of this track was part of our previous gift package for donators, but as promised it is now released as part of the standard release.

We also included a new track by first time contributor Ponzino - a new 'Volcan Isand" track:

Ozone0ne and Krobonil have also contributed a new original song for the farm track; and Flakebi implemented a new kart characteristic system, which makes it much easier to modify the kart physics and have karts with different behaviour.

As mentioned in the previous post, networked multiplayer is unfortunately not available yet as there is more work needed to make it work well. We have done some serious work, and a lot of improvements to show, but feel that it is not yet good enough for a special LAN-only mode. More work is needed to make LAN mode work good enough for an enjoyable game experience, and we decided to spent more time and have a good release instead of one that would potentially suffer from stuttering. But stay tuned for more news on networking, it is our top priority.

Say hello to SuperTuxKart.net

TuxKart was released more than 10 years ago and at this time web standards where pretty basic. The most curious of you can see how it looked here. When the project was renamed SuperTuxKart a new website was done and while the pages where basic it provided everything the project needed.

In April 2010, Tom Jenkins, a web designer, developed a new custom skin for our website and at the time we did a blog article explaining the update. This version has remained in use until a few days ago. While the design was cool a few years ago it started to look a bit outdated, but also, most importantly, the smartphone revolution changed the way we browse internet. We were also using a SourceForge.net as the main domain of the project which left us helpless during the SourceForge crash and unable to communicate or redirect players to a mirror.

This is why a new modern, responsive website was designed and implemented by Jean-Manuel Clémençon and Konstin. This new website is hosted on our own server, which should hopefully be more reliable and flexible than sourceforge's hosting.

From now on we will use exclusively the domain supertuxkart.net. and sourceforge will be one of the mirrors to download the game. The new website works on all screen sizes (you can resize your browser window to see it in action) and can embed our videos and images more easily. Each character now has their own little story in the discover page.

A few things are still missing and we are working to improve the documentation, especially for artists who want to create karts, tracks and objects for SuperTuxKart. We hope you will enjoy the new website.

June 16, 2016

SuperTuxKart 0.9.2-RC1 released

It's already been several months since the last release of SuperTuxKart, but we have not been idle! The next release, 0.9.2 is coming soon and we are today releasing the first release candidate. Please help us test this new release to make sure that everything works correctly!

This release includes work from Benau, a developer who recently started contributing to SuperTuxKart. Thanks to him, STK now supports recording races and ghost replays (where you can try to beat a recorded race) as well as an AI for the 3 strikes battle and soccer modes, enabling them to be played in single player for the first time (or in multiplayer with more karts). He also rewrote our font handling system to now use TTF fonts, which is a lot easier to maintain for us and should ensure that all characters from all main languages are now available. We thank him for his dedication!

This new release also marks the introduction of a few new tracks :
  • New "Antediluvian Abyss" track by samuncle
  • New "Volcan Island" track by Ponzino
  • New icy soccer field by samuncle and Benau

0zone0ne and Krobonil have also contributed a new original song for the farm track.

Now for the disappointing bit: our most popular feature request is for networked multiplayer, unfortunately this is not ready yet. We have already invested a significant amount of time on this feature, and made some good progress on the LAN implementation:
  • we can already connect LAN clients without requiring an online account
  • we can create a server from the GUI
  • we even can compile a no-graphics standalone server
We have actually already played some LAN games (and even tried a WAN game once) - admittedly with some restricted features (no items), but the overall result was that the simplified approach for LAN does not work good enough. In some environments we had a satisfactory playing experience (typically using wired connections), but in others (especially when using wireless networking) the game just stuttered and shook too much to be fun. So we decided to not publish a LAN-only version as originally planned, but still go ahead with a release now, since Benau has added a lot of nice features to the game which we think our players will appreciate to have.
We expect LAN will work much better in less ideal environments (and that includes using wifi) with the upcoming WAN code (for the more technical inclined: using client-side prediction and rollback to hide latency). We are aware that this is a disappointing for the majority of our fans out there, but we really did not want to publish an overall rather disappointing networked multiplayer version.

The release candidate can be downloaded here : https://sourceforge.net/projects/supertuxkart/files/SuperTuxKart/0.9.2/

As usual, please remember that blog comments are not a good way to get support for issues or ask questions, the forum and mailing list are more appropriate for this.

February 17, 2016

SuperTuxKart will be present at Japan Impact 2016

Hi everyone!
Version française de l'article disponible ici 
It has been a long time since the previous blog post. A lot of things happened on the backstage, but before going into the details, we have exciting news for all European players.

We will be present at Japan Impact 2016 Convention at the Swiss Gaming Federation stand. You will be able to play unreleased tracks, meet Sam, our lead artist, and CyberPangolin, a dedicated french speaking youtuber who has made many videos about our beloved racing game.

We are also happy to announce we have two new contributors.
  • Eldermé who is refactoring the 3D renderer and correcting bugs on Intel HD GPU
  • Benau who implemented a new font rendering engine based on TTF fonts. He also finished the battle AI, which means you will be able soon to play "3 Strikes Battle" against the computer. We might also eventually use this to extend story mode with a few battles! A "Soccer Mode" AI and finishing ghost replay feature in "Time Trial" mode are also features he has been working on.
Playing against bots in arena mode

We are also making progress toward online multiplayer. One of the current major tasks are polishing the UI to make it easy to launch a server, create a new race, etc. However another minor release this year before getting the online features ready is to be expected.

October 17, 2015

SuperTuxKart 0.9.1 is released !

French translation available here

After countless hours of bug fixing, tweaking and improvements we are proud to announce the release of SuperTuxKart 0.9.1.

The gift package for donators has also been updated: it contains the new Candela City track, which is heavily featured in our new trailer. It's the first next generation track in a city inspired by various real places.

Candela City during the world fair

But the gift package contains more: Samuncle has updated Antediluvian Abyss, which was included as a sneak peak in the previous gift package. The underwater landscape has been improved and you can spot fishes swimming and underwater ruins.

While these tracks will most likely receive some more tweaks and minor improvements, they are otherwise finished. Both tracks from the gift package will of course be released as part of the core game in a future version of SuperTuxKart.

An ancient city at the bottom of the sea

If you want to support SuperTuxKart, we encourage you to go to our donation page, where you will be able to donate some money to this project, after which you will get the URL for the gift package. If you have donated US$5 or more in the past, please contact us, and you will get this new package without a new donation.

The track 'Carnaval del cacao' that was included in our previous gift package is now available for everyone as promised released under CC-BY 3.0 on our addons webpage.

Carnaval del cocoa The famous Val Verdian carnival

The core game wasn't forgotten either, and we are happy to show that the oldest track in SuperTuxKart - Oliver's Math Class - has finally received some love and attention:

Now we know the classroom number !

Other tracks were also updated to take advantage of the newer engine. Here some more screenshots:

Enjoying the Sun at Gran Paradiso
Extraterrestrial racing on a strange red planet
The spaceship just got a new data center

But we also did work on the core game and fixed and improved several bugs and issues. We have now the ability to change the direction of arrows (indicating in which direction to drive) when a track is driven in reverse, and we already utilize this in STK Enterprise. Some tweaking of the physics has taken place, hopefully resulting in more stable beahviour of karts, and we significantly improved audio handling. A very important and time consuming change was the introduction of scripting: this will allow track designers to include little scripts which are executed by STK to make tracks more dynamic. This allowed us to remove the tutorial implementation in C++, which is now done in AngelScript instead, and as a first example Cocoa Temple now includes barrels that can be destroyed. Hopefully this will result in more interesting and dynamic tracks in the future: you want monkeys to throw coconuts when the karts are coming closer, now you can do this. Finally, many challenges were tweaked to be more balanced.

As a quick look into the future: we are expecting to further improve the look of STK by replacing the current bitmap-based font system with a TTF renderer, which will hopefully make STK look better in various languages. More work on scripting is also planned, so if you are a 3d modeller and want to implement certain features in your track, let us know what functionality you need. And we have already started on the network implementation. And while this is nothing that will be finished in a month or two, we are working towards a release first with LAN-only support, followed by WAN support later.

As always the new version can be downloaded from http://supertuxkart.sourceforge.net/Downloads. We look forward to your feedback and comments (and contributions?). Also please be aware that this blog is not the right forum for support requests and bug reports - please use either our forum, or our bug tracker.

We hope you enjoy the 0.9.1 release!