December 11, 2012

SuperTuxKart 0.8 Released

Hi all,

over a year after the 0.7.3 release, we are proud and excited to announce the release of SuperTuxKart 0.8! We have closed over 230 tickets, and made some significant changes: You can now enjoy a story mode with challenges against a stronger AI, and improved physics with better skidding and collisions. Tracks can be driven in reverse, and we have new music especially composed for SuperTuxKart.

Many many more changes were done, the main ones are:
  •     Story mode and new challenge set
  •     Improved AI
  •     Skidding and better collision physics
  •     Reverse mode
  •     New green valley track
  •     New Blackhill Mansion track
  •     Updated XR591 track
  •     Updated Fort Magma track
  •     Updated Jungle track
  •     Updated Sand track
  •     New music
  •     Updated menus

We hope you will enjoy this brand new version!

Head over to to download the game now! Windows and OSX binaries are already available, and Linux binaries should appear in the coming days as packagers make binaries for various distributions.

Finally, as always, don't forget that the forum and mailing list are more appropriate than blog comments for bug reports.

A big thanks to all the people who have contributed to SuperTuxKart, without whom this release would not have been possible (full list in the credits of the game).

And finally a few screenshots :

December 3, 2012

SuperTuxKart 0.8 Release Candidate 1 released

Over a year after the 0.7.3 release, we are proud and excited to announce the release of the first release candidate towards SuperTuxKart 0.8!

There have been several bugfixes since the alpha release, new music by Claude Werner (Bollen),tweaks to challenges, and some modifications to tracks (most notably a new shifting sands track, thanks to ctdabomb and kalado).

Please help us test this release to make SuperTuxKart 0.8 a great release! There is also still time to help complete translations.

The main changes since version 0.7.3 are :
  • Story mode and new challenge set
  • Improved AI
  • Skidding and better collision physics
  • Reverse mode
  • New green valley track
  • New Blackhill Mansion track
  • Updated XR591 track
  • Updated Fort Magma track
  • Updated jungle track
  • New music
  • Updated menus

Windows and OSX binaries are already available, and Linux binaries should follow soon (tomorrow hopefully).

>> Download here

November 26, 2012

String freeze for 0.8

Hi all,

just to let all translators know that we have now frozen the strings for 0.8. We expect the first release candidate in a few days - depending how we go with the final known bugs and outstanding improvements.

If everything goes well, we might have a release tentatively hopefully in around 2 weeks time.

Also, we want to thank everyone reporting bugs and giving feedback on the 0.8 alpha version - with your help we can release 0.8 with more confidence knowing things are working like they should (of course, we can't guarantee anything). Keep 'em coming. :)

October 31, 2012

SuperTuxKart 0.8 alpha released

We are pleased to announce the first pre-release version of the upcoming 0.8 release, namely SuperTuxKart 0.8 alpha.

Please note the following:

This is not the final version of 0.8 and thus contains more bugs, unfinished translations and is meant for testing and feedback. If you want a stable and polished SuperTuxKart experience, please download 0.7.3 from our website.
If you have installed SuperTuxKart previously, you will lose your previous highscores and challenge progress. Do not install this version in the same folder as any previous installations, and do not install a previous version in the same folder as this version.
When reporting bugs, please check if it has already been reported and remember to add the necessary details to your report (whether you can reproduce it, under what circumstances you can reproduce it, operating system and hardware details, whether you were sober or not, and so on and so forth).

The most important changes from 0.7.3 are:
  • Story mode and new challenge set
  • Improved AI
  • Skidding and better collision physics
  • Reverse mode
  • New Green Valley track and Blackhill Mansion track (thanks to their authors Wolf and samuncle)
  • Updated tracks XR591, Fort Magma and Amazonian Journey (thanks to Auria and samuncle)
  • Updated main menu

Besides general feedback we are especially interested in the following areas:

  • New skidding: Note that the skidding works completely different from the old 'sharp turn' key, and that it will take time to get used to it. Please try a while before you form your opinion, you might have to "unlearn" the sharp key handling! In certain curves it is now necessary to brake in order to take them. If you skid for a while you will get a boost when you stop skidding, so this has to be taken into account.
  • AI levels: The AI is significantly stronger now, so much that we actually had to make it easier, since we were struggling to beat the AI on Expert. We particularly have problems with judging the Novice and Intermediate AI, but are very interested in every level. Expert level is expected to be quite a challenge, whereas Intermediate should be challenging but not frustrating for the average player and Novice should be suitable for new and younger players.
  • Challenges: The challenges are now integrated in the story mode, and support three difficulties for each challenge. Again it's very difficult for us to see which challenges are adequate, and which aren't. So we are highly interested in people doing a complete play-through of all challenges at a certain level, and provide feedback on which ones you think are too difficult, too easy, or if they feel right.
We expect 0.8 to be final in 1 to 3 months, depending on how much bugfixing/tweaking is necessary. Meanwhile, you can help with testing (especially, feedback is welcome on challenges at all difficulty levels) and help complete translations. For feedback and discussion, please use our forum or mailing list (comments on the blog may be read but not necessarily answered).

Download SuperTuxKart 0.8 alpha for Windows (XP and newer), Linux, and MacOSX (10.5 and newer).
French translation available here

Happy testing! :)
Your STK team

October 13, 2012

Supervillain Superpowers : It's Hammertime!

What would a cartoon game be without a villain? Not much! But fortunately we have Tux's nemesis, the evil Nolok, and the next version will feature an epic race against Nolok. He won't release the poor Gnu that easily, of course : you will need to make him do so. And as any respectable bad guy, he gets his own powers. See for yourself :

Nolok's special weapons

Avoiding taking a hit of that hammer on the head will save you some headaches for sure! And Nolok is too evil to use pink bubblegums, really : he prefers spiky green slime, it would seem.

On other topics there has been work on improving the intro and end cutscenes, with many sound effects and now even some voice acting! The synchronisation of animations has also been improved. Don't worry though, the story is short and can be skipped.

More work has gone on skidding. It is now easier to control than before. For people that have tried SVN versions or nightly builds, an important source of frustration is that the AI is now almost impossible to beat. Indeed there have been many improvements : not only does it skid quite well, it also now tries to avoid bananas and bubblegums, and collects gift boxes. Do not worry, while we are making the AI good first, the next step after that will be the tweaking to make it not so frustrating to fight against :)

The overworld where story mode takes place and the challenge set have both been worked on and are starting to provide a complete set of challenges for story mode (including back Grand Prix challenges).

Suzanne approaching a challenge

Thanks to OzoneOne for providing the music for the overworld and the work-in-progress BlackHill Mansion track that will replace Crescent Crossing, and also thanks to Bollen, another musician, who has work in progress songs for a few tracks.

Meanwhile Samuncle has been continuing his work on the new XR591, as well as a better castle for Nolok in Fort Magma

So, the next question is, when the 0.8 release? We are not quite ready yet, however we still hope to provide betas late October or (probably more likely) early- to mid-November.

September 2, 2012

Nightlies, Videos, Robots oh my!

Well here we are again, marvelling at the newest in SuperTuxKart development. And do we have anything exciting to show you? Oh yes!

Consider for a moment if you could download the newest version of SuperTuxKart, practically every day. Wouldn't that be cool? Well, sometimes life imitates art, or in this case the imagination. That's right, 3D artist extraordinaire samuncle has shown he has a technical side as well by creating an automatic build service which currently provides nightly builds of the development version for 32 and 64-bit Linux systems. Other operating systems are not available yet, but later the service may be expanded with some manually created builds for Windows.

Some caveats do apply to the nightly builds. They are in-development versions, and thus may have many unfinished features, bugs and other quirks. We do not provide support for the builds, but if you are reasonably sure you've found an unreported bug which is not related to your special mix of hardware and software (excepting STK of course), feel free to report it on our bug tracker. And, if you want to wait and not spoil any surprises it's probably best to leave it alone. But then what are you doing here? Shoo! Be gone!
Only (s)kidding. ;)

One useful feature that Auria created last time to help me with my blogging is the ability to take screen captures from within STK. Right Alt + Prt Screen will now save a screenshot in your system's temp folder, and from my experience it gives much less artifacts than using a general screenshot application. But now, we have just moved into the 2000's by embracing a new, exciting form of media: videos! (Worth to note is that this is not an option within the game; I am using external software to do this.) And to start off I'd like to show you a lap and a half of the new skidding AI driving on the Hacienda track.

Skidding AI in Hacienda
Remember, this is not me driving, but an AI, or robot, if you will. It may not look entirely human, but it's faster than we've ever seen the AI before and it's already quite hard to beat on some tracks. Next up is to get the AI to aim at items and nitro bottles, and avoid bananas. Some work has already started on this but it is not quite ready yet for showcasing.

Gnu in Nolok's dungeon
Gnu is sitting there all miserable and forever alone, when suddenly, he hears a sound! What may happen next? That's currently a secret, but maybe with some pressure from our readers I will get permission to release full videos of the various cutscenes in a later blog post. ;)

Well I think that about wraps it up for this time. Stay patient; we are probably still a couple months away from release, but hopefully this will ease the wait. :)

July 31, 2012

You've got to be skidding

Well here we are again to look at some of the latest progress in SuperTuxKart development. Without further ado, let's get on with the news.

Nolok doing a Gnunapping
Some more work on the first story cutscene has been made, especially fixing problems related to the camera and adding Nolok's spaceship, abducting Gnu. Also added is the capacity to show subtitles in cutscenes, and animated sound effects and particle emissions. Still to be done is getting a couple vocal effects and tweaking a couple things related to the animation.

Stephen has done a few nice changes to, most of which are not immediately obvious to users. But among other things: direct URLs to individual addons now looks nicer, and a management panel for moderators and admins has been added. Older revisions will now be automatically deleted after a while with the exception of the newest one (obviously), or if it is the last supported one for a specific STK version, so it will never delete critical revisions of an add-on.

Debug view of skidding AI
In other news, the AI (artificial intelligence, or otherwise known as "computer player" in some games) has been improved to determine if it can use skidding or if it needs to brake during a turn in order to follow the drivelines. Pretty nifty, and makes it look quite a bit smarter (with the exception of some tracks, where it has problems due to losing ground contact due to elevation). It still needs a few tweaks, and is therefore not enabled by default yet. So whenever the AI gets the ability to seek out nitro and item boxes by themselves, I predict people may have to get better at driving smart and use the new skidding bonus to keep up. Of course, AI will be AI and most likely will have a few weaknesses still, and will also depend on the difficulty chosen, so I doubt we'll get an AI which is nearly impossible for humans to follow. So any improvement to the AI is a good improvement, and this is most certainly a good start.

Another nice addition to the game is the ability for it to save the current window position, so if you restart the game and it's in windowed mode it will start where you left its window last. This sounds superfluous, but for multi-monitor setups this means you can have it always start in one screen while you have other stuff on the other screen, without having to move it there manually every time.
We also received a few patches from nathanm32292394 (phew) fixing a few memory leaks and improving support for graphics drivers that don't support non-square and/or texture sizes which aren't power-of-two.

I think that's about it; if you think I've missed anything just yell, and also if there's other things I could do in order to make the blog better. See you next time, and until then: goodnight out there, WHATever you are!

June 27, 2012

STK Can Haz Community?

Hi y'all! Short time no see. I just thought it would be nice to bring attention to our forums and IRC channel, where a lot of the discussions about SuperTuxKart are going on. The forums now have over 10 000 posts spread across over 700 topics, which goes to show they are fairly active. The developers take an active part in discussions, so if you want to become involved or just come with constructive suggestions the forums are perfect for this. Recently one of our community members started a leaderboard topic where people can post their Time Trial times along with screenshot or video proof. So if you want to have some competition, that would be a nice way to do it while we wait for networking support to come within a few SuperTuxKart releases.

Okay, you may think, there are developers on that forum whom I don't identify with due to not being a programmer myself, and there are the other users who probably just fool around with leaderboards (they can do so much more than that! True story). What if I don't care for highscores, and I can't program or do 3D modeling and thus contribute to the game and by extension the community? Whatever should I join the forum for? I'm glad you asked.

There are actually quite a few things most people could give a shot and contribute to STK in a meaningful way. The new story mode will feature voice acting for its cutscenes, and possibly all standard karts in races may get some cheers and boo samples, depending on the amount of contributions. Now beware: voice acting is not as easy as some may believe, and is primarily about acting, so keep in mind that we want the end result to be good. Bad voice acting could potentially make the game seem less polished, and we don't want that and as such we can't accept everything. But this could be an interesting way for people to contribute, especially for actors, comedians, singers, or anybody with some degree of live performance experience. You don't have to have such experience or come with any sort of resume though; just try recording some lines/noises with the best available microphone you have at your disposal and upload it to the forum. Maybe this sounds intimidating, but just give it a try! Remember: even though you might not be the next Mel Blanc or June Foray, your contributions could very well be good enough for this game.

Maybe the above isn't your thing, but you still want to help out. The story mode will also feature an overworld where you can complete challenges in the difficulty of your choice. Perhaps one challenge is too hard for you, and you really don't want to spend too much time on it. Then you can just choose to drive that particular challenge with medium or easy difficulty, and otherwise settle for driving in 'Hard'. Previously, there was just one difficulty for the challenges. Either you made it, or you didn't. Now, with the new system, there is a high demand for people to playtest and tweak challenges on each difficulty level so we get reasonable results, allowing both new and experienced players to have fun with unlocking features. If you would be interested in this, please register on our forum and engage in discussions and upload suggestions for challenge requirements. This would be a huge help and possibly make version 0.8 both more polished and released more quickly.

Still don't find anything you fancy? Why not take a look at our forums, read through a few topics and see if you find anything you feel strongly enough about to register and poke fun at our bad suggestions, faulty logic and otherwise mesmerizing bad writing skills (which this blog post is a stellar example of)? Er, maybe you could skip that. As long as people keep things constructive, anyone can join in on the fun! :)

June 22, 2012

The plot thickens

It's been a while. Way too long actually. But instead of coming with my usual lame excuses on the silence, I'll just get on with it. There's been a heap of interesting stuff to watch, not the least a few which will need some more time to reach its full potential. So the 0.8 release is still a way off, though hopefully we will have a release out before the year is over.

New version of XR591
As usual, we'll start with the more visual changes. Behold the new version of XR591 by our regular track guru samuncle. If you think it looks pretty much the same, that's correct; it will mainly be less resource-hungry and with a few other changes here and there. It's still a work in progress, but it will hopefully be ready to roll out alongside the 0.8 release.
Other tracks have been updated to support driving them in reverse, thanks to various community members, and Wardje (Ward Muylaert) has added support for driving Grand Prix tournaments in reverse as well. He also added the option to give up a normal and Time Trial races, but still get an estimated time with penalty time added. You will always end up last, but at least get a result. And now penalty time is only given if you accelerate while "Set" is shown, so any accidental acceleration during "Ready" will not penalize you.

Intro animation for story mode
When it comes to the story mode, work has been started on animating the intro cutscene. Indeed, the plot thickens! There is still quite a lot more to be done when it comes to cutscenes, but to drum up excitement I thought I'd post this screenshot. If there are any animation experts out there willing to help, please contact us - this would free up a lot of time for Auria that would go into making the game better in other ways.

A cannon-like teleporter has been in the works as well, where the goal is that a track designer may place a special object in a track, and karts when they reach that point will fly to the end point without any user interaction. This is also a work in progress, and may or may not be ready in time for 0.8.
Speaking of teleportation, I thought I'd quickly mention that in the Overworld you can now click on the map and you'll get teleported nearby that challenge orb. That'll save some driving back and forth.

More WIP work: demo mode, where after a certain amount of idle time AI will start to race, like you often see for games in real arcade machines. When this will be ready to be used as a default is left to be seen.
Also, there's been quite a bit of AI work done lately, with efforts to both bring the AI up to speed when it comes to the new skidding behavior, and also to make it more intelligent and avoid bad things while collecting good things. The latter part has been started by a new contributor, JskiJ, which we hope will help us further with giving the AI a much needed intelligence boost.

In other news, SuperTuxKart now has a default resolution of 1024x768 unless your screen is too small. Then it will revert back to 800x600. This decision was made due to the increasing challenge of keeping the interface small enough to fit 800x600 pixels, and also since most computers have screens capable of at least 1024x768.
Meanwhile, the game now supports Arabic, which will hopefully make the game more accessible to many people.

There's been a few other miscellaneous changes as well, but unless I am mistaken I've listed the highlights since last regular development update. Take care and as always, we welcome contributions both on a one-off and on a regular basis. :)

April 27, 2012

Using Blender as a 3d map editor, rather than programming your own from scratch

From Blender to the game: a significant step

One issue that needs to be solved during game development is how to get the art from the modeling tool into the game.
The answer might seem to be trivial: "Just export the model in a file format that can be read by the graphics engine!" Unfortunately this is not as simple, even when both the modeling software and your graphics engine support the same file format.

Content, content, metadata

Many non-graphical pieces of information (metadata) need to be provided. In our racing game SuperTuxKart (STK) for example, map models need further detail:
  • Kart starting positions.
  • Mesh of the driveway.
  • Position of items boxes (powerups) and bananas (traps).
  • Type of track (arena or racing).
  • Name of the map designer.
  • Can the map be driven in reverse?
  • What music should be played?
  • How to handle animated objects?
  • What graphical effects (particles, animated textures, snow) and what sounds should be used and where?
  • Optimizations like backface culling.

Re-inventing the wheel... not!

Usualy, the answer to these questions is to create a separate editor which allows 3D modeling and exports the additional data necessary to actually use a level or object (or kart) in the game.
Creating and maintaining such a piece of content pipleline requires resources and can slow down or even halt other development, depending on the team size. With the three free-time programmers on our team, we couldn't afford this investment.
A track editor has been developed by a community member years ago, but it was never even close to being able to design track of sufficient quality and eventually was abandoned. Instead of restarting such an effort, we chose a slightly different approach.

Extending the modelling tool

We extended the existing modeling tool commonly used for creating tracks: Blender (a tool used for example by the renowned indie game creators Wolfire), so that the necessary options can be set in Blender's GUI. Our scripts for exporting tracks and karts make these options available in game.
This method reduces development time and allowed a tool, that is already known to many artists out there and has tons of documentation available, to create content that is perfectly fit four our game. We only need to document our specific extensions.

SuperTuxKart map and extended panels in Blender

The magic behind the scene that makes it possible to take a map in Blender and run it in SuperTuxKart is made up by several Python plugins. The first plugin, which can be seen in the screenshot, is the “Panel” plugin. Once this plugin is added to Blender, a few game-specific panels appear in the properties view (one for object properties, one for scene properties, one for material properties).
With a few clicks in the properties panel, you can change the sky, make it snow or rain, add fog, make a water surface animated or specify that particles or sound effects are emitted from a point!
There is first the track export script, which reads these properties and exports them to XML files for the game core to read (which includes support for moving/animated objects). The “B3D” script also exports the mesh to the B3D file format (which also supports skeletal animation, as well as vertex colors and multiple UV maps for lightmaps and normal maps).
None of this would have been possible had Blender not been so scriptable. Our panel script can serve as example documentation for anyone who wants to make a custom Blender panel. The scripts actually load the description of the contents of the panel from declarative XML files, making it easy to change the contents of the panel. Interested? All of our scripts are open-source and available for both private and commercial use under the GNU GPL license.
The materials panel automatically lists all textures in the blend file, and allows specifying several properties, for example:
  • Surface properties, when player is in contact with it:
    • Is a particle or sound effect emitted?
    • Does it slow down or speed up the player or have a non-standard tire grip?
    • Do players pass right through it?
  • Viewable texture properties
    • Transparency/opaque value
    • Transparency effect (Alpha Testing, Alpha To Coverage or Alpha Blending)
    • Shaders (for example normal maps, splatting, water reflections, lightmaps, sphere mapping)
Powerups and traps (goodies and baddies)
It's nice to have the static model, but after all this is a game so we need to give the player some goodies and baddies! Fortunately there is an easy way to add them : our plugins extend the global "Add" menu of blender with new object types specific to SuperTuxKart, like gift boxes, nitro or bananas.
Drivelines and checklines
Finally, how does the AI know where to drive, and how do we check that human players do not cheat? We chose to use a set of simple meshes, called drivelines, to indicate where players may drive.

Driveline mesh in Blender

These simple meshes are then processed by the exporter into something that is easy to import in the game and to follow by AIs. Checklines are added in addition to that to prevent cheating.
As a bonus, drivelines do not need to be linear, but may be exported as a graph, allowing for quite complex structures to be constructed directly inside Blender.


While the Python API documentation is not always optimal, and while a few API changes broke everything and made us swear loudly in the past, Blender's Python API is very flexible and powerful and a vital part of our game development workflow, which will hopefully inspire others to design their tools with it.

Always on the lookout for content creators

We are always looking for modellers to help us improve our older, less impressive worlds. :) If you have experience in modelling and you feel like helping, you will be warmly welcomed on our forum, mailing list and IRC channel!
Further details of our map-making process can be found in the Track Maker's Guide.
This post was written as a collaborative effort by Arthur, Auria, hiker and qubodup.

April 1, 2012

[April's Fools Joke] New version numbering scheme

The SuperTuxKart development team has decided to change version numbering to keep up with the times and make it easier for people to know if they are using the latest version or not. So the upcoming 0.8 release will not be named 0.8. Inspired by Mozilla, we'll simply call it 8. But inspiration comes seldom alone, so since Ubuntu's version scheme makes it easy to know when the latest release got out, we'll adopt it as well and call it 8 followed by year and month. So for example 8.12.08. Then it dawned upon us: why not include revision number? Then there will be no doubt as to what version you're using, especially if we release a newer version in the same month. So the upcoming version will be named something like You get to choose what number you want to refer; either you say you're using version 8, 12.08 or 13337, or you might choose any combination of two or more of those.

We also like the idea of giving names to releases. So next version will be nicknamed SuperTuxKart Gutsy Gnu, or maybe Nasty Nolok or Silly Suzanne, we're not sure yet

We look forward to the release of version 8.12.something.something, and hope you'll find it easier to get the right version number when reporting bugs or otherwise talking about the game.

March 22, 2012

Reverse trackology

Hi and welcome to yet another belated blogpost. There's been quite a few improvements over the last few months, and if you're wondering what the headline of today's post means, keep reading...

New track

First off we have a new track in the game, made by samuncle. Yay! It's named Blackhill Mansion, and will most likely replace Crescent Crossing in the upcoming 0.8 release. The track makes use of the recent addition of lightmap support to the game, which gives it the dark atmosphere combined with "glowing" (not really, but faked) lamps and other decorative lighting. It makes for an eerily fun drive into the mansion and out to the graveyard nearby.

New main menu

Also adding to samuncle's impressive list of contributions, we have a new menu design for the main menu. It's been in the development version for a while, but as usual I wait for the dust to settle down a bit, and then forget to mention it once no major changes seem to be underway. Oh well. Hope you like it anyway.

Advanced graphics settings

Then there's another nice feature: advanced graphics settings, so you can turn on and off graphics options individually as you please. Or if you're unsure what those means, you can still use the slider (or do a web search and get more knowledgeable). This has been a much requested feature, so we hope people will enjoy the extra choice.

A couple other interesting things to mention: Ghost races, i.e. the ability to drive against a "replay" of yourself is under development, but since it's originally scheduled for 0.8.1 it might not be ready in time for 0.8. You can already do ghost races from the terminal, but the GUI and possibly more minor tweaks are still left to do. So whether it will be ready for regular players for 0.8 is still left to see.

The other interesting thing is the ability to drive tracks in reverse. Thanks to MCMic (and to Wardje for differentiating the highscores). Not all tracks are working well in reverse, but work is underway to get all standard tracks more reverse-compatible. The problematic tracks are listed here, and if you're a modeler and would like to help us fix the tracks we'd be much obliged. Some tracks have currently gotten the reverse option disabled because they are not possible at all to finish in reverse mode, so they should get highest priority. For add-ons all tracks will be assumed as reverse-compatible by default, unless otherwise specified in the track properties.

Oh, and we're still discussing and trying to find acceptable compromises when it comes to how the new skidding should behave, and other things related to driving physics. One thing is for sure, and that's some of you may find the changes a little disrupting to your current driving style. Certainly I am, and that's why we've been discussing things heavily as we all have our own ideas on how we want things to be. The driving physics hasn't changed much in years, so we're trying to change things around while still keeping the wacky arcade style of the game. And hopefully we'll end up with something much better than the 0.7.3 physics. Maybe this sounds more radical than it is; it's mostly kart-kart interactions and crashing towards the sides we're trying to improve, besides making skidding different from the current sharp turn approach. When we have an alpha or beta version ready we'll be very interested in user comments, but it might still be a while before release time. The stable 0.8 release will most likely not be ready before summer, so keep your patience and keep STK-ing. ;)

February 19, 2012

External interviews

Here's a link to an interview community member KroArtem made to some of the other SuperTuxKart contributors. Answers came from project leaders hiker and Auria, 3D artist samuncle, and for some strange reason, KroArtem wanted my answers as well. The original post can be read at the FreeGamer blog, and it's formatted so well I don't think I can be bothered to redo it. ;P

Follow this link and you will see
the long interview prepared for thee.
(Actually it was mainly meant for people not too familiar with the project, but anything to get some poetry out. It enriches... uh... something.)

January 31, 2012

Challenging times

Nope, it does not mean we are being sued by Nintendo, but it means it's time to bring some juicy updates about the recent development of SuperTuxKart. ;)

We are now progressing towards 0.8, and thus there are lots of radical new changes being made. Perhaps most notable is the new, improved challenge system, referred to as the overworld. Basically you drive around in a special large track from where you can launch challenges from certain places. But don't just take my word for it; have a few screenshots as well!

Village view

Here's a brief overview of most of the overworld. Big, innit? Outside the camera view there's a garage in which you will be able to change karts. In front you see a small mushroom village where some of the challenge start points are. To the right you can see a mountain area with three caves where the mountain-themed challenge start points resides, and further back to the right there's a small ocean with more challenges. Center left there's a small forest/plant area with some challenge orbs, and farthest from here is a technological area and Nolok's castle. To the left is a desert area with the hacienda, pyramid and Zen Garden hut. The overworld is very much a work in progress, and the screenshots does not convey the final result, but gives you an idea on what "the overworld" means.

Castle view
Here's the view from the opposite end of the overworld. Front center we see Nolok's castle with lava surrounding it. Further back we get a somewhat better view of the technological area, with a rocket made by new contributor ctdabomb, the UFO from Star Track with a challenge orb, and a few more objects plus a cave with another challenge orb. The other stuff I've already mentioned.

Ocean view

I know that usually ocean view means looking from land towards the ocean, but the other way around made more sense this time. :P
Here it's easier to see some new features in use. Most important is the texture splatting which makes texture transitions completely smooth. Also notice the brand new water shader which makes for better looking water. It's still not realistic, but it sure is better than just a plain moving texture.

Bubble shield

Not to worry; the blackness issue will be resolved when the move from multitexturing to shader texturing has been done. Also you can see yet another use of shader technology: the shields which protects challenge spots are semi-transparent, somewhat reflective spheres, resembling soap bubbles. Awesome!

The number stands for points needed to enter the area. If you don't have enough points, the shield will reject you (not a problem in this case though). You will later get points by finishing challenges, which can be driven at your difficulty of choice, giving you access to more. You would get more points by solving challenges at hard, and you could only finish the game with all points by driving at hard. You would not need to always get all points in order to progress in the overworld however, but those who finishes with all possible points may get some sort of small bonus.

There is also an intent to combine the overworld with a story line, but we're not there yet except for the brainstorming phase. How many challenges we will get in the end and many other details are left to be decided on as well, but there will eventually be more challenges than now and essentially more fun to be had. :)

The other major change being implemented is better physics. Karts are no longer as susceptible of locking together in a crash, and are pushed a bit from each other instead. Now there's also skidding implemented instead of sharp turn, like certain other arcade racing games have, with a bonus if you skid long enough. It's a bit hard to explain in words what the difference is, and it's still subject to change, so there's not much point in trying to write anything other than this: it'll be nice in the end. ;)

There's a lot more stuff in the works as well, but these are the features which the next release focuses on, and the other stuff will be very nice bonuses if they are ready in time for 0.8. I don't want to create any pressure, so I'll leave them for later when they are more ready and likely to be included by default.

That's all folks!