December 17, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Beta :)

Merry Christmas to all of you who have been waiting for the new release!

So, better late than never, SuperTuxKart 0.8.2 beta has been released! This new version is the result of months of work from the SuperTuxKart team. Please note that this is a beta only, and we know that there are still some bugs around which we intend to fix before the 0.8.2 release (see our bug tracker for a list), but no major ones that would prevent you from enjoying the game. If you download the beta, we are mostly interested in any kind of feedback, particularly about the graphical side of thing. Please let us know if it works just fine, or if you had to disable certain features to make it look good. Report bugs in our tracks (URL see above, but please check that it has not been reported previously).

The main highlights include the first release of Antartica, the new graphical engine (more on that later). We have basically added a completely new, shader-based rendering engine - only things like loading meshes and textures are still done by the original Irrlicht. As a result of the new features which are provided by our engine, we have many tracks with significantly improved visuals. The main highlight on this front is two new massive tracks. First of all "Cocoa Temple" that replaces the old "Jungle" track:

And "Gran Paradiso Island" that replace the old "Island" track:

Thanks to samuncle for all the hard work!

Another new feature is the addition of online accounts, as a prelude to networked multiplayer. Just to make it very clear: networked racing itself is not ready yet, but will be our main focus once the release is done. Your account allows you to connect achievements, stay in touch with your friends, etc.

The new version includes many more new features - we still need to assemble the full list. But it includes different kart physics, based on this year's GSoC work, random Grand Prix, a Grand Prix editor and more.

The windows binary also includes a beta version of the track editor, developed this summer by one of our Google of Code Students (on other platforms, it can built from source). It's not fully polished yet, but you can also start playing with it

New engine

As has been mentioned above, SuperTuxKart 0.8.2 features Antartica, a totally new rendering engine, starting from the foundations of cand from GSOC 2013, and improved a lot by new team member vlj. The new engine features exciting new features like much improved rendering of lights and shadows (for more information, take a look at this page ).

An example of DoF (Depth of Field) in action with the snow falling

However, it is very important to note that this new engine uses at least OpenGL 3.1, whereas the previous STK version used very old OpenGL 1. This means that we are using many more advanced features of the opengl drivers, and as a result we have been suffering from various driver bugs already. During our development vlj did a marvelous job to work around most problems we have encountered so far. This is why your feedback is so important for us - we can't afford to get a set of different graphics cards to try to work around their specific problems. So we need as many people as possible to test this beta and provide feedback. We will provide some additional documentation about what you can try if this beta does not work as expected for you.

Also, using newer opengl features means that unfortunately, older computers may not be able to run the game correctly - we use the HD 3000 as a minimal supported GPU. Obviously you should make sure to update your drivers to the latest available version and, on linux, you may want to try the proprietary driver if the open source one does not work (a recent version of mesa may be required for some features).  That being said, don't panic! You can configure the graphical level in STK options, so if your computer cannot reach a good decent frame rate you can always reduce the graphical details, or the resolution.
An additional note: since this is a beta we have not yet updated the credits, nor declared a string freeze for translations either. We still expect some minor changes to the strings before our release candidate. We are also looking for help creating binary packages for other platforms - especially a static linux package would be great.

And in spite of all our testing, a first problem was already discovered :P the Christmas hats were switched on (that happens on the 17th of December), and some of the new karts now have the hats hovering ... around half a meter over their heads :)

Quick edit: users of Windows XP should be aware we no longer support it and the game will fail to install.

Giving Feedback

Please use the forum for feedback, as blog comments are inappropriate for support. You might also be especially interested in this post announcing the beta release. It includes details on how to unlock these new tracks, since initially they will be locked.

Getting the beta

French translation of this article available here