March 23, 2011

Graphical goodness

Time for another update, and since I didn't mention all the details last time, I can tout a few of them as new this time. Clever, don't you think? ;)

Track updates

There's a new water splash effect, so instead of bouncing on water you sink a bit through, see a nice particle effect and hear a splash sound. In XR591, there's a special acid splash instead. :)
Thunder and lightning has been added to 'Around the Lighthouse', and Fort Magma has new music made by Kalsan. Thanks!

A bunch of the tracks have gotten new names. 'Farm' is now called 'Bovine Barnyard', 'City' was renamed to 'Shiny Suburbs', 'Canyon' = 'Coyote Canyon', and 'Snow Mountain' is now 'Northern Resort' - easier to differentiate from 'Snow Peak'. Love them, loathe them, or do you have other suggestions? You're welcome to share your thoughts.
Also, the screenshots for the tracks have been updated, with a more over-view style instead of racing perspective.

Graphics changes

The tabs in 'Options' screen have been changed to an "accordion" layout, making space for the new UI tab where you can change theme and toggle "Show FPS" on or off.
And the graphics option have a nice tooltip showing what you do when changing the level in the effect slider. New stuff also include anti-aliasing and vsync (vertical sync) support.

Blender 2.5 is said to come out soon, so work has started on making the export scripts for STK work in 2.5. This is not a trivial move, and it might take some time, but it's being worked on now, which is good. LOD support has been added to SuperTuxKart, so track makers should take that into consideration since it will allow the game to run better on lower-end hardware, e.g. netbooks. LOD (level of detail) is already in use for karts, so only karts being close to you is animated, which should save some graphics power.
Furthermore, debug features for artists will also be featured in release builds from now on, so you won't have to get the latest SVN version in order to debug your track. However, it's not enabled by default, so you'll have to edit your STK config file in order to use the features.

Gameplay changes
If you've ever been hit three, four or even five times in a row, you might be glad to hear that after a hit, while the stars are swirling around your head cakes won't aim at you, nor will bowling balls explode on you anymore. You're still not invincible from area effect, so if you are close to another kart you might be affected by it being shot.

The minimal race GUI, which I touted last blog post, seems to be more likely not to become the default, at least not for 0.7.1. Which is a shame in my opinion, since the current GUI is way crowded, and minimal race GUI contains just the info you need. People reacted quite strongly against it, which was a bit surprising considering they hadn't even tried it yet. It has received larger map icons and player highlighting, which makes the map easier to use:
Disclaimer: this view is solely my own and does not represent the STK team in any way.
But for now, your beloved bloat is safe. ;)

Some inspiration from this was taken for multiplayer view, so there are no action messages in multiplayer anymore. They simply take up too much space and distracts the view. Imagine playing 3- or 4-player split-screen with all those messages coming in all the time.

Engine sounds and a few other sounds now takes kart amount into play, which makes multiplayer more enjoyable since the engine noise isn't doubled as before. The engine sounds themselves have also been replaced with better licensed ones, and this applies to a few other sounds as well. We're still hunting for a bowling roll and bowling hit sound with better licensing, so we some day can become fully DFSG-compliant.

Other misc changes lately include the move to Trac for bug reports, conversion of a bunch of textures to jpeg to save space, and the move from gettext to tinygettext.

And that's that. If I have forgotten anything noteworthy, well, drop me a note. ;)