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. ;)