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. :)