April 23, 2014

GSoC students announced

Two days ago, the list of selected GSoC students along with their projects were released by Google. Our students are as follows (nicknames only, I leave it up to the students to introduce themselves if they want): elath, leyyin, nixt, sachith500 and solistice.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of me at OVER 9000 (filler alert)!

elath's project will be to create a simple track editor for beginners. Note that it will not replace Blender as a general modelling tool nor will it be nearly as advanced, but having both tools available will hopefully bring a lot of budding track creators to our community.

leyyin will put some needed attention on online user administration, needed for the upcoming online play and surrounding services such as the stkaddons website. Among other user-visible features players will be able to report bugs to addon maintainers, add friends and view achievements from the site.

nixt is a returning student from last year, though he was not selected then. I just want to mention that because it shows perseverance can pay off, so if you were among the unlucky students this time, maybe you will get another opportunity later.
His project will include physics and gameplay, with the main focus on loop-de-loops, corkscrews and other screwy roads. The AI will also need the necessary adjustments so they know how to drive within a topsy-turvy world, along with items, rescuing and other elements which will need the same awareness.

sachith500 will create a scripting engine for the game, which will allow for interesting kart and scenery interactions, and also for less hardcoding of various existing features. The API will primarily be robust and extensible so more features can easily be added later as they are needed.

solistice will also work on physics and gameplay, but his focus will be on karts and other vehicle types such as bikes, and also unique properties for each. He'll also be looking at making a replay system which will allow uploading so others can race against it and also verify submitted highscores.

Well that was the very high-level view of what's going to happen; obviously there are quite a few details that I didn't include, but I think it's best to let them emerge naturally with time, or from the horses... err, students mouths themselves. Also there are bound to be some adjustments that will have to be done along the way.
For the rejected students this year, we encourage you to keep in touch if you have time and motivation for it - obviously you won't have as much of either one as you would otherwise but we'd be much obliged if you could stay. And any contribution, small or otherwise is much appreciated.

April 12, 2014

More GSoC statistics and ramblings

We can now reveal how many GSoC slots we asked for, and ultimately how many we got, along with some more detailed statistics on the distribution of proposals. The mathematically aware of you may see that one proposal was withdrawn, thus lowering the total number to 79.

The mysterious number in the middle is our slot count. It might not be placed pixel perfect, but I assume students won't draw delusional conclusions from that. ;)
Now implicit from this is that 74 proposals will not be accepted, and hopefully those involved will understand there can be various reasons for why their proposal weren't among the chosen ones. The obvious one is that some may simply have had better proposals. The not as obvious one is that theoretically, the top 5 proposals could be for the same category, with the result that we would most likely have to choose only the top proposal and then go to proposal #6 to find another good one for another category. That is not exactly what happened, but the principle is that even having a good proposal may not land you the slot if someone else had an even better one for the same thing.
But I'd like to point out that not being selected among this year's SuperTuxKart GSoC students does not mean we don't want your contributions. On the contrary, if you find time and can do some things outside of GSoC you can gain some experience and also help us out quite a lot even if the scope of what you do is more limited. Obviously we will have to focus on mentoring the 5 students we select, but we do welcome anyone wanting to contribute and can probably find some time to answer questions that may arise.

Speaking of contributions, we recently had a student and GSoC applicant supply us with a rewritten camera, which has been on our wish/todo lists for a long time. The previous camera had one notable design fault, so getting this code fixed was very welcome. The new camera may still contain some rough edges, but we'll try to smoothen things before releasing a stable version of the game. Thanks a lot to divvy81.

Vlj is still wrangling with graphics code, and among other things he implemented recently in that regard is texture compression, which makes the game consume a lot less video memory than before. In some situations this may improve performance significantly, though you should expect that it will still not be the lightest game around on various resources. We do try to accommodate for a lot of hardware, but there are certain requirements we expect most will be able to meet to some degree.

Anyway, I should probably quit while ahead (or behind, depending on view) and not prolong this post any further, so there you have it folks. Expect another post after the 21st announcing the selected students for Google Summer of Code 2014!