October 28, 2017

SuperTuxKart Halloween Update [Release Candidate]

Today, after more than one year of continuous hard work, we are ready to share with you the last big update before going on Steam, SuperTuxKart 0.9.3-rc1 dubbed the "Halloween Update".

Let's start with the most exciting news: We are finally on Android and you can get the game on Play Store or by downloading the apk from our website if you prefer.

Before reviewing the features in this release, a quick look to the future: Network support is well underway and many of the problems with stuttering that we experienced have been solved by hiker, who is working on polishing this code for integration into our main source tree (currently it's sitting in a separate branch). There's a lot of work still to do, but when network play will be fully-featured, we'll be ready to release it publicly. Our resources are being stretched rather thinly, so all help, programming and artistic, is very much appreciated. Check out the Get Involved page on our wiki for information if you are interested in joining the team. (The artists' documentation has also been updated since our last release to help you create your own tracks.) We appreciate your patience.

A lot of changes were made in one year. We have new tracks, new arenas, new effects and a lot of improvements behind the scenes.

New gift package specially for Halloween

What would be Halloween without pumpkins and a spooky mansion? We completely redesigned the old Mansion and made two brand new arenas specially for this update.

Ravenbridge Mansion
Beastie, the BSD mascot, and Gavroche, mascot of MediaGoblin, welcome you to their haunted house.... kind-of. They're actually the only ones doing the haunting in this former witch's house-built-on-a-graveyard-turned-into-a-sanatorium-turned-into-an-asylum-made-into-a-racetrack (whew!).

But what's the fun of staying inside at night? Explore the winding trail through the swamps, illuminated by the will-o'-the-wisps' eerie, flickering light. But stay on the trail, or you'll soon get stuck in the miry mud.

 Interesting factoid: Will-o'-the-wisp in German is "Irrlicht" (the namesake of the 3D engine our Antarctica Engine is based on).

Pumpkin's park
The spooky site of a derelict amusement park, this arena would surely be frightening enough on its own. But for the real thrill, play a few rounds of battle mode here and experience a whole new definition of exciting as your friends (or AI karts) pop out from around the corners.

Alien Signal

A sinkhole makes the perfect spot for this gigantic radio dish. Whether the alien signals you hear are friendly or hostile… well, perhaps you should be more concerned about the hostility of those you're battling against in this arena. There isn't a lot of space to hide in a big radio dish, but if you prefer the ambush tactic, the datacenter underneath might be what you're looking for.

As always, our gift package is available under the terms of the CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license to our sponsors who donate more than USD $3.99. In a future release, these tracks will be available in the core game as CC-BY-SA 4.0.

New tracks and karts in the core game

Speaking of the core game, when we started the gift package program one of the most important pledges we made was to use it to improve the core game and make sure it will benefit the community as a whole.

Candela City

Candela City is STK's Paris, filled with lights and sounds to explore, and a spectacular firework display over an equally spectacular tower.

Candela was formerly part of the gift package we provided to donators beginning with version 0.9.1, and is now, as promised, part of the full game. This track replaces Shiny Suburbs, which is now available as a downloadable add-on.

Las Dunas Stadium
Since it's difficult to hand out candy over the internet, we decided to give you the next best thing, Las Dunas Arena for Battle Mode, inspired by real-world Las Angeles and Las Vegas and only a short distance from "Ploppywood" a major movie studio.

Las Dunas Arena and the Las Dunas Soccer Field were part of the gift package for 0.9.2. The soccer field remains part of the gift package for this version.

Cornfield Crossing
With Cornfield Crossing, you're treated to a tour of a farm in the heartland of the "United Countries of Amerigo" at harvest-time. Feel free to relax and enjoy the autumn sun or watch the harvesting equipment in a place where tradition meets innovation—but don't let your guard down or you might be taken by surprise on your way to the barn! This track replaces Bovine Barnyard, which is now also moved to Add-Ons.

We have two karts (Wilber and Hexley) that have been updated thanks to jymis.
Benau, one of our programmers created his first two karts included in the main game. Kiki, the mascot from the Krita project is now part of our playable characters, and he also created an updated Konqi.

New Features and bug fixes

We've also been busy adding numerous smaller features on the programming side of things
  • To help you navigate in the dark, karts now have headlights that are automatically turned on during night time.
  • A lot of the annoying physics bugs were corrected by hiker. Karts should no longer bump randomly against walls.
  • Karts have also exhaust smoke coming out of their pipes.
  • Benau also implemented HSV colorization to add some variety to our scenery. Our vegetation is now more varied since it can have random greenish hues!
  • For the YouTubers among us, we now have a built-in screen recorder that can record smooth video without the problems of an external program. More instructions are available on our wiki. The recorder works on both Windows and Linux, but we cannot support this feature on macOS at this time.
  • As well as adding the recorder, Benau also worked on various graphical engine improvements. After some fixes, we now have hardware skinning when supported by the underlying hardware stack. As a side-effect of hardware skinning, instanced objects can now have a set of multiple animations, and one animation will play for each instance. As an example of this new feature, the monkeys of Cocoa Temple were taught how to clap, do frontflips, and throw bananas.
  • Auria and Benau improved loading times, RAM, and VRAM usage by implementing a lazy-loading system for textures. Now, textures are loaded as needed by tracks or the GUI, rather than loading everything regardless of necessity. 
  • Benau created a custom 3D mesh format to replace our use of BlitzBasic B3D files. This means drastically reduced file sizes and no more skeletal animation bugs for karts like Adiumy. Add-ons using B3D will still work, but new addons won't work with STK 0.9.2 or earlier.
  •  QwertyChouskie modified Cocoa Temple to make it suitable for the Grand Prix winning cutscene, Alayan designed and implemented a new system for counting points in Grands Prix.
  • Eldermé refactored our rendering engine to improve code quality. Stragus from the #opengl channel on Freenode, in addition to serving as our OpenGL advisor, contributed a high-quality mipmap generator.
  • AI karts can now drive on walls, thanks to Benau, and non-vital track details can be disabled (Geometry detail level in settings).
  • Many fixes to the legacy (OpenGL 2.x) rendering pipeline by deveee and Benau. Now our players with older hardware can enjoy the game a bit more easily.
  • Auria fixed camera jittering caused by code that constantly tried to correct camera movement to match kart speed.
  • Auria and hiker fixed problems configuring gamepad buttons on Linux.
  • Some shaders are compiled at the main menu to reduce lag when opening kart selection screen.
  • Three Strikes Battle now has additional lives appearing that you can pick up if you have fewer than three lives.

Now, it wouldn't be Halloween without real fears! For us, the scariest part is that we're making the release candidate version our major release, so it's extra important to tell us about any issues you encounter on the forum so they can be fixed before the true, final release. Thanks! :)

Download links

You can download the 0.9.3-RC1 binaries on sourceforge at : https://sourceforge.net/projects/supertuxkart/files/SuperTuxKart/0.9.3-rc1/

If you run into problems, please post on the forum, drop by on IRC, or file a bug report on GitHub. Instructions on how to provide a useful bug report can be found on the wiki.

We hope you will have a lot of fun while playing SuperTuxKart!

The SuperTuxKart Team