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 The mathematically aware of you may see that one proposal was withdrawn, thus lowering the total number to 79.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!

March 27, 2014

Google Summer of Counting Proposals

The proposal period for students is now over, and we are currently in the process of reviewing them. Anyone want to guess how many we got? One more than last year, which brings us to the round number of 80!

The very first proposal were submitted 10/03 at 21:40:09 UTC (yes I am doing the only sensible thing which is writing in the format of DD/MM HH:MM:SS), and the last one 21/03 at 18:59:04 UTC. The latter, for the observant among you, is just 56 seconds before the deadline! I don't want to comment on proposal quality yet, but I would say it's about the expected.

Students have been fixing some bugs and implementing some minor features, among them some more achievements. Also parachutes got some more fine-grained values so you should no longer experience the issue where they seem to hang on to you forever at some speeds. AI doesn't waste cakes any longer if it is driving too slow. In the multi-player kart selection screen each player name is now coloured the same as the selection border, also thanks to a student.

There are more new features, among them better saving/resuming Grand Prix support, but I can't go into every small little detail or I'd copy + paste commit logs, so I'm just going to leave this here: thanks a lot for your contributions! Even if you don't get selected as a student this year (we only have room for a very limited number), I hope you will feel good about helping us out and if you want to continue doing that, please be our guest! However you'd most likely have to figure most out on your own as mentors will be rather occupied for a while, but we always try to support anyone wishing to contribute to the game.

Good luck to everyone; hopefully you've had a pleasant time so far, and we'll do our best to ensure you'll continue to have a good time throughout the summer and beyond if you wish. :)

February 27, 2014

Google Summer of Code 2014

Yeah, we're in! Students, please have a look at http://supertuxkart.net/GSoC_overview for how to get started. Our list of ideas is here: http://supertuxkart.net/GSoC_topics_2014.

For those who don't know what GSoC is, information about it is here. Note that students should have read the FAQ as most of their general questions will be answered there.

Good luck everyone, have fun and we hope to have some nice posts to show in time. :)

February 22, 2014

GSoC 2014, Github flood and GL 3

Intro and upcoming GSoC
Finally I got to writing another blog post, and this time I'll try to sum up the latest couple months of work and also inform that we have applied as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code 2014! We want to continue last year's success with GSoC and while players have unfortunately not gotten those improvements in a stable release yet we do hope to address that later in the year.

So if you are interested in working on SuperTuxKart full time for a while and learning from our experienced programmers please check out our GSoC overview page which also contains a link to our ideas page. While we cannot guarantee that we will be accepted for this year we are cautiously optimistic and are waiting in suspense for the answer to that question in just a couple days. I will post at least a short update on Monday when we know. Update: we have been accepted for GSoC 2014!

Code and issue tracker moved to GitHub
A little while back we completed our migration of the SuperTuxKart code base from SVN on SourceForge to Git on GitHub. The new home for the code is at https://github.com/supertuxkart/stk-code, but for space and compression reasons we have a separate data repository which needs to be downloaded as well to get the whole game. New source fetching and build instructions can be found on our wiki.

But wait, before you go to GitHub and click on the 'Watch repository' button be warned that we will be converting all our issue tickets from SourceForge to GitHub. Since GitHub will send out an email for every new ticket and every comment, we expect 1000 or more emails to be sent to anyone watching SuperTuxKart on GitHub. So we recommend to not watch STK on GitHub for a day or two to avoid a flood of emails to your in-box. You have hereby been warned; the flood is coming and devout followers will get their regular email drowned such that when you open your email you will be compelled to start fixing all the bugs and issues. ;)

Introducing OpenGL 3 support
We have gotten another regular programmer on board as well. Vlj has been working for quite a while already on switching our version of the Irrlicht 3D engine to OpenGL 3 from OpenGL 2. This will mean that we can use newer methods of making the game prettier and will help to give the awaited 0.9 release a huge lift in graphical quality as well as samuncle's continuing work on tracks. At the same time this does come with a cost in hardware resources, and on slow hardware this may make the game run slower than before. On the other hand, hardware supporting OpenGL 3 has been around for at least 5 years so most should hopefully have it already, and since this is aimed at the 0.9 release there may be an extra year on top. But since a picture speaks more than a thousand words, here is a screenshot of a reworked Old Mine with nice OpenGL 3-powered shaders and lighting:

The good news for people with older hardware is that we will also offer a fallback, which will disable all fancy features so the game still runs. But to offer some perspective NVIDIA's proprietary driver offers OGL 3 support even for the Geforce 8 series of GPU's, and ATI Radeon HD 2000 and newer should also have the ability in theory. This will all depend on drivers as much as the hardware itself though so expect results to vary especially with older hardware as they don't tend to get as much work on drivers as newer GPU's. However, moving to OGL 3 will give STK an important base for better graphics so we concluded the positives will outweigh the potential negatives, especially considering that older hardware often does not run the game particularly well already.

Samuncle has been working on a successor to the Amazonian Jungle track, where he's using the new object library feature of our Blender scripts. While both are heavy works in progress, the object library will hopefully make it a lot easier for both veteran track makers such as samuncle and new, budding track makers not as comfortable with Blender.

The LinuxGameAwards.org winner for January was 0 A.D, while we managed second place this time around. Thanks a lot for all your support, and congratulations to 0 A.D - check them out if historical real-time strategy games hits your fancy, because there is none finer in the free and open source world. Also, you can vote at LinuxGameAwards March ballot here.


Otherwise, back in STK-land there have been the usual number of bug fixes, some restructuring to make the upcoming online achievements a bit more flexible and other miscellaneous work. See you soon, maybe even as a GSoC student? :)

December 21, 2013

Votes Needed, Suboptimal Source Control and Glorious Graphics

So! Still around I see? Good, because as always there's some interesting things going on. To start off I want to ask people to vote for SuperTuxKart in the newly launched 'Linux Game Awards' Project of the Month Award, which seek "to raise awareness for individual free game projects and for the the free gaming community in general". We have been nominated for January, and voting ends on the 24th of December 2013 (this year, if anyone reads this in the future). So please cast your vote at vote.supertuxkart.net and while we of course hope to win there are other really fine projects nominated, so if you feel like voting for someone else we won't take it personally. ;)


What are the plans going forward? We want to do another minor release before the major 0.9 release bringing full network play support. Why the seeming delay in bringing networking to the masses? While this year's Google Summer of Code brought with it two pieces of the network puzzle, we still have a couple others which needs to be in place in order to make it enjoyable. One of those pieces has been in the making for a while, but there are multiple features and factors demanding attention. On a positive note, you may be able to try playing over a local area network (LAN) in 0.8.2 but this is not certain at the moment.

Your next questions is probably going to be when you can expect 0.8.2 to happen. And as usual, we don't know yet either - it depends on those pesky features and factors I previously alluded to. Well "pesky" might be the wrong word; after all features and bug fixes is what a new release is all about. But for those already anxious for the next version, you should not hold your breath because often things take longer than first anticipated.

After that violent jolt back to reality, we continue with the upcoming hopes and dreams. Google Summer of Code 2014 will happen earlier than this year around, which means that we will soon have to prepare for it. Whether we get accepted is not a given, but if I may be so bold to say, I think our chances are probably quite good. This year went very smoothly thanks to our students and volunteering mentors, and we hope that the success will continue next year.

One issue we did get was merging the branches together in our normal development version (called 'trunk'). The two networking related branches were somewhat co-dependent but not fully compatible, so it took a while to clean things up and make everything puzzle together neatly. This spurred a recent effort to move code development from the Subversion source control system to what is known as Git. We are still in the process of moving, but in the end Git will bring some advantages that will make future branches easier to merge together. As a bonus, it's all the rage these days and might be more familiar to prospective STK programmers.

In summary, currently and probably for a few weeks development is going somewhat slower than usual, but after the usual winter break things should be back to normal. Normal still means that development is non-linear and often happens in bursts of activity rather than a slow trickle, but we'll be leaning more to the latter when we have settled nicely into 2014.

But wait! There's more! Our 3D artist samuncle has been waving his magic wand (or maybe hand?) again creating this masterpiece:

A little explanation is in order. The track is new (and still work-in-progress), and shows off his new-found graphical style featuring painted textures sometimes combined with photos, rather than having photographic textures only as the trend were going towards. This ensures a more "cartoony" look while making it look better by using larger texture sizes, and adding various effects on top. Several of those effects were made by our GSoC student cand, while others, like the colour correction demonstrated in this screen capture were added later. Left is before any colour correction, where we can see that it looks a bit dark and bland, while the right side shows colour correction turned quite high. In the end we might settle for something more in-between, but in any case several tracks will look more vivid and less dark than they used to be. This, in combination with other graphics work happening lately, will do wonders for the look and feel of SuperTuxKart. 0.8.2, and especially 0.9 will make the game stand more out in the graphics department and will be a fitting upgrade to round off future features and (wow) factors with.

Excited yet? I'll round off this blog post with a reminder to vote for us, and also say that while the wait might feel long, it will be worth it in the end! :)

November 26, 2013

SuperTuxKart 0.8.1 released

We are proud to announce the release of SuperTuxKart version 0.8.1.

Full resolution available at supertuxkart.net/posters. Drawing by Mariam Lamrani

This release includes the following features:
  • New track 'STK Enterprise'
  • Updated tracks 'Old Mine', 'Around the Lighthouse' and 'Zen Garden'
  • New modes 'Soccer' and 'Egg Hunt'
  • New karts 'Xue' and 'Sara'
  • Updated 'Beastie' kart
  • Wiimote support (for most Wiimotes; check supertuxkart.net/wiimote for instructions and compatibility)
  • Added tutorial
  • Added new 'SuperTux' difficulty
  • New bubblegum shield defensive weapon
  • New combined speedometer and nitro meter
  • Added ability to filter add-ons
  • Updated nitro models
  • Added ability to save and resume Grand Prix
  • Improved skid marks and particle effects

Video available at youtu.be/WutAN4i98_o. Trailer by Thomas Fournet

It has taken us a rather long time for a minor release, but most of the developers have been rather busy with mentoring students for the “Google Summer of Code 2013”. On the other hand, we had many contributions from new developers: Dawid Gan tirelessly fixed bugs, making 0.8.1 the minor release with most bug fixes. Johannesr1 added shield functionality to bubblegum. Xenux added filtering of add-ons, Glenn De Jonghe saving of a Grand Prix (just abort a Grand Prix at the beginning of a race, later then restart the same Grand Prix again). Funto and Mohammad Al-Ghannam added a multi-player soccer mode.

You can get the new release from our download page for Windows Vista and newer, MacOSX 10.6 and newer (Intel architecture), and Linux (32-bit and 64-bit Intel/AMD architectures). Windows XP version will follow soon.

We hope you enjoy the new release, and as always we welcome new artists and programmers to join us, either through our forum or our mailing list. Also, you can follow us at Twitter @supertuxkart.

With SuperTuxKart 0.8.1 you can race roaringly rapid or roam ridiculously 'round, whatever you want!

French translation of this blog post: samuncle.net/?p=247

November 18, 2013

SuperTuxKart 0.8.1 RC1

We are pleased to finally announce the first release candidate for version 0.8.1. Major changes are:

     * New track "STK Enterprise"
     * Updated tracks "The Old Mines", "Lighthouse", "Zen Garden"
     * New Soccer mode
     * New Egg Hunt mode
     * New karts Xue and Sara
     * Updated Beastie kart
     * Wiimote support
     * Added tutorial
     * Added new "SuperTux" difficulty
     * New bubblegum shield weapon
     * New speedometer and nitro meter
     * Add ability to filter addons
     * Updated nitro models
     * Add ability to save and resume Grand Prix
     * Improved skid marks and nitro effects

Obligatory screenie: Old Mine got more shiny!
You can find binaries for Windows and MacOSX over at SourceForge.net
We will try to get a Linux static binary as soon as possible
We now have a Linux static binary as well, but in case this doesn't work for you, you can compile the source package yourself. Note that we now use CMake instead of autotools, so be sure to follow the instructions on our wiki.
Also worth mentioning is that while we now have Wiimote support for most such devices around, one specific model is not working yet and hopefully we'll be able to fix that sometime later. See details for that and how to connect your Wiimote over at supertuxkart.net/wiimote.
That should be all, please help us test and give feedback especially if you notice any problems. Enjoy!