May 5, 2014

Introducing SuperTuxKart's new graphical engine


The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art.

John Lasseter Chief creative officer at Pixar

One complaint we have heard a lot over the time we have been working on SuperTuxKart is that the graphics are not really good. "The 3D graphics aren’t fantastic (think Mario 64, circa 1996, rather than anything more recent)" was written on BritishComputing about SuperTuxKart, or "Graphically SuperTuxKart is not impressive, but it has that charm that I liked so much about the older 3D games" in FamilyFriendlyGaming. And while there was a fair improvement over the original TuxKart, we always have been aware of this fact.

Luckily, being able to become a mentoring organisation in GSoC 2013 gave us an opportunity to work on that, and we can now say to people not liking the graphics: "You have been heard."

Out GSoC 2013 student Lauri Kasanen started to improve Irrlicht, which is a third-party open source rendering engine we have been using since STK 0.7. He added support for shaders, and a lot of additional features to be used by track designers (any regular reader of this blog should be aware of his very interesting blog posts during his development, see our blog posts around July and August 2013). After GSoC 2013 Vincent LeJeune took up the torch and started to write a new engine to allow new effects and more complex tracks.

We could list here all of the awesome new features like Dynamic light or Image Based Lighting. But it would be pretty boring so we have made a showcase:

Unfortunately YouTube's compression doesn't show the best side of our improved engine. So here additionally some high res screenshots of the look you can expect the next release of SuperTuxKart will have:
Lights in Old Mine

Shadows in the new Chocolate Track, which is a replacement for the Amazonian Journey
Blackhill Mansion in new and improved eeriness
Different part of the new Chocolate Track

We have also started to create a new coherent universe and a new style. This will help people's creativity and increase cohesion among tracks. I have been busy with adding Easter Eggs and various hidden references to the tracks. Admittedly you will have to look for sometimes rather hidden details, but here a few snapshots of the details you might spot: 

A fictional company, Nolok industries
Sara's coat of arms

Paulo Riviera, the president of Val Verde, a fictional country in South America

As you might have noticed, the style has changed quite a bit: STK will look like hand painted concept art, with bright colors and mostly hand painted textures:

Example of a wooden texture


While all of this makes us of course very excited, there are a few caveats: to really enjoy STK in its new and shiny glory, a reasonable powerful graphics card will be needed. For all existing users with not exactly latest computer models at hand, don't be afraid: we will still support low end graphics card, but you will have to make some compromises (at this stage Vincent is mostly fighting with bugs in the various graphics driver out there - and let me tell you, there are many). Graphical features can be enabled and disabled to allow nearly everyone to enjoy STK at good frame rates. We intend to publish a pre-release version of STK to allow us to gather some statistics about various graphics cards and performance, driver issues etc, so that we can have some proper guidelines at hand for the release.

The more immediate problem: converting all our tracks (or even better making new tracks) to not only support the new engine, but to use the new features and look really good is a lot of work. And at this stage it is only me doing all of this. So, if you are a Blender user (or know someone) who is looking for some interesting projects to work on, or are skilled with creating textures, please contact us. Typically, IRC is the best option to get some immediate feedback.

At the moment we can't really tell you when the next release of STK will be ready, but it is more likely a few months away (mostly depending on how much time we need to convert tracks, though the main developers of STK are also busy with the next 5 GSoC students who will work on STK). As always, any support is appreciated and can help us with the next release.

Jean-Manuel Clémençon | Lead graphics artist

French translation available here 

30 comments:

  1. Looks nice but strange - fancy shadows and lighting together with very low-poly models and low-res textures.

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  2. Thank you very much for one of the greatest racing games !

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  3. This looks really great. Thank you guys!

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  4. Finally. I remember when this was one of a dozen games on Linux and I was sad that it wasn't much fun. Hopefully this update inspires improvements to the whole game. I may try it out again.

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  5. Replies
    1. http://supertuxkart.sourceforge.net/Downloads
      Download, unzip, run

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  6. Super tux kart brings back memories

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  7. Nice engine and textures! I'll be glad to see It in Steam and SteamBoxes

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  8. This is nice. Any updates on multiplayer?

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  9. I still think you should remove Sara from the list of characters. Every single other character is an anthropomorphized animal, only Sara is human. She looks completely out of place. If she's part of a race, it looks like a girl playing with her toy animals. You should stick to anthropomorphized animals only.

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    1. I agree 100%. Always thought this but don't want to hurt feeling of whoever made it, but I just don't think it fits in with the game.

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    2. Disagree. Never heard this complaint about Mario Kart, either.

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  10. Fantastic Pictures!!! How camerize !!!!!!

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  11. Ubuntu GNOME have game SuperTuxKart great!!!!

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  12. If I'm understanding, you create a new engine that isn't "Irrlicht"?, or are you improving "Irrlicht"?

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    1. The new engine is less and less based upon irrlicht indeed, as we bypass irrlicht's fixed pipeline renderer to go through a shader-based modern pipeline. Irrlicht is still being used to load assets and perform scene management, though

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  13. Why steam? I prefer this game to stay free as freedom :)
    Nice work!

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    1. Simply being on Steam won't make it non-free, as you could still download and compile the source (or get it using your favorite package manager), but it will be available more easily to people who use Steam and don't necessarily know how to use a package manager or (if it's cross-platform) run Steam on Windows.

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  14. I found New Wave . http://www.openbsd.org/36.html

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  15. but where can I download this new version?

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  16. *MY* biggest beef with SuperTuxKart graphics has always been the absurdly large FOV which causes significant distortions near the screen edges. While moving, these trigger my travel sickness and literally make me nauseous. I can't play the damn game for 15 minutes without puking. Please fix that, so I may reserve the puking for those games which deserve it :-).

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Great work guys & gals, congrats :)

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  19. So... are tracks in the addon repo goin to need to be updated? IMO the graphics aren't that important; I know I'm one of the few that think this though.

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  20. Before GUI - you would have a blank screen and a c: ( known as a c prompt )
    You would type commands to start programs, browse to different folders etc
    Here are some definitions

    # graphical user interface: a user interface based on graphics (icons and pictures and menus) instead of text; uses a mouse as well as a keyboard as ...


    # A graphical user interface (GUI, ) is a type of user interface which allows people to interact with electronic devices such as computers; hand ...
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GUI

    # A computer operating system that is based upon icons and visual relationships rather than text. Windows and the Macintosh computer use GUIs because they are more user friendly.
    shopfort1.com/t1terms.cfm

    # Graphical User Interface .A method of interaction with a computer which uses pictorial buttons (icons) and command lists controlled by a mouse. It is generally regarded as simpler and easier to learn than command line interfaces, where commands have to be typed. ...
    www.digimap.je/node/17

    # Graphical User Interface. The modern style of application interface using mice, windows, and icons invented at Xerox PARC during the 1970s, as opposed to the older CLI or roguelike styles.
    hoist manufacturer | double girder eot crane manufacturer

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  21. @aster; WTF? I never said I didn't like GUI's, I said that fancy graphics aren't overly important to me.

    PS-- I don't use windows
    PS2-- I am adept at using CLI

    BTW-- @webmaster, you should delete the captia req for everything but anonymous comments

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  22. One of the biggest racing games,now very better with new graphics!Cant wait for next release!!!

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  23. googfrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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