It’s time for a SANDPIT SHAKEDOWN! The latest update of NEXT CAR GAME is here, and it will see you transported right back to where it all started from: a good, old-fashioned sandpit! That’s right folks, the update contains a new sandpit race track very much like the ones you’ve all learned to love from our previous games. The classic sandpit environment with its sweeping corners, hefty hillocks and treacherous sand banks is admittedly one of the greatest fan-favorites, and the latest incarnation, albeit still very much work-in-progress, is guaranteed to make a perfect setting for some serious, no-holds-barred racing.
The update also contains a new replay mode that makes it possible to watch the whole glorious race again from every imaginable perspective. Naturally we’ve also included all the usual goodies such as depth-of-field, slow motion and fast forward, target locking, selectable field-of-view, and so on. The user interface will see a complete rework later down the road, but even now there’s no reason to make the best crashtastic video ever and share it with the whole world!
Other than that the update features two new derby stadiums as well as a number of improvements, many of which were done based on community feedback. One of the most significant additions is the support for more than one simultaneous controller, so now you can finally drive like a boss with separate wheels and pedals. Also, the suspension and tire physics have been enhanced, and as a result the handling feels more natural than ever. We’ve also increased the responsiveness of the gamepad controls, as requested by many.
Needless to say, the update also contains an ample amount of other improvements and fixes. Please see below for the most significant changes:
* New sandpit race track featuring both normal and reverse layouts, work-in-progress.
* New mudpit derby stadium, work-in-progress.
* New small derby stadium, work-in-progress.
* Smoothed out track-sides and improved gravel race track readability.
* New work-in-progress spectator models – some previous ones remain.
* New concrete barriers, used in various derby stadiums.
* Two new weathers: stormy evening and misty evening.
* Weather can be now specified in the event setup.
Vehicles and Handling:
* New driver model, as of now simply static.
* Improved suspension and tire physics.
* More responsive handling with a game pad.
* Improved player vs. AI collision physics.
* Improved deformation physics so that visual car damage is more accurate.
* Improved gameplay damage to prevent cars from getting too torn up and still going.
* Fixed a case where cars would get damaged and eventually destroyed from rubbing against a static barrier.
* New replay mode with slow motion and fast forward time controls (-16.0x … 4.0x), a number of different cameras, target locking & switching, depth-of-field and field-of-view settings.
* Race timer now correctly displays hundredths as well instead of random numbers.
* Game is no longer unpaused when exiting Steam overlay if the game was paused.
* Implemented multicontroller support (e.g. wheel and pedals in separate USB ports).
* Sensitivity & deadzone adjustments now take effect without a restart.
* Added saturation, sensitivity and dead zone settings for XInput controllers.
* Game now defaults to DirectInput for wheels, hopefully making some wheels behave better.
* The game now detects more than one XInput controllers that are connected simultaneously.
* Force feedback is disabled for Microsoft Sidewinder FF wheel in an attempt to work around buggy driver causing lag.
* Increased AI engine volume.
* General improvements.
IMPORTANT: If you’re experiencing controller issues such as being unable to correctly assign controls, please remove the user data generated by the previous build by navigating to [STEAM INSTALLATION FOLDER]/userdata/[USER ID]/228380/local and removing the folder labeled ‘next car game pre-alpha’.
As always, have fun and don’t forget to give feedback!
There’s been a wave of illness at our studio and it has delayed a lot of things including the reports we’ve promised to deliver to you guys. Most of us are back at work now though.
We’re aware that most of you are eagerly waiting for our next game update and we’ll be releasing it soon as we’re satisfied with it and honestly it shouldn’t be long now. While we’re waiting for that we’re going to do a little development update again.
We might not always have time to do a weekly report so we’re probably going to do a recap a few weeks apart instead. Anyway, this time around we decided to have another look at what we in the environment art team have been up to.
Antti and Juha have been working on two new derbies. One is a smaller square shaped tarmac derby stadium while the other one is a round mud pit. We’ve had early versions of both of these done for a while but there’s been a lot of retexturing and remodeling work going on. These derbies aren’t done yet and they’re probably subject to change still. (On a side note Antti is also currently working on a sandpit track that some of you might be familiar with.)
Here’s a couple of screenshots of the work done so far on the derbies:
The smaller derby stadium (check out our new driver!)
Mud pit mayhem.
Kalle has also been working on some concepts for an upcoming race track which is in its early stages of planning. A lot of different references were gathered and these are mainly mockups to give some sense of what the final track might look like. The level design and environment planning is far from done and it will be a while before we might see anything like this in the game.
Concept art of a high speed race track.
As for me, I’ve been working on revamping both the 2D and 3D versions of the crowds and spectators to better match the quality of the rest of the art. We came up with some pretty effective and cheap ways (as can be seen from the setup) to create larger crowds without affecting performance significantly.
Antti shooting Janne, one of our programmers for crowd billboards.
We’re removing the old static “cardboard” crowd planes and changing them to a more dynamic type that rotates towards the camera. This technique works quite well at least when viewed from a distance.
Testing out our new crowd billboards
Like before we’re also going to have some animated 3D characters in the crowd to give a better sense of a living, breathing crowd and I’m currently working on that as well. Like some of you observant people already spotted the earlier 3D crowd consisted of premade models bought online and I decided that it would be best to make new ones from scratch.
I tried utilizing a pretty nifty technique, called projection painting, for getting somewhat realistic 3d characters, with relative ease. The workflow involves photographing a person from the front, side and back. These images are used as a reference for modeling and as a basis for texturing the character. There’s still a lot of fixing and painting involved to make a final character but projection painting is a useful tool in the process.
Hopefully some of you found this behind the scenes look interesting.
Ben Lind, Environment Artist
A community screenshot by ETD.
As you might remember we’ve been talking about how we want to involve the community in the development of Next Car Game, and for a good reason too. In the end, the game is being built for you (that’s not to say we’re not going to enjoy it, though!), and it only makes sense that we’ll be integrating some of your ideas into game. This week we’re finally moving on to discussing the game beyond the in-game racing experience and giving you a chance to have your say on an extremely important aspect of the meta game and core loop: gameplay damage.
It might be a bit technical from now on, but try to hang on, we’ll give a hand.
By gameplay damage we mean the damage that is used to determine whether your car is still running or not, currently represented by the little damage meter in the lower left corner of the in-game HUD. The damage allocation logic that we currently use is pretty rudimentary, and like most of you have come to notice, it often ends up allocating damage to the wrong part of the car (currently the body sectors and the engine). The good news is that this week we’ve been testing a new implementation of the gameplay damage that has yielded very promising results. In short, in the new system the damage is determined by tracking the deform displacement of predetermined dummies, i.e. key points that our vehicle artists have set up that represent the various components of the car such as the engine. Taking the engine as an example, basically the more the engine moves due to collisions, the more damage it receives. When the engine reaches the maximum distance it is allowed to move, it gets destroyed and the car is wrecked. Likewise we can track the dislocation of a radiator, a front fender, or actually anything that we like. Thanks to this the damage should always match the visual deformation of the car, and we have a flexible system that we can tailor to our gameplay needs.
This is of course all very nice and dandy, but now comes the tricky part that we need your input on: what kind of components should we track, and what kind of consequences should the damage have when the player returns to the garage? One obvious option is of course to make the damage reset after each race, but that is perhaps a bit too simple since we’d very much want to make upgrading and car maintenance a significant part of the game experience.
To give you some ideas what’s possible, here are some of our own:
- Each upgrade part is represented by a node, with some of them like the engine being crucial, while others would have a negative impact on the car handling or performance when damaged – for example, with a damaged suspension the car could sway more, handling would be impaired, and so on. A damaged engine would give off smoke and reduce the performance.
- All upgrade parts would have their lifetime durability (i.e. strength) tracked, and the player could repair a given percentage of the part. In other words, the parts would actually wear from use, but by repairing the part, the player could increase the performance of the part – perhaps just not to the initial level. Non-repaired parts would have a lower performance, but the player could still use them: for example, the damaged suspension mentioned above would still work for a derby car, so the player would probably like to have at least two cars, one with the best parts for racing and the other with junk parts for derbies. To keep things fun the performance would deteriorate by a gradually increasing slope, so minor or even medium damage would have a very small effect on the performance, so in other words the damage would add up with time.
- A body represented by sectors (more or less the triangles we currently have) that would work as armor, protecting the components. Losing a body sector would not be fatal, but after returning to the garage the player would have to spend some $$$ (or equivalent, pending design – could also be experience, time, etc.) to fix the badly damaged sectors, otherwise the components would be completely unprotected in the next event. Eventually the player could also upgrade the sectors to withstand more punishment by prepping the car with reinforced parts, etc. bought from the classifieds. This in turn would again support the idea of having two cars, with the derby car having more reinforced body than the race car.
- For repairing, the player could have a garage crew that could be trained and leveled up, and depending on the crew’s skills the percentage of damage that can be repaired would increase. Upgrading the body could also be something that the crew could do, in case we would want to reserve the classifieds only for the mechanical components.
As you can see, pretty much anything is possible and we’re all ears. Remember though that we want to keep the game as accessible and as fun as possible, so an overly convoluted system is a no-go. It’s also worth remembering that often times something that initially sounds cool like repairing every single part of the car becomes a chore when you have to do it after every single race, so we really need to come up with a streamlined design and user flow. But of course you’re free to leave that to us, just throw around the ideas and we’ll make sure it all works in the grand scheme of things!
And as a final treat, a gorgeous stitched planetoid created by a talented community user citizenerased:
A community screenshot by SensenM4nn.
Another busy week down! The development of the title is rolling on at a steady pace on many fronts. A majority of our coding team has been concentrating on developing our engine, while the level and art teams have been creating – you guessed it – new cars and tracks. We’re going to give you a teaser of those when we have a bit more to show, but this time we’re going to talk a bit about the forthcoming replay feature as well as a few common issues our community has encountered with the game.
Like said, the first iteration of our replay feature is now almost completed. Jani has been working on it for some weeks now, and he’s managed to pack in some pretty neat features. The way it works is that it will record the whole event, and afterwards you can simply let the replay roll and watch the whole barrage of twisted metal again in different camera perspectives or even in your custom one by using the free camera functionality. It will also feature time controls (slowing down and speeding up for those cool slow-motion shots), camera lock to target car (follow), target switching, pause and resume, as well as depth-of-field and field-of-view settings. In short, all the tools you might need to create your perfect cinematic video!
We also have some great news to those using multiple controllers to play the game, for example separate wheels and pedals. Currently the game only supports single controller at a time, and while that is of course not a problem if you use a wheel and pedals from the same set by plugging the pedals directly to the wheel, it makes it impossible plug both the wheel and the pedals directly to the system via an USB connection. Thanks to Tapio all that will change with the next update, after which the game will support multiple simultaneous controllers. The next update will contain quite a few other controller support improvements as well; complete details when the update is out.
A community screenshot by Conte Zero.
Speaking of controllers, quite a few of you have voiced your concern that the handling is currently too slow with a gamepad, taking away much of the fun. We’re glad to let you know that we agree with you, and we’ve been working this week to improve the situation. The reason why we introduced slower steering rate in the first place was to make the cars easier to control without any driving assists by preventing the player from making too drastic countersteering measures to combat fishtailing, but now in retrospect it does seem like we jumped the gun and made a too hasty decision on how to improve the situation. We’re of course still working on the handling (probably will be all the way until the end!), but we’re confident that we’ll be back on track with the next update, and we’re already really looking forward to hearing your feedback.
Oh, and before I forget: we’ve also received quite a lot of feedback that the AI controlled cars have too little mass in player vs. AI collisions, making it possible for the player to plow through scores of AI opponents without too much difficulty. We’ve heard you, and there’s an improvement coming for that too in the next build.
That covers the most important news, but we still have a little treat for the end. A talented YouTube user jaimswallace has produced an amazing cinematic trailer for Next Car Game, and what’s even more amazing is that he did it without the forthcoming replay feature! If you haven’t already done so, check out jaimswallace’s video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=188j9uV4LvU and don’t forget to subscribe for more explosive action!
Thanks to everyone for thoughtful feedback, we really appreciate it.
Janne Suur-Näkki, game designer
A community screenshot by Etahos
It’s been business as usual here at Bugbear. While engine work has progressed under the hood, our level and car teams have been busy doing what they do the best, creating new content for (y)our game. We also arranged a small photo shoot last week to start building assets for the new spectator models. It’s a good thing that we’re still 20+ or so here so we don’t have to hire extras but can simply use our own faces instead! We’ll be sure to show you some work-in-progress screenshots as soon as we can.
One feature that many of you have requested is replay, i.e. an ability to playback the event and enjoy the most spectacular moments again. If you’re now nodding your head approvingly, it’s your lucky day! Since replay is something that we also think would be cool, not to mention that seriously speaking every racing game just needs to have one, we’ve been already working on it. Given that our game features not an insignificant number of cars and quite a lot of dynamic content we still have some wrinkles to iron out, but other than that the feature is coming along nicely and when completed, will open up a whole lot of new possibilities for finding those perfect angles for screenshot and video production. Expect more news soon!
Meanwhile back in the jungle Juha, one of our brilliant artists, has been working on a new driver model to replace the current one. You know, (yes, we’re first to admit it) the deranged, somewhat crow-looking figure piloting our cars. The one we currently use was intended as a temporary placeholder, but we’ve been dragging it along surprisingly long. Well, we have some great news now: soon it’s time for the old Jerry to bid a farewell and pass the wheel to a new, much sportier Jerry!
Juha was nice enough to take a break and capture some work-in-progress screenshots for us, and here you can see a high-poly render of the new model that he sculpted in ZBrush:
And here’s a teaser shot of the new model, all baked and textured, to give you some idea how it will look in-game:
As you can see Juha’s still got some detail work left, but hopefully it won’t be long before you can enjoy the new model in-game. I know I personally cannot wait!
That’s all for now, folks. The discussion about the game and its features is going on as active as ever at our community forum down at community.bugbeargames.com. If you’d like to give feedback, make a suggestion or simply enjoy the great community spirit, don’t hesitate to join in! Also, don’t forget to check out the gorgeous community screenshot thread here.
Janne Suur-Näkki, game designer
A community screenshot by Taxi
Once again it was a busy week at the studio. For most of the week we were busy preparing for the update, and we were extremely proud when we eventually got it out of the door and into your hands just in time for the weekend. We’re also really happy about the way the game is progressing, and it was really great to read all the feedback during the weekend and see you all using the new screenshot mode to get the best out of our game. Speaking of screenshots, you can see the fruits of everyone’s amazing work adorning this post – to be honest, they’re much better than ours!
The changes in handling are something that have been a popular topic for the whole weekend. It’s not so much that there have been many changes in the underlying physics, but the steering ratio has been lowered. This was done to make it easier to control the car without any assists because now it’s not possible to overreact to oversteer by turning the wheels too much, too quickly, resulting in spinning. However, as a side effect the handling now feels somewhat slower and perhaps more sluggish than it used to. We’re currently assessing the situation and figuring out the next step – one possible solution might be to make the steering ratio configurable by the user – but your feedback is invaluable to us so that we know in which direction to take the handling. When we said that we want to develop the game with you, our community, we really meant that.
A community screenshot by Blackvain
It was also great to hear how much you’ve loved the new Figure 8 derby track. Other than that the update didn’t bring too many changes in tracks apart some improvements and added polish, but there’s a good reason for that – our level team has been very busy for the last few weeks. The reason for that is that we’re currently assessing our long-term plan for the tracks, and we’ve decided to use the current tarmac track as a test case. We can hopefully soon show you some of the ideas that we have, but basically the track will have a much more efficient flow, with a nicely balanced amount of sweeping corners and straighter legs, with possibly a very tight section thrown in for good measure to act as a choke point. More about that in the coming weeks as soon as we have something remotely presentable.
While there’s a constant programming work going under the hood next week will see us not only focusing on the tracks, but we will also be looking at what new cars to add next. The new American Sedan has very popular with you, but we’re thinking the next one needs to be something different again to keep things fresh. Maybe a sport coupé? Or another small hatch? Nothing’s written in stone yet, so be sure to visit our community forum and let us know what you think!
I think it’s more than fitting to end this post with some more amazing screenshots posted on our community forum. In future we will be also posting some community screenshots in a dedicated feature – if you want to have yours featured, be sure to post your work on the community forum thread here.
A community screenshot by Carrythxd
A community screenshot by Needles Kane
A community screenshot by MALZman
A community screenshot by SuperBagel
A community screenshot by axelrol
A community screenshot by Taxi
A community screenshot by rich-7
A community screenshot by MALZman
Again, we really appreciate all the support we’re getting from you. Thanks all and enjoy, I’m off to sauna now!
Janne Suur-Näkki, game designer