Latest Updates

Update #5 2014-07-03

(tl;dr – Build updated! New car, new track, LAN support)

 

And here we go! The new and much-awaited build of Next Car Game is finally out there.

What does this mean in the end? Well, it all boils down to why it took so long between the updates in the first place: we upgraded the game’s engine. In its old iteration, we weren’t sure that the engine could handle all the features we want to include in the game, so, to play it safe, we took the long route and fixed the engine. In essence, we tore it apart. We cut off clumsy clusters of code, with each cut paving way for a more streamlined and more robust iteration of the engine.

It was a lot of work.

As it’s our own engine, we had a pretty good idea how long it would take, but in the end, the amount of effort it took was much more than even we ourselves had anticipated. But, it did pay off in the end. Now we can be certain that the engine can withstand all the nifty we have planned.

The bad news is that, despite the work we’ve already put in, the engine is still far from finished. It’s a rickety contraption that’s bound to buckle and crash and sway and stagger, so expect Next Car Game to give you a constant supply of trouble.

 

And now the good news.

 

Next Car Game will soon run more smoothly, thanks to the new engine. What is now purring under the hood will also power a more complex, more detailed and more all around awesome damage model, meaning that all kinds of things can break, bend and tear in your motorized steel bullet. What you now see in this build is just the beginning.

We have also added a second American muscle car to the mix! This baby is difficult to handle, but the power it commands is definitely something to be reckoned with. Again, this is just the beginning – we have many more cars lined up, but one banger at a time, folks, one banger at a time ;)

We have also included a very early prototype of a new track! And take note of the word “prototype” — it lacks pretty much all the nice bells and whistles, meaning that it’s our ugly duckling, but we thought it’d be cool to show you how the track looks and feels like before it’s finished. This new sand pit course should provide you with clever ways to swerve, careen and crash, but what makes the track special is that we’ve done something we have never tried before: the surface of the road has “noise” and it affects your handling! The surface noise simulates the uneven surface of the road, affecting the suspension of your car and giving the steering some sweet, sweet feedback effects. We hope you like it.

 

As a cherry on top…

Ladies and gentlemen, Motor City madmen and crazy girls of Crash Country…

Next Car Game now supports LAN gaming!

Yes, that’s right. After getting so much requests and wishes and messages hoping that the game would support local area network gaming, we went and did just that. After all, we’re doing this game for our fans, to whom we owe a great deal more than just a car game. We owe you all our honest friendship, our sincere love, and our utmost respect.

The LAN feature supports 12 players at a time, and while a real deal online mode is still missing, this is an important step towards that goal.

 

But please, do remember that Next Car Game is still ways off from being a final product. It will crash. It will stutter. It will not work the way you want it to, and it will piss you off. And if you’re LANing your heart out, expect lag, especially if your server isn’t robust and you want to keep all graphics settings to the max. But, as said, it’s a work in progress, and we’re working real hard on making it a better game, one line of code at a time.

You can be of great help and immense importance to us by giving us some solid feedback. Feel free to be direct, and no need to be nice, but be detailed in what’s bugging you. That’s the best way for us to know what’s wrong with our game, as that’s how we’ll know what we need to address next.

 

Thanks for your time, and for your support, good folks!

Enjoy :)

 

-Jori Virtanen, game designer, Bugbear Entertainment Ltd.

 

newmusclecar1 newmusclecar2

Our Driving Force

We at Bugbear Entertainment are proud of what we do. We keep the bar high, and we keep our aim even higher. Often it takes a ridiculous amount of work to get something just right, and at times, you bang your head against the wall over and over again and still don’t find the right way. Sometimes you can’t make any progress at all without some good tools to get you going.

Take our driving physics, for example. When we hone how the cars behave on a gravel road we want it to feel just right, all the way down to the point where you can actually taste the sand in your mouth. In order to get there we need a good wheel and pedals to go with it so we can really determine if what we’re doing has that much needed magic in it.

We got a massive steering wheel package from Fanatec a couple of weeks ago. Their new Universal Hub lets you use your own wheel rim of whatever form, flavor or color you want to. Can you imagine the possibilities in a game like Next Car Game? Not only that, but Fanatec were also kind enough to hook us up with their new ClubSport Handbrake that will transform anyone into one of the Scandinavian rally masters. When you pimp this baby out with quality pedals and a sturdy shifter, you’re starting to approach that perfect feel of driving for real.

To put it mildly, this setup feels absolutely awesome! Fanatec’s massive wheel base gives a real kick in force feedback effects – you really have to put your back into it when you want your car to stay on the road in a tight curve. The pedals got just the perfect amount of resistance under your feet, and both the stick and handbrake work like a dream.

We love it.

After we got the whole setup assembled, half of our team had lined up to try it out. We’ve spent a ludicrous amount of hours in that leather seat, all of us, just enjoying the ride. We goofed off with all kinds of customizations for fun and giggles, and ended up creating a video about it. Despite the tongue in cheek approach the video clearly has, that’s pretty much how we roll here, and we ain’t ashamed of it either.

Watch the video below, and check out FANATEC.COM for the availability of the Universal Hub and the ClubSport Handbrake.

Slow News Month

He-hey, kids!

Yes, it’s been a long time since our last News update. Guess what? This ain’t a proper one either!

Well, no, that’s not completely true. We have bucketloads of stuff we would want to share with you, but before anything else happens, we need to do something Big and Important first. And that mysterious something is…

A major engine uphaul.

That’s right, folks! We’re currently updating NCG to a completely overhauled engine that will totally rock your collective socks off and dazzle you with all kinds of sweet, sweet performance magic! But, getting the engine ready for release takes a whole lot of work.
At the moment the process is well on its way, but as it currently is, the uphauled engine runs slower than the previous one! You can probably understand why we want to optimize it more before letting all y’all play with it. I mean, no matter how awesome we say the boosted engine will be, it still wouldn’t be all that impressive if this thing, full of spiffy thingamagummits and sparkly thingamajigs and swanky thingamabobs, hiccuped on the field of glory like an old steel horse wheezing its last breath. So, we want (and will) tweak it more, and then some more, and when it’s properly polished and runs like a Mustang just broken in, we’ll release it and let you go nuts. It won’t be that long, but it won’t be just yet, either. Sorry!

But there is something I can talk to you about: a dirt race track that’s currently in development. What you’re looking at is its prototype version — clips from real photos that are glued together to create a semblance of what we’re aiming for. The end result may be drastically different, but I figured you lot might enjoy this glimpse behind the scenes of the track creation process.

- Jori Virtanen, your friendly neighborhood game designer

dirttack_viewdirttrack

Update #4 2014-04-25

A new update containing a number of hot fixes and other improvements is now available!

Changelog:
* Added support for one additional DirectInput device.
* Input bindings are reset for all users to avoid weird issues.
* Reset and reverse camera can be now mapped to different inputs.
* Handling no longer gets locked to right with certain gamepads.
* Replay no longer exhibits black screen in some cases.
* Steering wheel input is now disabled in photo mode.
* Force feedback is now disabled in replay mode.
* Improvements to the sandpit track.
* Fixed an issue with car controls.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to give feedback!

Update #3 2014-04-17

sandpit_shakedown

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:

Tracks:
* 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.

Environment Art:
* 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.

Weathers:
* 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.

Damage:
* 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.

Replay:
* 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.

User Interface:
* 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.

Input:
* 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.

Audio:
* 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!

Dev Update (Apr 4)

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:

Game_Release 2014-04-03 15-42-38-00The smaller derby stadium (check out our new driver!)

Game_Release 2014-04-03 15-31-34-38Mud 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.

Concept1 copyConcept 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.

 20140212_131001Antti 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.

Game_Release 2014-04-03 12-06-34-89Testing 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.

antti_3d

Hopefully some of you found this behind the scenes look interesting.

Ben Lind, Environment Artist