Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Marching on.. racing on

Since the last preview video of Final Freeway quite a few things have improved.

There is no video yet, but here is a bullet-point list 8)

- Added music (!) ..three cool sound tracks
- Added some sound effects
- More meaningful difficulty levels (not just the amount of traffic)
- Better controls (both visually and in terms of options)
- More non-player vehicles variety
- Some rendering improvements (vehicles' shadows, sorting)
- Improved frame-rate (GL_LINEAR_MIPMAP_LINEAR was really slow on my 3G, GL_LINEAR_MIPMAP_NEAREST is much better)
- Cleaned up the menus and UI widgets in general
- Created a limited distribution for beta testing (and had 2 friends test the game)
- Created app icons at various sizes (as required by Apple)
- Created a splash screen (this is required too)
- Created a cool looking ending (not done yet, but the concept works and most of the art is there)
- Added a progress bar for initial loading
- Added proper code to handle incoming calls. Or, more generically, for when the game loses focus.
This one was tricky.. I spent the good part of a day calling my cellphone from my home phone to test every build 8P
Note that there is currently some sort of bug in the OS that requires waiting and retrying to acquire the audio (ouch !).
- (last but not least) one more stage is under development.. by a generous and most respected fellow (Mr. Rasty ) which has also been testing the game on iPhone.

As for the new vehicles.. I sadly had to give up on making new car sprites out of pictures, and instead went for pre-built 3D models to render in 3DS MAx.
With pictures, it was just too painful to take pictures at different angles with all the variables (setup, lighting, models of different sizes).

Many said: "can't you just have a setup like this and that.. a rotating table, a green screen".
In theory it seems like one only has to get a couple of things right. In practice it's just dreadful.
It doesn't help that I don't have an actual lab with some proper tools and materials (whatever those would be), but certainly things are a lot more difficult than they seem.
Notice that even when being able to take nice pictures at consistent angles, one still has to go in Photoshop and cut out the model from the background and then doctor the images to make it look more like a real car and less like a toy.

Cutting a small model from a background in itself is quite time consuming. I got good at it now (Photoshop's Quick Selection Tool is really great), but it's nothing like setting up a camera in 3DS Max and have all the frames nicely rendered with the alpha cut out, and then feed those to ImageMagick to create the sprite animation matrix... no Photoshop involved.. yeah !!

Now back to coding, where coding really means doing lots of different things and write some code too (^^;)

Oh, I almost forgot.. I've handed the game around at some gatherings and I've been getting really good feedback.
People truly seem to enjoy it. It's not perfect.. but it can definitely be fun.

cool cool