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


  1. Great stuff Kaz!! How many stages does the game have now? You know, it would be cool to have some sort of road map "ala OutRun" so that you are able to choose which route you wish to take (at the end of each stage). We'll have soon a new million seller on AppStore? :) Marco

  2. Mr. Marco !

    It's going to be 6 stages.. maybe 7.
    I actually implemented road splitting for the fake road. But I'd need more stages to have both branches and have the game last long enough (Out Run had 15).. and also I'd need to have different endings (^^;)

    Right now I don't have the time to add more stages and I'm also very close to the 20 MB limit for games that can be downloaded from a 3G connection.

    So, this time around it will have to be a fixed route 8)

  3. Ahhhhh I forgot the silly 3G limit (everyone should jailbreak their phone and use this Marco

  4. Ouch... you want to limit it?
    Anyway 20MB is quite a lot.. .how'd it got filled up???

    We could always shrink some images...

  5. For one thing the 3 sound tracks already take 11 MB ! They are AAC at a "good enough" quality.
    (I guess a MOD format would be nice 8)

    It's true that many images don't need to be that hires. At least not for 480x320..

    One problem is that PNG is not lossy.
    But JPEG doesn't support transparency.. so one would need to make his won lossy format (maybe the not-so-popular JPEG2000 could do that.. but it's a bit of a overkill).

    Anyhow, by simply using palettized 8 bit PNG, the size of the images comes down by a lot (about 1/3 of the size !)


  6. That's a lot of data for music!

  7. 11mb for music!! Ouch... Anyways Kaz, do you plan to support iPad too or just iPhone? Marco

  8. Scott,
    The main sound track is 6 minutes long, then there is one of 4:40 and another one of 3:30.
    So, a total of 14 minutes of music 8)

    Being the music more than half of the data is kind of strange, but I really wanted it be a part of the game and not just a filler.

    I've only tested with OS 3.1.3 and above.. so anything that runs OS 3 should do it.
    The only Touch I have around is an old 1G and I guess that one can't handle 3.1..

  9. Kaz I said iPad not iPod :) I asked that because the iPad resolution is different from iPhone. Marco

  10. Ahhh.. right... iPad not for now.
    I need to buy one first, then I need to see what the game would look like.

    If it will make sense to continue, I'll probably just have an "universal" version as an update, where graphics will scale accordingly on iPhone 4 and iPad.

  11. Nice progress! Hurry up so I can play it ... though I can already do so ... he he he. :)

    A MOD player would be nice, but I guess that would come at the cost of CPU ...

  12. Mr. Ragin,

    You can play on PC.. but the playability is completely different !
    If you want (and have the time to spare (^^;)) I could give you an iPhone version to try.
    It's really easy: two files to drag into iTunes.. (but I need know the UDID privately).

    Also if anyone that I know and that is reading the blog wants to help with the testing and has an iPhone/iPod/iPad.. I could use a couple more opinions 8)

  13. Kaz if you want I can test it. But I have an ancient iPhone 3G... ;) Marco

  14. Marco,

    Cool ! I also have an ancient 3G ;)
    Send me your UDID at dpasca at gmail dot com and I'll send you the next beta 8)