My take on 0.9.3

My take on 0.9.3

Postby Alayan » 14 Mar 2018, 23:42

I have been away for around a year. At that time, I contributed some code for various improvements, and I had some additional projects I couldn't finish at the time (new-item).

Once again, I come back to see where STK is at.

Sadly, the changelog in the blogpost isn't very useful, but the github issue tracker helps me to know what changed.

On improvements :
  • Performance and graphics : I don't know much about the peak STK graphics, because it ran too poorly both on my previous computer and on this one. However, before (not sure if I had 0.9.1 or 0.9.2 though) I wasn't able to enable the advanced rendering engine without a too large performance hit in at least some tracks. Now, I can run with it enabled at an acceptable performance level even on the more demanding tracks. So there have been appreciable improvements here. As this is especially important and is quite complicated, really thank you. :)
  • The kart headlights are cool.
  • The reduced load times mentioned in the changelog are noticeable. Well done.
  • I had already played at Cornfield Crossing on the dev version ; but I need to mention here again it's a good new track. Though I found the one replaced by it fun too, the new one is clearly higher quality (I noticed a very small issue at one point however, I had a small collision in a transition between two types of road. I'll see if I can reproduce it). Candela City is cool too.
  • That all tracks are now playable in reverse is a great thing. That arrows point in the good appreciation also helps to make it really good. The only issue really is that this fun mode will be overlooked by most, while it adds replayability. Some tracks really feel different in reverse.
  • The new parachutes effect are better balanced, not too weak. But I should know, I'm praising my own commit. :lol:
  • The start line fix is a small but really appreciable improvement.
  • The battle and football AI are really cool ! Didn't really play with them on 0.9.3, but I tested them enough in the dev version to say they are a really great addition to STK.
  • The improved GP points distribution. But I'm biased to say I love it, as it's my own change. Though I guess, as there doesn't seem to have been complaints on these forums, it has been correctly received.

What I don't like :
  • I find the new Kongi ugly, but I guess it's KDE guys fault.

What hasn't changed but really needs improvement (I know STK requires a lot of hard work, this is an observation on what (for me, this is not meant to be an universal/objective list) are priorities) :
  • The big thing, which really stands out, is the story mode. It's sad to say, but it really feels old now. The new tracks graphics are outstanding, the overworld is "meh". But that's the lesser of the issues. The challenges themselves are outdated ; there are far from taking advantage of all STK's possibilities (some tracks aren't even there, no reverse track are used, no super tux difficulty challenges, not enough rewards unlocked, the "pick up nitro" challenges are meh, not enough presence of modes other than standard race...) I remember discussions on the IRC about some kind of world map, with various locations of the fictional STK world indicated on it and tracks accessible from there... I don't know if there is a thread to brainstorm on a story mode revamp. The IRC discussions are cool but quickly forgotten. I know it will be a huge undertaking, but establishing some kind of organized plan about what we want to get out of it should be the first step to get things done.
  • STK need a "preferred AI winner" system for GPs.
  • The item distribution has still not been redone and is far from the best gameplay it could give (my fault, I did a lot of the work towards it but didn't finish)

To conclude, some idea which is not really important, but I'd like to have some feedback on : what about a game mode where you start with 1 lap more to do than the AI (in a 7-9 laps race), but full nitro and some zippers ? To have a cool challenge against SupeTux AI, I sorta simulate this by picking up nitro and items, then waiting until enough time has passed and trying to catch up. Is that too gimmicky to be of interest, or could something along those lines be done ? (To be clear, I don't ask the main developers to take from their time to code this)
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Re: My take on 0.9.3

Postby Auria » 14 Mar 2018, 23:48

Hi,

glad you liked many of the new changes.

As for the overworld/story mode, we are aware they are lacking, though we lack manpower, especially from modellers/level designers. So it will be done, it's just hard to know when.

As for the game mode you propose with one-lap-behind, I'm quite a bit unsure, this sounds like it would be pretty hard to balance, as all tracks have different lengths and powerup distributions. Probably would be way too easy on some tracks, and way too hard or impossible on others
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Re: My take on 0.9.3

Postby Alayan » 15 Mar 2018, 00:26

Hi Auria,

Glad to see you're still doing well.

Would it be useful for me to open a topic to discuss what would be expected of the story mode changes ? I mean, this wouldn't solve the manpower issue, but establishing clear goals would help to have a direction instead of something fuzzy. Aside from that ,the only part me and most others can help with is the challenges themselves, because it doesn't need specialized knowledge, only guidelines to maintain a consistent difficulty level.

For the game mode, right it's probably easier on short tracks where you don't have the time to deplet the nitro. In my custom way of playing, it has worked correctly in Lighthouse, Nordic station and Paradisio island ; I haven't test elsewhere. That I can go around 1/8th faster than the AI remains true on all those tracks. I think the idea I suggested is too rough to make a good addition, I'll keep thinking about how to make it better. There is really some fun in being 20th and slowly winning places until you pass 1st in the last lap.
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Re: My take on 0.9.3

Postby QwertyChouskie » 16 Mar 2018, 04:01

One relatively simple thing that could help the AI is to give the AI karts a +2% speed boost when a human player has been ahead for more than a certain number of seconds (e.g. 15). Some testing would have to be done, but it would be a relatively easy (and a bit hacky, but oh well) way to solve the "player miles ahead of the AI" problem (the AI does OK when the player is not too far ahead, it's just when the player can get ahead at the beginning of the race that everything becomes too easy.) The "catch up" gamemode just feels like a weird workaround for an AI that favors karts that get ahead of the pack.
Not a dev, but a huge fan of STK!
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Re: My take on 0.9.3

Postby Mr.XX99 » 16 Mar 2018, 12:39

I don't think the AI should be able to cheat, the AI should ideally only have the same permissions and knowledge than the player
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Re: My take on 0.9.3

Postby Alayan » 16 Mar 2018, 15:39

Mr.XX99 {l Wrote}:I don't think the AI should be able to cheat, the AI should ideally only have the same permissions and knowledge than the player

I second this.
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Re: My take on 0.9.3

Postby QwertyChouskie » 16 Mar 2018, 22:37

In a perfect world, no, but we don't live in a perfect world ;) Let's see where https://github.com/supertuxkart/stk-code/pull/3143 get us first though.
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Re: My take on 0.9.3

Postby XGhost » 19 Mar 2018, 20:39

Mr.XX99 {l Wrote}:I don't think the AI should be able to cheat, the AI should ideally only have the same permissions and knowledge than the player

I'd join QwertyChouskie in his opinion. Giving the AI some extra bonus when they mess itself up is a quite common approach in game development. If built well, a player will be able to experience a race that suits her/his skill and is way more rewarding to win.
Almost every game out there, especially the bigger ones, use that kind of "tricks" to preserve balance and keeping the feedback loop going. Messing with the players psychological understanding of how the game works is the beauty of game design!
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