Track: Dyson Speedway

Track: Dyson Speedway

Postby RX1 » 01 Jun 2021, 11:29

Hello everyone,

I'd like to present you my second STK track Dyson Speedway.
After I completed Toy Block Raceway last year (https://forum.freegamedev.net/viewtopic ... 18&t=14214), I started this one as another personal learning project for 3D modeling with Blender. Later it turned more into an individual art project. I also spent lots of time making new textures for the track with Inkscape and Gimp.

First of all, something about the idea behind the track:
Many people I play STK online with, enjoy high speed tracks and so do I. Space environments seem to be popular, too.
So my plan was to create an ultra high speed race track that fully utilizes STKs gravitation feature.

The basic idea was to race inside a dyson-sphere-like construct. A dyson-sphere is a hypothetical spherical megastructure in space, constructed around a star (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere). One of these theories describes a closed shell, with its own gravitation. The first time I heard about this, was in an episode of Star Trek - The Next Generation, back in the 1990s. Of course the dimensions of my model do not quite reach those of the one from that TNG episode. Instead my sphere is more similar to a space station. To keep up the SciFi topic, I imagine that this sphere is still being built and later it would hold a warpcore factory of the fictional RX1 corporation. While this factory is under construction, it is open for the intergalactic STK community to race on a colorful temporary speedway. ;) :)

Image

I spent a lot time with this track, but it never was intended to become part of STKs main source, because I am aware that it violates many of your design guidelines. So I am going to upload it to STK add-on site and hope that many people play and enjoy it. I decided not to upload the work in progress versions so far, because I figured out that there are many gamers who install add-ons, but never update them. The track can't be driven in reverse yet, and there are some other open tasks.

Here are some facts about the track and my work:
  • Supported mode: Forward race. Reverse race and egg hunt will follow soon.
  • A large sphere in space with windows, a dome and force field gates.
    Image

  • The track comes with lots of new textures, incl. seven new zipper arrows.
    Image

  • A dark but colorful design that uses lighting, lots of PBR effects (mostly glow and reflections) and some particle effects (like a burning banana field). It was important for me to make the track look good with and without improved graphics. The following picture shows a screenshot made with the lowest graphics setting (top) and another one at the same view that was done with improved graphics activated (bottom).
    Image

  • Wide turns and large straights with lots of ground zippers and some obstacles for interesting high speed racing. I have locally modified the STK scripts to make higher zipper speeds possible. The modified scripts will be included in the source archive.
  • Upside down straights, turns, twists and wall rides with gravitation and high speed boost pipes.
  • An upside down area and a wall ride surface without gravitation, where the players slide over something that looks like a force field.
    Image

  • Several special features and secrets:
    • Three big sphere with different behaviors if you hit them. The blue sphere shocks the player, the green one bounces you away, the orange one pulls you inside and then shoots you into the central sphere star.
    • a few small intended jump (and nitro) short cuts
    • a hidden cannon
    • a hidden alternative line with an extra strong "nuclear boost" zipper (the purple one)
  • 15 movables: rolling balls and bubbles and few movable cargo boxes
    https://rjotz.uber.space/sc/index.php/s/5NLHewFyjzrds9s/preview
  • Polygon count: currently around 100.000 tris

I have already tested the track online with a few fellow gamers. The responses were good and the track seems to perform well online (no lag experienced so far).
While the track mostly is very wide, to deal with the high speeds, it still has sections that require precise steering and some practice.

Here is a demo video of the track: https://rjotz.uber.space/sc/index.php/s/doFpm2HabwaQwzB
It shows me racing one lap on Dyson Speedway. I was running STK without any of the improved graphical features.

If you like, you can see more pictures of the track here: https://rjotz.uber.space/sc/index.php/s/sLnz7JPMDE4zYa7
To try the tracks WIP state you can download the installation files here: https://rjotz.uber.space/sc/index.php/s/McgTJyBaaZFzned

During the construction I had several problems and I still have some unanswered questions. I will explain / ask those things in my next post here.


Greetings

RX1
Attachments
DS_inside3_xxs2.png
Dyson Speedway force field gate
Zippers_RX_xxs.png
seven new zipper textures
DS_inside_Qs_xxs2_v.png
comparing the differnt graphics quality modes
DS_inside1_xxs2.png
inside the Dyson Speedway sphere
DS_outside2_xxs2.png
Dyson Speedway sphere in space
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Re: Track: Dyson Speedway

Postby QwertyChouskie » 01 Jun 2021, 18:35

Looks sick! I'll definitely have to give it a shot on my lunch break ;)
Huge fan of/occasional contributor to STK!
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Re: Track: Dyson Speedway

Postby RX1 » 01 Jun 2021, 20:41

Hello again,

like mentioned before, here are some things that are causing problems:
Note: I am still using Blender 2.7.9b and the respective STK scripts for this version.

Transparencies:
I'm using a lot of transparent textures. Unfortunately overlapping transparent textures are often not displayed correctly in STK.
DS_transparencyError_s.png
transparency errors
I followed the trouble shooting advises on STK website, which say that this most probably is a sorting issue. Like suggested, I created multiple separate objects, but it didn't change anything. After all I changed the shader mode of most transparent textures from "Alpha Additive" to "Alpha See Through" or "PBR Cutout Transparency", which solved the most important problems but required the redesign and addition of several textures. Is there another way to solve this sorting issue?

Start line positions:
The start-finish line is very wide and I want lots of karts to start side by side. I also want the first kart to start right in the middle of the first row and the higher positions further outside. This is not possible with the normal starting grid settings. However, I figured out that explicitly defined start positions (intended for battle or CTF mode) overwrite the respective starting grid positions for races, if the "CTF only" check box is not set and the track is not a battle arena. This way I was able to manually specify the front row positions, while higher starting karts are lined up automatically, like specified by the starting grid settings in blender.
I somehow doubt that this work around is very reliable, when thinking of possible future STK versions. That is why I have to ask: Will this kind of starting grid specification also be supported in future STK versions or is this rather just a temporary glitch?

Dirvelines - loading delay:
Because of the pipes and alternative lines, my track needs many additional drivelines. Otherwise it can happen that karts get reset a long way back down the track. After I added all these drivelines, the track took extremely long to load. I found out that removing some of these lines fixes this issue. So I had to set 3 lines to ignore to get the track from a loading time of over half a minute back to about 7 seconds. I am not sure, but maybe this is related to the following message which STK writes, when loading the track: "[info ] CheckLine: Object crosses line, but wrong height ...". The more drivelines I have, the more of these messages it generates. It would help if I would understand what exactly this message means. I suspect it might be related to checklines that are not touching any driveline.

Backface culling:
With the STK scripts I am using, I have no "backface culling" option in the STK image properties section. Blenders own backface culling option seems to have no effect. Backface culling is always active. So the back sides of faces are never displayed, unless a transparent shader is used. This is the reason why I had to duplicate several faces and I wonder if this is worse for the performance of the track, compared to backface culling turned off.

Greetings

RX1
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Re: Track: Dyson Speedway

Postby benau » 02 Jun 2021, 01:15

alpha sorting is a won't fix in the near future https://github.com/supertuxkart/stk-code/issues/1448

explicitly defined start position is only for battle mode and will never be implemented for racing mode

maybe your checkline order is wrong

you can also use solidify modifier, drawing few more triangles has little performance impact
Image
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Re: Track: Dyson Speedway

Postby RX1 » 02 Jun 2021, 01:23

benau {l Wrote}:explicitly defined start position is only for battle mode and will never be implemented for racing mode

But it already works. :?

benau {l Wrote}:you can also use solidify modifier, drawing few more triangles has little performance impact

That means the backface culling option is history and it wont be back?
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Re: Track: Dyson Speedway

Postby tempAnon093 » 02 Jun 2021, 01:31

This is an amazing track! This graphic design is the kind I would expect from trained gamedev professionals, so it's wonderful to see it here in SuperTuxKart :)
It's always nice to see when track makers are able to take advantage of all the features that the game has like magnets/gravity, particle effects and zippers. On top of that, you've also been able to take advantage of scripting to fix up networking and add sounds to improve the atmosphere. I always love when a level designer makes an experimental art project out of a level like with my own Frozen Drive and Powder Rush, to lesser degree.
The high speed is very fun, although it is annoying when I fall off or am hit with a weapon and slow down to nothing watching the others go past haha :)

Thank you for all the effort you've put into this and Toy Block Raceway! I will love to see it in the add-ons once you think it's ready.
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Re: Track: Dyson Speedway

Postby eltomito » 02 Jun 2021, 09:45

I tried your track. It's fantastic including the music. Great job,!
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Re: Track: Dyson Speedway

Postby RX1 » 02 Jun 2021, 11:40

Thanks alot tempAnon093 and eltomito! :) :)

tempAnon093 {l Wrote}:The high speed is very fun, although it is annoying when I fall off or am hit with a weapon and slow down to nothing watching the others go past haha

Yes, i agree. If you are reset or get shot, you have to hang on and suffer a little while, until you reach the next zipper pad. But this can happen to the other players, too.
On the start straight, the track edges also have a zipper boost. So if you get shot and no zipper is close, you can move aside and get up to speed a little faster if you drive over the blue arrow texture.
DS_startStraightEdgeBoost_s.png
Dyson Speedway start straight edge boost
I'm going to add this feature or somthing similar to other sections of the track, too.

tempAnon093 {l Wrote}:I always love when a level designer makes an experimental art project out of a level like with my own Frozen Drive and Powder Rush, to lesser degree.

I really like Powder Rush. It is a really cool experimental track. :)
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Re: Track: Dyson Speedway

Postby sridharkumar » 03 Jun 2021, 12:28

Wow! Looks really good. Great job RX1!
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