So! Still around I see? Good, because as always there's some interesting things going on. To start off I want to ask people to vote for SuperTuxKart in the newly launched 'Linux Game Awards' Project of the Month Award, which seek "to raise awareness for individual free game projects and for the the free gaming community in general". We have been nominated for January, and voting ends on the 24th of December 2013 (this year, if anyone reads this in the future). So please cast your vote at vote.supertuxkart.net and while we of course hope to win there are other really fine projects nominated, so if you feel like voting for someone else we won't take it personally. ;)
What are the plans going forward? We want to do another minor release before the major 0.9 release bringing full network play support. Why the seeming delay in bringing networking to the masses? While this year's Google Summer of Code brought with it two pieces of the network puzzle, we still have a couple others which needs to be in place in order to make it enjoyable. One of those pieces has been in the making for a while, but there are multiple features and factors demanding attention. On a positive note, you may be able to try playing over a local area network (LAN) in 0.8.2 but this is not certain at the moment.
Your next questions is probably going to be when you can expect 0.8.2 to happen. And as usual, we don't know yet either - it depends on those pesky features and factors I previously alluded to. Well "pesky" might be the wrong word; after all features and bug fixes is what a new release is all about. But for those already anxious for the next version, you should not hold your breath because often things take longer than first anticipated.
After that violent jolt back to reality, we continue with the upcoming hopes and dreams. Google Summer of Code 2014 will happen earlier than this year around, which means that we will soon have to prepare for it. Whether we get accepted is not a given, but if I may be so bold to say, I think our chances are probably quite good. This year went very smoothly thanks to our students and volunteering mentors, and we hope that the success will continue next year.
One issue we did get was merging the branches together in our normal development version (called 'trunk'). The two networking related branches were somewhat co-dependent but not fully compatible, so it took a while to clean things up and make everything puzzle together neatly. This spurred a recent effort to move code development from the Subversion source control system to what is known as Git. We are still in the process of moving, but in the end Git will bring some advantages that will make future branches easier to merge together. As a bonus, it's all the rage these days and might be more familiar to prospective STK programmers.
In summary, currently and probably for a few weeks development is going somewhat slower than usual, but after the usual winter break things should be back to normal. Normal still means that development is non-linear and often happens in bursts of activity rather than a slow trickle, but we'll be leaning more to the latter when we have settled nicely into 2014.
But wait! There's more! Our 3D artist samuncle has been waving his magic wand (or maybe hand?) again creating this masterpiece:
A little explanation is in order. The track is new (and still work-in-progress), and shows off his new-found graphical style featuring painted textures sometimes combined with photos, rather than having photographic textures only as the trend were going towards. This ensures a more "cartoony" look while making it look better by using larger texture sizes, and adding various effects on top. Several of those effects were made by our GSoC student cand, while others, like the colour correction demonstrated in this screen capture were added later. Left is before any colour correction, where we can see that it looks a bit dark and bland, while the right side shows colour correction turned quite high. In the end we might settle for something more in-between, but in any case several tracks will look more vivid and less dark than they used to be. This, in combination with other graphics work happening lately, will do wonders for the look and feel of SuperTuxKart. 0.8.2, and especially 0.9 will make the game stand more out in the graphics department and will be a fitting upgrade to round off future features and (wow) factors with.
Excited yet? I'll round off this blog post with a reminder to vote for us, and also say that while the wait might feel long, it will be worth it in the end! :)