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06-01-2004, 01:12     View Warnings    #1
Kirk House
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Developer Diary

Someone mentioned the need for a news thread. A weekly developer diary is a good way to address that need. This forum already has over 2000 posts after less than a month so hunting down the latest info isn't a fun task. Luckily we can't be sued by a publisher for divulging trade secrets so I think this is a unique opportunity to avoid the lingering mystery that plagues closed source projects.

We'll edit: try to update this thread on a weekly basis even if there is no news. This thread is locked so the weekly posts will stick together. The first entry will be up shortly.
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Motorsport, the Open Source Driving Simulator

Last edited by Kirk House : 14-02-2004 at 19:32.
 
07-01-2004, 04:45     View Warnings    #2
Kirk House
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Week 1 (January 7 Update)

Lots of news in these early days. We were approved by SourceForge.net and now have a project page. There is some early code up but nothing you can download and drive yet. Stenyak got our logo contest up and running in preparation for the Motorsport webpage.
We saw a lot of great advice from many different sim developers from Kunos to Chris West. The knowledge pooled in this forum should save us a lot of time by allowing us to avoid problems that have already been dealt with by other developers.

We're using ODE as our core rigid body physics engine. The current debate is whether we should use ODE to simulate springs and dampers or just calculate the spring force values with our own code. Either way we want to have the suspension simulated in real time similar to NetKar. There are a lot of interesting ideas floating around that haven't been seen before in a non-industrial driving simulator. For instance, chasis flex can turn a car that looks great on paper into a poor handling monster. If we were to simulate the Auto Union cars without chassis flex we really wouldn't have an appreciation of how tough they were to drive. Here is a quote about the effects "flex" can have on a car.

Edwards' first competition with the new car was at the April 20, 1952 Pebble Beach road races. While the Hemi's power gave the R-62 great acceleration, severe chassis flex caused body panels to distort and produced sudden changes in wheel load and adhesion along with rear axle windup. Worse, the chassis flexing allowed the R-62's doors to fly open without warning, causing some embarassment. The car finally succumbed to the Pebble Beach fray when its thirsty engine ran out of gas. After bracing the chassis with crossmembers and two heavy "X" members, Edwards felt that the R-62 came out to be one hell of a good chassis and a going machine.

So what does that have to do with Motorsport? Instead of representing the chasis using a single body or even two we can use ODE to create multiple bodies connected with springs. We can tweak the springyness to simulate everything from a carbon monocoque to green wood. That's well off into the future but there are lots of good ideas that won't be so far fetched with 64bit 5Ghz processors in the not too distant future.

In the coming week I'm hoping to rally the troops to help out with some of the early suspension coding. That's it for the first post. Thanks to everybody who took the time to help out with this project.
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Motorsport, the Open Source Driving Simulator

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:49.
 
16-01-2004, 01:09     View Warnings    #3
Mikkel
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More more more.... This diary will become a collectors object
When Motorsport is released I'll produce a Tshirt with the entire diary written in small type all over it.
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Mikkel Gram-Hansen
- Grey Eminence, Admin and Slave of RSC, Driver's Emporium partner.... & SIMRACER !
 
17-01-2004, 14:42     View Warnings    #4
stenyak
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Week 2 (January 17 Update)

Hello racesim fans!
It's my turn to tell you about the latest news and info on Motorsport. I'll talk about what i've done, and about topics that have been discussed in the forums.


One of the most important news is that there's already some source code available. We, the management team, had discussed on how to get this project going, and one of the obvious first needs was to have some source code where people can work in. I decided to create some basic code and upload it to our SourceForge CVS server.

[CVS is a system that allows several developpers work in the same source code. So anyone interested in coding for Motorsport should read or know something about it. There's some good documentation here and here.]

While trying to upload the code, i made some mistakes (i'm new to CVS), and found out that certain operations can only be performed by the SourceForge staff. So I had to fill in a "support request" and wait for three days before the server was finally cleaned up. After that, I tried again to create the necessary modules, but fortunately this time I did it the right way. So now everything is working correctly. Marty, Kirk and I have been testing it, as you can see if you browse the CVS server.

Probably some people will wonder why are we 3 working on the code, while this project is supposed to be a community a effort. The explanation is that we are creating just a framework. I have created the code following the concepts and ideas discussed from the early days, allowing the real coding team do whatever they decide, the way they want. We still have to decide how much code can be considered 'framework'. We will probably create some basic (even non-operational) engines so that people know how will the code be structured, and how can new code be created and integrated following a smooth style.

However, there's a problem: there's a huge amount of coders, and we can't automatically give write persmissions to everyone; that would be a chaos. This brings another issue: the creation of 'teams'. We have already started to discuss how to create and manage the different teams. With such a large number of people ineterested in contributing to motorsport, we can't just let people do things. We don't doubt people will try to do their best, but you'll agree with me on that some organization is needed.
We should soon come up with a solution to this issue (i think no more than 2 weeks).


Appart from this, there're some interesting and really important discussions going on these forums at the moment:
how to make the GUI and the main program loop, the replay system (i know, it's too soon to discuss the replay system, but it's interesting anyway), the probably most important issue regarding the development of Motorsport: the internal data format, and the discussion on what style to use for the code. Right now, the best way to contribute to Motorsport is to define an internal data format, so please join the discussion and post your suggestions and comments about what's already been suggested.


Regarding myself, i finally have a computer in my own room, which means i can devote sleep hours to Motorsport . However, i'm beginning university exams next week, and therefore i will not have too much time left for Motorsport. When i finish the exams (that will be day 6th of February), i'll come back and try my best to help getting a working simulation made (if there isn't already a playable version by then).


Thanks to all the people who has signed up for joining the Motorsport Team, and please be patient: we are still at the beginning of this huge project, so it may seem to progress slowly. But i'm completely sure that, in a few weeks (no more than 2-3 months), when everything has been correctly organized and thought of, the real development of Motorsport will begin, and that's when the results to our current efforts will be shown.
Happy racing everyone!
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Motorsport - For simracers, by simracers.

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:47.
 
26-01-2004, 08:30     View Warnings    #5
Kirk House
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Week 3 (January 26 Update)

More good news this week. Tom De Muer submitted a physics demo with steering wheel support. Visit THIS thread if you'd like to download it. It has working wishbone suspension using ODE which was one of our first goals. We may end up writing our own suspension code down the line if we need more accuracy than ODE’s simple spring and damper can provide. I’ve attached a screenshot where you can see the suspension links.

Catisfit has taken the lead role in the 3D department. We’re designing the graphics engine to support OpenGL and D3D. We’re not going to use a pre-built solution for the graphics like OGRE because we’d like to make the code tailored to and optimized for driving. Flight simulators for instance are designed to work with very large draw distances which wouldn't work well for our purposes even if it would save us some time.

We’re looking into using ParaGUI for our user interface. It’s very modular so it would make it very easy for modders to create different interfaces for championship seasons. See a screenshot of it in action here. The next goal is to update the Motorsport source code in the SourceForge CVS with code that makes use of ODE, SDL and OpenGL.

I was browsing around on the OpenDE website and found a couple of projects that are using ODE that will give you a feel for what it can do. Fatal Traction is a car game with guns. I get the feeling that they've toned down gravity to make driving in the mountains a little more interesting. Quicktime Movie You can download the beta at their website.

Autonomous Virtual Humans is an interesting project that demonstrates the flexibility of ODE. I've seen questions about ODE's ability to simulate trucks and motorcycles. This program uses ODE to simulatate a human body. The developer used genetic algorithms and neural networks to create what appears to be a very intoxicated human . Check out this mpeg to see what I mean. In reality, the software is teaching itself to stand up.
Attached Images
TomD.JPG (27.3 KB, 700 views)
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Motorsport, the Open Source Driving Simulator

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:46.
 
03-02-2004, 03:31     View Warnings    #6
Kirk House
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Week 4 (February 3 Update)

Just a short update this week. We've made some decisions about which direction to take in a few areas. We're going to be using Subversion instead of CVS as our version control system. Here is a quote explaining why.

From https://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=4768
"So what's wrong with CVS? Because it uses the RCS storage system under the hood, CVS can only track file contents, not tree structures. As a result, the user has no way to copy, move or rename items without losing history. Tree rearrangements are always ugly server-side tweaks.

The RCS back end cannot store binary files efficiently, and branching and tagging operations can become very slow. CVS also uses the network inefficiently; many users are annoyed by long waits, because file differences are sent in only one direction (from server to client, but not from client to server), and binary files are always transmitted in their entirety."


I think it's a good step in that we're not just going the obvious route with the tools we're choosing to use. There are no new screenshots this week but we're really starting to get a good feel for the team. Catisfit is deconstructing the OGRE code so we can make use of its modularity without all of the object oriented overhead that may cause performance issues.

The base code is starting to come together. We've got people on various platforms testing it out and most of the kinks have been worked out. We can always use more C++ gurus to review our code so if you know anybody that might be interested, even if they're not (yet) into sim racing, point them in our direction. That's it for this week. You might want to check out the progress on LFS S2 or NetKar while you're waiting.
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Motorsport, the Open Source Driving Simulator

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:45.
 
14-02-2004, 19:19     View Warnings    #7
Kirk House
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Weeks 5-6 (February 14 Update)

After a good amount of research and debate we've decided to go with OGRE as our 3D engine. This will allow us to support Direct3D 9 as well as OpenGL from day 1. The original author of OGRE visited the forum and voiced his opinion about why we should use OGRE. The main reason for the change from the idea of rolling our own is that we want to focus on making a great driving simulator, not a great graphics engine. Especially if one already exists.

It's great to know that in addition to those of us in this forum that are working on Motorsport, there are people constantly improving ODE (physics), OGRE (graphics), SDL (input) and whichever open sound system we choose to use. There really are a lot of people working on Motorsport even if they may not know it. You may be wondering how we're going to compete with commercial offerings. Here are some credits taken from the project web pages.

OpenDE
# Frank Condello - Mac CFM Carbon Port.
# Norman Lin - Windows DLL support, Win16 Makefile changes.
# Martin C. Martin - C++ interface, universal joint.
# Tim Schmidt - dGeomTransformGroup.
# Konstantin Slipchenko - Cylinder geometry class.
# Russell Smith - principal author.
# Adam D. Moss - all kinds of stuff.
# Erwin de Vries - collision code: tri-mesh and ray collision types, some aspects of the collision architechure.
# Nate Waddoups - Build ODE under MSVC7, dSpaceQuery(), dCloseODE().
# David Whittaker - The fast step functions.

OGRE
# Steve 'sinbad' Streeting - Lead programmer, designer, project manager, webmaster, front man
# Thomas 'temas' Muldowney - Working hard on Linux porting and also generally on ANSI C++ compliance.
# James '_mental_' O'Sullivan - Programmer

SDL
# The Linux Fund, C Magazine, and Gareth Noyce for financial contributions
# Eugenia Loli, for endless work on porting SDL games to BeOS
# Jon Taylor for the GGI front-end
# Paulus Esterhazy, for the Visual C++ testing and libraries
# Everybody at Loki Software, Inc. for their great contributions!
# Michael Vance and Jim Kutter for the X11 OpenGL support

And of course that doesn't include the 90+ people signed up in our forum that are currently or planning to help out. My point here is to demonstrate the amount of talent we have directly or indirectly working on this simulator.

I think it is pretty clear that open source is a good fit for this project. Now that we have decided which tools we will be using to build Motorsport, the fun work can commence. I've attached an image from one of the OGRE demos to show what it can do performance wise. You can grab the Windows demo binaries here.
Attached Images
goodfps.PNG (171.0 KB, 808 views)
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Motorsport, the Open Source Driving Simulator

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:43.
 
14-03-2004, 22:08     View Warnings    #8
stenyak
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Weeks 7-10 (March 14 Update)

Hello simracers!

It's been a long time since we last posted here... exactly one month. But you can finally read a new diary entry .

As you know, we're still working on the Base Code. There's some interesting progress with it. The main new feature you can find in the current code is the gui (Graphical User Interface). Yes, that's it: we have some menues working. You can see some screenshots here. Right now it only features a main menu, and a submenu that allows changing the screen resolution. It's very basic, but it's meant to be a quick way to test it under several configuration and OSs.


We are currently using a 3rd party library for it: ParaGUI. ParaGUI allows the creation of the typical 'gadgets' you can find under any win32 app (like buttons, text fields, scroll bars, etc.). That's enough for the initial evolutions of Motorsport, however we will probably create our own gui engine later, and it will probably be 3D.

The integration of the gui in our simulation has been done in a way that doesn't allow any gui gadgets on screen while running the simulation itself. This means we have a NetKar-like gui system, as opposed to a LFS-like gui system. Don't worry: as i've just said, this solution is meant to be used only for the first evolutions.

Another interesting feature of our current gui system, is that it allows direct access to the simulation, without having to go through all the menues. This hasn't been completely coded yet because we first need to do some other things; but doing it is a matter of writing a few new lines in the code, nothing complex. This feature will be helpful for all the testers, and will probably allow the creation of 3rd party 'launcher' programs, that allows the selection of a car and track and then directly start the simulation.


This gui code has been initially programmed by me under Linux, and Kirk and Heson are figuring out how to make it compile under Windows. The issue of making sure the code works under all configurations have made us introduce the use of a new label in the cvs code repository: "TestedPortable". Everytime we get some new code to compile everywhere, without problems, we label that version with the name "TestedPortable".

As soon as we test the gui engine, we will continue with the next engine: the graphics engine. As Kirk pointed out in the previous diary entry, we're using a 3rd party library, Ogre, as the base of our initial graphics engine.
In order to test the new graphics engine and physics engine, we will use a simple cube spinning, or bouncing in the ground, or something similar. But nothing prevents us from using a 3D model of a car instead of a cube. That will probably be the end of the "Rainbow Simulator 2004" , and the beginning of moree interesting screenshots.


In other news, we're soon going to have a logo for Motorsport . The period for submissions has ended, and the first poll has been running for the last week. There's been a total of 38 different entries, 5 of which will pass to the final poll. The final poll will begin tomorrow and will be running for a week, so be sure to check it out and vote for the logo you prefer (go #8, go! ).


Well that's the most important news about Motorsport for the last month.
Just two more things:

-You will sometimes be reading "mosp", and sometimes "ms". I suggest we use "mosp" as abreviation for "motorsport", because it won't confuse people with the Microsoft Corporation; and also because it will allow people to find about Motorsport a LOT more easily through common search engines.

-I thought you would like to know a bit more about us (the people currently doing most of the work in mosp) , so i'm attaching a photo of myself in my room, where most of current Motorsport source code has been created (guess what's on screen ).
Attached Images
stenyak.jpg (86.7 KB, 695 views)
__________________
Do you think it's really impossible to have the perfect racing sim?
Motorsport - For simracers, by simracers.

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:42.
 
12-04-2004, 12:50     View Warnings    #9
stenyak
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Weeks 11-14 (April 4 Update)

Hello again motorsport fans!

Once again, it's been a long time since i last wrote a diary. Real life eats too much time .

This time i have good news (although not so good as i would have liked): we already have a simple example of Ogre working within Motorsport. Right now, all the code is based on the samples that come with Ogre, but that will change soon. er... yeah right, i haven't explained what "Ogre" is Well OGRE (Object-oriented Graphics Rendering Engine) is a 3D graphics engine; it's the render engine we will use [at least] in the first stages of mosp. Its most important feature is that it's highly customizable. That means we can optimize it for whatever we want: open environments (a track), closed rooms (a garage), etc. Also, another feature that might be interesting for some, is that it allows us to use Direct3D (where available) and OpenGL.

I've taken a screenshot of the current sample 3D world. It's just a 'skybox', that is, the background image you can see in most 3D games. We can easily add any 3D model now, but i haven't done it yet because we must first focus on other things, mainly the Internal Data Format, and the interaction between the different engines.


More good news: we have succesfully converted the old CVS files to SVN. For those who don't know what that means, it's just a way to store all the source code in a common place, where different coders can access it and modify it easily, even several persons at the same time. CVS (Concurrent Versions System) was the old system we've used until now, and SVN (Subversion) is a new system that will probably replace CVS because of several new features and improvements, that makes life easier to us, developpers .
Kirk has kindly offered a server to run SVN, but he is also pretty busy lately so we don't have it up and running yet.


Well that's it for now. I hope i can bring more interesting screenshots for the next diary... until then, you can view this one:
Attached Images
mosp-ogre.png (242.9 KB, 665 views)
__________________
Do you think it's really impossible to have the perfect racing sim?
Motorsport - For simracers, by simracers.

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:41.
 
03-06-2004, 14:43     View Warnings    #10
stenyak
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Weeks 15-~19 (June 3 Update)

Finally another diary entry

Sorry for the delay; as you've probably read somewhere else, i'm studying for exams these days, so i don't have much time free.


Well so let's talk about Motorsport. I've reordered some of the threads in these forums, now it's a bit more organized. Most of you will probably wonder what's going on, why there seems to be so few news about it, etc... please read the new status thread for some more info about it.

Regarding the code, Kirk has finally had time to configure the SVN server, so it should soon be available at svn://motorsport-sim.org. Initially, there will be read access for everybody, while write access will be restricted, just like the old CVS server.
We're using svnserve instead of the Apache plugin, because we were having troubles configuring it. We hope to address this issue soon; meanwhile svnserve is a good solution.

On the other hand, i've been working on the code and began to understand Ogre (part of our graphics engine) with more depth. I have replaced the old rectangles by cubes (and knots), as you can see in this screenshot. Also, yesterday i played with Blender (a free 3D modeller) and some utilities. I made a simple car mesh and succesfully exported it to a format that can be understood by Ogre. I've been doing some tests in order to see what framerates i get with several cars (remember we still have no physics, so these tests are irrelevant), and i had 20 cars with playable framerates.

I replaced adapted the old simple physics engine with an updated version of it, that can handle the 3D models we have now. This physics engine simply makes the 3D models rotate around themselves, it's just a sample physics engine.
Also, i've modified the input engine so that you can use the w-a-s-d layout to move the camera, and the cursors to rotate it.

More things related to the code: i've removed all the menu system... some inherent properties of the Ogre library doesn't allow to take advantage of ParaGUI menues (plus ParaGUI seems to have a bug that makes the buttons disappear in certain conditions), so we will make a new menu system directly integrated in the graphics engine.
What does this mean? Well, initially we were going to make the menu system and the simulation 2 different modes (just like NetKar). Since that's not possible, we're directly going to code it like LFS (for example): being able to see the simulation at the same time as the usual GUI buttons, etc... (similar to the LFS garage menu).
This will add some complexity to it, but that's what we had planned to do sooner or later, so it's fine anyway.

As you can see, although it's slow, there's some progress. There's still a couple of things to do before the base code is finished, such as documentation for the rest of engines, make use of unit testing where possible, use ODE for the physics (replacing the rotating-models sample physics engine i've coded), and maybe decide a simple XML format to store the contents (cars, tracks, etc...) and/or settings (desired resolution, gfx configuration, etc...).
After we've done that, we will define the goals for Motorsport E1, and then the fun part will start

That's all for now, i'll go back to studies now, but i leave you some images (first image is from a motor show i went to some days ago; i was lucky enough to see and.... no, they didn't let me in the car, not even touch it; but that's close enough hehe. I'm the one on the lower right corner ).
Attached Images
blendercarmodel.png (111.6 KB, 497 views)
20cars.png (493.3 KB, 575 views)
someFriends-me-and-Enzo.jpg (99.2 KB, 477 views)
__________________
Do you think it's really impossible to have the perfect racing sim?
Motorsport - For simracers, by simracers.

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:40.
 
17-06-2004, 16:28     View Warnings    #11
stenyak
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Week ~19-~21 (June 16 Update)

Hello again simfans!

This time it's taken me less than a month to post another entry; this time it's just a quick update .

I've finally finished the university exams, and even though i haven't passed all of them, i'll definitely have lots more time now.

On other news, Kirk is working on migrating the SVN repository from Windows to Linux.

I have been reading some interesting things about Ogre: some people may remember those early feature requests all over this forum... one of them was to have a rally stages generator, so that we could drive new roads everytime. Well, it's definitely doable, although it will be really difficult to do it. But once we have the track generator made, those tracks can be saved relatively easily to hard disk, so you can re-drive that stage if you liked it.
Of course, it's not limited to rally courses. Possibilities are endless, and that's part of why i love this project; however there's still a long way to go.

Well that's all, i'll continue working on this now, can't wait to have the basecode finished and have more people coding
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Do you think it's really impossible to have the perfect racing sim?
Motorsport - For simracers, by simracers.

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:39.
 
12-07-2004, 02:37     View Warnings    #12
Kirk House
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Week ~21-24 (July 11 Update)

Lots of progress lately. OGRE(graphics), ODE(physics) and SDL(input) are now integrated into the base code. The input and log engines are also in place and you can move objects around in the "world" and they interact. You now have the option of running the game in windowed or full screen modes and the physics frequency is adjustable in real time using the home
and end keys which should help with perfomance tuning.

Most of the options like resolution and screen mode are only configurable by tweaking the source code and recompiling which isn't ideal. StenyaK is working on the XML file system so the settings will be read in from config files which means we won't have to recompile to change settings. Car data will most likely also be held in XML files. Heson added some code to facilitate unit testing. This is not a comercially funded project but we're managing it in a fairly professional manner IMO.

As always we can use more help to speed up the development process. The Subversion server is working reliably so C++ gurus are always welcome. We're mainly testing the code now in Linux so Windows and/or OSX compile gurus are needed to make sure any cross platform compatibility issues are ironed out. When the base code is finished it will be much easier to assign individuals or groups to the different modules like sound and input.

In other news, we migrated the Subversion repository and website from a Windows based server to MandrakeLinux 10 running Apache 2 and it's been much more stable. We now have FTP access to the website enabled if anybody is interested in giving it a face lift. ODE 0.5 and OGRE .14 were recently released so our foundation is becomming more solid. We gain speed and stability simply by using the latest code released by other open source projects. Based on what I've read OGRE and ODE should be pretty impressive by the time we're ready to release Motorsport 1.0.

The attached image shows revision 110 running with gravity turned off. One of the cubes is controlled with the p o i and k keys. This image shows the result of a collision. Think of it as a 200 car turn 1 pileup
Attached Images
r110.png (467.4 KB, 875 views)
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Motorsport, the Open Source Driving Simulator

Last edited by stenyak : 12-07-2004 at 14:38.
 
16-08-2004, 19:39     View Warnings    #13
Kirk House
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Week 24-29 (August 15 Update)

We've reached our first major milestone with the completion of the base code phase of development. Stenyak mananged to port the code to Windows fairly quickly because all of the libraries we use are cross platform. The code now runs on Windows which means that you don't need Linux if you want to help with testing or development. Stenyak put together a pretty thorough HOWTO if you'd like to get started working with the source code in Windows. The current incarnation of Motorsport should run on Mac OSX as well but we haven't tried it yet. Volunteers are always welcome.

Evolution 1:
Now that we have the basic structure in place to build from we are moving on to the more interesting tasks of creating a basic car and track. Initially the track is going to be an infinite plane with a texture on it so we can test a simple suspension but eventually we will support all kinds of tracks. Check out the track creation forum. If you're interested in helping out with Motorsport you can keep an eye on our SourceForge Task List and subscribe to the urgent tasks thread. We're also making use of the SourceForge Bug Tracker which we hope sees some use when we release the first playable version due sometime in 2035 You can find a more detailed feature list for Evolution 1 here. I've attached a screen grab from the Windows and Linux versions below.

I'll leave you with a quote from an interesting article I found online that conviced me we have an advantage over commercial developers. If we miss a deadline it's a good thing

"Actually, a lot (perhaps a majority?) of commercially developed game code is really bad. And I mean _really_ bad. I've written plenty of this myself, so I can speak as something of an authority here :-) Games are developed to a rigid deadline, with the knowledge that once they ship, that codebase is finished and you will never have to touch it ever again. Early on in a project you do all the right software engineering things, because after all, you are going to be working with this code for the next 18 months or so, and this will be easier if you have a solid framework to build on. Come 2 am on a Sunday morning, though, with a month to go until the deadline, no end in sight, and a pile of bug reports a mile deep, all that stuff goes right out the window. Who cares if this bug is actually a symptom of a basic design flaw, as long as you can patch over it? Who cares if that patch introduces other more subtle problems, because as long as you can get it through the next few months of testing without anybody noticing them, it will be finished and you won't have to worry about it ever again."
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Motorsport, the Open Source Driving Simulator

Last edited by stenyak : 16-08-2004 at 21:47.
 
16-09-2004, 20:45     View Warnings    #14
stenyak
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Spain
Age: 20
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Week 30-~34 (September 16 Update)

Hi all again...

Phew... a whole month since the last diary... and three of them since my last entry! What have i been doing? Well, i've been very busy during most part of the summer. I've recently had some university exams, but now, finally, i'm free to spend day and night coding Motorsport . There hasn't been much news lately, but i'll mention them anyway.

There's now some code that allows to load car bodies in Motorsport. Currently, only Blender has been tried for modelling the meshes. However, 3DS and other modelling programs should work too, provided there's an exporter for the Ogre formats, or that there's a converter, like this one.

Since we don't want any legal issues of any kind, we have decided to not provide any real car/track with Motorsport, unless we are explicitly given permission. Maybe, if we are very interested in some car model or track, we could set up some sort of donation system... but the licenses are usually too expensive, plus they may limit what we can or cannot do with the models (for example, they may prohibit damage to the cars, like GranTurismo).
Instead, we will provide some imaginary vehicles/tracks (or licensed ones, if we're given the possibility), and let the community create whatever they want, following an approach similar to Racer.
Another interesting idea is to provide a way (an "official" way) to exchange Motorsport contents, no matter if licensed or not. That would be legal, since P2P programs have been declared legal in several countries.

For the first imaginary vehicle, Habalux has kindly offered to create a car, which will be provided with Motorsport Evo1. I've attached some WIP renders of it, see below. Note that the suspension won't be graphically rendered according to its parameters, but will instead be an static mesh. Remember, that this is still a very early evolution of Motorsport, so no big or revolutionary features are included. That will come later of course .


Regarding the code, i've only been coding for 2 days now (i finished the exams last tuesday), but i'm already making progress. The BaseCode was a bit messy in some parts, so i'm redoing them (aka "refactoring"). It's now beginning to look much simpler, which is something important in a project with several contributors. Plus it makes debugging easier. I think i'll finish refactoring in 1 to 5 days.

After that, we can start coding the interesting bits: support for flat tracks, support for simple vehicles (as described in the Evo1 features list), etc.
I've said it several times, and i still say it: If all continues the way it's going now, i think we can have a working simulation before the end of this month. I can't wait to try it .

Well, enough resting, i must go back to coding. See you!
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20-10-2004, 01:50     View Warnings    #15
stenyak
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Week ~34-~39 (October 20 Update)

Once again, a new diary.
In the last diary i said that we would be having a playable version by now. Hmm... you know, right now i understand publishers having to say "sorry, it's delayed, it'll be out 3 months later". This means that there still isn't a playable version yet, of course.
But don't panic, it won't be delayed 3 months! I'd say that a playable version can be ready by the end of this week. But knowing how there's always something that delays the process, i'll say that it'll be there for sure by the end of next week.
Another thing to note: this delay has happened because i've been coding something i didn't plan to code: a pretty advanced input system.

To give you an idea on how complex it is, just read this: joysticks autocalibrate themselves... and so do the mouse and keyboard. Yeah, mouse and keyboard calibration. Sounds stupid, doesn't it? You'll wonder what's the reason for this apparently stupid behaviour of the input engine.
Let's say that there's a complete independence between your PC hardware (the steering wheel, mouse, keyboard, etc... over your table in your room) and the virtual world hardware (the steering wheel, gas pedal, gear shift stick, engine starting key, etc... of the Lambo Diablo SV5 you're driving in mosp).

It still hasn't been completely developed, but the idea is that all the input devices are treated like "joystick" axis. Then, for each of these 'axis' (which can sometimes be a mouse button, or the TrackIR x axis, or the hand-built park brake at your right, or the 'P' key in your keyboard, etc...) there's a list of filters.
These filters (still no filters are available atm) can be used to set up deadzones, or non-linearity, or inverting the values, or setting different calibration data than what is reported by the device itself, etc...
All these filters are never driving aids. So, unlike other games/sims, you can't use a "ABS filter" here. You can however set a decaying rate. But remember, all axis are equal in motorsport, so you can set the decaying rate to your "up arrow" key... or to your gas pedal. Or to the mouse Y axis.

There's a couple more of interesting features in the new input engine, but i won't talk about them since it would make this diary too long and/or boring.



Now that i've talked about the main cause for this delay, let's move onto more interesting things. Until now, all you could see was the traditional cubes, and lately an ugly car body mesh (made by myself of course, that's why it's ugly ). This week i've been working on what i was supposed to code last month. Amongst other things, the "testCar" (my ugly car body) has been replaced with Habalux's "Mosp1" car.

Tonight i've commited all what i've been working for the last couple of days. These are the main new features:
The vehicles can now have an Engine. A very basic engine, as described in the Evo1 features list. You can rev it up using any axis you want. By default, it's binded to the numpad 9 key (which, when pressed, acts as a fully pressed gas pedal, making the engine output its max. rate of rotation). The gas pedal (or any pedal for that matter) hasn't been coded yet.
In the near future, the user input will first go the virtual pedals, then to the virtual engine. As opposed to going from the real pedals directly to the virtual engine.

Now that i had a working engine, next thing to do was wheels, so that i could see the consequences of revving the engine up. I've been coding them, and tonight i commited the latest code. I couldn't wait to see the wheels on screen, so i coded some dirty ugly suspension code. Well, "suspension" is not the appropriate word. "hanging" is.
As you can see in the screenshots below, the wheels just hang somewhere below the car.

The wheels are physically represented by a capped cylinder (which is a cylinder that ends in 2 semispheres). As we speak, there's people working on a proper cylinder collision system, so don't worry about that.

More things to come in the next days... a proper (real) suspension system, and the addition of virtual pedals and steering wheel.
After that's done, we'll create the gearbox and clutch, and then we'll clean all the code up, and give final touches so that the simulation is more stable and accurate.


Now, the screenshots. Note that they may look ugly. Well, they do look a bit ugly. We still haven't tried to make it look better. There's no lighting, not reflections, no nothing (except one of the sshots, where i was experimenting with spherical envmapping). But it'll probably come at a later stage.
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02-02-2005, 02:39     View Warnings    #16
Kirk House
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Join Date: May 2001
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Week ~39-~54 (February 2 Update)

Although we haven't released a developer diary since October we have been busy. In the last week Stenyak added a basic system for time of day. You can move the sun across the sky with the o and p keys. The really interesting part though is that the color of the sunlight and the ambient lighting changes based on the location of the sun. Shadows elongate as the sun sets and the sunlight transitions to red, simulating the effects of atmospheric refraction. Obviously the skydome needs some work but we are already investigating solutions. Eventually we may geo-code each of our tracks so that you get current realtime conditions as they exist. You could argue that the sun code is project-delaying feature bloat but we can't get fired so interesting excursions are inevitable.

Bigger Version

Habalux was experimenting with some of his older car models and was able to create our first front wheel drive car. Currently 2WD(wheel drive) is hardcoded, meaning you can't have a 4WD car (even though the physics engine can handle it). This will change in Evo2. Support for multiple cars is a bit tricky and takes some hacking but is possible as proved by Habalux. The current suspension has static but customizable camber, toe and caster. The brakes also received an upgrade, should be easier to stop the car now.

You may have noticed in the above image something new, shadows. A patch was applied to our 3rd party graphics engine (OGRE) which solved the earlier issues we were having. Shadows will be optional because they do incur a performance hit but as it stands we're getting hundreds of FPS on top end machines and LOD is working so it might end up being a non-issue. For a revealing look at what's to come from our graphics engine have a look at the shadows cast through the windows on one of Habalux' cars here. You can check out our new shadow demonstration video here.(DivX codec required) Speaking of OGRE, version 1.0 should be released in the next few days which will make life much easier for those of us developing and testing Motorsport.

Habalux has also been working on a track. This won't make it into E1, but probably into Evolution 2. E2 should be the first release with a more traditional sim look and feel. The first real track will probably include lots of weird test areas for things like suspension test and a big loop for finding top speeds. It won't be a tri-oval in other words.

You may have noticed a change to our website. SourceForge's servers were recently upgraded so we moved everything and are now using PHPNuke as a content management system which makes it easy to add news. Our new image gallery is also improved, images are now categorized and can be viewed as a slideshow. Keep an eye on our website for information about the upcoming release of Evolution 1.

E1 needs some more testing before it's ready for release. We may distribute a release candidate before the final release but that isn't set in stone yet. As always, we can use your help, especially if you know a lot about cars and C++. We don't have a Mac version working yet but that's only because none of us own one. Check our website for updates, the next month should be interesting for fans of Motorsport.

I'll leave you with a taste of what's to come in Evolution 2. This following image is a topdown look at what the first track for Motorsport looks like. More images of Habalux's creation in the Renders Gallery.

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Motorsport, the Open Source Driving Simulator

Last edited by stenyak : 02-02-2005 at 03:20.
 


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