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  1. DevBlog: Progress report 04/2015

    by
    only_a_ptr
    , 05-02-15 at 05:08 PM
    Hello RoR fans.

    Another 2 months have passed and 1 new progress report is here. It turned out everyone (including me) was so busy in march that barely any development happenned and I had no time to write a blog post (plus, nothing new to write about, really ). Fortunately, April has been much more relaxed and I've been able to do some very important progress. All of my latest changes are incorportated in 0.4.5.0-dev test build 2 - I encourage everyone to test!

    Vehicle compatibility status

    ... has improved! I tested with many more vehicles and I re-thought my approach to parser design. For one thing, I began loosening the very strict syntax checking which was causing vehicles to spawn crippled and littered the "spawner report" window with loads of warning messages. Very common mistakes, such as extra commas at the ends of lines, trailing comments (yes, they weren't legit), invalid flags and bad lettercase of keywords is now tolerated, often silently without warning message. Further, I began adding "fallback" method of parsing for lines which don't make it through the syntax check - in this case, parser will emit a warning and process the line by means of RoR v0.38/v0.4.0.7 - unsafe, but mostly workable. So far, "nodes/nodes2" were augumented this way.

    But most importantly, I changed my philosophical approach to processing the .truck format. From the very start, I knew that the parsing process used in 0.4.0.7 has to change, both to clear the way for further development of RoR's physics (the old parser was seriously blocking it), and also because I wanted to equip RoR with a built-in rig editor. However, at the same time, I needed to maintain compatibility with existing content. Until now, I've been trying to write a parser which would satisfy both requirements. It didn't really work, most vehicles got broken and I wasted a lot of words rambling about how bad was both the code and the truckfiles. But about a week ago, I finally concluded the parser I wrote suits my needs, but it will never fit together with existing content. After realizing this, it was obvious what I have to do: Declare a new fileformatversion for future content, and write an importer component for content with lower fileformatversion. For the new fileformatversion number, I chose "450", to resemble version number 0.4.5.0 and also to signify it works differently than older numbers (1,2,3) - those were just informational and the parser ignored them. My fileformatversion actually makes a big difference.

    Nonetheless, I began bumping into prevailing v0.38 -> v0.4.0.7 incompatibilities, such as this one. Those will be harder to tackle because the code of version 0.38 is 4 years old and uses outdated dependencies, so it'll take some time to create a working dev version for testing and investigation. I'll try my best, but no promises at this point.

    Again, I encourage everyone to download a test build and check his favourite vehicles. They should work a lot better now.

    Rig editor status

    The editor is still not usable, but it's progressing steadily. This time, I added support for wheels (meshwheels2 + flexbodywheels so far). There's a selection menu in the top menubar and panels which can alter wheel parameters. Changes to wheel size or number of rays are displayed immediately and you can select + edit multiple wheels at the same time. There's also an option to create a new rig from scratch and the "engine" panel was equipped with [add engine]/[remove engine] buttons which were missing before. The N/B editing controls are still not complete (you can delete beams, but you can't add them yet), but work is being done. Further, the wheel-subsystem components (selection menu, highlight boxes, panels) were created as generic, so there will soon be similarly implemented support for flares, props, wings and more features.

    Anyway, at this point, some of you may legitimately question my efforts to create the rig editor. Although it's a nice thing to have, it doesn't seem to be really needed, modders have been happily creating content using existing methods and without any apparent issues, as this forum thread shows. So, do I have good reason to burn a lot of time working on the editor when there are much more serious flaws to tackle? I believe so, and you deserve to know it.

    Physics of the future

    Currently, RoR can handle roughly 500 nodes + 3000 beams per vehicle. With so few elements, it's reasonable to do this work manually. However, this system leaves a lot to be desired - the soft body physics model (with weighted nodes acting like joints + weightless beams + stability requirements) is very hard and unnatural for a human to work with. Also, the RoR handles only enough N/B to create a grid-like chassis where 3d models can be attached (props, flexbodies).

    Now imagine I created a completely new physics engine which could handle roughly 10x more N/B than the current engine (think 5,000 nodes and 30,000 beams). These numbers must sound insane to RoR veterans, but I have good technical reasons to believe such performance can be archieved. Further details aside, you'll agree with me that creating so detailed N/B by hand (or in Blender, or Editorizer, or any other similar method) will become humanly impossible. Further, such performance increase will deserve new approach to N/B architecture - instead of modelling a vehicle as a whole, it will be possible to model individual components (rigid frame, soft interior, heavy rigid engine, outer chassis components, possibly a rollcage) and then join them to create more reallistic deformation behavior.

    There is only one way to deal with such a modding challenge - using a CAD-like editor where the vehicle can be modelled the way technical engineers do - by defining real-world shapes of components, materials and means of joining components together. The editor would then compute the best fit N/B to simulate such vehicle. And THAT is precisely where I'm headed in my rig-editor efforts. Currently, the editor has only partial support for hand-editing the N/B, but that's just something to start with and an utility for current modders + current content. But I'm really looking into the future, and the future is CAD.

    Naturally, this is only an enthusiast project done in people's free time. It may not succeed. But I'll incorporate enough scripting support to spread the implementation complexity among members of the comunnity, so everything will be archievable. I'm optimistic.

    Until then, please bear with me.

    Updated 05-02-15 at 10:51 PM by only_a_ptr (Added category)

    Categories
    Official News
  2. DevBlog: Progress report 02/2015

    by
    only_a_ptr
    , 03-08-15 at 12:00 AM
    Hi all RoR fans!

    Another month has passed and it's time for me to write a progress report. In fact, the report is already slightly overdue because I've been really busy lately and I could only hardly follow RoR development. However, there are several other active developers and a growing number of testers and bug-reporters, so the project is steadily improving.

    To shortly iterate what's been hapenning:
    • I've been working on rig editor, specifically adding panels to edit properties of nodes/beams and other beam types. Currently I'm adding support for all types of wheels, including the possibility to add/edit/delete wheels. I've also started several experimental dev branches oriented on performance and more maintainable code.
    • Hiradur continues to improve linux compatibility and maintains the multitude of RoR dependencies.
    • Aperion has returned to what he's good at - improving the very core of the gameplay, the physics simulation. So far, he's only been doing careful cleanups not to disrupt the upcoming stable release, but there seems to be a lot to look forward to.
    • Max98 is simultaneously improving many player-oriented aspects of the game, ranging from UI and HUD through enviromental improvements like skies and water to signifficant gameplay fixes.


    Status of planned 0.4.5 release

    Current development effort aims towards a stable release with version number 0.4.5. This long-awaited release will fix many long-standing bugs, bring UI improvements and generally enhance player experience.

    The major development problem regarding this project is vehicle support. In the past, version 0.4.0.x broke compatibility with older vehicles and forced modders to double-release their new content. Then I came and broke things further, despite I claimed to improve it. Up to now I wasn't able to completely restore all broken features, although situation is improving. Recently, RoR got a new window which displays all errors and warnings about about loaded vehicles. Thanks to Max98, the messages are also colored. This window will inform players what's wrong with their favorite vehicles and also help modders to avoid risky or unsupported practices.

    I'd like to explain the cause of the current situation. When I analyzed RoR's vehicle loading code back in 2013, I discovered that the problem is in the design of the format - modders can define various parts of the vehicle (beams, nodes, wheels, cinecam, rotators, triggers, more wheels, more beams) in an arbitrary order, possibly interleaving things, and the parser will process all of it in the exact order. A software like this is a programmer's inferno because it's impossible to tell how exactly things are going depend on each other, how they will interact and what side effects may arise. Since RoR's vehicles were quite feature rich and features were built on top of one another, the amout of possible scenarios was astronomic. To name a few cases, I've seen vehicles defining some nodes, then defining wheels (which generate nodes) and then define more nodes. But hey, nodes have numbers, and if you auto-generate nodes in between, are you sure your numbering will continue correctly? Further, some modders attached beams to nodes before those were defined, or to nodes which were auto-generated by different sections (or possibly never generated). How is a programmer supposed to check if the connection is correct? To make things worse, there's the half-baked 'named nodes' feature (nodes2). More than half of truckfile sections don't support them, but at the same time, named nodes can still be reffered to with numbers, so modders did it that way. As a result, a programmer sees code trying to look for node 123 and he has no idea where that node will come from. Impossible to work with. Despite all these alarming facts, RoR vehicles have been working happily... until original authors left, along with the knowledge of all quirks and obscure mechanisms of the vehicle support. Un-involved coder didn't stand a chance. That's why 0.4.0x became incompatible with 0.38, and only problems followed.

    My solution to this issue was developing new vehicle parser: one that would read all data first and only then process them, in a given order, to avoid all unexpected results. From software design standpoint, this is an only plausible solution. Unfortunately, this approach broke all vehicles which relied on the quirky nature of the old parser. In addition of that, many bugs were introducted in the process, because RoR's vehicle format is very feature-rich and I was a new coder to the project. So far, I've been able to track and fix many of those bugs and also detect and work-around many legacy requirements of older vehicles. I had been hoping to work around everything, however, I've arrived to a point where some vehicles directly conflict with my parser's architecture. And even thoug I'd really love to make everything work, I'm not willing to compromise future development by making compatibility hacks into my code. Some content will just have to go.

    In a near future, I'll publish a new test build of NextStable, along with all latest fixes and compatibility enhancements, and I'll begin to sort out supported vs. unsupported content. I'll be in touch with modders, discussing the do's and dont's which 0.4.5 will impose.

    Stay tuned.

    Updated 03-08-15 at 12:15 AM by only_a_ptr

    Categories
    Development , Official News
  3. DevBlog: Progress report 01/2015

    by
    only_a_ptr
    , 02-03-15 at 10:17 PM
    Hello all RoR fans!

    My name is Petr Ohlidal (a.k.a only_a_ptr) and I'd like to give you an update on RoR development in the past month. I'll also sum up all activity which has been going on since I joined the project - and there is a lot to sum up, RoR has changed signifficantly since then.

    I joined the project in fall of 2013. At the time, RoR was a dying project - the original authors left to develop a commercial BeamNG project and community had been inactive for more than 6 months or so. The last stable release was 2 years old and the new version was half-baked. I evaluated the state of the project, decided my priorities and started coding. For the first months, my effort had no visible outcome as I decided to rewrite some very internal logic, but finally I released several test builds and today, they're consolidated into a single development version which aspires for a new stable release.

    To my great cheer, my enthusiasm has sparkled a new wave of collaborative development, and today, RoR has 4 active developers:
    • Me ~ Self-invited lead coder, a code greasemonkey focused on internals and software architecture.
    • Max98 ~ Cheerful enthusiast with focus on GUI and graphics. Fixed some long standing graphic bugs.
    • Hiradur ~ Valuable compiler specialist and analyst. Keeps RoR running on Linux and inspects it with Valgrind for memory issues.
    • Aperion ~ Old community member and contributor who came back to help.


    At the moment, the development is aimed towards delivering a new stable release. This is very important to shake off the "dead project" feeling. RoR hasn't had a stable release in years and with new similarily-themed projects, BeamNG and SpinTires, it seemed that RoR will become history. That is, however, not going to happen. Not only RoR lives on, but it also stays unique among all competition. The planned release is dubbed NextStable and has a version number 0.4.5, which displays the signifficant leap from last available build 0.4.0.7. This leap is well deserved, RoR has undergone a signifficant facelift and got rid of some long standing bugs which annoyed and discouraged players for too long. Also, major refactoring was done on the inside, to serve as groundwork for future enhancements and stability. This is a list of the most important archievements:
    • RoR got main menu! Until now, RoR worked in a straightforward scenario "start - select track - select vehicle - play - exit game", which wasn't really player-friendly. Also, the internal startup logic was over-complicated and slow, so it received a lot of fixes. Courtesy of Max98
    • RoR got new GUI skin. The previous "orange with bright orange" was really lame. New one comes in orange+black and really feels like a vehicle-driving game. Kudos to Max98
    • RoR got in-game configuration panels. Previously, all the configuration had to be done in external configurator, which works, but it's not very appealing to players. Thanks goes to Max98
    • RoR got a built-in editor for vehicles. Until now, modding had to be done with variety of external tools and a lot of hand-writing. However, this approach will soon be history. The editor is not fully featured yet, but it's architecture allows it to fully load/save the vehicle format and perform any modifications, with mouse and hotkeys, in an interactive environment. A primary inspiration for controls and workflow is Blender.
    • Rig definition file format (.truck) was completely re-coded. The old logic was flawed, bloated and effectively blocked any future enhancements. The new one is a separate component designed for stability and extensibility. It also allowed creating the rig editor. However, a lot of content stopped working in the process, sometimes due to bugs in new code, but often because of syntax flaws or inconsistencies and bad practices in .truck files themselves. Work is being done to fix the situation.
    • Max98 fixed two inflamous graphics bugs - shadows and skidmarks. He's also putting a lot of attention into sky, water and environment in general.


    Following is a list of things to definitely expect in NextStable:
    • It will provide a list of errors and warnings every time a vehicle spawned. This is mainly to help modders, but also to inform players of possible incompatibility of older content.
    • It will support most of the vehicles which are currently broken. Sadly, some of them will not be compatible due to legacy flaws or bad practices of mod authors.
    • Not much else to change. This is actually a good feature, because more changes would mean more waiting and I know everyone is already tired of waiting.


    Actually, if you feel like NextStable is coming out pretty slowly, it's not just you. I've been putting off the work for a long time because, honestly, bugfixing is boring and there is a lot of juicy redesign waiting to be done in the simulation code. So, instead of delivering what everybody is waiting for, I've been fiddling with the internals in my private development branches. Sorry guys. However, no more slacking off, I've published my experiments in my GitHub forks, consolidated my changes and I'm back to bugfixing.

    From now on, I'll be publishing a progress report blog post every month. This idea came from Max98, big thanks to him, a dev blog is a big step forward in presenting the project. Expect future posts to be a lot more detailed and to the point, this post is somewhat bland because it just has too much to sum up.

    Cheers
    Categories
    Development , Official News
  4. 2015: Updates

    by
    tdev
    , 01-14-15 at 11:35 PM
    Man, time sure flies, Rigs of Rods is nearly 10 years old!

    I just updated some things: The-future-of-the-RoR-forums-I-don-t-know-what-to-title-this

    Updated 01-15-15 at 01:49 AM by tdev

    Categories
    Official News
  5. Ubuntu packages

    by
    tdev
    , 03-11-13 at 01:44 AM
  6. Sourceforge "Project of the month" November 2012

    by
    tdev
    , 11-01-12 at 10:59 PM
    We are the "Project of the month November 2012" on Sourceforge.net.
    More details: Sourceforge-Project-of-the-month-November-2012
    Categories
    Official News
  7. ROR and the Raspberry Pi

    by
    tdev
    , 10-27-12 at 12:27 PM
    A developer from our team (theshark) used his Raspberry Pi to display gauges for RoR



    Original Post (in german)

    Updated 10-27-12 at 12:30 PM by tdev

    Categories
    Official News
  8. On-line race ranking massive development

    by
    DeGa
    , 09-21-12 at 07:54 PM
    Thomas is wonderful! That being said...



    Have a look at the Multiplayer tab if you didn't have a chance those last days/weeks/months

    A major improvement in the game, in my opinion, is the recent development of on-line timescores.



    If you're not familiar with it yet,
    let me guide you through

    Begin by clicking the multiplayer tab of the forum.


    You'll arrive to a fancy page with a lot of icons



    • Understand how to race (it's not hard, really)




    • Access your personal times (go here if you don't know how to race)





    • See the latest changes in the leaderboards





    • See some key figures, updated real-time - you can see that it's pretty succesful already, looks like you like racing ;-)




    And a brand new functionnality, every user gets a global ranking! You can now access it by clicking this fancy button:



    It will get you to a global chart with a lot of information, and the global ranking! There is a ultra-secret formula to compute it.
    "Some say" that it accounts, amongst others, for the mass of sweat you produced when racing...

    You can sort it by the criteria you like, for example the amount of races done ever:


    If you want to know a bit more about a competitor, or see your own medals and palmares, click a user name:




    It will get you to the profile page, where you'll have noticed that you have a new tab called "races", where you can see all your medals:

    You want more people? OK, you can track yourself, or someone else by viewing all the data, and sorting it how you like by clicking on the button at the bottom of the page "view all data".



    The race system itself is full of functionnalities!

    It is now possible to set

    • Vehicle-specific challenge





    • Only verified vehicles races (only the vehicles currently available in the repository)



    Then again, a lot of info for you to analyze, such as graphic illustration of the quality of each section of the race



    it's green - you did a good time in that section
    it's red - well, you know what it means, don't you?

    And you can comment your laps and linking to a video of it 8-| That's just great!




    So you're making maps

    If you have uploaded a terrain on the repository, and you'd like some on-line leaderboards to be created for you, contact me (DeGa) through PM.
    Know that:


    • You will need to provide 1 image per race, uploaded in a public place (nothing related to rigs of rods forums), closest from 16:9 ratio, min 500*300
    • You will need to race all your races yourself, and make sure that your times land here
    • Race the EXACT version you uploaded on the repository (best practice is to upload, download this exact file, race it)
    • Include in your PM if you would like to have vehicle-specific races - in this case, again, race this exact race, with this exact vehicle
    • Be polite ;-)


    If you're used to publish maps for RoR, you will be given direct access to the management of your races.

    Updated 10-08-12 at 05:05 PM by DeGa

    Categories
    Official News
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