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.
Updated 2 Weeks Ago at 01:15 AM by only_a_ptr
I was just bored, decided to post few little screenshots of what's upcoming with RoR 0.4.5 (Aka 0.4.0.7 NextStable)
The change log is being updated but it is visible here: Changelog
Something new here, the Main menu!
The rig editor:
(loading a vehicle)
(ingame key mapping)
Pause menu: (And possibility to change maps/go back to menu without exiting the game)
Updated 4 Weeks Ago at 01:05 AM by max98
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 Max98RoR 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 Max98RoR 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 Max98RoR 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.
With the blog section now being back alive I though I'd give it a shot and write about my personal goals for Rigs of Rods. Every developer working on an open source project usually has his own vision for what the project could become and works on things that bring it closer to that vision.
So here it is, my vision of Rigs of Rods:
I would like to see RoR going much faster than it currently does. RoR is usually limited by the CPU as it has to do a lot of floating point math to simulate the behaviour of beams and nodes. Other limiting factors probably are memory latency and bandwidth since structures for beams and nodes are quite large in size and there are hundreds of them per vehicle. Besides the fact that the whole phsyics core could use a cleanup it is also required that we increase accuracy (discussion: Discussion-Moving-to-double-precision-for-physics) to improve the quality of the simulation. When we do that a major overhaul of the physics core is needed which would be a great chance to improve performance as well. I believe that there is more room for parallelization and that we should use it whenever possible. In the best case RoR should be able to max out any number of CPU cores while still running significantly faster on a single core than it does now.
Besides a speedup in performance I would also like to see the physics calculations being moved to the server. The details are unclear yet because it would suddenly increase server hardware requirements a lot. Maybe we will have an option to toggle serverside physics on and off.
The major benefit of serverside physics calculation is that multiplayer collisions are possible, something that many have asked for and I want to see happening myself. It would also lead to a clear separation between client and server, potentially putting less stress on the client than before. We will have to see how much that could be since some calculations will probably still be needed clientside for movement predicition to reduce perceived lag. It would certainly seperate rendering and physics though, already increasing performance.
I got access to an 80-core cluster computer. My ultimate goal is that the RoR server (with physics calculations being serverside) is able to take advantage of such a system. I would like to see it being able to make use of all cluster nodes using OpenMPI to spread physics calculations across all cores so we can potentially have many people spawning many vehicles in one multiplayer session. In case this becomes possible I may host a community event, hosting a RoR server on said cluster for an evening to have a big wreck fest. It's still uncertain if this is possible at all. The possible degree of parallelization for the physics core has yet to be determined. When working with clusters additional problems arise like latency and bandwidth for communication between nodes. The latency could be large enough to make this whole project fail but since a similar project probably has never been done before we can't know for certain until we tried.
So, to summarize:
- large performance increase
- ability to make use of any number of CPU cores, if possible
- serverside physics calculations
- OpenMPI support for use on clusters
Keep in mind though that this is just a vision of mine yet. Work hasn't even started and it will probably take a while until it does since we would like to provide a solid new stable build first. Some of these things may not even possible or won't ever come to life. We'll have to see what the future holds.
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 02:49 AM by tdev
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