Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hello, my Old Friend

A stable progress on my final paper project means I can steal my time working on stuffs I'd like to do on the fly. 3 out of 6 chapters are finished, while three shall be waiting, plus the development of the project itself. To spoil a little bit about what my final paper would be, it's an AI controller programmed in C++ for use with The Open Racing Car Simulator (TORCS), a racing simulator slash AI development platform, used by AI researchers through papers that details the process of AI developments using different algorithms, and also works as a competitive medium in AI research and the game's community circle.

While I might not going to dive into TORCS anytime soon, I have now returned to my roots. If you remember, I "retired" from Turbo Sliders after my Indianapolis release in order to focus on my final paper project which wasn't of the said topic back then. After a change of topic, things get clearer in perspective, and the progress went on until now. It wasn't until today that I started working with Turbo Sliders once again after watching the F1 World Championship highlights video made by Silva, teased by a spotter's guide posted on the game's Facebook page beforehand. The highlights video gave me an idea to randomly start working on my WIPs again, consisting of one track and one car (with a big restructuring) for now.


Now utilizing: the new 4K track that can be enjoyable with the F1 Genesis.
The Turbo Sliders F1 World Championship went with a successful run with Tijnowitsu-san taking the title after crusading against Badeend throughout the season that lasted 10 races, all 4K tracks courtesy of Whiplash and Tijny, and in the cockpit of the F1 Genesis car, a car that utilizes the new car paramaters in the recent version for more realism (download available on the linked page). Aside from all the statistics for each race during the season's run which you can see by following each race's link on the linked page, the Highlights video made by Silva has been recently released following the spotter's guide post on the Facebook page.

After seeing the highlights video, I've been thinking about making another 4K track. No, not another real-life track like the Indianapolis which has now seen its use in the SCARTS series, but more like akin to any of the 10 tracks featured in the official competition. After some digging through my WIPs, I thought I could continue one track where I left off: the even bigger and better Nippon Highlands. It was one of the WIPs that's actually quite ready to be made a proper track, but some rework was needed.

Way back, I released the original Nippon Highlands, with track design taking cues on TSE-made tracks. While the track can be considered as a bridge-less ringer to Suzuka Circuit, it is actually modeled after a track in Taito's arcade game Battle Gear 4 Tuned. My second attempt at making a Nippon Highlands (this time, the v2) involved a new layout that takes more cues to some of Suzuka's sections, straying away from the original material. However, it didn't bode well, and with the 4K craze started to gain its footing in the TS trackmaking, I have decided to reboot the original track to comply with the new size.

This 4K version of the existing track may look like there's not much difference in the layout, but since I tried to market this track as a 4K F1 track that can be enjoyable with the F1 Genesis car, there are a lot of adjustments to the layout to make it more exciting, even the shorter layouts aren't exempt from the overhaul.

This doesn't look like Suzuka's East course, does it?
First of all, the starting set of corners. Mimicking the first set of corners of the Suzuka Circuit, the long right hander is now much smoother, so does the esses that follow. The third corner of the esses was anything but smooth, this is solved in the bigger version. In addition, the "East" portion of the new track is now much closer to the real Suzuka East configuration than it was in the original track where it utilized a straightaway section in the hairpin's entry. This also results in a better pit entry in the East section whereas the original's pit entry is quite awkward in that you had to turn 90 degrees to enter the pit, making it a hassle (but then again, I wasn't thinking about long-distance racing in shorter configurations back then).

The next refinement would be the faux Degner that follows after the long straight after the esses. The corner, which originally had a less pointy radius, now matches more to the real Degner, which would require either a coasting upon entry or even braking (I would recommend coasting for better entry speed. Risky move I know). The first corner of the faux Degner in the "straight from the original" 4K adaptation was rounded, allowing racers to go flat out before the 90-degree right corner after the second straight.

Apparently the construction team in the vicinity of the circuit proposed the idea of the new section...
While the next following set of sections were left unchanged, there's a new section between the two bus stop chicanes: the GP course will go through this new right kink that will lead racers to the left corner, acting as the 200R section of the real track. The second bus stop is left intact, but will only be used in the West and the alternate GP configuration (as an ode to the original). The reason why I altered the original layout with the new mentioned section as the official section of the track is because I see the second bus stop as the track's equivalent of the 200R chicane in the real-life track, apart from the fact that the bigger resolution allows for adding the additional section. This section is used for motorcycle races, with the most prominent being the Suzuka 8 Hours. The sections that follow after are left unaltered.

Finally, the last couple of parts that I worked in trial-and-error included the faux 130R, probably the most exciting part of the Nippon Highlands. The idea for this corner was to make as closer to the 130R as possible in contrast to the original's more rounded entry, which would mean that racers, driving the F1 Genesis, shall coast from their flat out state before hitting it once more as their cars hit the outside kerbs, exactly the same fashion as the real F1 cars would corner the 130R, while praying that they won't hit the tarmac runoff for an optimal line. At least this was what I envisioned when racing a couple of times in the original Nippon Highlands using my Antislider CT230R, where correct lining will reward you the highest speed of entry through the section as you go flat out. The track concludes with my own Casino Triangle (now much better), a new pit entry which is situated after the Triangle, and a new West Circuit section entry which mirrors more to the real track's West Circuit section in contrast to the original track's entry in the form of a hairpin, and the West section exit is right after the GP hairpin for a better flow. Keep in mind that the current layout, including the pits, is still provisional

The faux 130R is one of the last couple of parts that I worked in trial-and-error.  The idea for this corner was to make as closer to the 130R as possible in contrast to the original's more rounded entry. 
In addition to the layout alteration, the environment will take cues from Whiplash's 4K tracks as well, utilizing objects as a means to prevent corner cutting than a couple of terrains as seen in Tijny's 4K tracks such as Drosovce and Flakemoore, both being the competition's tracks. By learning how these objects are placed and which corners should need these objects through Whiplash's tracks, I shall have a clearer picture of how a proper corner-cutting prevention can be done, of course not without testing their effectiveness through a couple of runs. The rest of the work should include runoffs which would also include two tarmac runoffs a la Flakemoore in the first right hander and the faux 130R sections and tree placements, as well as custom objects. I intentionally left the base blank to allow seamless testing of the layout, in case there are changes to be made.

In the end, somebody new had to join the 4K F1 fray of tracks. I will hopefully finish this track before the next season of TS F1 World Championship comes if time permits so.


Eurobeat intensifies; My Sprinter Trueno running in Scud's Tasmania II track.
In another topic, I remember watching a gameplay video of R: Racing Evolution and then proceeded to browse a "garage guide" of the game. One of the things that caught my attention was the car list, not the car list itself but more to the class structure. Talk about class structure, I remember making a class structure for my TS cars in a five-tier system separated between classes from the likes of Touring, Grand Touring, and Prototypes, just to name a few. Kinda like GRID Autosport, and certainly these cars would have different physics. This is where things can get complicated when you find out that the game has a couple of limitations which won't see you compete against cars of different physics a la GeneRally. You can read my proposed car list here.

Because of this, I have decided to call on a total restructuring on car classes, from the GRID Autosport system to a more simpler system, separating road cars, tuned cars, and race cars. All classes are sorted by performance, and different car physics can be found even on the same class though it shall guarantee fairness. Road cars are sorted from class A to D with A being the highest class, while tuned cars compliment the road cars where class D cars can be "tuned" into a class C car, class C to Class B, and class B to class A, plus Class A would have legitimate tuner cars like HKS CT230R for example, to name just one, drift cars included as well. Rally cars have 3 classes of R1 to R3 with R1 being the highest, containing Group B, Group R and RX, R2 containing 2.0. liter Group A cars of 4WD and 2WD (Formula 2000) origins, and R3 being low-powered rally cars. Race cars will have classes from SS, S1, S2, and S3, all containing touring cars, grand tourers, and prototypes, while the final class, being Class X, is basically reserved for open wheel cars.

Testing the new physics for my LMP1 car class in Tijny's Drosovce track. Track is available in the F1 4K trackpack.
Outside the class restructuring scope, I also took the time to refine my WIP cars' physics, one being a test car to define the general LMP1 physics and one being the Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-Apex, which we all know by the name "Hachi-Roku" or AE86, and being the face of the drifting culture. One of the tweaks I made to the LMP1 is removing the 'antislide 4' value since the car grips enough even without antislide thanks to the 'downforce' parameter, but racers should keep in mind that with the removal of the antislide value sliding can happen anytime if not handled carefully. This will definitely be a staple for all race cars, but the physics tweaking is still ongoing. For the second car, I keep on tweaking the default car parameter values to simulate front-engined, rear-wheel-drive cars while still allowing the car to slide whenever possible. As simple as that.

The LMP1 car will definitely belong to the Class SS, but will feature a couple of LMP1 cars from different manufacturers whenever the physics are as planned, so all the cars in this class will have shared physics. Meanwhile the AE86 will be definitely Class D, being a low-powered road car, but enough to be one of the "starter cars." However, that would mean I had to refine physics for FR drivetrain cars in general rather than just the AE86, and I can confirm that this car will have its tuned versions, meaning that this car can be tuned into Class C, but there could be tuned Class A version as well. The final car list may be compiled a little later.

In the end, it's really good to be back...


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