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Brobanx

Racing Game: Ideas and some technical issues

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I'm still in the initial design phase of a racing game I expect to be completed in about two and a half years (I'm doing this in my spare time, as a solo programmer, with some friends helping to create the levels / sounds once I finish the editor). It should be of a similar style to F-Zero X, if any of you have played that on the N64. You'll essentially have hovercars floating above the race course, with crazy jumps and lots of futuristic bonuses and powerups, etc. Realism is not the goal, it's just supposed to be a futuristic, good-looking, fast-paced racing game with some extra perks. Now, I want the courses themselves to be able to consist of roads, mid-air jumps, loop-di-loops, tubes, and pipes (you drive on the outside of a pipe). My issue is, how is the map supposed to be represented? Here are some ideas I've come up with, I'd like feedback on the advantages/disadvantages of each, from anyone who has experience with racing games: 1) Use a standard BSP tree. Every object in the game world has a surface, and if you can find a way to get to it, you can drive on it. Gravity always points down. 2) Create a path (it's allowed to have forks and shortcuts...), and generate the map around that path based on certain parameters (defined in the editor) which control road curvature, textures, gravity, and surface properties. Any 'prefab' decorations will be considered special, and you can't drive on them, this would include things like trees, miscellaneous obstacles, and beside-the-road decorations. The great thing about this is that IN-GAME, you could change the width/size of the track, and universally change the look / feel of some maps based by changing how the path's properties are interpreted, to make it more or less challenging, or to look different. Also, it would then become relatively simple to design maps in the editor, because you only have to modify the shape and properties of the path, and don't have to worry about exactly how it looks. The bad thing is, the maps will all look similar, and seem to flow around the path, with no real variation. This might actually be a good thing to ensure consistency, but I'm naturally skeptical. Also, the game itself will need to translate the path into a 3d image on the fly, or into a BSP (without the collision info) as the level loads. It could potentially make curves look and feel much smoother, however. I really think this idea has more potential than the BSP tree, but it's also harder to do both in the editor and in-game. I'm open to other suggestions as well, I have no idea what kind of schemes have been used in other racing titles, or in F-Zero X for that matter.

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