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Old 17 December 2011, 02:25   #1
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Lotus Turbo Challenge Online (a WIP)

Hi all,

Since I wanted to start a bit of a developer diary I thought I'd post a video of the current progress of my remake of Lotus (called 'Lotus Turbo Challenge Online').

It's a remake of of the original game(s) with graphics in the original style for Windows/OSX/Linux and eventually iPhone, Android and possibly the GamePark handhelds.

The main focus is going to be on online play, so eight (or maybe sixteen, but likely eight) players can jump into a race together over the interwebs. Other planned things are the addition of a rear view mirror, new tracks, new cars, choice of modes (lotus 1 style laps, or lotus 2 style checkpoint races).

At this stage it's pretty barebones, but I've spent forever on the track routine as it's the most important part of the game for me, and thanks to the original developer's tireless help have managed to get it to a stage where I can just plug in the original track data from Lotus 1, 2 & 3 and it's looking almost dead on. (Again, a massive thanks to Shaun Southern for providing the original ASM & other bits).

The main reason for posting this message is to see if anyone has any ideas for features that could make the final game. Bearing in mind all the time the graphical style is to remain faithful to the original, but anything outside of that is totally open season as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, here's a video of the progress with the trackroutine. Keen Lotus fans will recognise this as the last (and hardest) track in the original game.

[ Show youtube player ]
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Old 17 December 2011, 02:30   #2
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You need to fix the direction of the backdrop when turning corners.

if you turn right, the backdrop should be scrolling left, if you turn left, the backdrop should be scrolling right.

You've got it the wrong way around
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Old 17 December 2011, 02:34   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
You need to fix the direction of the backdrop when turning corners.
Hehe, what a schoolboy error. I was changing a ton of stuff and did the video without checking. I'd probably never even have noticed if you hadn't mentioned it, such is my blindness to this game now
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Old 17 December 2011, 02:35   #4
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it looks pretty good though, glad you stuck with the original graphics.

Did Shaun Southern help then?
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Old 17 December 2011, 02:37   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
it looks pretty good though, glad you stuck with the original graphics.

Did Shaun Southern help then?
Yeah man, I got in touch with him just on the off-chance and he's been totally instrumental in getting this off the ground-- Detailing the little tricks he used and even knocking up basic prototypes, all so I could get it looking just so.

If you happen to know him, buy him a beer or two from me
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Old 17 December 2011, 10:55   #6
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looks super, will the car drift when entering tight bends? Right now it seems to be on rails in the centre of the track.
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Old 17 December 2011, 11:27   #7
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Hehe, made me feel sick when you turned, but it's a great concept, Lotus 2 remains my favourite due to its 4 player on 2 Amiga's.
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Old 17 December 2011, 13:28   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DDNI View Post
looks super, will the car drift when entering tight bends? Right now it seems to be on rails in the centre of the track.
Yeah man, at the minute the track routine is the main focus, getting it so it looks just so. It does have the perspective effect you get when you move left and right and I probably should have demonstrated that in the video, but I forgot.

The way the game (and most games of this type) actually work is to slide the track off the the side of the screen when a bend appears and then you turn the car just to 'keep up with the track'. When these physics aren't implemented the track just stays on the screen and the car stays in the middle. It's a very clever and simple technique and my hat goes off to whoever first discovered this.

The next step is to implement the turning so hopefully I'll be able to post a video of the driveable track to give you a better idea of it.

...and then the roadsigns, trackside objects, gear changes, road speed, other cars, menus, multiplayer code and so on...

Definitely going to include a proper track editor though as I need to build one for developing custom tracks myself and if I can polish enough it could be included in the game. But a mixture of the original source and WinUAE debugger means I'll be able to include all of the original tracks in the game which is a real bonus.

Last edited by P-J; 17 December 2011 at 13:36.
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Old 17 December 2011, 13:59   #9
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Quote:
Definitely going to include a proper track editor though as I need to build one for developing custom tracks myself and if I can polish enough it could be included in the game. But a mixture of the original source and WinUAE debugger means I'll be able to include all of the original tracks in the game which is a real bonus.
Cool. I find it amazing, that 20 years on, and we still haven't improved vastly on track creation, other than games made especially for it, such as Modnation Racers. But Gran Turismo 5 for example, has a track editor thats worse than the Lotus 3 one. :P
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Old 17 December 2011, 14:06   #10
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Brilliant !! one of my old time favorite games on the amiga....Lotus 2 ...alien breed and Damocles
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Old 17 December 2011, 15:36   #11
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No idea what peoples take on Top Gear 2 is here, but i really loved the SNES version (liked it a lot more than the Lotus series), so perhaps look at that to see some of the features it has? I personally have never played the Amiga version, partly because I cannot get it to run on my Amiga's. (It requires more than 1MB of RAM)

Had some really great music on it, allowed you to fit upgrades to your car, had nitro that you could fire off during the race to get a boost of speed. Just had more of an adrenaline rush and more of a point to it because of the earning money to upgrade your car aspect etc. Had great fun with my brother when he were young, was the game we mostly played on the SNES.

[ Show youtube player ]

Thats a quick view of the SNES version of Top Gear 2.

Last edited by Dreedo; 17 December 2011 at 15:41.
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Old 17 December 2011, 15:57   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreedo View Post
Cool. I find it amazing, that 20 years on, and we still haven't improved vastly on track creation, other than games made especially for it, such as Modnation Racers. But Gran Turismo 5 for example, has a track editor thats worse than the Lotus 3 one. :P
I'm only guessing, but I reckon it's to do with the fact that it might be difficult to constrain the editor such that at no point are you ever able to 'break' the game. They don't want you seeing garbled lines or 90 degree hills accidentally
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Old 17 December 2011, 16:15   #13
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Or Polyphony Digital are lazy, either way, we'll never know. :P

Is there any mode in the Lotus games where you are actually competing against AI drivers for points in a championship, like Top Gear 2?

I think that'd be a good mode, the AI in Lotus aren't very challenging. You just spend your time passing them.
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Old 17 December 2011, 16:39   #14
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The challenge part was getting past the AI cars with rocks in the road that they just drive right through
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Old 17 December 2011, 16:48   #15
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Excellent! I've been dropping hints about this sort of thing on many threads recently and so I was surprised to find this thread appearing seemingly with a huge chance of success. Many thanks for finding Shaun and getting the source. Surely with his help you can make this happen. I was under the impression Shaun was difficult to find - I certainly had no luck when I was looking to do an interview with him. So you are a very lucky person there...

If I were you I'd make this a shareware project - with a fully working 'port' or Lotus 1 (with, say, a 4 player online option), with the full online game available for a small donation. Then you could perhaps split the income with Shaun. Having seen the benefits of shareware on a recent Matt Chat video, I'd say this could be a decent earner. Failing that you could always go down the x-box live route and implement purchasing tokens for online plays.

Anyway, since this is unlikely to get an Amiga native release, it means you can really go to town with very CPU intensive procedures - such as graduated shading, shadows, basic light-casting, and active intelligence for all drone cars - without impacting on performance. One trick is to make the track engine twice as fast as it needs to be, so that it still runs at full speed even as you add trackside features (it is easier this way than trying to speed the game up later by cutting frame rates and features etc).

As for game graphics, I'd like to see at least two modes - Verbatum and Defacto. Verbatum being the original Amiga graphics and Defacto being the full arcade quality 256 colour PC update for 2012. Verbatum can be as close to the original gameplay as possible, while you can go wild with Defacto.

The online gaming modes are surely the most important (and most EXCITING) feature - and the reason this is gonna appeal to the masses! I'd split the contenders - 10 humans Vs 10 computer drones. This should keep the playability high while keeping the bandwidth lower. Yet this also depends on how many simultanious games the server can handle. For this reason it may be an idea to have adaptive multiplayer tolerances. e.g. is it better to have 200 players playing 25 online games (8 per game) or 200 players playing 20 online games (10 per game) - and I'd say it's up to the server/software to decide given the variables at the time.

Other features:
. The audio 'CD Player' screen should be fully compatable with MP3 and even real CDs! - so the player can choose any audio they like within the game.

. Car types - in the expanded version I would like to see the Esprit Mk 1, 2, 3, and S4, The Elan Mk2 and Mk4, The Exige, the Elise, the Evora and the new Europa - with a super hidden bonus of the Deloran DMC12 (which is basically a Lotus with a new body) - obtained after finishing the whole game. Of course the Back to the Future Delorean could fly (which you could implement identically to the Days of Thunder Amiga Cheat), or perhaps just have a flying car appear in the expanded games' sky to tip the player off that this may be available. With SUCH a huge sky - it becomes necessary to fill it..!

. Graphics overlays - I'd like to be able to drive through a grove of trees - with the trees looming large and into the sky. The trees in Lotus are more like bushes, and never have branches arching over the road casting shadows on the landscape. Same with Fog effects - which can be staggered overlays with a few areas of alpha masking to have elements appear and disappear within the layers. The Rain effect on Lotus 2 was one single overlay in one plane (i.e. flat rain). In the expanded version it would be nice to layer this background-to-forground.

. Bobs - Trackside objects; such as signs; could do with an upgrade - such as grandstands near the pits, rows of people (like the Outrun C64 version), buildings, and even animals (like cows in fields).

. Circuit Barriers - If all that sounds too easy - how about armco? With the addition of armco (and maybe gravel traps) the player could construct a track from a REAL track - such as Monza or Spa; with Lotus Formula 1 car sprites (Jim Clarke, JPS Special or 'TEAM Lotus').

. Distance redraw - at the moment there is no way to show a hill looming in the far distance which the track will eventually drive over. To get around this it may be possible to add a 'pop-up' layer; which shows the hill on the horizon in the distance - which 'pops under' the foreground layer as the player drives closer, giving the illusion of more screen depth. In addition, a 4 layer parallax background element could increase the illusion of distance.

. The contruction kit element would be nice in the full price version as long as there is a way to 'package' track elements together. For example, with new graphics, sounds, music, tracks and cars - specific to each individual track. In this way we could create a track on the beach - with the sea on one side and hotels on the other (a la Outrun), or a Moon scape track with stars and alien spectators. In this way, each track would work almost as a complete game all by itself.

. And Finally - it would be good to have the original programers 'in' the game in some way. We remember Civilisation because of Sid Meier, we remember F1GP because of Geoff Crammond, and we know Lotus because of Shaun Southern and Andrew Morris (whom I DID get to interview this year ) - so if there was any way to include those guys in the promotion I think the whole project would leap ahead.

Please don't be put off by these ideas, at this stage the most important element is a very FAST and fluid track. All the rest can come later. I have such a good feeling about this that I was just moved to write all the above. Call it fanmail. Be sure to let us know how you are getting along, and do ask for fan contributions if you need extra elements such as graphics and sounds. I have a vaccum cleaner I could sample.

Good luck


Last edited by lifeschool; 20 December 2011 at 19:28.
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Old 17 December 2011, 17:35   #16
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If this was programmed in C# it would be very easy to get it ported to the Xbox 360 via XNA, of course you'd need permission to sell the game. But it would be great to play a game like this on a home console. Not to mention split-screen would work better on one.

Lifeschool brings out some really good ideas in my opinion.
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Old 17 December 2011, 17:54   #17
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@Lifeschool

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll try and respond in more details when I have a chance, but in short...

- I'd never intended to charge for the game at all. Perhaps donations for features is an option, but I wouldn't feel right leveraging the work of the original developers even with their blessing. Not to mention the 'who owns the rights issue'.

- Most of your graphical suggestions would require a skilled artist to come in, and if there's any here who think they could take it on then I'd love for them to help.

- As for new cars, same deal. If there's anyone here who could draw new cars in the style of the old ones, I'm all for having them help! Dropping them in is obviously a breeze.

- Hills in distance are easily solved by drawing further into the distance. The algorithm already supports it, but I stopped short to keep it like the original.

Don't worry though, it doesn't put me off -- I just need to get to version 1.0 at the minute.

Basically, version 1.0 looks like this for me :

- Multiplayer only, no AI at this stage
- All original tracks (from 1 & 2) available in all weather conditions
- As many cars as possible, with choice of colour.
- Original graphics used, and touched up where necessary (i.e gradients)
- Reworked music tracks (using donated tracks, and my own 'real instruments' versions of the tracks)

...and then further tweaks after that...

- Single player 'campaign' mode
- Split screen, if people actually would use it
- Addition of new artwork for backgrounds, weather, track textures & trackside objects
- Track designer.
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Old 17 December 2011, 17:59   #18
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I would find split-screen slightly unlikely on a PC, but i imagine some would still use it.

Split-screen is pretty much dead on all platforms apart from the consoles nowadays.

I understand commercial (and an Xbox 360 version) would create unneccesary headaches. Shame Microsoft don't allow free indie games, you have to charge either $1, $3 or $5.
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Old 17 December 2011, 19:51   #19
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No problem! - except I'd still consider a shareware / indie fee. (speaking as someone who's currently unemployed )

I just came across this effort while searching - interesting it mentions the Amiga.
http://wosblog.podgamer.com/2011/08/...amiga-part-xx/

As far as graphics/sprites go, the easiest way is to take an existing photo from the internet - downgrade it to 16 colours, remap the palette approprately, and then edit the final picture to look more like a video game. At least that's how you might do it for an Amiga - a PC can handle photo-perfect sprites if you really wanted. To give you a crappy example, this took me 20mins this afternoon. I know the aspect/view is not perfect for Lotus games, but it's an easy way to start...



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EDIT: I just upload my review of Lotus 1 in preparation for the EAB/Lemon competition. May be of interest?

[ Show youtube player ]

Last edited by lifeschool; 17 December 2011 at 20:47.
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Old 17 December 2011, 20:04   #20
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Cool! I'm hoping for an android port later
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