From archive: November 2012 X
The first impression a user has of their race is the most important. It's vital that players are able to see all of the information in order to interpret the game around them. However, too much information can easily overwhelm a new player and make them lose interest. With Coderally, we've taken several steps to ensure users have the best visual experience possible when they play a race.
Three Second Pause
When a race starts, there is a three second pause before the races begins playing. This pause allows the user to see the track, their cars, and get a brief feel for the game environment without feeling like they are jumping off a virtual cliff. This pause isn't just an empty delay that might annoy users - it shows a traffic light countdown to green and keeps their focus on the center of the race.
Some of the tracks are large. They have lots of turns, and can go off-screen, especially on smaller screens or mobile devices. Coderally will pan and follow the player's car, but it's important to be aware of the rest of the track, especially if you aren't sure where the other players are. A minimap offers a visual way to show where other cars are on the race, without needing to display the entire track.
Name Tags & Lap Indicators
It's easy to lose track of which car is yours when watching a fast paced race or violent collision. Name tags that show which car is yours and which are other players provide an easy way to tell cars apart.
Lap indicators allow players to know when the last lap starts, and whether any cars have finished the race. In the upper right corner, it displays a yellow light when any car starts their final lap. It displays a red light when any car finishes the race.
Code Rally features race track environments rendered in a simplistic style with cut-out images and multiple layers of color.
The image sample below showcases the different layers of colors and textures of the Sky Track environment.
How were these graphics created?
The visuals implemented in Code Rally are created using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Adobe Photoshop is a pixel based software and Adobe Illustrator is a vector based software which creates smoother, flatter looking graphics. A distinctive characteristic regarding vector images is that they can be scaled up or down to any size and maintain the same quality. To incorporate vector based art into Photoshop and to maintain the flexibility in scaling, the artwork has to be converted into a smart object. The next time you take a look at the game, see if you can identify which graphics were created in Photoshop and which ones in Illustrator.
All the environment (background) graphics start off as a standard 1024x768 pixel artboard. The backgrounds are made up of a mixture of Photoshop tools and real photographs which are edited and enhanced to blend in seamlessly. Some of the photographs used are mostly of textures found in nature, for example rock, sand or grass which are then adjusted and scaled down to the appropriate size. All the environments have a fairly neutral, toned down color palette overall which enables the viewer to focus more on the vehicles, objects or specimens racing along the track. More contrast and a range of vibrant colors are added to the vehicles in the game as they are smaller elements within the environment.
Stay tuned for my next entry, where I will show you how to create one of these vehicles!
In order to develop your own artificial intelligence to control your vehicle, we developed an event-based system in the game engine. Throughout a race, the engine will throw out certain events at vehicles, and the AIs will call their corresponding method to respond to that event. The AI classes use an API that controls your vehicle, with access to how much you are accelerating and where you want your car to turn. In future releases, we hope to add more events, and more control over your car. For example, it would be cool to have access to special speed boosts and weapons your car may contain. Below is a simple explanation of the current Race Events and API Calls you will look at when programming your vehicle.
The following methods are in the AI interface that you will have to implement to get your car running.
You will use the following API calls to manipulate your vehicle. The list is separated into calls that will give you information, and methods you will use to control your car. More will be added to this list over time.