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PostPosted: 3 Nov 2014, 21:57 
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Kuski

Joined: 3 Nov 2014, 19:38
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Hello.

I enjoy reverse engineering old games from time to time. Also I happen to be an old ElastoMania fan. Also I had some spare time recently. Three things combined, I decided to make my own attempt in remastering ElastoMania. Now I want to present the result of this work to you.

I understand that these days a lot of people show up only in EOL, so if you find this topic worthy, please spread the word there.

Quick description

Motoros is an ambitious project that aims to collect all the original ElastoMania versions in one binary, port this unified engine to modern platforms and then, hopefully, merge with an original ElastoMania.

Right now the project is in alpha stage and incorporates only ElastoMania 1.0 alpha. The source code was reverse engineered from the original ElastoMania and then was heavily refactored until it became maintainable. It is an ongoing process, and the code is constantly validated against original binary to prove that it is exactly the same. Once again, the code (therefore, look, feel and, most importantly, the physics) is exactly the same.

You can download Windows, OS X and Linux versions here.

Here is the screenshot of Motoros running on OS X along with two virtual machines, each running its own copy of Motoros:

Image

Full size version here.

FPS is not very high, especially in Windows, but that's two VMs pushing it out of my laptop. Single Motoros instance on native host is easily 200+ fps in windowed mode. Also I didn't bother to optimize the graphics pipeline yet.

Why don’t you join Elma 2 team?

Well, for several reasons. First and most important reason is that I don’t like to be a smartass, but I am. Even from the outside I see some things I don’t like in Elma 2. If I’d join Elma 2 team, it would fall apart, because I’d try to enforce my own way of doing things. And that is no good, because in the end they are making a great project.

Second, we have different goals. The goal of Elma 2 project is to make a new game with old engine. Motoros is an old game that runs on the new systems, nothing more. It is like a service pack to the original game, to make it available on modern platforms.

Also we have different priorities. Elma 2 team focuses on the new features and tries to make it more convenient for hardcore players, while I concentrate on understanding and redesigning the existing code and maintaining the original atmosphere for casual players.

Another difference is that original ElastoMania was meant to be small and quick, so is Motoros. I understand that size doesn’t matter in the modern world, but 800kb binary (plus 5mb of libraries) sadden me when I remember the original 300kb swift. So one of the priorities for Motoros is to have as small footprint as possible.

I understand that right now the project doesn’t look particularly useful for the community of hardcore ElastoMania players. Even more, I can’t promise that Motoros will ever have features that are important for the established way of playing ElastoMania (like online playing), because that’s what Elma 2 is for, and there is no point of making same things twice.

All in all, I don’t see us as competitors. Of course, once I finish porting all the ElastoMania series, and start implementing features, Motoros would become a competitor to Elma 2 (just as if Balazs decides to release new ElastoMania). But it’s long ahead, and I am not very interested in implementing features per se. If by the version 0.6 there won’t be interest neither from the community nor from Balazs, I’d rather concentrate on my other projects.

Concept of Motoros

My vision of remastering games could be expressed with the following phrase: “Don’t remake, but improve, and don’t be a pirate, but share your knowledge”.

In the context of ElastoMania, I also came up with the idea of collecting all the canonical engines in one binary, because it always frustrated me that I can’t play Action SuperCross as easily and lag-free as I can play ElastoMania.

Name Motoros wasn’t invented by me, it is an original name of Action SuperCross alpha version executable, I guess that it means “motor” in Hungarian.

Current version: 0.1

It is the first public alpha version, the port of ElastoMania alpha (also known as LGR DK).

The following features from the original version are missing:

  • External levels support;
  • Replay loading;
  • Sound (in fact it was never there in ElastoMania alpha);
  • Saving of state.dat and replays (for obvious reasons);
  • Editor;
  • Updating from Action SuperCross to ElastoMania and other shareware-specific features.

Also I added four features:

  • To compensate to absence of state.dat, all levels are open for all players;
  • FPS counter to track how code changes affect FPS rate;
  • Switching to fullscreen (default is windowed mode);
  • A demo-feature of drawing interactive polygons inside the game, just to make it obvious that I indeed possess freely modifiable source code and didn’t somehow wrapped original ElastoMania in the new binary to fool everyone (if this assumption made any sense to you). Interactive topology is disabled in multiplayer mode.

Known bugs:

  • In OS X version it’s impossible to switch from fullscreen back to windowed mode because of SDL bug;
  • Escape keystroke in game is propagated to menu, resulting in going one level up from level menu;
  • Ingame timer can't be toggled;
  • Ingame timer and navigator are not displayed in replays;
  • Window icon is missing;

Also, the gameplay might feel different for now, because I haven’t verified it against Windows version yet, and I had to make a handful of changes so it would work with SDL. Please report any differences and bugs you notice either at https://github.com/crunkoy/motoros/issues, or in this topic.

The roadmap

The approximate release dates are as following:

    0.1 — this release, ElastoMania alpha, experimental Windows, OS X and Linux support.
    [15.12.14] 0.2 — ElastoMania 1.0, 1.1, 1.11, 1.11a (registered and shareware versions), external levels enabled, sound enabled.
    [12.01.15] 0.3 — ElastoMania 1.11h, 1.2, demo-feature removed, saving enabled, experimental adjustable resolution support.
    [02.02.15] 0.4 — Action SuperCross alpha (also known as motoros).
    [23.03.15] 0.5 — Action SuperCross 1.0, 1.1 (registered and shareware versions).
    [04.05.15] 0.6 — Action SuperCross 1.2, 1.3 (registered and shareware versions).

Once all the engines are collected and refactored, I will either team up with Balazs if he is interested, or continue by myself if the community is interested.

Legal status and the original author

I am aware that reverse engineering of ElastoMania is prohibited by its EULA. However I ignored it for 2 reasons:

  • I consider my case to be fair use;
  • ElastoMania EULA doesn’t have much legal force in my country of residence.

In order to keep “fair use” reason valid, Motoros won’t ever be a commercial software, and won’t contain any copyrighted ElastoMania game resources.

Also, from what I heard, Balazs is a great person, and he brought us a lot of pleasure with this game, and apparently keeping game engine in secret is a big deal for him, therefore the reverse engineered source code and any significant portions of code derived from the refactoring process won’t be publicly released under any circumstances unless Balazs gives specific permission.

The source code won’t be privately shared with anyone until I decide to stop working on this project.

Motoros is not the next version of ElastoMania. The binary version of the project must be considered as unofficial patch to the original version, therefore any new features and errors should be attributed to the author of the patch, but all the praise for the original game should go to the original author.

Motoros is provided as-is. You can do whatever you want with it, but don’t sell it or tamper with copyright information. I assume no liability for damages, direct or consequential, from use of Motoros.

Reverse engineering process and code facts

Reverse engineering took roughly 240 hours. Refactoring and porting took roughly 60 hours. I have recovered all the code from ElastoMania except for the editor. I made heavy use of LGR DK and BeOS versions of ElastoMania to make the code as close to the original as possible. Most of the names of the classes were kept. Most of the functions and variables were renamed because I didn’t understand Hungarian names.

There are 64 source code files and 63 header files with total of 482416 bytes in 22860 lines of code.

Tools used: IDA 6.6, Hex-Rays 2.0, Sublime Text 2, Watcom C++ 10.6, XCode 6.1, Microsoft Visual C++ 2010, gcc 4.8, and plenty of home-brewn scripts.

The description of the process is to be released next week on http://oldgames.today/

We are hiring

(Actually we aren’t, but I always wanted to say that phrase)

Mototros is developed as part of Old Games Today project, and it’s not the only game port that we work on. Currently we have 3 ongoing projects, and plenty more in plans. The basic idea is to create community that keeps old games up to date with modern world and hopefully involves original authors in this process.

We always welcome old games fans that want to help us. Currently we are looking for:

  • Reverse engineers with adequate understanding of game mechanics, passion for games, coding discipline and ability to keep things private;
  • Game developers with adequate understanding of C++, low-level specifics and code optimisation, passion for games, coding discipline and ability to keep things private;
  • Site maintainer that is accurate and detailed, can write in English and search things on the internet;
  • Graphic designer with basic sense of beauty and passion for 2D graphics.

If such fellows happen to read this, feel free to send email to crunkoy@gmail.com

We have no money, but we can offer plenty of experience and probably some recognition.

That’s all

Thanks for reading. Have fun with the game. Hope to return with the next version in a month and a half.


Last edited by crunkoy on 21 Nov 2014, 22:08, edited 9 times in total.

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PostPosted: 4 Nov 2014, 20:19 
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Wow. I'm surprised no one has replied yet, because this is a really interesting post! I'm not a programmer myself, nor am I that excited about developing Elasto Mania to be honest (I kinda like it the way it is, and I play it for what it is), but I can still appreciate the effort and the passion you have put into this project! To be honest though, what I find even more amazing is how you registered here just now but you still know about elma2 and eol and everything it seems. You sure do your research!

I'm sorry that I can't add anything substantial to this topic, but I just wanted to say I'm impressed and somewhat flattered that you would join us here and make such an informative post and everything. I wish you the best of luck with your project!

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PostPosted: 4 Nov 2014, 21:35 
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Kuski

Joined: 30 Apr 2007, 13:20
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Nice. Have you already figured out the logic behind all the physics calculations elma makes to give the bike that elastic feeling?


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PostPosted: 4 Nov 2014, 22:56 
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Kuski
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Igge wrote:
To be honest though, what I find even more amazing is how you registered here just now but you still know about elma2 and eol and everything it seems. You sure do your research
I was thinking exactly the same the whole time too!

I like the idea to make it supported on iOS, not that I will ever use it tho xD I remember when I was young, I went to visit someone that had a mac and tried to install elma, but didnt work, i was sad :(

Can you explain Interactive topology more, I still don't understand the concept.

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PostPosted: 5 Nov 2014, 23:50 
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Kuski

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I decided that there’s no point in holding Windows version for 1.5 months, so you can download it from the project homepage. Windows 32-bit version was tested on Windows XP 32-bit, Windows 7 32-bit, and Windows 10 Technical preview 64-bit. Windows 64-bit version was tested on Windows 10 Technical preview 64-bit.

You might need to install Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable Package to launch it on some old versions of Windows.

Linux versions are due tomorrow.

Igge wrote:
Wow. I'm surprised no one has replied yet, because this is a really interesting post! I'm not a programmer myself, nor am I that excited about developing Elasto Mania to be honest (I kinda like it the way it is, and I play it for what it is), but I can still appreciate the effort and the passion you have put into this project! To be honest though, what I find even more amazing is how you registered here just now but you still know about elma2 and eol and everything it seems. You sure do your research!

Thank you.

There’s nothing unusual in my knowledge about Elma 2, EOL and other matters. Game reverse engineering and porting is a very time-consuming process, and there’s no point in spending this amount of time if the job is already done, so indeed I did my research to avoid this kind of frustrating occasion.

I think I understand your not-that-excitement about changing ElastoMania, but on the other hand I don’t see anything wrong in developing ElastoMania as long as successful versions are kept untouched. That’s like the evolution, but with backups.

Anyway, from your reaction I guess that I highlighted wrong points in my post, and made an impression that I aim to change ElastoMania. That’s not the case. The project is not about developing ElastoMania, it is about bringing it to modern platforms exactly as it is along with it’s predecessors.

Ropelli wrote:
Nice. Have you already figured out the logic behind all the physics calculations elma makes to give the bike that elastic feeling?

I am no physicist, and I was never much excited about figuring out ElastoMania physics. Besides, ElastoMania code seems to be not very compatible with my way of thinking, which makes it hard to digest. So I didn’t dig into physics code yet. Just made sure it matches the original and renamed functions and variables to the best of my understanding. Of course I will try to understand it completely one day, but it’s not the priority for now.

All in all, from the first glance, there is no more than 200 lines of code that is responsible for the inter-bike physics.

Mawane wrote:
Can you explain Interactive topology more, I still don't understand the concept.

Interactive topology is like a level editor inside the game. Left mouse button adds a vertex to the current polygon or starts a new one if there’s no current polygon. If the current vertex is in the neighbourhood of 10 pixels from the first vertex, polygon closes and becomes uneditable. Right mouse button deletes the last vertex of the current polygon.

Every edge (even those of unclosed polygon) behaves as if it was in the original level (you can’t drive through it, and it can kill you). You can not modify existing level, only add new polygons.

It’s fun to play with for some time (better with a partner because it’s hard to handle both mouse and keyboard simultaneously), but in the end it’s pure technical demonstration feature, no practical use intended. Probably it can give start to the new kind of contests where you should modify the level in real-time in order to cut the time, but I don’t think so. Or, if I make it’s functionality more advanced, it can be used for interactive level designing, but I don’t think so either.


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PostPosted: 6 Nov 2014, 08:01 
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I like this project for many reasons.

* I have never played all versions of across and don't own them. Same with the alpha version of elma. Finding them just to play around with historical things is something I never get around to. I don't even know how the across specific internal levels look.
* I know some mans have talked about having troubles opening replays in Across. If we get working versions for newer platforms we can make the across done quick video easily maybe.
* Another great use is the ability to stream elma for speedrunning purposes or other cool stuff that is not possible (without playing with 40 fps??) today.
* Interactive level editor with vroming and editing at the same time sounds like something Lousku and b0ne would use for years. Ofc this would require editing of the original polygon(s). I don't see any contests unless this makes it online.
Imagine multi battles where the second player draws the polygons in real time while the first player vroms. It's like on the fly redesign cup battle.
* It aims to keep the experience of elma/across intact and just update the things that need updating.

But I am also sceptical when I read this topic, some random man appears in the scene and knows everything and posts a serious project with links to some website which barely has any content and asks for donations.
No offense intended, it's just that nothing ever happens in the elma scene. Also I haven't had the chance to test version 0.1.

I look forward to seeing the progress of this project, good luck osv!

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PostPosted: 7 Nov 2014, 00:10 
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Kuski

Joined: 3 Nov 2014, 19:38
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Linux 64-bit version is available for download. Turns out, desktop Linux is not very consistent and friendly in terms of binary distribution, so for now it’s just a binary, no icon, no installation package. This version was tested only on Ubuntu 14.04 64-bit. It would be awesome if someone with a different distro tests it.

You have to have libsdl2 installed in order to launch it. You can install it from the package repository of your distro.

Linux 32-bit version to follow.

bene wrote:
I like this project for many reasons.

* I have never played all versions of across and don't own them. Same with the alpha version of elma. Finding them just to play around with historical things is something I never get around to. I don't even know how the across specific internal levels look.
* I know some mans have talked about having troubles opening replays in Across. If we get working versions for newer platforms we can make the across done quick video easily maybe.
* Another great use is the ability to stream elma for speedrunning purposes or other cool stuff that is not possible (without playing with 40 fps??) today.
* Interactive level editor with vroming and editing at the same time sounds like something Lousku and b0ne would use for years. Ofc this would require editing of the original polygon(s). I don't see any contests unless this makes it online.
Imagine multi battles where the second player draws the polygons in real time while the first player vroms. It's like on the fly redesign cup battle.
* It aims to keep the experience of elma/across intact and just update the things that need updating.

But I am also sceptical when I read this topic, some random man appears in the scene and knows everything and posts a serious project with links to some website which barely has any content and asks for donations.
No offense intended, it's just that nothing ever happens in the elma scene. Also I haven't had the chance to test version 0.1.

I look forward to seeing the progress of this project, good luck osv!

Thank you for your response. Multi redesign battles is a neat idea, I don’t mind sharing my interactive topology code if someone wants to integrate it in EOL.

None offense taken. It’s just that you have to start somewhere. Motoros was the first project ready for publication, and here it is. If it was, say, StarCraft instead of ElastoMania, I’d go to battle.net forums and reddit instead of Mopolauta. Also I should note that I am not here for money, it's quite obvious to me that porting non-mainstream games is definitely non-profitable.

Why don’t you test? All major desktop platforms are supported now :)


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PostPosted: 7 Nov 2014, 01:49 
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An interesting project if nothing else for the ability to play older versions, most noticably across, on modern computers for a bit of nostalgia. I wasn't aware of the existance of an alpha version of Elma, I'm curious as to what the differences is, since all the lacking features I noticed you mentioned you had omitted.

I tested out the Windows version. First ting I noticed was a keypress delay in the menu, which was a bit annoying but luckily not present when actually playing. The graphics are twicthing/jerking a bit, but aside from that it feels natural to play and it runs in semi high fps. So the physics are in fact in tact and it's quite playable.

For others that are testing, since the readme.txt is lacking linebreaks, you need an elma.res in the folder and an LGR folder with a default.lgr in it. EOL elma.res crashes the game when you open a level, but elma 1.1 elma.res works.

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PostPosted: 7 Nov 2014, 03:06 
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I would be looking forward a fix to OS version compatibility issues, for example elma on windows 8 was very laggy as I tried. Hope we still can play elma in 15 years without need to have a windows 1998 to windows 7 :/

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PostPosted: 7 Nov 2014, 22:13 
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Mawane wrote:
I would be looking forward a fix to OS version compatibility issues, for example elma on windows 8 was very laggy as I tried. Hope we still can play elma in 15 years without need to have a windows 1998 to windows 7 :/
I think, not Motoros but Elma 2 will allow us to play it on the newest OSs without lagging.

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PostPosted: 7 Nov 2014, 22:55 
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Kuski

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Linux version 32-bit is ready. Was tested on Ubuntu 14.04 32-bit. Also fixed Windows version readme linebreaks and added installation instructions for Linux versions. Now all major desktop platforms are covered, and I don’t plan any updates before version 0.2. However, I will post progress reports from time to time.

Kopaka wrote:
An interesting project if nothing else for the ability to play older versions, most noticably across, on modern computers for a bit of nostalgia. I wasn't aware of the existance of an alpha version of Elma, I'm curious as to what the differences is, since all the lacking features I noticed you mentioned you had omitted.

I tested out the Windows version. First ting I noticed was a keypress delay in the menu, which was a bit annoying but luckily not present when actually playing. The graphics are twicthing/jerking a bit, but aside from that it feels natural to play and it runs in semi high fps. So the physics are in fact in tact and it's quite playable.

For others that are testing, since the readme.txt is lacking linebreaks, you need an elma.res in the folder and an LGR folder with a default.lgr in it. EOL elma.res crashes the game when you open a level, but elma 1.1 elma.res works.

ElastoMania Alpha is how I name LGR DK. If you hexedit LGR DK so it would skip LGR building stuff, it becomes fully playable ElastoMania for DOS. But it also includes code for building elma.res, elmaupg.res, converting pcx to font, splitting huge PCX into smaller ones (aka APARTPIC), and encrypting readme.txt (did you notice that ElastoMania readme.txt keeps appearing if you delete it? that’s because there’s an encrypted version of readme.txt inside of elma.res). So LGR DK is in fact a developer version of ElastoMania, suitable both for developing game resources and testing them.

I believe that 90% of ElastoMania was developed for DOS, but then Balasz realised that Windows is already a much more popular gaming platform, so he quickly ported ElastoMania, but was too lazy to pay attention to his developer version of ElastoMania, which was subsequently released as LGR DK. From the state of the code, I’d say that LGR DK outdates ElastoMania 1.0 for Windows by no more than a couple of months.

Most noticeable differences from Windows version are:

  • External levels are not supported.
  • No sound.
  • Timer is always ON in game.
  • No timer and navigator in replays.
  • Different keyboard, mouse, video and timing backend. Windows version uses DirectX and Windows Media layer, DOS version works with hardware directly.
  • Because of different video backend, there is a handful of minor differences in every level of graphics pipeline (from the high-level abstractions down to double buffering details).
  • Only 2 internal levels are available.
  • Wheels are not rotating.
  • Biker sits lower and his head is shaking.

In Motoros 0.1 I only fixed the latter 3 issues. Because of shaky head I also supposed that other physics details might be different, but turns out it is ok.

Can you please describe graphics glitches in more detail? Screenshot or even video is preferable. Motoros uses OpenGL as backend, probably that is the reason, but can be my code fault as well.

Mawane wrote:
I would be looking forward a fix to OS version compatibility issues, for example elma on windows 8 was very laggy as I tried. Hope we still can play elma in 15 years without need to have a windows 1998 to windows 7 :/

Well, Motoros 0.1 was tested on Windows 10 (which is a direct successor to Windows 8 ) and it was just fine. Hope someone can test it on Windows 8 but my guess is it’d be okay.


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PostPosted: 17 Nov 2014, 17:08 
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Kuski

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As there's not much interest in here, I guess there's no rush in keeping up with the proposed schedule, that's why I decided to shift it 1 month forward and work on another game port in the freed time. All in all the next Motoros release is likely to be in January.

The article covering the reverse engineering process is postponed for the same reason.

However, I still visit Mopolauta and read PMs etc, so feel free to post bugreports and stuff.


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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2014, 00:51 
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I really like your project, keep it up. (y)

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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2014, 04:42 
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I'm interested in across at least :) Would be cool if change phisics in it too, to get ride of "braking" in random spots.

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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2014, 06:41 
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crunkoy wrote:
  • Only 2 internal levels are available.
  • Wheels are not rotating.
  • Biker sits lower and his head is shaking.

In Motoros 0.1 I only fixed the latter 3 issues. Because of shaky head I also supposed that other physics details might be different, but turns out it is ok.

Biker sits lower sounds like something that does affect the playability. Is this really something that should be fixed?
Lower biker = different head position = different death cases.

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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2014, 18:11 
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I think the lack of interest is because people want to compete in the game. Do the replays from your game work in normal Elma? Even if you get Elma to run on all platforms, the times won't be "official" as they're not driven in EOL. Also I think people have managed to get EOL working with all the new devices? Well dunno about Mac, but that's shit anyway so nobody cares

Across however is the interesting thing here. It'd be nice to play the classic game again with it's tricky-to-master corner behaviour.

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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2014, 22:02 
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bene wrote:
Biker sits lower sounds like something that does affect the playability. Is this really something that should be fixed?
Lower biker = different head position = different death cases.

In this particular case it is not a different physics engine, but a debug leftover. There is a code that calculates the position of the biker relative to wheels and then this position is replaced with constant value. This sudden and unjustified change of the position breaks the law of conservation of energy, that's why the head shakes. Perhaps, Balazs only only wanted to test some particular physics case, and he obviously didn't intend to leave it like this, so I fixed it.
Of course it affects the gameplay, and perhaps I should return it as an option in the next release to preserve historical accuracy, but it really is not that interesting.

Orcc wrote:
I think the lack of interest is because people want to compete in the game. Do the replays from your game work in normal Elma? Even if you get Elma to run on all platforms, the times won't be "official" as they're not driven in EOL.

Oh, you got me wrong. I don't blame lauta people, nor pity myself for the lack of interest. It was obvious from the very beginning that the port made for casual playing won't meet much interest in here. Also, it is not my game, it's the original game, just recompiled for modern platforms. So the replays are compatible, yes. However, they are intentionally disabled in alpha version. And of course Motoros can't be used for making any "official" records. Initially it was stated in the topic start, but then this part was lost for some reason. Now I put it back.

Orcc wrote:
Also I think people have managed to get EOL working with all the new devices? Well dunno about Mac, but that's shit anyway so nobody cares

Well, there are some topics about new Windows versions, and about Linux, and about Mac, and that hints me that there is a problem. There are some solutions to this problem, yes. I suppose, however, that most people are not happy to use these workarounds, and they would prefer to use the game that runs natively on their system. For example, the last two posts in "Linux workaround for Elasto Mania" topic are "please make one".

Orcc wrote:
Across however is the interesting thing here. It'd be nice to play the classic game again with it's tricky-to-master corner behaviour.

Sure, working on it.

Labs wrote:
I'm interested in across at least :) Would be cool if change phisics in it too, to get ride of "braking" in random spots.

I prefer to keep the original game intact. However, I will add an option to fix wheel jams, that's an easy fix.


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2015, 07:02 
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Hot kuski
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Any update?

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PostPosted: 16 Jan 2015, 00:39 
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Kuski

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Hi. As told earlier, I lowered the priority of Motoros in favor of other projects, so I don't have a new release so far. There are news, however:

  1. I offered Balazs to merge Motoros with current ElastoMania version and requested Action SuperCross source code. He understandably declined.
  2. Realizing that polishing ElastoMania support in Motoros won't make it any more useable for most people, I switched to Action SuperCross which was a rather popular request in this thread. I think that the release of Action SuperCross 1.0 port will take anywhere from two weeks to one month from today. Stay tuned.


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PostPosted: 20 Jan 2015, 13:01 
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Kuski

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oke i'm in


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PostPosted: 3 Dec 2015, 15:52 
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35mins club
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Do you have any update on the Across port?

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PostPosted: 3 Dec 2015, 17:35 
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Kuski
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he said it will be one month max. It's been just one year so far, so be patient, Bjenn.

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