SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
Linux gamers all over the world will be happy to hear that a new version of SuperTuxKart is available. This should strike a nostalgic chord to people who have used desktop Linux to play games during the past ten years.
At first glance, it bears more than a passing resemblance to Mario Kart, but it has its own charm. With a number of unique tracks and game modes, the gameplay is quite different (but still very familiar).
SuperTuxKart has been maturing for more than ten years now, but the developers have kept improving the graphics and performance with each new release. Version 0.9.2 also brings several new features and content.
Ghost replays allow you to record a race and then attempt to beat yourself. The AI has been improved, so the computer opponents put up more of a fight during races. Combat mode and soccer mode both benefit from AI upgrades as well.
There also is a new Kart Characteristics feature that allows you to modify the physics characteristics of the karts. You can give yourself a tougher challenge or alter the gravity for comical effects.
Fans who were hoping for networked multiplayer mode will be disappointed as the code isn't quite ready for production yet. The mode has been coded, but it's still too glitchy, leading to a bad experience during testing. Hopefully, they'll iron out the glitches in time for the next release.
This version also includes a couple new race. With a name that reminds me of H. P. Lovecraft, "Antediluvian Abyss" was previously part of the "gift pack" (which I cover shortly). "Volcano Island" is a submission from a new team member.
Additionally, Ozone0ne and Krobonil have lent their musical talents, composing new tunes for several race tracks.
Beneath the hood, there have been several improvements that most users may not notice. For instance, the application now uses TTF fonts, which means it has better support for internationalization. Previously, there were some glyphs that did not render correctly for languages other than English. Now the game can render characters from all of the most common languages.
The SuperTuxKart team also has released plugins for Blender, so you can create your own tracks and game assets. As an open-source project, it's possible to take an active role in developing the game by creating new race tracks or arenas, or you could help code new features.
The team is looking for sponsors, and it has a special gift for anyone who donates at least $5 to the project. The "gift pack" provides early access to racetracks and arenas that will be released with the next version. These donations help cover the costs of web hosting and fund the development of new features.
SuperTuxKart is a fun diversion. For budding game developers, the source code contains plenty of practical lessons. Contributing to open-source projects is a great way to "learn the ropes."
With networked multiplayer mode in the pipeline, the next version could become a major time drain!