At the end of last month the VDrift project did their first snapshot release in more than a year for this open-source drift racing game that's supported on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X operating systems. The VDrift 2010-06-30 snapshot incorporates a great deal of changes, among which are a rewritten physics engine and a new deferred rendering engine that brings a great deal of visual improvements to this free software game. In this article are some screenshots on this OpenGL racing game and more of the new work found within this release.
VDrift may not be as popular of an open-source game as Nexuiz or Warsow, but this game has been around for a number of years and is a game that we have been monitoring at Phoronix for years -- especially as it is just not yet-another-first-person-shooter open-source game. The VDrift game is also comprised of its own game engine that has been built-up over the past half-decade and still is actively being developed. The key highlights of the VDrift 2010-06-30 snapshot is the rewritten physics engine, a new deferred rendering engine, meshes for brake rotors and other improved meshes on wheels and wires, bug-fixes and tweaks to control input management, and new sounds.
When it comes to the driving and rewritten physics engine (VDrift also leverages the Bullet Physics Engine within their engine) there are performance improvements and the simulation accuracy has greatly improved. There are also new constraint-based simulations for the suspension and clutch, rolling drag and resistance has been added back, there is now support for rollover recovery, the wheel collision and chassis collision methods have been changed, and there are various other car physics improvements made over the past year.
Beyond the physics, the graphics within VDrift 2010-06-30 are significantly better than in the past, as shown by the screenshots captured within this article. The new graphics features are normal maps, screen-space ambient occlusion, HDR (High Dynamic Range) rendering, soft particles, data-driven deferred renderer, hierarchical frustum culling for static geometry, dynamic reflections, and enabled texture compression for large textures.
Some of the improvements to this game outside of physics and graphics are car color customization support, improved throttle and clutch management, and new sounds for the gear, brake, and handbrake. This release of VDrift is also carrying some patches I personally developed for improving the benchmarking capabilities within the game's engine. VDrift 2010-06-30 can also be tested via the Phoronix Test Suite and with the new capabilities exposed now by the engine. I will also be committing other patches to VDrift in the future to further enhance its GPU/driver benchmarking capabilities.
While VDrift is no Gran Turismo or other high-end computer racing game, it is very good for being an open-source project. The game can be fun and its graphics are great even when compared to other more GPU-weighted games for Linux, including those that are closed-source. In fact, the screenshots within this article are not exhibiting the maxed-out graphics capabilities and even when running the game with a mid-range graphics card with a proprietary graphics driver the frame-rates were only modest. The VDrift engine now boasts some impressive graphics capabilities, but the downfall now is mostly the maps, cars, and other models not being the most polished. VDrift is also missing a number of features still, from on the simple side there not being skid marks when braking behind vehicles in the 2010-06-30 release to more advanced functionality like the network (Internet/LAN) racing still being a work in progress. VDrift though is an interesting and promising open-source drift racing game that is worth trying out and can be downloaded for free at VDrift.net.
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