• Freejam Chris

UPDATE LIVE: New Map, Hatchback Car Parts, Controls & More

Updated: Jul 23

Update 23/07/2021 We've just pushed a hot fix which increases the CPU and power limits. Full announcement here Original Post: 22/07/2021 Hello everyone!


Open your Techblox launcher and download the update now! It features a number of additions including a new track, new hatchback vehicle parts, controllers and improvements to wheel rigs.


Download Techblox at Techblox.com


NEW JAMMER INCOMING!

There are a number of things to talk about regarding this latest update, but we wanted to first introduce you to our newest member of the team, Sonia! They are joining us as a Junior Artist and are already hard at work creating new assets for Techblox. Here’s a message from Sonia:




Please join us in welcoming them to the Techblox team!


There are a few more joining us over the coming weeks, Stay tuned for more info as we begin to really get stuck into the development of Techblox!


The Update!

Today’s update includes a number of additions and changes. One of the biggest updates is that we have removed the oval track and replaced it with a brand new one! This track doesn’t have a name just yet and still has some work to be done over the coming weeks but we hope you enjoy it.


Here are a few images of the track!




A Note on Cloud Saving

Last week we went into some detail on how Cloud Saving will work. This was planned to go live with this update but we ran into a few issues that are still being resolved. Rather than risk problems with saves and accounts we’ve decided to delay the release of Cloud Saving. We’ll have more news on the planned release soon.


Improvements to Wheels

We’ve been hard at work fixing some of the bigger complaints about the way wheels perform. In this update we’ve made a couple of changes that make vehicles feel much nicer to drive.


Friction and Longitudinal force changes

Wheels have received a significant rebalance after some changes to the way sideways friction works. This should mean vehicles will understeer less and generally perform better around turns.


Newton’s 3rd Law

Wheels will now correctly apply forces to other parts.


We’ve noticed that a number of vehicles from the community have made the underside of their vehicles out of Carbon Fibre. This presents a slight grip issue as it affects the centre of mass. We highly recommend using a heavier material for the underside of the vehicle, like Rigid Steel

New Parts

Hatchback vehicle parts

These parts fit in between the Go-Kart and the Sedan parts in terms of power and size. This gives you more flexibility to create your vehicles and machines.

  • Engine

  • Wheel Rig

  • Wheel

Here are the wheel rigs for comparison. From left to right, is the Go-Kart, Hatchback and Sedan



The wheels themselves also differ in size, width and even the tyre treads.



Here are all of the Hatchback parts in one image:



We’re also working on some new seats to go with these! As well as the usual ‘wide’ variant for the wheel. We’ll share more on those later.


Controls


These are used to interact with various powered joints! There’s some really cool things you can do with these controls. In the future we will be adding a first person view so that you can control these within the driver's seat. But we wanted to give players an opportunity to experiment with them now.

  • Button

  • Switch

  • Dial

  • Lever

  • Three-Way Switch




Comparison Math Blocks

These are brand new logic blocks. We’re looking forward to seeing what you create with these and let us know if there are any more logic blocks that you’re interested in seeing in Techblox.

  • Equal

  • Less Than

  • Greater Than

  • Less Than or Equal

  • Greater Than or Equal


Group Limit Build Rules

Group limit is a way of defining how many vehicles or creations you can take into a game. In Techblox a “group” of parts is simply a collection of parts that are attached to each other. Putting a tower of 5 cubes attached to each other is a group, so is a car where everything is connected via joints, blocks, seats and wheels. Having more groups puts more strain on the server.


Let’s say you have a standard race where you only want players to bring a single vehicle. Without a limit like this, someone could bring in a car and several walls/objects that could be placed behind them, stopping the next player from being able to race. By limiting the player to 1 group things like that could be prevented. On the other end of things you may want a catapult fight where players bring their own ammunition as separate groups.


While you’ll still have a notification at the side of the screen if you’re over the limit, one big difference between the group limit and other build rules is that you won't be restricted from leaving the garage. Instead, any groups over the limit will just not be taken onto the track. This will leave the smallest groups where possible, so if you have a car and a load of cubes spread out on the floor, you won’t end up starting without the car. The current limit for this is 100 but this will change depending on the game's rules.


Optimization Progress

We've made some good progress on optimization, but we’re still working on a few problem areas. The trees are now rendered using a system called 'impostors' in the mid to far distance and we've done a bunch of other tweaks to the environment and quality settings, but one of the main causes of performance issues is the grass (which is now disabled on Fastest) and we're working to replace that with a different grass solution for next update. We’re also tackling some issues with shadows. If you're interested in learning about Impostors check out this link https://youtu.be/G0ILW1cwuTc?t=19



Other Changes

We’ve rebalanced a lot of masses in Techblox. The general takeaway is that all masses have been reduced to 1/10th of their previous values. They’re still based on real world values, just scaled down. We did this as it improved the performance of vehicles even further in our testing, with suspension and handling feeling much better. Collisions with the rumble strips and seams were much smoother with these new values too.


These changes do mean we’ve had to tweak the stats on certain parts and joints, like the wheel rigs and engines. You may find the current values your vehicles use won’t perform the same now so these will likely need some fine tuning per vehicle. Stiffness and Damping of the springs is the biggest change.


We’ve added a new preference setting to the Settings menu that lets you default to Cursor/Crosshair mode when you enter a save. By default this will be set to Cursor mode but you can change this in the Options menu.


The ‘Scrollwheel’ output of the Seat has been removed. This control didn’t work too well due to having the camera zoom bound to the scrollwheel. It also behaved differently from the rest of the seat controls.


The ‘crosshair hints’ such as ‘[E] for Config’ that usually appear under the crosshair have been added to cursor mode too. A couple of these are still missing but will be added soon.


Bug Fixes

  • Tweaked the collision on the rumble strips to soften them and reduce flips

  • Fixed the icons used for the build rules notifications

  • Tweaked the volume of the collision audio of blocks so that they aren’t drowned out so easily

  • CPU value of the Go-Kart engine was incorrect, this has been set to 100CPU now


Known Issues

  • The difference in grass density between corner tiles and straight ones is quite noticeable. As part of the optimization process we’re looking at switching away from the current grass to something that is less GPU intensive so we felt it made more sense to focus on the switch instead of tweaking grass that’s going to be replaced soon.

  • Shadows in the Highest quality setting aren’t working as expected. We’re looking into this and we are looking to address this in a hotfix/patch

  • Vehicles will sometimes snag on the bridge, causing unintended bumps. We’re trying a few alternatives (including different bridge shapes) that we hope to release soon.

  • Controls that are on moving vehicles will have their interaction collision offset which can make it harder to grab them

Thank you everyone for your continued support, please share your thoughts on this update, along with any amazing creations you make on any of the social channels below.


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