Performa Cars released as Freeware

The old 2D top down racing game Performa Cars (previously known as Computer Touring Car Championship, or CTCC) has been released as Freeware =)

The game features 18 cars which can be tuned between races by purchasing parts such as turbos, performance chips, intercoolers, suspension, tires, etc.

Cars will take damage upon collision affecting both the visual look of the car as well as performance. If you don’t visit the pit lane for repairs before it’s too late you risk blowing up for a DNF result.

Play it as a single player against up to 7 AI controlled computer cars or two players locally using split screen with up to 6 AI controlled computer cars.

12 different circuits ranging from small sand tracks to large race tracks allow for a lot of fun and tight racing. The track design was inspired by the 90 degree angles of Supercars on the Amiga. Some tracks also features hazards such as trains that I suggest you either beat to the train crossing – or stop until they have passed unless you want your car to be permanently destroyed.

The long story

I originally started developing the game following a motocross accident where I broke my collar bone back in 2001. Initial progress was great and I had a lot of energy and passion for the game. It was one of my first attempts to make a game and I learned a lot of useful stuff in the process.

I still have a lot of passion for the game genre (top down racers) but I feel that it is not worth to put any additional efforts into this particular game any more due to a number of reasons.

First of all, the game uses non-accelerated 2D graphics and it was designed for computers made in the mid to late 1990s. Modern computers of today have awesome performance, but the 2D engine in Blitz Basic (the language used to develop the game) don’t take any advantage of this new performance unless you re-code the game to use 3D accelerated 2D graphics – and that requires a fairly large rewrite due to how Performa Cars was designed.

Secondly, I always wanted Performa Cars to be a multiplayer game playable across the internet and LANs. Unfortunately I went deep into development without first researching multiplayer gaming and by the time I nearly had a finished game it turned out that it just wasn’t possible to make it into a networkable game.

Why you may ask? Well… As I mentioned above, I was new to game development at the time and I based the logic updates on the assumption that the game would run at a constant frame rate of 60FPS. As it turned out, of course, computers run at different refresh rates which then meant the game would run at different speeds on different computer. That’s NOT good =)

Another problem basing the logic engine on the screen refresh rate was that the game would not only run at different speeds on different computers, the cars also behave differently – skid more on some machines – a lot of grip on another machine.

I tried to fix the problem by analyzing the refresh rate by calculating a multiplier value for the game logic. That sort of works, but that’s not how you do it =)

Today I know better. Keep the game engine running at a set frequency, say 100Hz, and tween the graphics to make it smooth. Making that happen for Perofma Cars would mean a large re-write again.

All this in mind; I decided to release the game as a freeware for everyone to enjoy despite the glitches being an alpha version.

I will now be focusing on AstroFighter.net – a game where I avoid all the pitfalls I learned about during Performa Cars. It runs with a separate logic engine and 3D accelerated 2D-style top down graphics and, most importantly, I had it running in multiplayer from the very beginning to ensure the entire game is developed for that purpose.

My plan is to develop AstroFighter.net with a clear conscious that Performa Cars at least is available as a freeware for everyone rather than aging year in and year out on my hard drive.

If all goes well – I will also take my knowledge from AstroFighter.net and reboot my passion for top down racers and make a modern version of Performa Cars designing it the right way from the start.

But for now – enjoy Performa Cars =)

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