Introducing Top Speed version 3.0 - Final


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Playing in the Dark and Ruby AccessWare are proud to present Top Speed version 3.0 - the final release of the popular, accessible freeware racing game that uses only audio and an optional force-feedback joystick to communicate with the player. As with the prior version of Top Speed, this new version includes a multi-player mode, up to seven computer opponents to race against, and the ability to create your own tracks and vehicles. However, there are also some exciting new features, and numerous bug fixes and improvements which will be discussed in this official release announcement. Note 1: This version of Top Speed contains some changes to the way in which vehicle files are read which means that vehicle files written for earlier versions of the game are incompatible with this release. Please see section 1.4.1 below for more information. This does not apply to custom tracks written for older versions of the game, these will continue to be compatible with this release. Note 2: Be sure to also read Section 2.1, as it describes a number of minor yet interesting new features and hotkeys.

Table of Contents

1.    New features
1.1   New tracks
1.2   New vehicles
1.2.1 The user vehicle contest
1.2.2 Other new vehicles
1.3   Additions and changes to custom tracks
1.3.1 New syntax for track files
1.3.2 New surfaces
1.3.3 New sounds
1.3.4 New ambiences
1.3.5 New weather types
1.4   Additions and changes to custom vehicles
1.4.1 New syntax for vehicle files
1.4.2 New parameters
1.4.3 Backfire
1.5   New language and soundpack features
1.5.1 Switching languages
1.5.2 New folder structure
1.5.3 Providing more variation in soundpacks
1.6   Improved installer
1.7   New hotkeys
1.8   New settings
2.    Minor changes, improvements and bug fixes
2.1   Minor changes and improvements
2.2   Bug fixes
3.    Known issues
4.    Credits and donating
5.    Download and contact information

1. New features
This section discusses the most significant new features added since Top Speed version 2.0.

1.1 New tracks
Top Speed version 3.0 contains the following new tracks:
- Brazil, China, Finland, France, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland: All new race tracks, varying from easy to surprisingly tough. - Rally through the desert: A long street adventure that can be quite relaxing but also quite dangerous. - Polar escape: A lovely track with only the easiest curves. But is it as easy as it seems? - Rush hour: Drive through a city while the road around you is constantly being worked on, causing a not so welcome distraction. - Several existing street adventures have also been updated, for example to use a new surface type or a new ambient sound. See sections 1.3.2 through 1.3.5 for details on how to use these new features yourself.

1.2 New vehicles
This section summarizes the new vehicles introduced with Top Speed versions 2.1 and 3.0.
1.2.1 The user vehicle contest
Last year Playing In The Dark asked the accessible gaming community to submit their custom vehicles, promising to include the best in the final release of the game as a built-in vehicle which could be used in all playing modes. The winning car from this contest, the Corola, is now available for everybody to play! Congratulations, Luk Hosnedl!
1.2.2 Other new vehicles
Additionally, the following new cars and motorcycles can be used:
- Pickup truck: The pickup truck, well known from older Dutch releases, is now back in the game.
- The classic: A shiny, fast, four-geared allrounder.
- The speedy S3: Another Audi, race with elegance.
- The old schoolbus: This is one of the two new vehicles that utilize the new backfire parameter to create a more realistic experience (see section 1.4.3 for details). - Chopper: This new, exciting motorcycle also boasts a custom backfire sound. - Several existing vehicles have also been updated, for example to have a different brake sound.

1.3 Additions and changes to custom tracks
If you are a custom track designer, then read this section carefully to learn about the various new and changed features related to track building. Note: As opposed to older custom vehicles, custom tracks made for Top Speed version 2.0 will still work with this new release.
1.3.1 New syntax for track files
To make the process of creating a custom track more flexible, Top Speed version 3.0 allows writing a track's parameters in four columns as opposed to the old three-column system. A column is defined the same as in other types of tables. For example, the following row contains three values (i.e. three parts of columns):
0 0 15000
This line defines a straight part of the road, with asphalt as the surface, for a length of 15000 units. Using the new system, you would write:
0 0 0 15000
This will have exactly the same effect. For many tracks the old system of defining Curve, Surface and Length will suffice, although it is recommended that you use the new four-column system when writing new tracks. It is even possible to mix the two systems, but this too is not recommended. The old system may be used for extremely large track files that will be shared in multi-player mode, because the new forth column adds to the filesize, but apart from that the new system is generally faster and allows you to define sounds more accurately. The information stored in the first value of each row is now split between the first and the third value of that row. The new column headers could thus be named Curve, Surface, Ambient Sound and Length. In other words, the type of the curve (straight, left, hairpin left) and the noise that is to be heard during that particular part of the road (none, crowd, airplane) can now be seperately defined. The following list shows which curves can be used. See the following two sections for a list of surfaces and ambient sounds.
- Straight: 0
- Easy left: 1
- Left: 2
- Hard left: 3
- Hairpin left: 4
- Easy right: 5
- Right: 6
- Hard right: 7
- Hairpin right: 8
The obvious benefit of this system is that you can now also play sounds in curves, whereas with the old system you could only trigger sounds on straight parts of the track. But there is more. If you specify the same ambient sound for multiple parts of the track in sequence, then the total length of these parts is calculated and the sound will play for that entire part, including correct fade-in and fade-out effects where applicable. If you need to convert a value from the first column of the old system into two values for use with the first and third columns, simply subtract 8 from the number. Notice that 8 represents the number of available curves. For example, consider the following definition:
0 1 1 20000
7 0 1 25000
0 0 1 20000
0 2 0 30000
This would start fading in the sound of a cheering crowd as soon as the player drives onto the straight part with gravel as the surface type. The sound would then reach its maximum volume in the hard right on asphalt, and from there fade out. It would stop playing as soon as the player reaches the area with water as surface type. As you can see this makes building tracks a lot more flexible. This, together with the new ambient sounds available in version 3.0, is especially useful for designing street adventures.
1.3.2 New surfaces
This release contains two new surfaces, sand and snow. Other surface sounds have also been optimized. The following is a complete list of the available surfaces for use in custom tracks.
- Asphalt: 0
- Gravel: 1
- Water: 2
- Sand: 3
- Snow: 4
Driving on sand decreases your vehicle's acceleration, meaning that it will take longer to get to full speed. The advantage, however, is that your deceleration is also considerably increased, allowing you to come to a full stop in less time. When driving on snow it's your steering that you should be watching. Due to an increased sensitivity of your vehicle's steering wheel even the easy turns can become difficult to take, especially at higher speeds.
1.3.3 New sounds
Top Speed version 3.0 contains a variety of new sounds for track designers, both oneshots (sounds that only play once, like an airplane flying by) and backgrounds (sounds that are constantly playing, like a massive crowd). The sounds that can be used in custom tracks are listed below.
- No sound: 0
- Crowd: 1
- Ocean: 2
- Propeller plane: 3
- Church clock: 4
- Jetplane: 5
- Thunder: 6
- Pile drivers: 7
- Construction: 8
- River: 9
- Helicopter: 10
- Owl: 11
1.3.4 New ambiences
Top Speed version 3.0 also includes a number of new ambiences, sounds that play as long as a race is active. To define such a sound, end your track definition as follows:
Where the "2" can be any valid ambience. Keep in mind that you have to define the track's weather before defining an ambience, otherwise the game will interpret the number you specify as a weather sound (see the next section, 1.3.5). The following is a list of all the available ambience sounds.
- None: 0
- Desert: 1
- Airport: 2
1.3.5 New weather types
Finally, version 3.0 of Top Speed contains some new weather types. These are similar to the ambiences described in the previous section. The advantage of being able to define them seperately is that you can combine two background sounds, one ambience and one weather sound. Specify the weather type just below the "-1", like this:
Including rain, which was already available in older versions of the game, the full list of possible weather sounds is as follows.
- No sound (sunny): 0
- Rain: 1
- Wind: 2
- Storm: 3

1.4 Additions and changes to custom vehicles
This section describes the new and incompatible syntax for vehicle files, additional parameters and the concept of using backfire sounds.
1.4.1 New syntax for vehicle files
The new syntax for vehicle files is actually not all that different from the current one. All parameters that could be used for version 2.0 remain the same, but instead of specifying "car1" or "cycle2" to refer to a built-in sound, you should now write lines such as:
The value "builtin1" represents the old "car1", "builtin2" is "car2", and so on up to the last car (which is "builtin9" right now). To reference what used to be "cycle1" you have to specify "builtin10". The third motorcycle, which was added in this release, is represented with "builtin12". Furthermore, some cars will have different numbers than in version 2.0. For example, specifying "car4", in fact "builtin4", will have a different effect in this version. To find the right number for the vehicle you want, simply count the items of any vehicle selection menu in the game, or review the vehicles folder which you can find in the sounds folder of your favorite language pack.
1.4.2 New parameters
The following new parameters can be used when writing vehicle files:
- backfiresound (see section 1.4.3 below)
- crashsound (specify a custom crash sound)
- brakesound (specify a custom brake sound)
You can either use "builtin1" through "builtin12" for these parameters, or you can specify a sound file of your own. These sound files should still be in the PCM wave-format (*.wav). If you don't provide values for these parameters, the default values will be used. These are usually the sounds used for the first vehicle available, currently the Blackbird racecar.
1.4.3 Backfire
The backfire sound is played occasionally when switching gears (up or down) and when you release the throttle. This can make certain types of vehicles, such as trucks and motorcycles, sound a great deal more authentic. Two examples of how to use this new feature are included in the game in the form of the Old schoolbus and the Chopper. To define a custom backfire sound, simply use the "backfiresound" parameter in your vehicle file. Please note that although you can specify "builtin1" as a value for this setting, the player will not hear any backfire sound for that vehicle as it does not have one. If you want to make use of the game's built-in sounds for backfiring, use "builtin9" (the Old schoolbus) or "builtin12" (the Chopper).

1.5 New language and soundpack features
Top Speed version 3.0 boasts a number of enhancements for soundpack creators that this section will discuss.
1.5.1 Switching languages
Another great new feature introduced in this release is the capability to instantly switch from one language pack to another, i.e. without restarting the game. This may also be useful for changing soundpacks in the same language. To change your language or soundpack, go to Options and choose Game Settings->Language. To add your own item to this selection menu, add a folder with the name of your pack to the Sounds folder found in the Top Speed installation directory. Next, add a file encoded in Ogg Vorbis and with the same name as your pack to the Sounds directory. For example, for the original English language pack there is a folder Sounds\En and a file Sounds\En.ogg. Also remember that your entire language pack should be encoded as Ogg Vorbis and that it should not contain any subfolders.
1.5.2 New folder structure
All sounds used in Top Speed 3.0 are now located in separate subfolders. It is recommended to use the original English language pack as an example, if you are going to create a new pack.
1.5.3 Providing more variation in soundpacks
To give the player more variation during the race it is now possible to provide multiple sound files for the co-pilot announcements. Those are all the curve and surface announcement messages. The game will play a randomly selected sound file every time such an announcement is made. To use this new facility, simply create multiple files, giving each of them an index number starting at 1. For example, "left1.ogg", "left2.ogg" and "left3.ogg", or "snow1.ogg" to "snow12.ogg". The maximum number of sounds per announcement is 32. As a consequence, even if you only want to put one sound file in your soundpack for a given announcement, you should include a number in the filename, e.g. "hairpinleft1.ogg".

1.6 Improved installer
Top Speed version 3.0 uses an improved version of the original setup program that allows you to make more detailed adjustments to what is installed on your computer. You can now choose whether or not to install the ReadMe and/or the English language pack. You can also choose not to install the main program. This is useful, for example, when you want to restore the official language files after installing a third party pack. Fully completed and high-quality soundpacks for other languages may also be included if they become available.

1.7 New hotkeys
Regardless of whether you are playing in Time Trial, Single Race or multi-player mode, Top Speed now has the ability to provide you with useful race information through a few simple, easy to remember hotkeys. These hotkeys are listed below. - F1 through F8: player vehicle information. Press the key that corresponds to the player number you are interested in to hear which vehicle they are using. For example, press F4 to hear information about player number 4.
- F9: track name. Press this key to hear the name of the current track.
- Q: current gear. Press this key to hear what gear you are currently in.
- W: current lap number. Press this key to hear your current lap number.
- E: current race percentage. Press this key to hear how far you have progressed in the race, accurate up to two decimals. - R: current lap percentage. Press this key to hear how far you have progressed in the current lap, also accurate up to two decimals. - T: current race time. Press this key to hear how long you have been racing. Notice that these hotkeys (F1-F9 and Q, W, E, R and T) are placed next to each other on the keyboard for easy access. If you wish, however, you can reassign these in the Options->Controls menu, accessed from the Main Menu. The only keys you cannot change are the F-keys, F1 through F8.

1.8 New settings
Here is a list of new settings in Top Speed version 3.0, with a brief description of what they do. Most of these should be fairly self-explanatory. All settings can be accessed by choosing Options in the Main Menu.
Game Settings:
- Language: See section 1.5 above.
- Random Custom Tracks: When enabled, includes custom tracks when choosing Random in any race track selection menu. - Random Custom Vehicles: When enabled, includes custom vehicles when choosing Random in any vehicle selection menu except for the ones in multi-player mode. - DirectSound Hardware Acceleration: Hardware acceleration uses the soundcard hardware for playing sounds. If this causes sounds to play distorted or if other side-effects occur, try disabling this option. Note: The sounds of other players both in single races and multi-player won't play when this option is disabled. - Reverse Audio Channels: Turn this setting on to swap your stereo channels, so that left becomes right and right becomes left. This can be used as a quick fix when your speakers are plugged in the wrong way. - Enable 3D Sound In Single Race And Multiplayer: This setting is on by default. If Top Speed produces poor 3D sound on your system, for example when you're using Windows Vista or newer, try turning this setting off. This will enable a 3D simulation that uses only sound panning.
Race Settings:
- Number Of Laps: Allows you to choose the desired number of laps for tracks that are not marked as street adventure. - Number Of Computer Players: You can now select anywhere from 1 up to 7 computer players for the single race mode. This does not affect the difficulty level as it did in prior versions.

2. Minor changes, improvements and bug fixes
This section lists the changes, improvements and bug fixes made in Top Speed version 3.0 compared to version 2.0. Thus, this also includes the changelog for the release candidates, 2.1.RC1, 2.1.RC2 and 2.1.RC3.
2.1 Minor changes and improvements
* You can now use custom tracks in multi-player mode.
* Significantly improved the performance and bandwidth usage of the multi-player mode. * The Quick Start option in the Main Menu now picks a random track and vehicle and then starts a Single Race. * Some menus and menu items have been moved and re-organized. Most notably, the Street Adventure menu item has been moved out of the Main Menu into the various Track Selection menus.
* You can now select street adventures in Single Race mode.
* You can now use the horn when your engine is starting and when you are finished. * When another player finishes their vehicle will now properly decelerate instead of driving on into infinity.
* Added a new theme song and updated the menu to make use of it.
* Improved the sound of automatic gear switching.
* The vehicles of other players in a multi-player session will now sound (almost) exactly as it sounds to the one driving it.
* Connecting to a server in multi-player mode should be a little faster.
* Replaced the old mini-crash sound.
* Your brake sound will no longer cut out under a certain speed but instead fade away smoothly. * The default for the Curve Announcement setting has been changed to Speed Dependent. * The computer player artificial intelligence has been updated to be more realistic (probably contains a lot of strange bugs now, hurray).
* The effect of the difficulty setting has been made more noticeable.
* You can now race up to sixteen laps.
* Whenever a sound in the soundpack cannot be loaded it will now be replaced with a generic "doing"-sound.
* Computer players use their horns a bit more often.
* Added "Laps Only" to the Automatic Race Information setting.
* The game now accepts considerably more joystick buttons to assign to the various functions. * The number of laps you raced is now taken into account when reading and writing highscores. This means that if you race a new record on three laps and then race the same track with a setting of two laps, you will make yet another new record. * Fixed a problem that wouldn't let you define the snow surface type in custom tracks. * Computer players on the Normal and Hard difficulty level will now decrease their throttle when they "see" a hairpin coming. * It is now possible to press the slash-key ("/") on the name of a track in the menu to hear your highscores for that track. * The port used for multi-player games is now 25255 instead of 25989, both UDP and TCP. * You can now use tracks of up to 8192 definitions in multi-player mode. Longer tracks will be truncated. * Added the Top Speed 3 Configuration Tool. This is an updated version of the classic Server Selector. Besides specifying a server name or IP-address for use in multi-player mode you can now also enable and disable tracing. It is highly recommended that you leave tracing disabled unless you're asked to provide a trace log containing debug information.
* The game now only updates most sounds when necessary.
* Updated Ogg Vorbis decoder.
* Program startup time should now be a little shorter.
* Various optimizations and performance improvements have been made.
2.2 Bug fixes
* When rapidly arrowing through the menu structure, you will no longer hear multiple menu options be spoken at once.
* Computer players can now also randomly pick motorcycles.
* Several fixes regarding player number assignment have been included.
* Fixed a number of 3D sound issues.
* The multi-player mode has been fixed to be more graceful when the connection to the server is lost and should no longer freeze when such an event occurs. * Fixed a bug where one player would sound as being idle throughout the entire race if you were in a multi-player session with three or more people. * Fixed an exploit that allowed you to always beat a nearby computer player by removing the virtual doppler effect. * Fixed several bugs with changing an engine sound's pitch that caused distortion on some (older) soundcards that couldn't handle the higher frequencies. * Fixed a bug where the first installed custom track would not appear in the Track Selection menus. * Fixed a bug in the AI that caused computer players to always trigger a mini-crash just after a full crash.
* Fixed a few miscellaneous bugs with automatic race information.
* Resolved an issue where you wouldn't get curve announcements when a track consisted of some rare definitions. * Fixed a bug where assigning controls in the Options->Controls menu would sometimes skip the first control. * Fixed the sound of the track surface not being put back to its normal volume when finishing while braking.
* You can no longer assign reserved keys (i.e. F1 through F12) in the menu.
* Top Speed is less likely to crash or "hang" if you load a track that contains illegal syntax.

3. Known issues
The following is a list of issues that are known to the developers but that have not been resolved in this release, for a variety of reasons. Please do not report these problems again unless you have additional information that could help to fix them. * Under Windows Vista and newer, Top Speed's 3D-audio doesn't sound as clearly as on older versions of Windows. This is a problem with DirectSound, not with the game. * Inspite of the recent changes to Top Speed's multi-player mode, you may still find that network performance isn't always optimal. This is because of various problems, including the network API that Top Speed uses and the way in which the game has been designed. * On Windows XP and older, Top Speed may encounter an error while racing if the installed version of DirectX is not up-to-date. Performance on newer versions of Windows may also not be optimal when using an older version of DirectX. It is therefore recommended for all users to use the DirectX Web Installer to make sure the latest version is installed. Download it here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=2da43d38-db71-4c1b-bc6a-9b6652cd92a3&displaylang=en * Since we don't have the supplies available to extensively test force feedback support, we can not guarantee whether or not it is always working correctly.

4. Credits and donating
First of all, we'd like to say a few words about the development of Top Speed 2.1 and 3.0. Most importantly, we'd like to thank all our users for their continued support, suggestions and ideas. It should be obvious that a game without players isn't much of a game at all. Secondly, we are happy to introduce our PayPal donate button! By making a donation you can assure us, the developers, that those three years of hard work, all in our own time, were worth it, and that there may even be room for a future release of Top Speed that would add even more of the most requested features. However, remember that Top Speed is and always will be a free game. You will never be required to pay in order to play the full game, although we'd be lying if we said donations aren't welcome. Please go to www.PlayingInTheDark.net and visit the Top Speed 3 page to find out more and, if you'd like, make a donation. And now, here's the list of awesome people who contributed to Top Speed version 2.1 and 3.0.
- Leonard de Ruijter
- Davy Kager
- Rose Morales
- Derek Lane
- Patrick Perdue
- Andre Louis
- The people listed on the Playing in the Dark website, who worked hard on older versions of Top Speed

5. Download and contact information
The following is a short list of websites and e-mail addresses. Here you can download Top Speed version 3.0 or get in touch with the developers. - For general information, news, and more, visit http://www.playinginthedark.net/ - To download various versions of Top Speed visit http://www.playinginthedark.net/download_e.htm
- To contact the developers, write to i...@playinginthedark.net
- To follow Playing in the Dark on Twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/playingdark - To follow Ruby AccessWare on Twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/RubyAccess In case you wish to speak to a specific developer, use the following information.
- Leonard de Ruijter: leon...@playinginthedark.net
- Davy Kager: da...@playinginthedark.net

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