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Postmortem: Beam Runner Hyper Cross
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Postmortem: Beam Runner Hyper Cross

November 9, 2001 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

Beam Runner Hyper Cross (BHX) is a fast-paced futuristic racing game for the PC. The guys will hate me for spilling this, but the idea for the game came from Tron. Tons of games have already been made from the movie Tron, so this may seem a little cliché. However, we've never seen a game based on the ships that cruised on the energy beams.

The sail ship from Tron the movie.

We took this great concept and changed it around a bit: the beams are high in the upper atmosphere of a planet, curving in great arcs, and running along each other for a great distance. It's the perfect setup for a race where you blast the enemy opponents!

From a third person perspective, you control the speed and rotation of your ship on the beam while aiming with your mouse. Shooting other players will slow them down, but keep an eye out for slow moving traffic in your way and those gun turrets placed to block your path. Do forget to lean the ship into those curves; you'll go faster that way.

"Too simple", you say? Well, give us a break — we worked on this part time over only 4 months. This was a class project for a Game Engine Design Course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Team Whoopass consists of five computer science graduate students.

We're happy to say that members of our team are responsible for the course's existence. Two of us worked hard to petition for the course. We approached the faculty with a specific syllabus covering topics in advanced computer graphics which apply to game graphics engine design. A team project was also included to give students valuable experience implementing components in a complete and working engine. We expected that there would be much to learn about implementing algorithms that work in co-operation with a system, vs. small isolated implementations.

Early sketch of a beam racer.

The faculty wasn't too excited about offering a so-called game course. However, they perked up when David Eberly, a PhD alumnus of UNC's CS department and author of "3D Game Engine Design", came back as a visiting professor to teach the course.

The graphics topics alone can be found in many computer graphics courses at universities everywhere, but the project experience is something not so easy to find.

The Engine: HyperX. BHX uses our HyperX 3D graphics engine, as well as some auxiliary components. HyperX uses DirectX 8.0 for rendering, input, and sound. Both BHX and HyperX were designed and implemented during the Spring 2001 semester by Team Whoopass.

HyperX provides interfaces for scene management and display, audio, basic AI, input, resource management, and more. The user can define custom effects and materials with no recompilation, and can load models exported from 3D Studio MAX. Primitives in HyperX include mesh models, billboards, particles, and beams.

It is worth noting that we used WinCVS for our source control. This free version control client was crucial in allowing the team to work on and merge code. Source control is critical (even for solo developers). Other groups in this class had serious setbacks, which could have been avoided by using source control properly.

Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

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