NR2003 UI Enhancements 2012: Volume Two Announcement
Everything you need to know about V2.

How it all began

I want to start by saying thank to all those that have supported and found volume one of the NR2003 UI Enhancements to be something worthy of NR2003 modding recognition. Modding for NR2003 comes in many shapes and forms from the modifications of tracks, new car mods, and various other elements within NR2003. I felt like the UI could use a change and was surprised no one had ever touched that area let alone make some simple customized fkeys. When I realized no one else would make the stuff I decided to take it upon myself to make some fkey designs I always wanted to see. I then figured it would be nice to release the stuff publicly since I now have a website to share my NR2003 creations. The feedback and thanks I've received was well beyond what I ever imagined. I didn't expect this many NR2003 fans to be interested in the UI enhancement and I would be lying if I said it didn't catch me off guard. By just the simple demand volume two was inevitable.

Volume Two here we come

The plethora of pm's, suggestions, and question's for volume two has grown to such an amount an announcement of it must be made. Volume Two is not going to be as easy or as quick to release as Volume One was. This is going in further to the NR2003 UI than anyone has ever gone before. This announcement will detail everything you need to know and everything I will reveal at this present time. If you've been wondering what is going on with Volume Two this is your one stop place to find out.

When will it be released?

Your guess is as good as mine. Volume Two is still in the alpha stages of testing. What most people don't realize is this is not as simple as changing the graphics and calling it good. It takes a long time and a lot of work to move the layout using the n2003lyt program. For one the program is in german and all the layout data and numbers is not well defined as black and white. Not to mention it is a ton of trial and error. Within this trial and error I am having to also figure out new plausible racing UI layouts that could work. It's essentially a blank slate and trying to narrow the layout choices down to a few useable and likeable ones will take some time. Sure I could slap the fkeys in the lower left corner and call it a day but I'm digging much deeper than just moving it. It is a lot of testing and work just to move one single element. I'm not going to rush volume two or slap a release date until I know for certain I'd have time to get it done. Even though no one knew about Volume One I still took a great deal of time to do it and the same will be applied with Volume Two. I don't want to release something early just to please everyone then realize I could have dug deeper and tested more. I want to make sure I cram in everything as quality as I can and yes, this will take quite some time and many hours, days, and weeks to complete. I don't release half completed projects or projects that are missing things I wanted to add in it unless it's a planned add-on for later on.

The Challenges

It's sadly not as simple as saying " That would be cool to do so and so" and 5 minuets later the UI is exactly where you want it to be. There are many new challenges presented compared to Volume One. Volume One was child's play compared to Volume Two of UI enhancements. In V1 I was confined to a small 274x200 something pixel ratio to design the fkeys and other UI sections. With V2 those borders have been eliminated giving me more freedom to design stuff but it has also opened new doors to bigger bosses. The simple way to describe how n2003lyt program moves the UI around is this: You generate a file that shows all coordinates of the UI, within those coordinates and parameters you can change whatever you want, then you repack it and see how it looks in game. The problem is nothing has a rulebook or guide to know what you are doing or what coordinates move exactly what. Half the challenge is creating a guide from scratch to know what parameters are what and what numbers I need to change to even know what it does. This is really where all the testing and playing around with numbers comes from. It could take as much as a full day just to move the fkeys to a desired position. There isn't something that says "this number will put it exactly here" or "if you move it here it wil look like this" I have to figure this out on my own before I can then see what it will look like.

Another challenge is widescreen. Most of us have now traversed in NR2003 to the glorious widescreen. Unfortunately NR2003 is hardcoded to the 4:3 square ratio. This means the UI will most likely be contained to the 4:3 ratio as well. Now I have the added challenge of making the UI look good for widescreen users the same exact time it will look good for those that play on a 4:3 ratio. Elements such as the mirror and gauges can get in the way and take up a lot of UI space so having to move around those elements will take time. I've not even figured out if I can even move elements such as the rear view mirror and such yet either. As much as Id love to get the UI in widescreen it doesn't seem a reality with what I can do in NR2003 so I will take the best of what I get and work with it.

The next challenge is after I move the UI around I then must decide from scratch if I want to change the way that particular UI looks. If I want to expand the look of a certain UI element I then of course have to design the graphics for it and numerous variations. This will take just as much time if not more than moving the elements around. Just like with V1 I plan to make many new graphic choices and layouts for users so they truly can have a custom and unique layout for their game. I will have a few different layouts but ultimately the graphics set in place will make each one feel unique. This creation of variation alone will take a lot of time to process and complete.

The last major challenge is I do have many other projects within NR2003 to maintain and work on as well at the same time. I have to divide my free time among them all to keep the wheels turning. I won't abandon my fictional car painting and website updates to fully focus on the V2 project while everything else collects dust. Some people are expecting completion on the other projects and I won't let the down.

So about that ticker

What have I done. I recall when I mentioned a possible Volume Two of UI that there is a possibility that I could make a ticker like they have in actual Nascar broadcasts or like one you see in Nascar the Game 2011. This was merely a brainstorm idea at the time and that still stands. I wish I could show you how much code has to be changed in the layout but it's going to take a lot of work to even see if it's possible to make a ticker. I simply don't know yet through my testing if a ticker is possible. When I know you will mostly likely know as well. You see, the way the UI layout works is in parenting (as an example the fkeys everything is parented to one object). This makes it so if you move one position of an element the others will follow so you don't have to move all individual 300 lines of code. The issue though is while this parenting is great it could possibly be set in stone. If the parenting is set in stone I may not be able to make a ticker because certain fkey fonts won't allow me to move them around to create the shape of a ticker. With a ticker I'm going to need each position of the F2 keys to be horizontally displayed. If I cannot find a way to separate each position horizontally and separately there will be no way to make a ticker. It's all going to depend on what NR2003 is going to allow me to do rather than what I want to do. I have lots of ideas but it will ultimately depend on NR2003 and seeing if it allows such modification.

Testing Phase

After things finally take form and shape beta testing will be taking place as well. This will include some beta testers to make sure everything works on their screen and they like what they see. Within the testing it will be the goal to break, change, and modify anything that doesn't work or looks wrong. This alone will take a lot of work and will be a huge process in itself. Some changes might require weeks or modification for all I know. It's all going to depend on how everything goes when I finally get to that point in time. For a fact beta testing will most likely be done in house or with a few select people. I'm not going to make it full blown beta unless I really need to. I want to minimize the exposure it gets beyond the testers so everyone can enjoy the final product in it's entirety.

Going Dark

After this announcement you aren't going to hear much if anything from me about V2 until things are nearing the end. Not because I don't want to share the process (oh I will share the process on release day) but rather it will allow me and the others I may recruit to help on the project get it done faster and more efficiently without being interrupted by questions or having to post new content all the time. I also like to keep things a secret and not say "I can do this or that" until I a completely sure it's possible and working. Everything for the most part will be under lock and key. The lights are going out but I still be listening. Questions like "when will it be done?" and "how close is it to being finished" I won't respond much to anymore. This announcement is everything you'll need for reading purposes to answer those questions. So until Volume Two is done or near completion you won't hear much on this project. I'll still be working on and releasing my other projects as always. All you need to know is while V2 may be worked on slowly it's being done for quality enjoyment for it's release day.

~Mystical


 

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