Produce good looking graphics, target being SM2-hardware with 128MB of video memory. If possible implement a fallback without usage of shaders (just loading different materials should do it), so the game can run on notebooks with very low end graphic cards. The amount of content we need is still relativly limited, so the task seems realistic.
As far as learning goes the effect should be a basic understanding of how shader programming and lighting techniques work. Way more important: it forces me to do a lot of concept drawing because it is an absolute must for car and track design. Further some techniques will be applyable in future projects (lighting and shading e.g. for a “Z-like” game should work very similar).
Made up of one big mesh (25000-40000 polys), represents the actual race track and all surrounding terrain that can be visible. Uses basically two materials; one for terrain and one for the race track (diffuse map + gi-lightmap + bump map + specular map).
Techniques used should be the same as for the track. I'd calculate a total of 10000-20000 polys per level for these.
The approach is one mesh for the car plus each tire as a seperate mesh (2000-2500 polys total). In contrast to all static geometry dynamic lighting is used here. Getting this right will cost some effort though. We'll be facing the problems described in this thread: http://www.ogre3d.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=27165
Items, maybe objects for physical interaction or whatever. Techniques same as for cars here. What falls into this category depends heavily on what gameplay decisions we come up with.
Smoke, explosions, pick-up effects e.g. might be necessary. Also depends mainly on our plan for gameplay. A combination of using Ogre particle systems and Blender might do the trick.
Self explanatory :) However, I'd like to display the drivers somewhere in the menu. Decent art for those is a must.
Depends on gameplay and technical needs that come up. E.g. markers for placing cars at the start of a race, indicating the track to the ai and which direction to drive.
Using CG with the NVidia FX Composer looks best. It is the only solution capable of producing shaders for DirectX and OpenGL at the same time. I've even found some resources for shaders that could (hopefully) be simply used via cope&paste.
At this time I see 3 possible solutions:
Building prototypes that are functional and without a lot eye candy works really fast. Making a track that is functional from the perspective of gameplay is a question of few hours. Same goes for cars and everything else. We should make use of this as much as possible I think :)
By far the most complicated task from my point of view. However, this should be worth every effort as it greatly improves models, textures and everything else related to the graphics.
No organic modelling and IK-animation! Therefore in itself a task that takes some time but is not very difficult. With sufficient concept art very doable.