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Competition 2023 / Re: Cars and rules for 2024
Last post by Duplode - September 29, 2023, 04:44:19 PM
On bonuses and PG, I'd still highlight that the root cause of there being so many PG surprises and intrusions is the 2019 rule change, which lowered bonus gains per car from +3% to +1%, thus making bonuses much closer to each other. This closeness makes it much easier for PG cars to jump ahead of the rest when the track gives them even a slight leeway. Then there's the flip side of other cars getting stuck for many races waiting for their chance, appearing competitive but getting overtaken later in the races (the LM002 and the Carrera, for instance, seem particularly vulnerable to that).

Since the base bonus changes after a race have to add up to zero, the simplest way to tackle that would be raising gains per car to +2%, thus doubling the maximum exchanged points from 15% to 30%. That, however, would likely make multi-car races a lot rarer. Having more races with multiple competitive cars was the main point of the 2019 rule change, and it has been pretty successful in that regard, so I guess we don't want to throw the baby with the bathwater.

All tings considered, I believe it would be worth trying to increase the amount of exchanged points without having to do it in very coarse steps of 15%. One way of achieving that is increasing the points gained only for cars whose last victory was many months ago. A mild way of doing it might be giving +2% instead of +1% for cars with no victories over the previous 12 races. That would increase the exchanged points (and thus the points removed from podium cars) by a minimum of 4%, plus one point for each repeat winner in the past 12 rounds. It would also make it easier for cars that have been in the queue for a whole season to catch up, thus adding an element of self-correction to the system. Cars (re)introduced at the beginning of the season might as well get +2%: that would increase the exchanged points a bit further early on, and also give new cars better odds for their first victories.

My suggestion is a fairly conservative one that doesn't target PG cars specifically. I don't expect it to make a difference in situations in which both track and bonuses strongly favour some or all PG cars (e.g. GTO in ZCT260, or Acura in ZCT266) -- the goal, after all, isn't banning PG cars. However, such a tweak to the system might be just enough to keep PG at bay in more evenly matched scenarios (e.g. Vette in ZCT261, or Indy in ZCT265). Furthermore, if a more pronounced effect is desired, the number of months in waiting needed to get +2% can be lowered (for instance, to 9 instead of 12, which would ensure a further 3% increase in the exchanged points). It's all a matter of finding the right balance between separating bonuses a bit further while keeping reasonable odds for multi-car races.
Live Races / Re: Live races platform websit...
Last post by Erik Barros - September 28, 2023, 02:11:02 PM
I really love these live races, it would be really cool to have a platform and maybe even a competition.
Competition 2023 / Re: Cars and rules for 2024
Last post by alanrotoi - September 28, 2023, 06:26:11 AM
Quote from: Shoegazing Leo on September 26, 2023, 02:47:53 AMLola and Torino are good ideas.

Yeah thanks! Torino maybe has my most realistic dashboard. We had a lot of fun racing it at the live event --->

About the rules for 2024, what about a different car coefficient for PG cars when they win/podium?
If an original car wins twice in a season always is a PG car. Only once in 2011 a non pg did it. Then for custom cars it happened two times in 2019 and I think it was because a high initial bonus and also different rules.

PG cars are way too protagonists in this competition. We could balance them giving a higher amount when they finish in a podium position. Now it's: winning 50%, second 30% and third 20%. We could add an extra 10% for them: winning 60%, second 40% and third 30%.

The goal is to reduce the quantity of pg races and / or pg surprises, from 41% and 33% (4 or 5 races, depending on the year) to a 25% (3 pg races per year).
Chat - Misc / Re: Association game
Last post by Shoegazing Leo - September 27, 2023, 03:29:31 PM
Chat - Misc / Re: Association game
Last post by alanrotoi - September 27, 2023, 01:48:50 PM
Competition 2023 / Re: ZCT 267 - The Who Movie?
Last post by Duplode - September 27, 2023, 04:40:19 AM
@Shoegazing Leo When I first saw this thread, I half-expected the track title to be Tommy  :D

By the way, here's a shout-out to OWOOT legend @Seeker1982 :)
Chat - Misc / Re: Association game
Last post by Erik Barros - September 27, 2023, 03:26:14 AM
Fa fa fa fa
Chat - Misc / Re: Association game
Last post by Shoegazing Leo - September 27, 2023, 03:14:57 AM
Stunts Related Programs / Re: StuntsLegacyEngine
Last post by CYBERYOGI -CO-Windler - September 26, 2023, 06:15:23 AM
I made a technical analysis of the "Hard Drivin" series, particularly explaining the editor of "Hard Drivin II" and the game engine physics and behaviour differences of home and arcade versions. It also includes a hires map of the Original Track and a little batch script to handle custom tracks with meaningful names.

Analysis of Hard Drivin and its variants
The era of open world driving simulation games with untextured 3D polygon graphics was only a short episode. Preceded by the serious simulators of Reiner Foerst, to the public it began in 1988 with Atari's Hard Drivin (some say Namco's Winning Run) and basically ended already 1993 with Namco's fully textured Ridgeracer. Although their graphics looks stylish, they were soon considered outdated. Unofficial Hard Drivin lookalikes were "Test Drive III" and "Stunt Driver" (both too fast on modern PC), "Car and Driver" (plays awful by random physics bugs) and of course "Stunts". Also the prototype of "No Second Prize" began as a clone with loopings, ramps and corkscrews.

The "Race Drivin" PC version apparently came too late, so despite it finally had proper soundcard support, it was likely considered unsellable and so ended 1995 as freeware on (if I remember well) multiple magazine and shareware CDs. I still had that ZIP version, which contains the following text file.



Great  new update  for the  already
awesome   free  for   all   driving
simulation! Includes bug fixes  and
smoothscroll(TM)   for  a  ride  so
close  to the real  thing ,  you'll
need  to   fasten  your   seatbelt!"

The message reveals that there was an earlier PC version of "Race Drivin", and I indeed found it online. It displays (c)1991 but has file dates of 1992-05-29. Apparently initially there had been an "IBM PC" retail version (I found a box photo with 3.5'' diskette on flickr), which was likely ported from the Amiga/Atari ST version (which looks the same but has an animated loader intro). Race Drivin 95 has file dates of 1994-12-26 (file_id.diz date 1995-01-14) and the title screen claims (c)1995.

I tried to track where it came from. I found an unpacked copy (in directory "neudos/spiele/race") among other freeware on a German diskmag CD "POWER DRIVE for you - Multimedia-Illustrierte Teil 1, (c) CDA-Verlag" made in 1995. My has the same file dates inside, while the ZIP itself has a (possibly download) date of 2002-12-23. That version also contains a text file "hysteria" (date 1994-11-24) with some ASCII art and contact info of a cracker and demo coder group, so I am not entirely sure if the Race Drivin' 95 freeware story might have been phony. But it got included as a barely mentioned bonus in several professional software CDs, which I doubt that Tengen would have tolerated if it was still of commercial value.

        _______   _______              (-fAZ!)
  ______\     /___\     /_________________________________________/\______
  \     /    /    /    /     _____) _______/ _____/   __   /_____/  __    \
 _/         /___      /\___     /     /     ___/_       \_/     /   \     /
 \ ___/_____\_______ /__________\___ /_________ /____/    \_____\___/    /
  \/               \/              \/         \/    /______\       /_____\

                            sNES / gENESIS                    
          STAFF : RaDiO ACTiVE . DoC HoLLiDaY . (-FaZ & tERMI-) . BamBam
                    905-277-2605 - (nODE 1) - DUAL NODE
                    905-277-1493 - (nODE 2) - V32bis NODE

This Race Drivin seems to use a different game engine than HD1/HD2. It runs a bit too fast (still playable), has more detailed cars (different design than the arcade version) and moves smoother; only replay is excessively choppy and it saves no highscores. Despite steering straight is difficult, it plays too easy to stay interesting for a skilled driver, because checkpoints add too much bonus time to continue rounds after rounds, and it lacks difficulty settings.

The filename scheme differs and the HD2 editor immediately crashes by attempts of loading its race track data.

= race tracks
= race track lap & ghost car route data
  speed.*  = Original Track
  stunt.*  = Super Stunt Track
  across.* = Auto Cross
= 3D polygon objects?
= EGA,VGA,Tandy versions of everything
= sound drivers?
= executables (games uses one per graphics mode)

The game has different colours (e.g. the shop is beige, but red glows too bright) and here the EGA mode does look ugly. Tunnel and road sides are black/grey instead of orange and the coaster hill is transparent. The car can tremble up and down and tilt sideways, but physics still feels artificial compared to the arcade version, and graphics is also here less detailed. E.g. most 3D object shapes except cars resemble HD2, and (like the Megadrive version) on the Super Stunt Track the 180° curve after the ramps and after tunnel is not banked. The there is no obstacle in the tunnel and you can not drive full loopings inside. Also the barn on the mountain is missing (unlike the very different Megadrive version). But the Original Track has a few more buildings (no additional types, some with a grey road piece in front). With "detailed cars" disabled, cars become even uglier blocks than in HD2 and have no wheels. It has as many graphics glitches, but they behave all a bit different. E.g. yellow road lines shine through bridges seen from below, there are gaps before some segments and sometimes the road disappears when doing the "normal" detours (on Original Track the right turn on grass to the loop etc.), which hints that the game engine differs. The drawbridge allows to land also on its ramp section, and in Super Stunt Track the split ramps allow landing on grass. The coaster hill on arcade is much harder; you have to almost halt on its top, and downward the car tends to rotate by landing and fall off the track unless you give a well dosed bit of throttle to keep airtime short. (This feels unintuitive, but because the hill is bent, it may act like the start of the looping, where centrifugal force pushes your car on the road and so prevents flying off. Hence it may be plausible.) Slowly touching mountain walls on arcade lets your car climb them up, so e.g. on Super Stunt Track it is possible to wallride by centrifugal force on the concave right green wall of the last left curve of the hill like a skateboarder (steer like in the looping). Passing the end of the concave section acts like colliding a wall, thus drive back on the road before reaching the straight section (the car tumbles like lacking shock absorbers). In some spots glitches make the car slip through walls, floating into "off road" mode. On PC in these situations the car just crashes; it treats the (black instead of orange) road sides as offroad, and while the car is falling, the windshield cracks already before it has landed. On Autocross Track on PC the traffic cones don't tip over when touched and so are no aid to improve driving skills.

The only obvious difference between the 1991 and 1995 release is that the latter added a setup.exe to save graphics and sound card settings, while the 1991 asks always when starting race.exe. So in the following I examined the 1995 version which claims to be a bugfixed release.

Renaming speed.cr1 hangs before displaying the title screen (Windows locks up with black screen). Renaming speed.cd1 starts normal and only crashes when loading that track - same behaviour with across.cr1/.cd1.

Swapping names of speed.cr1 and across.cr1 plays Original Track normal but once locked up with colour cycling flicker when the game ends. Also qualify time on that track stays at unrealistic 0:22:20. However swapping names of speed.cd1 and across.cd1 starts instead of Original Track the Autocross Track, but distant grass is green, there is no ghost car of my previous lap and qualify time is 1:12:36. Instead of Autocross Track it starts the Original Track in desert colours (everything green is beige including drone cars) with qualify time 0:22:20 and shows the lap ghost car after finishing the lap. But it crashes after game over. The same happens when swapping across.cd1 and stunt.cd1.

This means .cd1 contains the entire track data (including drone cars and horizon image type) while .cr1 contains lap info and likely the route of the championship ghost car (Phantom Photon). The track colours and presence of lap ghost car are part of the main program and depend on selected track name. Unlike in HD1/HD2, the ghost car route file is never overwritten because no highscores are saved to disk.

All level related files of the 1991 and 1995 version are identical. Changed were city.ce1, dash.cv1, flag.cv1, highscore.ce1 (each 1 byte changed 01 to 00). Also the executables racevga.exe, raceega.exe, racetand.exe only differ in each one byte that seems to display the copyright date (1991 vs. 1994/1995). So there was obviously no additional "smoothscroll(TM)" code added. Copying racevga.exe from 1995 into 1992 or vice versa seems to work normal; only the displayed (c) date differs. (I had some crashes of Win98SE e.g. after winning championship on Autocross Track, but on VirtualBox it runs a little unstable anyway due to CPU pipeline bugs.) So if there are any game differences, they are rather subtle. The 95 version has a setup.exe and starts instead of race.exe with a that contains (visible in hex editor) the hidden message text "THIS IS HACK PROOF FOOL!..YOU LOOKING IN THE GUN BARREL". If this version was a hoax, I wonder how it found its way as bonus on many official shareware CDs.

Interesting is that the Megadrive/Genesis version of Race Drivin obviously indeed runs on the same game engine like HD1/HD2 and does include an "editor", but it is pointless because (likely by lack of mass storage) it was dumbed down to the max and can not even load the 3 main race tracks. This raises the question if its 3D object models and race track data may be extractable to load them into the HD2 editor. The tracks have some details those are absent in the PC version (e.g. red/white sides on corkscrew and barn on mountain, on Autocross Track a parking car) but Super Stunt Track displays no mountain sides and so looks like a rollercoaster.

The arcade versions of Hard- and Race Driving is still mostly unresearched. The text of patent WO1992002917A1 hints that the game apparently was cross-compiled on a Digital Equipment Company VAX computer with Green Hills Software, Inc. "C" compiler available from Oasys, a division of Xel, Inc. of Waltham, Mass. Patent US5474453 describes the simulated traffic and scenario editor of the AMOS Police Trainer, which was a serious driving simulator apparatus for police chase training. The text likely explains the inner working of how Hard Drivin implements its "drone cars" on the track. These follow prerecorded trajectories those can be replayed at different speeds and have start and end points to meet the driver's car at certain spots and synchronize in various ways (e.g. to simulate a car crash situation). It tells nothing about editing the road map or other level parts. The youtube video of the AMOS (Atari Games Police Training Simulator) shows on the instructor's desktop control PC a plain GUI that looks like Windows 3.11 and a 3D graphics editor on a Mac rotating a police car (that exists also in the prototype game "Street Drivin"). The arcade machines have a serial network connector for linking multiple arcade cabinets or additional such PCBs as a multi-headed display, and so may still contain unused debug code to upload custom levels into RAM in the manner of AMOS. Currently it is unknown if this works or if any level changes will need to be part of its roms.

HardDrv2_myTracks1.7z contains a simple BAT script for HD2 to save and load the current Track E within DOS to manage custom tracks with proper names. There is also a simple drag.dat track as a test. Use these subdirectories:

Tracks     = the tracks to be loaded & saved
Tracks.ori = backup of the original tracks  = other tracks copied by hand