Herr Otto Partz says you're all nothing but pipsqueaks!

Main Menu

For the record... how each of us learned different things about Stunts

Started by Cas, May 08, 2018, 02:57:30 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Guys, talking about the dual-way switching in the shoutbox, I started to think of whether it was known by the online Stunts community since inception or if somebody brought it later and then, how other tricks or ideas came up, in which tournaments, which was the first track that had this or that, etc. So I wanted to share my part for the record and if anybody else would like to tell about themselves, it'd be nice.

How I met Stunts
I first met Stunts in late March or early April 1993, shortly after I got my first computer, a 386DX 60MHz. I had no games in my new computer and a friend at school told me he had many and that he could copy some to me. You see, in Argentina, in the 90s, not only piracy was very common (as it is in most of the world), but really there wasn't any other way to get software and most of us didn't even know what we were doing was piracy. So my friend came to my place with a big box of 5 1/4" diskettes and passed me about 20 games, including Stunts, which became one of my favourites.

My early view of the game
I remember I found Stunts very hard to handle, so I was extremely careful and slow. My playing mostly consisted in being able to get to the end of the track in one piece. I really wasn't concerned about the lap time. I would always use automatic and I almost always used fast cars. I couldn't see the point in slow cars, I didn't understand them. Indy was the one I used the most and sometimes P962 or Jaguar. I used to build very long tracks with obstacles with the purpose of the pipsqueak not surviving. For a long time, I didn't know that the terrain could be edited, but I found PowerGear relatively soon. Very much at the beginning, I used to race against the computer, but that soon became to easy, so another thing I liked doing was creating awesome crashes, some including the opponent, and saving the replays.

While playing with a friend of mine, we accidentally came across PowerGear from time to time. He was the one who realised how to make it happen at will. Because his surname was "Dantas", we called this trick "Velocidad de Dantas" (meaning "Dantas' speed"). This was probably in late 1993. I had been poking at the binary data in the tracks for some time with a binary viewer I had made and noticed two things: one was that replay files contained the whole track and another, that tracks contained the terrain, not just a terrain number, as I supposed. The first discovery led me to create a program to extract tracks from replays. The second, made me think of building a terrain editor, but before doing that, I had the strong suspicion that this could be done within Stunts. One day, while I was at my friend's house (the same friend), I guessed that SHIFT+F1 should put the editor in terrain editing mode. Because we didn't give much importance to lap times, I didn't care about penalty time and so, I only knew about some tricks from the community.

Online community
I remember having found a Stunts tournament but not trying it very early. Perhaps still in the late 90s. I don't remember what the site was like, so I can't tell which it was, but it wasn't ZakStunts or WSC. At some point of 2005, my younger brother (known in the community as Nach) was part of the forum "La Cueva de los Clásicos" of which Paleke and AbuRaf70, among others, were members too. I think it was through him that I got to that forum and from there, to Paleke's WSC. We participated in the rest of that season and the whole of the next. There we learned to really race. In WSC, the official car was always Indy, so that part didn't change for us. The tracks usually did not have splits and besides, with the OWOOT rules, something like dual-way switching would have been considered invalid, so I was still unaware of that. Through Paleke, I found ZakStunts and registered, but I liked OWOOT better than free-style at that time so I didn't participate much in ZakStunts. In 2009, I wanted to make a come-back, but there was no more WSC, so I became active in ZakStunts and everything else I learned here.

My contribution as a programmer
In 2006, while I was participating in WSC, I started writing my own track editor, which used the same graphics as the internal one and ran in DOS. I showed it to Paleke, but never published it. It was far from complete. I called it "Castunts". The most interesting feature it had was the terrain brush that is now present in Bliss, although it was more buggy. In 2010, I tried to find a permanent solution to the issue of NoRH verification. For this purpose, I created a DOS program called Vizcacha, but I found that it didn't behave the same way from a computer to another, so I had to give it up. The community gave me a hand testing it. In early 2015, I was planning to come back to ZakStunts after a hiatus, but didn't want to return empty handed, so I started to build a new editor that could run natively in Linux, DOS and Windows. The first version was called Cas-Stunts 2.0 (because of the old Castunts) and was released on 7 March 2015. On 5 Octover 2016, for release 2.4.4, the project name was changed to Bliss.

... and as a competition host
From middle October till late November 2016, I hosted Race for Immortality, a single race on the track called Bliss, with the purpose of registering the lap times of the pipsqueaks that wanted to participate so that they could be use for time estimations by the Bliss editor for every track. Everybody had to use Porsche March Indy and it was an OWOOT race. Perhaps a couple of months later, I started hosting Race for Kicks, with rules similar to those of WSC, but there wasn't a complete season; just a few isolated tracks. The tournament is currently in hiatus as of May 2018.

I'm interested in...
I would like to know if there's a topic or a graphic with the different competitions in choronological order or a history of how each formed, when and by whom. The wiki does have a lot of info about this, so I figure I could try to reconstruct this, but a more personal, subjective insight would be interesting to read. Also, what was the knowledge of tricks like PowerGear or dual-way switching when the community was formed, if there were other names for these tricks, how we ended up agreeing on these ones, etc. Anything historical, like... Let's make as if we were about to write a book about the Stunts community XD
Earth is my country. Science is my religion.


Here is my take:

Early days

I first met Stunts in 1996 or thereabouts, when I was seven. At home, we had a 100MHz 486 since late 1994, and my father would regularly exchange floppies with other PC users in the school he worked at. One day, he came home with a floppy auspiciously labelled "AUTOPISTA" that contained, along with a few other disparate things, Stunts 1.0. I loved cars and motor racing from a very early age, and I enjoyed making up city grids and racing tracks with pen and paper, and so I was instantly fascinated by the game. Stunts sessions quickly became a favourite pastime for me and Yves, the neighbour next door and my inseparable buddy back then. Yves was a very competitive kid, but such was the magic of Stunts that it got to suspend that: instead of hotlap competitions, we'd just design our crazy tracks and then take turns playing driver and copilot while trying to survive them (and/or laughing at the absurd crashes).

More than meets the eye

I found out there were websites about Stunts in 2002, around the time I came back to the game after a longish hiatus. That quickly made me aware of many things I had overlooked as a small kid (I'm not even sure I knew about powergear before). In particular, there was a lot of fun to be had in trying out the myriad track design tricks described and demonstrated in Luke's site.

Becoming a pipsqueak

Competitive racing was not a huge draw for me in those early years. Still, I was curious enough about the online contests to drive a (never submitted) lap on Z40, and to send a couple replays to Alan's 4DSL (which never reached the scoreboard -- I guess they were illegal in some way). Back then, I was extremely shy and self-conscious, not to mention very busy (I spent most of 2004 preparing for university admission exams), and so I didn't stick around. Another hiatus would follow.

I picked up Stunts again in 2007. While thinking about torque curves of real cars, I remembered that Car Blaster made it quite easy to tune Stunts cars, so I figured I could use it to perform some virtual experiments. That didn't really work (not enough was known about the physical model back then), but the fire was rekindled. One of the first things I did was to pay a visit to Kalpen. As luck would have it, the first race of the 2007 Kalpen season had just begun, so I felt like "why not?", and sent a replay. Soon enough, I found there was a lot to learn (being up to that point a mild-mannered auto gears BB 1.0 driver, I knew little about shortcuts and Stunts-specific driving technique), and that I felt at home in the community. And here I am, eleven years later  :)

Running a competition

In the mid-to-late 00's, starting your own Stunts competition was a natural step in the evolution of a Stunts pipsqueak, and, I would add, an integral part of Stunts' gift economy. My first brushes with contest management happened thanks to JACStunts, a blossoming Brazilian community which used to gather at the now defunct Orkut social network. Not long after I joined, though, a silly argument escalated up to the point the manager quit his own contest, and the site admin took his ball and went home, taking the site offline with no warning. The remaining pipsqueaks were left to pick up the pieces, sharing the tasks needed to restart the contest. I used what I had learned in the international community to write a set of rules and help sorting out interpretation conflicts about them.

The freedom to make up your own rules being part of the charm of Stunts, I always cheered for and tried to participate in competitions with alternative rules. In mid 2009, with Paleke's WSC having been unfortunately discontinued a while ago, there was an opportunity to step up and try to keep OWOOT racing as a going concern. The result was The Southern Cross Stunts Trophy, which was successful, if short lived in all of its five races. Perhaps some day there will be a second season, though if that ever happens it is likely to morph into a NoRH with shortcuts competition.

Stunts hacking

One nice thing about being a Stunts driver who likes to code is that Stunts is a perennial source of inspiration for hobby projects. I joined the community shortly after having my first experiences with programming, and not long before the major reverse engineering breakthrough in 2008, and so I was able to help grow the knowledge about Stunts' internals, and to build a few things with it. In terms of software tools, the one I have written that I'm happiest about is Stunts Cartography. I definitely need to make up some time for adding a few extra features to it!

My one regret when it comes to Stunts hacking is not being all that successful in converting my assembly reading efforts into more effective and tangible contributions to the restunts project. My latest attempt to do so went up in smoke (literally). There might still be time for that, though...

Quote from: Cas on May 08, 2018, 02:57:30 AMI would like to know if there's a topic or a graphic with the different competitions in choronological order or a history of how each formed, when and by whom.

The Chronology article in the wiki is a good starting point.

On your broader point, the Wiki is also meant as a repository of community lore, so expanding it with historical notes is definitely welcome, be it through first-person accounts or by digging into the depths of the forum or of the Internet Archive.