To me, Stunts is a high point in racing games. It had everything else other racing games had at its time, plus the track builder. This makes the lifespan of the game longer than any other. There have been other racing games to come out with track builders, but the tracks you could build in stunts always seemed exciting whereas other games just ended up giving you a lot of freedom to make boring tracks.
Anyway, I liked this game so much that I decided it needed a remake. When I started I wasn't aware that there was already an open source remake in progress, know as ultimate stunts. Had I actually looked to see if there was a remake, I may have ended up just contributing to that instead of creating my own.
|The loop is easily drivable with some practice|
M remake consisted of a few logical parts put together to cover the functionality of the original game. There is a track editor, a racing simulation, a replay viewer, and a game state management interface. Deciding that supporting the original trace format gave easy access to hundreds of ready-made tracks. Actually implementing the support, while upgrading the graphics presented a few challenges. The original track format allowed you to put water sections in your tracks. These water sections rendered at flat blue sections on the track. When I upgraded the water section to true 3D tiles that have gradually deeper water, the edging of the water tiles' underwater sections made the total number of water tiles jump from nine to twenty seven. Equally as important, I had to convert to and from this new "edged" terrain format so that the saved files still matched the original track format but looked perfect in-game.
|Early development shot showing some track elements|
The actual graphical improvement I provided came mostly from the use of modern rendering techniques while the geometry remained mostly the same to preserve the original feel of the tracks. Each track piece was constructed using a set of geometry construction functions which allowed for a very concise description and mathematically perfect representation. I had experimented with using modeling packages but found it difficult to keep the geometry numerically perfect, which ultimately resulted in a rough driving experience. Non-road segments show this history with scenery imported from 3d studio max.
I spent some time applying some important techniques I had learnt in my PHD to give a greater feel for the speed you are traveling at. Imagine that this game had no textures on the road, no grass texture, and few scenery objects. Under these circumstances it would be difficult to tell how fast you were going on a straight stretch of road. This was not the case in the original stunts since, even though there was no texturing, the broken white line on the road gave you a good sense of speed. Adding textures improves this but even more, adding grass on the side of the road seems to give an even better experience of speed. As simple as it may seem, it made a huge difference. You will often see space or undersea game use space junk, dust, seaweed, anything that can fly at you just to make it feel like you are moving. Anyone remember NOX ?
|Time of day is customizable going through a whole 24 hour cycle|
An interesting challenge I encountered while implementing the racing simulation was to determine when someone had taken an illegal short-cut. To solve this problem i wrote a simple recursive track tracer. I implemented it in such a way that you could either run the tracer in exploration mode, for the track editor, and find any issues with the track such as broken track, dead ends, junctions that put you going the wrong direction on the track. Another mode was a guided mode where the tracing was guided by external interaction, or in this case, driving the car round the track. If any unexpected detours were taken, a penalty time could be asses based on the shortest track path skipped, and wrong driving direction could be detected. Using the same tracer for two purposes allowed me to focus on correctness and handle a large number of exceptional cases, as is the way when you can design you own track that can have turn offs, jumps over roads or obstacles, even cycles in the track.
|Debugging view of some more hairy track sections showing polygon edges and normals|
|Car taking a corner|
Availability and Ownership
The source code for this project is entirely owned by myself and unreleased. The project is mostly complete, just with some polishing to do. I abruptly stopped working on this project when I had other projects start to make an income and was well aware that deriving any income from this project with some major diversion away from the original game would be immoral and possibly illegal.
If you are interested in the project, feel free to contact me directly with you queries.