Stunt GP Dreamcast prototypes
Stunt GP features remote control cars reminding us of our childhood. This style of play was not common, since Re-Volt, no remote control car games had appeared on PC and Dreamcast.
The Team 17 studios (Worms) had embarked on this colorful project in which the player would drive remote-controlled cars. The gameplay was intended to be Arcade and gave pride of place to intuitive piloting.
It contains all the ingredients of a real racing game with lots of circuits, different cars with their own behavior and the obligation to have a good ranking to progress and move on to the next circuit. What differentiates SGP from its competitors is the addition of stunts that can be performed on any race.
The tricks are easily achievable, just press a button and the car spins in the air. By misjudging its speed, by not controlling its trajectory, we quickly find ourselves on the roof.
Stunt GP is a very nice little racing game with enough springboards and turbos to send us into the air to touch the sun!
Team 17 and Stunt GP
Stunt GP suffered many delays. Several publishers followed one another throughout its development, including Hasbro. He will eventually come out under the tutelage of Titus.
A poor launch and marketing campaign meant that the game never achieved the sales it deserved. As a result, plans for SGP2 never materialized.
«Stunt GP is, in a sense, the last game to come out of Team 17 in its original form and philosophy.»
Stunt GP was created when Team 17 changed its development policy from contract to full-time employees. It was primarily developed by Pete Opdam (code) and Danny Burke (graphics), with help from Karl Morton, Dan Cartwright, and sound from Björn Lynne.
«We felt the need for Team 17 to switch to 100% internal development carried out by salaried and hierarchical staff with designers, producers, programmers, artists, playtest etc...»
The development studio had to restructure in order to assert itself on loan from publishers and put an end to an existence which relied exclusively on the work of the contract workers of the people mentioned above.
«All this triggered tensions between this new Team 17 and the contractors which had an impact on the development of Stunt GP. The mood just wasn't great at the end...»
The early 2000s were pretty tough for British gaming. In the Wakefield/Leeds area alone, nearly all studios closed at this time. Today, Team 17 is one of the last (if not the last) studio still in operation in the region.
A little bit of technique :
From a technical point of view, it was a project ahead of its time and capable of doing much more than SGP.
«Pete wrote his own automotive physics engine for Stunt GP . It was very well done for the time, I remember...»
At the time, textures were limited to 256x256 due to target platform limitations. PCs were able to handle 512x512 but at a high memory cost. There was no real hardware smoothing of the textures, they were all "mip-mapped".
When developing the underlying engine(s), there was no hardware rendering and the 3d engine had software rendering. This means that early cars only had around 120 polygons and textures were small because every pixel on the screen had to be drawn by the main CPU. Fortunately, at some point in the project there was a transition to hardware rendering, the rendering pipeline was adjusted accordingly.
The game only loaded 24-bit .TGA files during development. The engine looked for the various graphics file formats and preferred 24-bit .TGA if present (hence the string graphics24). This means that the artist could easily modify the graphics of the game without the need for a programmer. In fact, the artist could create new levels, objects and vehicles in the game with the tools available. 512 (maybe 1024) pixel textures worked at the time, but only in development code. Much of this code was left out of the final exe during compilation.
This prototype of Stunt GP Dreamcast dates from October 02, 2000, almost 2 months before the final version. This title is part of European exclusives like Headhunter. The game reacts differently if played on an emulator or on a real console. On the latest Sega machine, it is not in fullscreen, you can see a light frame that changes color regularly. Remains of textures are visible during all loadings and not only on the first one (color palette) as on an emulator.
By searching the game files, this prototype becomes extremely interesting even if its Debug Menu (detailed below), all by itself, is worth the detour. By extracting its content, we see that many files, not just 2 or 3 as we are used to seeing on other prototypes, are specific to the build.
Many scripts, found only here, can be opened. They should be able to modify the game, ideal for modders. In the "OLDDEMOOVERLAYS" folder following the "GAME - CONFIG" path, 5 scripts certainly refer to demo versions shown during the development of the game. For example, browsing the textures of Stunt GP, some are linked at events such as E3.
Ten textures correspond to car models from Nascars. Stunt GP does not have any cars in this discipline. We can therefore think of automobiles, not used on the retail version, perhaps corresponding to a new game mode since 2 files, which are only found on this build, are called "CHALLENGE 2" and "CHALLENGE 3". Only one Challenge race is available in game. Stunt GP has a cartoon graphic style, textures of these records are more realistic. The presence of Stock-car cars could be explained in another way:
«Looking at these texture files and Googling, I'm pretty sure they're from EA 's 1999 version of Nascar Revolution for Windows.»
«It's possible that Pete Opdam pulled some models from Nascar Revolution for testing purposes during the early days of Stunt GP development. They were just integrated with the rest of the game data.»
«One thing I'm sure of is that at that time, no Team 17 artist would have been able to create this model of Nascar and the way it's unboxed.»
By understanding how the scripts work and if they are linked to the 1ST_READ or the EXE, it may be possible to modify the game and have it play the different demos. There may be a way to make the 2 new Challenges playable by renaming and interchanging files.
The specifics of the build:
When starting a new game, the screen with the "Digital Entertainment" logo is missing. The next window should be an image of a disc with the title name and not just the Stunt GP game logo. This is the loading of the title. As explained above, a color palette appears during the first loading.
In the language selection menu, the developers had planned for United States English. We can deduce that an American version was planned but finally canceled. The country flags representing their respective languages are not in a rounded shape.
The game icon to be displayed on the VMU is not present.
While interacting in the various menus of Stunt GP, there is no music, only navigation sound effects. This peculiarity is also audible when playing a race.
When arriving at the VMU selection window, the typography of the text used is in italics. This choice of the developers will be repeated in the other menus. Text should not be highlighted. On the prototype, the message "No VM present" is displayed in a box at the bottom of the screen. On the final version, the text is as follows: "No VM found - A VM whit at least 19 block of space is required to save". When trying to play without a memory card, it says "Quit whithout creating Data?" instead of "Cancel without creating Data File?". These grammatical changes are present elsewhere.
On the title menu, the copyright is slightly different.
During auto-play, by not pressing START on the title menu, the Stunt GP logo is displayed at the bottom of the screen, it should not appear. The writings "DEMO PLAY" and "PRESS START BUTTON" are not visible during the demo.
The "SELECT LANGUAGE" and "CREDITS" submenus are not present in the "OPTIONS". By clicking on "VIEW BITMAPS" (a new development option"), a sort of "Texture Viewer" opens allowing you to observe 386 different images (textures). Some textures belong to portage_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_ Playstation and PC (gamepad image).
In "VM MENU" it misses "INITIALISED DATA".
The presentation of "CONTROLLER MENU" is basic with no text written in the menu, only the logo of the 4 Dreamcast controllers. Unlike the final version, it is impossible to interact on this screen.
In "VIDEO MENU" the option "DETAIL LEVEL: 100%" is new, it allows you to adjust the values of the details of the levels that will appear in game.
The "RECORDS" menu does not exist yet, nothing happens by selecting it.
In "CATALOG", the "HORNS" section is specific to the build. Maybe the developers had planned to be able to change the horn of vehicles. (to confirm)
When playing in multiplayer mode, the presentation of the menu is different, the logos of the 4 controllers do not appear there, only inscriptions in a box asking to press START to play with the chosen controller port. Just before arriving at the player selection, you can choose between "QUICK RACE" and "TOURNAMENT". The latter is locked or non-existent since it is impossible to access it.
When pausing during a game, a new option is available as "DETAIL" (the same option as in the "VIDEO MENU" previously explained). Above the "PAUSE" menu box, it should read "PLAYER 1 PAUSED". The "CAMERA" option is selectable in "STUNT CHALLENGE" mode, it is normally only available in other game modes.
When a race begins, in "TIME TRIAL" mode, the message "ROLLING START" is not displayed at the bottom of the screen before the start countdown.
By choosing "EXHIBITION" mode, all cars are unlocked. The "STUNT-BOWL SPECIAL" car (the one from Stunt Challenge) can be driven in normal race, it should only be available in the Stunt Challenge mode, its color is yellow with no black zebra spots. It is no longer mandatory to progress in the game to play all the circuits since these are also unlocked.
Adjustments have been made between the prototype and the commercial release of Stunt GP. For example, the road color of some races is not the same.
Le Debug Menu :
Play on the Dreamcast keyboard with its associated keys:
By plugging a Dreamcast keyboard into one of the controller ports ( A, B, C or D), the player can trigger build development options:
The direction arrows (Controller port A only) : Allows you to play the game without the controller by accelerating, braking and turning. By driving the automobile in this way, it will slightly follow a predefined trajectory. There is some kind of driver assistance.
ESC (ESCAPE) : Pauses the game.
F3 : Camera changes to distant top view mode (like Micromachine)
F5 : The camera does not follow the car, it remains frozen in place.
F6 : Cancel all camera options back to default.
F7, F9 or 4 : The camera zooms in and gets closer to the rear of the car.
F8 : The camera zooms out and moves slightly away from the rear of the car.
F9 : As for the camera option of the F7 key.
7 : A gray (on the ground) and red (in the air) line that follows the path appears. Its usefulness is unknown.
5 : Cancels the option of key 7.
A : Respawn the car as if it was off the track.
T : Four bars, red, green, yellow and rouge appear at the bottom of the screen. They increase or decrease during the game a bit like a loading. The usefulness of this option is unknown. Pressing T will cancel the option.
Z : Make the car reappear in the opposite direction of the race.
O : By holding this key, the player interface will disappear.
D : A trajectory is displayed on the screen with small dots of different colors. You have to keep the button pressed.
F : The game freezes on purpose. It will still be possible to interact with the Debug Menu. By pressing F again, the game can resume normally. Be careful, this option reacts differently between a Dreamcast console and an emulator.
Dev option key 7
Dev option key D
Dev option key T and F3
So far it was simple, now let's get down to business. This Stunt GP prototype has the most impressive Debug Menu I've seen. Accessing and navigating between the different sub-menus is complicated. I couldn't find how to increase or decrease certain values when they pass 0.0000.
To activate the 26 special development menus, press the "TAB" key on the keyboard. The first default Debug Menu window will appear. Having already opened the Debug Menu previously, the last visited submenu will appear. By pressing "TAB" again, the game will resume as if nothing had happened. Why make it simple when you can make it complicated, right?
Once the Debug Menu is activated, the "Page Up" and "Page Down" keys allow you to scroll forwards or backwards through the 26 debugging windows. Ten of these windows are pre-recorded by default by pressing between the "1" and "0" keys on the keyboard.
To navigate in a sub-menu, press the "F12 " key. The window title will turn red. "Page Up" and "Page Down" allows, at this moment, to select the option of the menu to modify. Pressing the "ENTER" key will change the options, for example in the "Stadium Grand Prix Menu System Display" menu, between "ON " or "OFF". By pressing "ENTER" on numbers, these will be set to zero, I have not found how to modify them. Values in some Debug Menu items can be adjusted with the help of the direction arrows. By pressing "F12" again, the game returns to normal mode to choose the desired window. The different sub-menus in photo :
Race Info Variables
Control Setup Menu (Debug)
Collision Test Variables
SGP Network Intro Page
Car Replacement Mask
Car Dimension Constants
Center of Mass Position
Tyre Left Front
Tyre Friction Constants
Shock Left Rear
Gear Box Constants
Max Booster RPM
Car Specific SFX
Car AI SuntKnots Editing Page
You can download Sunt GP Dreamcast build below
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Home page of about 200 prototypes for download: List of prototypes to download