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.