I was chatting with Alan Rotoi last night, and he had
a great idea for an articles. It`s mainly about the
history of the online stunts-competitions.
Since I`m a newcomer in the Stunts-scene (I had a brief appearance at the Kalpen`s under the name MFT in April, 1999, but I started regular racing only in September 2000.) I can only write about those things I`ve experienced, or found, so if you`re an old racer in the scene, and have another experiences to share, write an article, and I`ll publish.
The First Generation - The lost times
It must have been started around 1995-1996, when the net
got more spread around, and stunts was getting an oldie.
Unfortunately I have nothing from this era, because I had
internet only from December 1997, and also the Internet
Archive started only in 1997. Maybe Death Man`s contest was
already opened, I don`t know.
Then 1997 came. Let`s just call this the birth of the first generation. The main contest was Luke`s, with more than 10 racers every month (I won`t talk about competitions which had less than 6 racers a month), from very different countries. It lived from August 1997 to May 1998, which is not so much time, but it had to be a very sharp race, manual transmission and shortcut use was common, and altough replay handling wasn`t a public knowledge (I didn`t say nobody used it!!!) there were times, which are hard to beat today too. They`re even better if you consider, that these times were made from BB1.0 with contest car, or MS1.1, which are generally worse than today`s standard BB1.1 The other dominating contest these times must have been Death Man`s, best drivers: Mark Nailwood, Streethawk, Alan Brincat.
Then, as I mentioned, in May, 1998 the contest closed. But in mid-July, 1998 a contest was born, which dominated for 3 long years. Yes, the Kalpen`s contest. Rules were the same: drive with the Indy, find the best way (including shortcuts), and win. I`m not sure if JTK and KHR had different names: Horst Paul and Marool Cool, but they ran the site and raced. ;) Dominating drivers were almost the same + Roy Forever + Death Man. The 1998 contest ended with about 6-7 racers a month.
In 1999 it continued. Not so many racers, but a hard competition. As time passed by, BB1.1 and manual transmission was used more, and I`m sure replay handling too. 1999 June. The Kalpen`s contest is 1 year old, there`s an often visited and regularly updated site with lot`s of useful information about stunts, and a cool contest. So it`s normal, that the racer number is increasing. So lets just finish this section, and start
The Second Generation - The Kalpen`s Era
Altough most of the top first generation drivers still race (Mark Nailwood,
Death Man), new racers come who give a challenge to the old ones. Like Geovani M.
Silva (Inavoeg), Tom Israels, DH500 (who already competed at Luke`s, but had a break).
I guess this is the time, when JTK starts to use Mark Nailwood`s track editor, so
making shortcuts gets less and less possible.
1999 is full year season with no holes in it, and with increasing racer number, at the
end of the year there were 10-13 every month, which is quite enough for a hard competition.
Mark Nailwood won the season, and the next year came.
2000. The Competition started with about 10 racers/month, seemed living it`s best era, but then booom. It was down from March to June. If you run a website you must know, that such a long downtime has not such a good effect on the visitor number and popularity. But most of the old racers disappeared in this time, only Mark Nailwood, stayed from the first generation top-drivers. I don`t know how, but after the break the racer number at the Kalpen`s didn`t drop, in case there were always more than 10 racers a month from this date. Also some new people came trying to beat Mark`s monopoly: CAP, who joined in February, and Fdzierva. And there were another two racers in the middle of the scoreboard, who sometimes gave competition to the top: Ben Snel (joined in July), and Zak McKracken (September). Hmmz, these names sound more familiar, don`t they?
Some of the first generation drivers made a one-month appearance later this year, but none of them stayed for a longer term. Mark Nailwood won the season again, but he didn`t had such a big advantage before the others this time.
I forgot to talk about other contests this time. Well, there were some small competitions as always, and Charles`s competition started in the late 2000, where those racers from the Kalpen`s raced, who had enough time to participiate in two competitions. It was a smaller one, with the same rules, but a good alternative for those, who didn`t have such great results at Kalpen`s.
2001. Let`s just stay at the Second Generation, but there are some important changes. January had to give lot`s of work for the Kalpen`s. Looks like many racers waited with the join until the new season begins. 19 racers! Almost two times the usual racer count until this time. More racers mean much more replays, and the updates weren`t enough frequent to keep you informed in time, and the end of the month was a horrible thing for everyone.
Looks like Inavoeg decided to end his career, because he sent no replay. Also the first generation faded completelt, except Mark Nailwood. But of course there were some new faces: Bonzai Joe (January), and in March a crazy dutchmen was on the 8th place of the scoreboard: Roy Wiegerinck. I took this guy`s :) appearance as the start of the
Third Generation - The Revolution
Next month this dutchmen from the 8th place was the second, and the top8 consisted of the following racers for a longer time:
these were the drivers who dominated from March-June. Racer number was at an all-time high, and some small competitions started their career. Zak McKracken opened his ugly site for slower cars, and some months later Roy also opened his competition.
There`s one thing I`ve not talked about too much. Interactivity between racers. when Widde`s not too much visited message board closed, Neil McRae opened a new one, the Stunts Messagecenter in 2001 February. This was a very new thing, because before this racers almost only sent their replays, and talked with eachother almost nothing. Altough there were many problems with the board (especially later), it was a good thing it born. And as I remember a guy named ZakMcKracken published his "discovery" about replay handling on this board, so it was public knowledge from now.
The summer is always the quiet season of the Stunts-world, there were less racers at the Kalpen`s, and my competition also had a one-month break in June (btw. it had about 6-10 racers a month in these times.). But the problem came in September. As the updates were less and less frequent, they just stopped on one day. KHR`s child was born, JTK got married in the summer, they had no time to update the site anymore. Maybe it`ll rebirth someday. The racers who stayed without competition started to look after new ones, but unfortunately most of them leaved the scene. Roy`s site was a bit messy in these times, but mine was just awakening from his summer dream with a new, better design, and lot`s of new general stunts stuff beside the competition. So this is the time my competition began to be the dominating one.
For the following parts i have to tell, that I don`t want to make myself appear as a very important person of the stunts scene, because I just appeared in the good time at the good place, but I guess I`ve made some new things, which were and are important in the evolution of the online stunts-racing. Forgive me, if I sound egoistic, I don`t want to.
I had also an idea to put some downloadable racing games on the page, and subscribe to some abandonware rings, maybe some who search for games stuck here and be a racer. It was a weird idea, because I had a 33.6k modem and 50MB space at the university only, but I managed to upload some, and maintain them, and it worked. Visitor number jumped from a monhtly 100 to a monthly 2000 (quite a good result I guess). :)
So the year passed by, the dominating racers were Fdzierva (but he disappeared after two months), Roy, Ben, Bonzai. Racer number was around 10 at the end of the year, and there were some months when competition was really fun and exciting thanks to the racers and the frequent updates. My all-time favourite is 2001 September with the Audi. It was great. Also some new top-racers appeared, like Bismarck and Argammon.
And 2002 came...
In January Roy`s contest has reborn from his grave, but later felt back, altough it was a great idea. 14 racers joined my competition at the start, we were looking for a great year. The teams were born in 2001, but team competition started this year. Lots of new racers, and great talents joined the competition, like the Looping Warriors team, and Pershing II,m who wrote me a mail about the competition they want to start in march.
In February when I was banned from Neil`s board I decided to make a board at my site for racers. And it appeared to be a good idea, because racers soon started to discuss things, and flame other teams and, eachother at the forum. I`ve also uploaded around 80-90 games, so the visitor number/month jumped to 4000-6000, this means that new racers came from the abandonware world. I also had the crazy idea that I`ll update at least every second day, which greatly increased the chance of a great competition every month.
And in March, the ISA team did it. They opened their competition, with unique and new rules, good tracks, and freqent updates. Since there was no Indy competition at the moment, and since they were good, soon many racers joined.
Community was getting bigger and bigger, some great ideas born (like Bonzai`s World`s Overall Ranking), interactivity and replay number was at an all-time high, and the racer number was increasing. It was not just the racer number, but the number of the active racers, which is MUCH more important, and they don`t only race at my comp., they join the ISA too.
Updating was getting harder and harder, the site got messier, I lost my motivation some times. But then I had luck, and got place at my friend`s server. So I made a new design, and continued as like nothing has happened. :) I opened a chat room, which was quite popular for a week, then it faded for a short period.
Now, and the future
It`s now summer. Not so many racers, but the message board is alive, ISA is updating (at least sometimes :), great ideas born (like Orion`s team page, which I like much), and new competitions (like LeStunts and FranceStunts), and there`s a chat almost every night in the chatroom. I managed to open the site in php, what makes updating really easy, and opens wide possibilities for the future. The first generation racers all faded away. But who cares? Here`s the third one, and it`s much more active than any before.
So, there`s a great future for online competitions, with hopes such eliminating replay handling, pro&beginner competition from 2003, and maybe, maybe a live meeting someday. But beware... The third generation drivers can`t rule forever. The fourth will come, and they`ll wipe us out from the top of the scoreboard. Or they are here, and we don`t even know about it? :))
Zak McKracaken, Budapest, 16.08.2002