Newbie Guide

Welcome to ZakStunts! This site hosts the longest-running competition of Stunts, a classic racing game released back in 1990 and yet offering fun, thrill and freedom to this day. This guide will tell what you need to know to play Stunts and join the competition. Fasten your seatbelt!

Running the game

You can get Stunts from our Downloads page. Even if you already have the game, we recommend you to use the version available here for the competition, as there are a few subtle incompatible versions of Stunts around, and also because we include a few extra cars beyond those in the original game.

The easiest way to run Stunts in a modern system nowadays is using the DOS emulator DOSBox. DOSBox is available for various platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. You can find instructions and tips on how to get Stunts working in DOSBox at the Stunts Wiki.

One last thing: when using our release of Stunts, start the game with stunts_k.exe, so that you don't have to bother with answering the "security check" correctly.

Your first ZakStunts lap

So you are ready to join the competition. Great! Let's go through the steps to get your name on the scoreboard:

  • Download the current competition track. You can find a link to it at the front page.

  • Start the game and select any car you want. (You will soon find out the best car to use track changes each race. We will explain how that works in a little while.)

  • Select the current track and start racing! Once you are done, save the replay of your lap.

  • Next, go back to the site and register for the competition. It is quick and easy.

  • Finally, once you are logged in, submit your replay. Pick the .RPL file and, if you got any penalty time, enter it in the form. If you feel like it, you can also use the message box to say hi :) Click on the submit button and voilą  - your name will show up on the scoreboard! You can see it by clicking on the track name at the top right of the page.

Shortcuts and replay handling

When you first look at a race scoreboard, the first thing you will notice will likely be that the times at the top look impossibly fast! Beyond fierce competition, there are two main factors which lower the times dramatically at ZakStunts.

Firstly, shortcuts are allowed in ZakStunts. Even though penalty time counts (you have to declare it when sending the replay), the relative laxness of the penalty system and the many quirks of the Stunts physics engine mean that a huge variety of tricks and shortcuts are possible, leading to laps much faster than would be possible by sticking to the road. In fact, ZakStunts tracks are designed taking shortcuts into account, and track element combos are often put together with offroad racing lines in mind.

Secondly, replay handling is allowed in ZakStunts. By that, we mean that you can pause, save, rewind and continue your replay however much you want. The reason for it being allowed is mainly pragmatic: short of recording a video, there is no way to ensure a lap was driven without pausing (high score files are too easy to tamper), and so historically most online competitions have chosen to allow replay handling. While racing with replay manipulation sounds like a strange idea at first, there is one big upside to it: even though replay handling makes completing a lap easier, it also raises a lot the bar in terms of what tricks are possible, leading to spetacular and wildly imaginative laps.

Shortcuts and replay handling make playing at ZakStunts a very distinctive experience, racing and puzzle in equal parts. While we find it lots of fun, we will perfectly understand if you find it weird at first - after all, we all were newbies one day! Besides that, many of us also enjoy more conventional races without shortcuts and replay handling, and every now and then parallel competitions forbidding either or both of them are organised. Still, there is a special kind of beauty in the crazy, no holds barred style of racing found at ZakStunts, and we humbly hope you will grow to appreciate it.

Choosing a car

If any car can be used for racing in ZakStunts, why doesn't everybody just use the Indy? Because of the car bonus system. For each race, the cars get a bonus percentage, which is subtracted from the submitted lap times. That explains why there are two columns with times in the scoreboard: "Time" (the final result, corrcted by the bonus) and "Driven" (the original in-game lap time). The bonus percentages can be found near the bottom of the scoreboard page. To ensure as many cars as possible are used in a season, the bonuses change each race, with cars used by the top 3 losing bonus and cars outside of the top 6 gaining it.

Figuring out the best car for a track can take some experimentation. Beyond the bonus percentages, the ideal choice depends on the performance, handling and the potential for tricks of the cars. A good way to get suggestions is looking at the scoreboard and seeing what the other racers are using. If you want to experiment with different cars, you can submit as many replays as you wish.

The site also provides the RPLInfo tool, which allows you to check the corrected time of a lap without submitting it to the scoreboard.

Public replays and replay visibility

The "Visibility" option in the replay submission page sets how much information other racers will have about your lap. There are three options:

  • Public replay: your result will be added to the scoreboard and the replay file will be available for download. This option is the only one available during the first two weeks of the race.

  • Scoreboard only: your result will be added to the scoreboard, but the replay file will only be made available after the race is over. This option is the default for the final two weeks of the race.

  • Quiet replay: your result will only be displayed after the race is over. This option is available only during the final two days of the race.

Public replays can be very helpful for newbies trying to figure out what is possible to do in a track. You can get the public replays though the "All results" link in the scoreboard page.

The ZakStunts season

ZakStunts races are part of a yearly competition. The rules which govern the crowning of ZakStunts champions are detailed at the rules page. Here is a summary of them:

  • There are twelve races per season, each one taking four weeks. The countdown at the home page shows how far the deadline of the current race is.

  • The winner of a race gets 12 points, the second placed racer 11 and so on up to 12th place. Racers below 12th get fractional points - 0.1 for the 13th, 0.09 for the 14th and so forth up to 22nd place.

  • Racers also can earn points through leading time bonus. In each race, the racer who spends the most time at the top of the scoreboard gets two bonus points; the one with the second highest amount of leading time gets one bonus point, as long as at least 24 hours were spent at the top. This rule is meant to encourage racers to submit replays throughout the month, rather than just waiting for the final days to send quiet replays.

  • Final results are decided according to the points achieved throughout the year. Only the best nine results of each racer are counted, so you can miss a race or enter the competition a little late without harming your final score.

  • There is a parallel competition for newcomers, the newbie league, in which only racers registered within the last 18 months can earn points. Newbies are included in the overall standings as well, just like the other racers.

  • Finally, there is also a team competition. Teams can be formed by two up to four racers. In each race, the two best results of the racers of a team are added to the team score (leading time bonus is not included). Joining (or creating!) a team is optional but highly recommended, as collaboration leads to stronger laps and faster learning, and makes racing more fun as well.

Community resources

There are many more Stunts-related places to go and things to do, both within ZakStunts and elsewhere. Here are some suggestions:

  • The Stunts Forum is the main gathering place of the Stunts community. There you can interact with other racers, discuss the current tracks and results, find out about other competitions and talk about all things Stunts.

  • The Stunts Wiki is the ever-growing repository of community knowledge. There you can find driving tips, historical records, modding guides and much more.

  • Old competition replays, besides often being amazing to watch, can teach a lot about cars and tricks. Replays from past ZakStunts races can be reached from the race scoreboards. There is also the Competition Archive, a biannual release available from the downloads page containing several hundreds of tracks and winning replays from various competitions, from the late nineties to the present day.

See you on the scoreboard!