Asyncrhonous tournament

From Stunts Wiki

A competition can be said to be asynchronous when it's not running live and so, a method has to be established to make racers' participation competitive. Almost every tournament in the history of online Stunts has followed this pattern to the point that we tend to take it for granted, but realising this possibility was a great milestone that took Stunts not only to the multi-player level, but to competition in the distance.

Early implementations

In the late 1990s, when the internet became sufficiently popular and the first online competitions came to being, the organisers would set up a website, typically, pure HTML, in which they'd provide the rules and other information for whomever would like to participate. An e-mail address was also given and racers would post their replays by sending them to that address.

It's important to emphasise that this wasn't trivial at that time. Stunts is a single-player game that only brings two near multi-player experiences to the user: the possibility to race against a not-very-intelligent AI car and the ability to get a record on the highscore table. So a player who'd invite a friend might think of hot-seating to see who achieves a better record, but not much more than that. Over the distance, without an eye on participants and without the possibility of meeting at the same time, something had to be devised and the solution lay in replay files, which is another feature created for an entirely different purpose.

An early championship administrator would thus provide a track file for download and a deadline and receive replay files via e-mail until that deadline. He'd check the replays to make sure they were being played fairly on the correct track with the allowed car and that they finished normally and without a penalty time, and often, he or she would manually update the actual HTML code of their website to show the temporary results. At the end of the race, the top replay files would be uploaded so that everybody could get them and take a look at them. A completely new experience for Stunts fans. The replay file would be the proof that the lap time was actually achieved by the racer.

Online Stunts frenzy

With the huge growth of the population in the online community, participation in tournaments became so large that doing this manual task became a lot of work very quickly. Besides e-mail and an HTML website, the forum became another possibility, where you could easily post and edit to display temporary results. ZakStunts began to use an automated php-based upload system when nobody else had that. World Stunts Championship was one of the competitions that used a forum thread at La Cueva de los Clásicos to facilitate the handling of posted laps. With time, other tournaments also implemented a form to upload replays, but most work was still done manually behind the code.

Modern automated tournaments

Throughout the history of online Stunts, ZakStunts has always pioneered in enhancing and automating replay posting and handling, in part because it became so much popular than any other competition and it would've been very hard to do so many things manually. It got an automated scoreboard long before any other championship would do the same. It also features a handicap (bonus) system that can auto-adjust basing on car usage and promotes car diversity. The site can also manage race phases including public days, when every posted lap is publicly available, private days when racers are allowed to hide their replays till the end of the race, but not their times and a short period called the quiet days, when racers can even hide their lap times for a surprise when the deadline falls. Getting this level of complexity with manual work would be unthinkable.

When Race For Kicks started, it was also made with automated replay posting and scoreboard updates from the beginning. Because it's an OWOOT competition, a moderation panel had to be created as well to facilitate replay verification. In the early stages, still, track uploading and image updating as well as deadline set up had to be done manually and it helped that the tournament didn't have a lot of activity back then. Currently, almost every aspect of the site can be handled within its platform, with permissions assigned to users for different kinds of access.

The creation of EasyTour, although this is a very basic tool, has allowed new tournament administrators to quickly set up a new competition with replay uploading forms and some degree of scoreboard automation from day one. On top of this, it's easy to add new code or tweak the existing one to achieve more championship-specific features. Tournaments that use EasyTour include Custom Car Championship and Stunts No Time-Travel.