Creating an Ultimate Stunts track from scratch

An essential part of the Stunts gameplay was that players had the ability to create their own tracks with a track editor. As Ultimate Stunts is not yet finished, the Ultimate Stunts track editor is not yet available. For those people who really want to create their own tracks, here is a tutorial on how to do that without a track editor.

Track files in Ultimate Stunts are simple text files with the extension .track, and they are usually located in the tracks subdirectory of the data files. You can simply open them in your favourite text editor, modify and save them. Note that the tracks that are provided with the standard data files are UNIX-style text files, which means that opening them in windows notepad might give problems. Windows users can open them with wordpad. Saving as DOS-style text is not a problem, as Ultimate Stunts can read both types of text files. I don't think it can read Macintosh-style text files, so Apple-users should save either in UNIX-style or in DOS-style.

File format basics

A detailed description of the track file format is available here. You will need all that information, so I reccomend reading it.

Some tiles we're going to use

A track is built of tiles. We need to define which tiles will be used. There are some tiles available in the standard data files, and we'll use some of them:

A simple track

I'll describe a simple track file here. It is available in the data files as tracks/small.track. Let's start at the top of the file:
TRACKFILE
4
5
1
The first four lines of the file should always look like this. The TRACKFILE text is used to check if the loaded file really is an Ultimate Stunts track. The next three lines define the length, width and height of the track. These numbers should always be consistent with the track description in the rest of the file. If you change the sizes of the track, then you should also change these numbers to match the new size.
#properties:
length
width
heigth
This is just a comment, it is ignored by the track loader. Actually, you could write anything here, because the loader will ignore anything until it reads BEGIN.
BEGIN
END
This first section allows you to pre-load certain textures. We will not use it here, as we'll only use the default textures on the tiles. Therefore, this section remains empty.
BEGIN
sky = environment/clouds.rgba
horizon = environment/kyoto-horizon.png
envmap = environment/spheremap.rgb
lightdir = -0.69,-0.7,-0.2
lightcol = 0.2,0.2,0.5
ambientcol = 0.0,0.0,0.0
skycol = 0.3,0.3,0.8
horizonskycol = 0.9,0.9,0.9
fogcol = 0.6,0.6,0.35
envcol = 1,1,1
END
In this section, the environment settings are loaded, like background and lighting settings. The exact meaning of these lines is documented in the track file format documentation. You can find examples in existing track files, and you can experiment with different values.
BEGIN
tiles/empty.conf
tiles/horiz.conf
tiles/corner.conf
tiles/roadhoriz.conf
tiles/startfinish.conf
END
Here, the tiles are loaded. On each line, there is the filename of a tile's .conf file. The first file should always be the empty tile.
#tile_id/rotation/heigth
Just another comment. As you can see, you can write comments between END and BEGIN. Now the most important section begins:
BEGIN
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/3/0	2/2/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	4/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/0/0	2/1/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
END
Here the track itself is described. Every tile location is described by a set of three numbers. The whole section is a "top-view" of the map. As you can see, this track has 5 lines of 4 tiles, which is exactly the size mentioned at the begin of the file. It is important that before each tile there is whitespace consisting of exactly one tab. Anything else, like spaces, is wrong. You should check if your text editor converts tabs to spaces, and disable that feature if possible.

The first of the three numbers refers to one of the loaded tiles. 0 refers to the first tile, 1 to the second etc.. As you can see, the tiles at the edges of the track all have a 1, which is the horizontal plane without roads. In the middle 3x2 tiles you can see four times a 2, which is the sharp corner tile, one time a 3 (straight road) and a 4 (start/finish). Now you should have an idea of what the track looks like.

The second number defines the rotation. 0 is a non-rotated tile, 1 means a 90 degree counterclockwise rotation, 2 a 180 degree rotation, and 3 is a 270 degree counterclockwise rotation, which of course equals 90 degree clockwise. As you can see, the straight road and the start/finish tile have their original orientation. The corner tiles each have another orientation of course. Sometimes trial and error is the quickest way to find the correct orientation.

The third number is the vertical position of the tile. As this is a simple track, every tile is located at the same height.


BEGIN
2,2,0:0.0
2,1,0:2.0
1,1,0:4.0
1,2,0:6.0
1,3,0:8.0
2,3,0:10.0
2,2,0:12.0
END
This section describes the route that cars should follow. If cars do not follow this route, then they will get penalty time.

Every entry in this section consists of three indices (separated by commas), a ":", and then a time. The three indices point to a certain tile, and the time is used to calculate penalty time. See also the track format definition.

Extending the track

The described track file is a completely valid track file, but it is quite silly, so let's extend it a little. First of all, let's make it a little longer, by modifying the track section:
BEGIN
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/3/0	2/2/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	4/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/0/0	2/1/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
END
Now you should also alter the numbers at the beginning of the file to:
TRACKFILE
4
10
1
This adds some straight road tiles. That should not be too difficult to understand. Now we advance to the next level:

Creating height differences

We're going to create a hill. In order to do that, we need some new tile types for the slopes. Change the tile section to this:
BEGIN
tiles/empty.conf
tiles/horiz.conf
tiles/corner.conf
tiles/roadhoriz.conf
tiles/startfinish.conf
tiles/diag2.conf
tiles/roaddiag.conf
END
diag2.conf is a slope without a road, and roaddiag.conf is a slope with a road on it. Now we can change the track section to:
BEGIN
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/3/0	2/2/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	5/2/0	6/2/0	6/2/0	5/2/0
	1/0/1	3/0/1	3/0/1	1/0/1
	5/0/0	6/0/0	6/0/0	5/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	4/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/0/0	2/1/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
END
This has a lot of changes compared to the previous example, so I'll try to explain it here. First of all, the tile ID numbers. The new numbers 5 and 6 refer to the new tiles diag2.conf and roaddiag.conf. You can see that I replaced the 1's with 5's and the 3's with 6's to get the slopes. Next, the rotation number. The "south" slope has rotation 0, because the slope tiles just happen to have the right orientation for that slope. The "north" slope has exactly the opposite orientation, so the 180 degree rotation is used.

Last, but not least, I'd like to explain the height number. Although the slopes are higher than the ground, they still have a height number of 0. That's because height 0 means that the tile geometry is between 0 and 12 meter above the ground, and height 1 means between 12 and 24 meter, and so on. The slope is in the range 0..12 meter, so its height number is 0. The height number does change for the tiles in the middle of the hill. As the ground level of these tiles is at the bottom of the tile, it needs to be lifted 1 tile unit (12 meter) in order to match the top height of the slopes. Try setting it to 0, if you don't understand me. You'll see what happens.

Multiple layers

So far so good. But what if you want to place multiple tiles on top of each other? You'll want to do that many times in Ultimate Stunts, because tiles have a height limitation. Also, this will give you the flexibility to build bridges on top of each other, and to build tunnels below other roads. The possibility to place tiles on top of each other is one of the advantages of Ultimate Stunts over the original Stunts game.

So, how is it done? The basic idea is to define more than one track section. This is an example:

TRACKFILE
4
10
2

#properties:
length
width
heigth

BEGIN
END

BEGIN
sky = environment/sky3.rgb
horizon = environment/kyoto-horizon.png
envmap = environment/spheremap.rgb
lightdir = -0.69,-0.7,-0.2
lightcol = 0.2,0.2,0.5
ambientcol = 0.0,0.0,0.0
skycol = 0.1,0.1,0.5
END

BEGIN
tiles/empty.conf
tiles/horiz.conf
tiles/corner.conf
tiles/roadhoriz.conf
tiles/startfinish.conf
END

#tile_id/rotation/heigth

BEGIN
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/3/0	2/2/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	4/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/0/0	2/1/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
END

BEGIN
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
END
First of all, take a look at the height number at the start of the file. It is now 2, because we have 2 layers. In your own tracks, you can use any number of layers, as long as it matches the number at the beginning of the file.

As you can see, I've filled the second layer with empty tiles (0 referring to tiles/empty.conf). When you work with multiple layers, you will use the empty tile many times, because you'll only need the extra layers at some locations. Recent Ultimate Stunts versions have an optimalisation that stops rendering once a tile ID of 0 is found. This means that the track builder needs to take care of two things:

Ultimate Stunts assumes that the first layer contains the lowest tiles, the second layer contains tiles placed on top of them, etc.. So the height number of a tile in the second layer should always be greater than the height number of the same location in the first layer. Ultimate Stunts does not yet check this, so you might get (rendering) errors if you don't follow this rule.

We will use this knowledge to build a tunnel. But before we can do that, we need to load the tunnel tiles themselves:

BEGIN
tiles/empty.conf
tiles/horiz.conf
tiles/corner.conf
tiles/roadhoriz.conf
tiles/startfinish.conf
tiles/tunnelin1.conf
tiles/tunnelhoriz.conf
tiles/diag2.conf
END
The new tiles are tunnelin1.conf, which is the tunnel entrance tile, tunnelhoriz.conf, which is a normal straight tunnel tile, and diag2.conf, which we already know. Now we can define the first layer:
BEGIN
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/3/0	2/2/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	7/2/0	5/2/0	5/2/0	7/2/0
	1/0/1	6/0/0	6/0/0	1/0/1
	7/0/0	5/0/0	5/0/0	7/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	3/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	3/0/0	4/0/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	2/0/0	2/1/0	1/0/0
	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0	1/0/0
END
We've made two slopes with tunnel entrances, and the tunnel inside. We've also added the horizontal plane ground on top of the hill, on the left and the right. Now you can see why we need two layers: we also want grass above the tunnels. That's done in the second layer:
BEGIN
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	1/0/1	1/0/1	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10	0/0/10
END
That's the trick! Now you can create viaducts, loopings, and all other sorts of things that require multiple layers. The only thing you need to find out now is what sorts of tiles are available. It might help to take a look inside test.track. Test.track is used as a "test-site" for new tiles, so most tiles are used in that track.

The track route

I would like to explain how the penalty time system works, but unfortunately this is quite complicated, and it is likely to change soon in the future. So, I decided that that would take too much time. Maybe you can read the track file format definition, and experiment a bit. If you don't run Ultimate Stunts in fullscreen mode, then you can see in the console messages about the rule status.