Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing

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Few times in history has a product been so bad that they are not worth the materials they are made out of. For software, this is never the case. All the value is in the software, not the CDs themselves. But, today, I will tell you of a game that managed to make the plastic and cardboard far more valuable than their contents.

"Get ready for some brake jamm'in, CB talk'in, convoy roll'in action across America! From Portland Oregon to Miami Florida, you'll be hauling loads and trying to stay one step ahead of the law as you climb into your Big Rig for non-stop driving action. And if that's not enough, you'll also be able to race your modified Rig on one of 5 different tracks for the ultimate driving rush as you crush the competition and set a new track record!"

"So astoundingly bad that it manages to transcend nearly every boundary put forth by some of gaming's absolute worst of the worst and easily makes it into that dubiously extraordinary category of being one of the most atrocious games ever published."


"This is hands-down, the worst videogame to ever see the light of day. Really. "

-G4 TV

Big Rigs was developed by Stellar Stone LLC and distributed by GameMill Entertainment.
“Stellar Stone Group is a full-service game development outsourcing company that manages the creative pool of designers, artists, programmers and Internet technologies specialists. Our company was founded in late 2000 to provide development services and technology licensing to interactive entertainment industry.”
Their development pool consisted of outsourced Russian programmers. Before Big Rigs, Stellar Stone mostly developed Civil War real-time strategy games for the Russian marketplace. After Big Rigs, they released a similar title, Midnight Race Club Supercharged. From all accounts Stellar Stone and GameMill are currently out of business.

To give you a grasp of how astoundingly bad this game is, I will have to introduce you slowly to the game to lessen the shock, otherwise your brain would melt. For starters, the game description is very wrong. There is no CB or convoys. You do not go across America. There is no cargo, nor no law to stay ahead of. Your truck cannot be modified, and until the patch was released there were only 4 tracks. There is a top-score list, although it is already set and unchangeable. Before the patch there wasn't even a race.

The game consists of racing against a computer controller truck on one of five different tracks. The five tracks include “Devil Passage,” “Devil Passage 2,” “Forgotten Road 1,” “Nightride”, and “Small Town Road.” (Notice the track names, there is no Forgotten Road 2, but there is also no Devil Passage 1. A sign of things to come.) There are several checkpoints throughout each track that can be reached in any order to complete the race. Four trucks are available as the names “Thunder,” “Megaone,” “Thunderbull,” and “Sunrise W12.” All trucks have the same performance. Only the Sunrise W12 actually has cargo. The computer will pick a truck at random.

Your truck has some unusual properties. The taillights are modeled incorrectly, so they are floating behind the truck. Your truck has a top speed of about 80 MPH forward, with an infinite top speed in reverse. Yes, in reverse you truck will keep on accelerating without end until you let go of the down key (reverse) or the space bar (brake, which starts the truck in reverse as well). Then, the truck will instantly stop on a dime. Your truck avoids all laws of physics as it climbs mountains without slowing down. You can climb any slope without any decrease in speed. Your truck can drive through any building or obstacle without noticing it (this is known as no clipping). Bridges don’t exist as you just fall right through them, but that doesn’t matter since you can climb any slope.
Your opponent’s truck is set on a preprogrammed path. In some maps he will accelerate past you but then quickly fall behind. Your opponent moves by teleporting from one spot to the next in a very jerky motion.

Oh, and one other minor thing. You cannot loose. The computer’s truck will finish the race first if you let it, however, after it crosses the finish line it will teleport back to its starting position and sit there until you cross the finish line, giving you the best reward any trucker could want.

Yes, after all of that hard work, you get a trophy that has poor grammar.

The tracks themselves are nothing spectacular, but they work, for the most part. Several tracks have models without textures. They all suffer from a weird graphical issue where the ground will slightly shift as you get closer (more on this later). The world has no clipping as described before. There are no other people or vehicles on the road besides yours and the computers.

Now, the really, really, really good part is how the game worked BEFORE the patch. Before the patch, meaning, as the game was on the store shelves, there were serious flaws (as if there aren’t any now). The computer controlled truck never moved. It started in one position and never moved from that position. One entire track would crash the game if you tried to race on it (not that there was ANY racing going on). There were also no audio effects, not that the new ones are any good. Even after the patch, other major glitches such as NOT BEING ABLE TO LOOSE still existed. It added a bug for me where the game crashes every time I attempt to exit it.

To really drive home the point of not being able to loose, I will discuss the architecture of this game. I discovered most of the game files to be rather open and accessible. The music tracks are from audio tracks that are on the CD. The data file for the program uses simple ZIP compression. Inside I found a wealth of information. There exists the “You’re Winner” texture, but there is no “You’re Loser” texture anywhere. There are several models and textures for a game called Midnight Race Club Supercharged spread throughout (obviously this game was developed to become two games). I even found a most interesting texture for the winners.

As I was describing earlier, the ground shifts around a bit as you get closer to it. I discovered this game actually uses a Direct X 8 feature called normal mapping. They use a bitmap to determine the ground structure. For example, solid white would represent a point at maximum height, while black being the lowest. With proper blending of grays you can easily generate a 3D map of an area. I believe their texturing system is using a process called mip-mapping, where textures farther away are given less detail to make it easier on the graphics processor. I believe that they are also doing this on the normal maps, so as the ground nears, the detail becomes more refined.
I also discovered the AI to the truck. It consists of a text file with a list of points to travel to and not much else.

There are so many bugs and discrepancies it’s quite obvious this game was rushed. Rushed might be too soft of a term. But, in all, the game even if it worked would not be worth the $20 price tag it had on store shelves. But, instead of being thrown to the bargain-bin, Stellar Stone ensured Big Rigs Over The Road Racing will be remembered for years to come.

I have created a small highlight reel of some of the more interesting bugs in the game. Also, here’s the MP3 of the music track to the movie, ripped right from the Big Rigs CD.

Movie: big_rigs.wmv

Audio: track_5.mp3