Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

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Roareye
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Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#1 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:22 pm

Hey guys.
I've starting downloading remainders of Dreamcast pages left on the Wayback Machine to assist Dreampipe.net with bringing them back to life.

I've downloaded all that remains of the Metropolis Street Racer site from Wayback machine, which leaves massive amounts of gaps. Now luckily I am well versed in HTML (From actually building websites in code in Notepad back in 2001 to 2005) and am actually proficient in graphics work - so the missing information wouldn't be hard for me to remake.

The issue I have at the moment is that there is little left from the original site. The closest I could find was a video from 2010, but it's mostly using the Wayback Machine itself, it hasn't located as many images as I have, and the only additional stuff here was the showcase of the online rankings and the downloads (Which appear to be via another site anyway).

So what I want to do is ask you guys, the community, to help me find anything that shows off the browser when it was still current. Pictures, photos, screengrabs, videos, websites... anything that will help me understand where all the pages lead to, give me an idea on some of the missing graphics (so I can remake them) and get you guys the finished product quicker.

Thanks for the help in advance guys. I mean it when I say anything will help.

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Roareye
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#2 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:53 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MqfZPGhuGU
This was the closest I could find. The web pages in the video are clearly using the Wayback Machine (as seen by the URL in the loading bar), which is a kick in the teeth. I have improved on the pages in this video already;
temp.jpg

As you can see, several images I have didn't load on his DC via Wayback. The NEW TIME TRIAL title, DOWNLOAD NEW TIME TRIAL, UPLOAD and HOME. There are still a couple of missing pieces, as is visible here too.

That video did show the Online Rankings page, which appears to have disappeared and I can't even find it on Wayback Machine, even searching under dcarena.de.
0005a-OnlineRankings[dcarena.de].jpg

He shows this page still working, enough to download a file too! I can remake this page, I think, and make it look accurate to the video.

That's about all I can find though. So please, do help me out in gathering more info. A rebuilt site is likely the only option from this point and I want to make it accurate.

rjay63
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Posts: 355

Re: Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#3 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:31 pm

Ahh....one of my old MSR videos. Can't believe I made that 8 years ago! :o

You can find some images of the "official MSR leaderboard here under the MSR Review topic: https://dreamcast-talk.com/forum/viewto ... =34&t=3880 (page 4 - magazine screenshot).

The leaderboard you see on the video was an old fan project done by dcarena; made circa 2006. It survived for a few years after (hence my capture) but you could only download; not upload (at least when I tried it). A lot of ghost cars under that leaderboard were "broken" meaning they crashed into the wall, and just rev against it; a known bug in the game.

The vast majority of the official MSR webpages (including the leaderboards) were behind Dreamarena; you needed to login through your Dreamcast to access it. Only the first few pages on the outside of Dreamarena were archived (they seems have been made for the US version; I think the UK version demanded you login to Dreamarena from the outset after getting to the homepage.

You are welcome to visit my MSR blog below and take any images you fancy. They are not mine anyway!

Please let me know if you require any further assistance.

RJAY63
My Metropolis Street Racer Blog: http://www.msrdreamcast.blogspot.co.uk
MSR ghosts/time trials and official DLC: http://www.dreamcastlive.net/metropolis ... r-dlc.html

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Roareye
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#4 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:35 pm

OnlineRankings-remake.jpg

This appears to be from the official site (I assume) as the Dreamcast browser is clearly visible in the image.

This looks more advanced than the pages I've managed to recover, but it could be due to missing background art that the recovered pages look so bland. Can anyone clarify if this is accurate to the original MSR website, or if it is something else.

EDIT:: Haha. We posted at the same time there RJAY63, what a coincidence! I had just found your blog and read through it. There isn't much there that is browser specific, but there's a wonderful amount of info otherwise. Great stuff, dude.

Can I ask, did you ever play MSR and use the online browser when it was current (circa 2001ish)?

rjay63
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#5 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:21 pm

The screenshots were taken from the Official Dreamcast Magazine (ODM) so they are most likely genuine. I spent tens of hours looking online for an archives of the MSR leaderboards but sadly no joy. Games like Sega Rally 2 & Ferrari F355 Challenge had a loyal hardcore following, and their online leaderboards were replicated or archived. MSR's audience were mainly casual who weren't into best times, highest kudos scores etc so no archive was kept unless a fan recorded them onto VHS or Sega Europe have an archive somewhere.

Unfortunately I did not play MSR back in the day and I certainly never went online with it. I bought the game at launch but only played one or two chapters / time trials before putting the game away. It was only in 2007 that I finally sat down and completed the game.
My Metropolis Street Racer Blog: http://www.msrdreamcast.blogspot.co.uk
MSR ghosts/time trials and official DLC: http://www.dreamcastlive.net/metropolis ... r-dlc.html

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Anthony817
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#6 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:51 pm

Damn, if you guys could get leaderboards working for the game that would be pretty great. I still play PGR on the OG Xbox and 360 often. So it would be nice to see the online features working for the grandfather of the PGR games.
Image

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Roareye
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#7 » Tue May 01, 2018 8:14 am

Anthony817 wrote:Damn, if you guys could get leaderboards working for the game that would be pretty great. I still play PGR on the OG Xbox and 360 often. So it would be nice to see the online features working for the grandfather of the PGR games.

Will be great to see Leaderboards and DLC back. First things first, get the site in a usable state. :)
-----

So, an update. The video I posted (Using Wayback Machine on a DC) lacked any images. Some button images (With text saying "HOME", "MSR NEWS UPDATE" and things like that) were recoverable via Wayback Machine but his DC wouldn't load them. Many were also missing.

Each page has it's own unique background artwork, however none of this seems to have been saved by the Wayback Machine, leaving every page with a black background. However thanks to RJAY63's ODM magazine screengrab (the only image I've seen of the site anywhere so far) we know what these background images were meant to look like.

OnlineRankings-remake.jpg

Various screengrabs of cars with some speed effects added on, with reduced opacity on black to make the text more legible on screen. I also can see some images I am missing from the Leaderboard pages that I will have to rebuild.

I went to SegaRetro.org and they had multiple promotional stills, including in-game high-resolution grabs like the one in the ODM screenshot, and also the photographs of the Opel/Vauxhall VX220 seen on the cover art (and used in the opening video sequence). These are saved at nearly 4K resolution, which is a bit much for Dreamcast, so I've shrunk them to a more reasonable size (Standard Definition) and applied the appropriate effects;

msr_002.jpg

Now this isn't necessarily the background artwork from this page back in the day, I would need images or videos etc of the site to know what artwork is supposed to go where - it's even possible the photographic stills never made it to the site and they should all be in-game grabs. Either way, this is a start at rebuilding the site, and images are easily swapped in and out as needed.

Once I've assigned the images to roughly where I think they should go, I will begin to rebuild the missing items (The bottom square in this shot is an image called Seal1 and leads to the Terms and Conditions/Privacy Policy page. The top header is likely a black bg with light grey border with white text saying NEWS UPDATES or something similar), using existing button images as a base.

Let me know what you think so far, and please please do leave anything you might have (Be it a photo, video, screengrab or even recollection from memory) that will help to accurately rebuild the site.

Thanks guys.

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Roareye
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#8 » Tue May 01, 2018 8:54 am

Something else that occurred to me. There's slim possibility that the people who worked on maintaining the site for SEGA/Bizarre Creations still have some parts of the site or even just a few stills of the site when it was active.

Looking in my MSR manual, under Network Support & Marketing is this;
Online Editor
Steve Bradley

I looked up Steve Bradley Bizarre Creations via Google and came up empty. So I went to mobygames to check the credits section there but there's no mention of the Network team at all. On searching specifically for Steve Bradley I came across this profile;
http://www.mobygames.com/developer/stev ... Id,231589/
It has him down as Online Editor for Phantasy Star Online and Toy Racer, so it's possible MSR was simply missed by the mobygames contributors, and this makes him likely to be our guy.

However I can't seem to find any more on him. In fact he doesn't appear on SegaRetro either, which makes me wonder if the US manual left out this team entirely? Seems odd not to be able to find anything online about an online editor XD

I'll add the entire team list, as it isn't online oddly, here and we can continue the search for the staff.

Network Support & Marketing
Director - Network
Keizo Fukahori

European Promotions Manager
Neil Russell

European Promotions Executive
Rosie Newey

Online game server engineer
Colin Carter

Online Editor
Steve Bradley

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Roareye
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Re: Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#9 » Tue May 01, 2018 12:43 pm

UPDATE: I have some new shots of the site with some remade images.

msr_008.jpg

So this is the Speed Challenge page, msr_008.php, which had several missing elements.
The BG artwork is new from me, again using official promotional art by Bizarre Creations from the SegaRetro.org site.

The Speed Challenge header, The London Challenge, The San Francisco Challenge, The Three City Challenge, Upload and Home were all recovered from the Wayback Machine site.

The Tokyo Challenge, Available Now, Privacy Certified button and Back images were custom made to fit the site design, following the image sizes as stated in the HTML of the webpage (So I know exactly the dimensions of each missing image).

- I may change the AVAILABLE NOW (which took inspiration from msr_004.php that has those words as standard text) to either fit the image with less of a space between the words, or I might try VIEW LEADERBOARDS as the image file is named b_view_008.gif. It's hard to know with such little information (and the links from this page are dead) what the page was supposed to lead to - especially when msr_008 and msr_004 seem to have mostly the same content.
- The Policy Certified button is a custom imitation of the official Seal2 image that is recoverable from the site. However no images of the footer have been found, which makes replicating the image a case of shooting in the dark. This button is on every page and always leads to the Privacy Policy page.

OnlineRankings-remake.jpg

Something I noticed about the only remaining screengrab I have (Courtesy of RJAY63, and the magazine ODM) is that I DO have the original artwork used for it's BG! When going through the official artwork I have downloaded, I noticed a familiarity in the image.

MSR_DC_Art_IMAGE02.jpg

This image is the same one, however on the official site they have cropped it and flipped it horizontally. That means when it comes to rebuilding the Leaderboards page, I can easily make it as authentic as possible.

rjay63
Roadster
Posts: 355

Re: Metropolis Street Racer in-game Browser

Post#10 » Tue May 01, 2018 5:05 pm

You may be interested in this old correspondence I had with a ex-Dreamarena developer back in late 2010. Sadly he never did have any files in the end.

My email:

I have been playing MSR on and off for the last few years and recently wrote a guide for creating/uploading Time Trials using the DC's internet functions (http://www.gamefaqs.com/dreamcast/19791 ... faqs/60758)
For the last few months, I have also been searching the net trying to find a copy of the Online Rankings for MSR that use to be hosted on Sega's now defunct Dreamarena. My hope were raised when I found the remains of the sites that used to be accessed via the game's browser (http://web.archive.org/web/*sr_31nr_10/ ... -key.com/*) but unfortunately the official rankings were not present and I'm unable to find any copies.

On a recent search I noticed you had involvement with the online content of MSR. I appreciate Dreamarena closed many years ago and that you have moved on to other things but do you have a copy of these rankings at all? I have already approached Sega Europe & Bizarre Creations (directly) but they are unable to help. Even if you do not have a copy, are you able to tell me a little bit more about the metropolis.dream-key.com website, ie if there is anything else significant archive.org have missed besides the rankings?

Many thanks in advance.

RJAY63



Their response:

Hi RJAY63

firstly sorry for not getting back to you sooner, been very hectic as late.

I was indeed involved in the online portion of MSR on the Dreamcast, and the Dreamarena in general. I was involved in the front end, developing the templates and pages that constructed the Dreamarena as a whole. This did include the highscore tables for MSR (amongst others) but unfortunately not the backend, and as a result have nothing of use. I may have some original asset files somewhere from which the pages you have found were constructed, and I will have a dig, but as for actual data, I have none.

It was quite a while ago now, and having had a read of your guide I am afraid I have nothing to add. I would love to help in some way, but cant think of anything you haven't covered already. I don't even know who was responsible for the population of the tables!

Sorry for not being able to help, but when I get some free time, I will follow your guide and try and get racing again.

Cheers
My Metropolis Street Racer Blog: http://www.msrdreamcast.blogspot.co.uk
MSR ghosts/time trials and official DLC: http://www.dreamcastlive.net/metropolis ... r-dlc.html

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